Listen: Gill Bates - Didn’t Mind (Prod. Feki)
Brisbane R&B artist, Gill Bates, returns with a more ubiquitous, inclusive sound.
By Declan WS
When I was a kid, I loved Australian Idol. On voting night (the best night of the week), I was allowed to call up and place a vote. The contestant Levi, who served as my first notable encounter with an R&B singer (very loose use of the term) was my favourite contestant. I religiously voted for Levi. When Levi was eliminated from the show, I was utterly distraught. I cried and cried and cried (in retrospect – I was too old to be doing that). In later years, a psychologist could probably pinpoint that event as the beginning of my skepticism toward Australian R&B. Nowadays, whenever I hear a new Australian R&B track - I’ll approach it with caution. Guarded, I’m often quick to dismiss it.
Listening to the new song from Brisbane R&B artist Gill Bates, Didn’t Mind, was no exception. Thirty seconds in, I was ready to dismiss Bates’ track as the typical, summery Australian R&B I’d been avoiding for a while now. However, as the song built, I quickly became immersed in Bates’ infectious flow, clean crisp vocals and catchy, pop-sensible hooks. My guard lowered.
A lot of this had to do with Feki’s production. Cast in the ‘future chill’/ ‘majestic casual’ typeface; the sparse, maximalist beat gives Bates the necessary space to do what he does best: drift in, drift out, creep up on you and hit you when you least expect it.
The result is an accomplished, natural progression for Bates. A marked transition away from the darker, ‘wavy’ sound of She Knows, on Didn’t Mind, Bates is teetering on the edge of something special - he sits at the forefront of a new Australian R&B sound which feels ubiquitous in context: robust enough to be festival-functional, yet, introspective enough to be ‘headphone’ music.
Suddenly, I felt less jaded and skeptical.