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Seminole brothers’ first new song together in a decade touches inner struggles, dreams

Seminole brothers Spencer Battiest, left, and Doc Native on the set of their music video “Dream.” The video was filmed in Utah and directed by Adam Conte (Oneida and Mohawk). (Photo Time Honored Media, Matt Gagnon)

Spencer Battiest and Doc Native’s first new song together in 10 years premiered with a music video on YouTube. The debut of “Dream” on March 15 quickly attracted thousands of views in just a few hours.

“Doc and I haven’t done a song together since ‘The Storm’ in 2011,” Battiest said. “We wanted to say where we are in our lives now, being older and more experienced. It’s one of the most personal songs being that it’s our story.”

The Seminole brothers purposely released the new song on the 10th anniversary of “The Storm,” the story of Seminole people that was released in March 2011.

“Dream” is about who Battiest and Native, formerly known as Zach “Doc” Battiest, are today. The song is about overcoming life’s struggles. Native wrote and rapped the verses; Battiest wrote and sang the chorus and the bridge.

“The idea was to have a fight song, an anthem and a call to action,” Native said. “I’ve had battles with depression and anxiety. We wanted to write a love letter to those going through inner battles and let them know they aren’t alone. A lot of us artists struggle with mental health issues, but we have to clean ourselves up, slap on a smile and look the part. I hope this song touches people and helps them. If it uplifts one spirit, I have done my job.”

The first verse is about feeling lost as Native tries to fight his way out of the struggle. The second verse is about finding the strength to keep going while acknowledging the struggle. The chorus reflects the importance of having dreams. The bridge cements the lesson of picking himself up off the ground and vowing never to let things hold him down again.

“Our dreams and what we want to accomplish in life can be a fantasy, but we are still wide awake to what is happening in the world,” said Battiest, 30. “Like the injustices Indigenous people go through every day; repression and not being heard. The final lyric is how it is a fight to get people to take you seriously or listen to the experience of a Native person. It has so much meaning, not just because I did it with my brother, but we show more of our hearts and what we go through every day. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine.”

“Everybody’s having trouble with mental health,” said Native, 31. “We don’t always feel 100% and we don’t talk about that. It’s very detrimental to peoples’ mental health to say you’re ok when you aren’t. Our storytelling is always about honesty, so we wanted to be open about what we are feeling. Even though it is a song of troubles, it’s also a song about perseverance.”

The song was written and recorded in Native’s home studio before the pandemic; the video was conceived and filmed in the midst of it.

In the video, two Native children watch TV and change the channel until they see other Native people. They see a video of the Miss Indian World contest and other dancers. By the end of the video, the kids are inspired to put on regalia and dance alone in their living room. The Miss Indian World committee gave Battiest permission to use its video of the pageant in the music video.

“Everyone has to dance from their homes and living rooms now,” Battiest said. “That wasn’t a thought in our minds when we wrote the song. Everyone is taking the resources they have and still getting the job done, showing their culture and representing their tribes.”

The video also shows some Native Americans the brothers admire, including Bryson Jones, a child from Oklahoma who struggles with Tourette syndrome; Cheyenne Kippenberger, the Seminole Tribe’s first Miss Indian World who has spoken throughout her reign about mental health issues; Oscar-winning actor Wes Studi; Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland; the two-spirit couple Adrian Stevens and Sean Snyder; and Paula Bowers-Sanchez, a Seminole who started her career in the entertainment industry as an actress and singer as the brothers were growing up.

“They energize us to keep striving for our dreams,” Battiest said. “A public service announcement Paula Bowers-Sanchez made inspired me as a kid. She was fearless going after her dream; she just got on the stage and showed her talent. That was the moment for me when I was a young teenager.”

Battiest and Native have performed together for years, most recently with the Mag 7 group headed by Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas.

“We are like yin and yang,” Native said. “He’s all the smooth best parts and I’m the fire to his ice, or vice versa. Any time we perform, we invite each other. We saw it had been 10 years since “The Storm” and thought it would be great to write another one.”

A promotional image for the Battiest brothers’ latest release, “Dream.” (Photo Time Honored Media, Matt Gagnon)
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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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