On June 6 at Caribana Festival I interviewed Lausanne singer Bastian Baker. We talked about his second album, his super busy Summer and a lot more. I had the chance to see him perform various times throughout the Summer and I must say he never disappointed me, so well done to him and his band! You can read the review of their great concert here. Thanks to Bastian Baker for his availability and of course to the Caribana crew for making it possible 😉
The Liberation: Your second album “Too Old To Die Young” came out at the end of September 2013. How does it differ from your first album?
Bastian Baker: There’s a huge difference. I think the most fundamental one is that the second album was recorded with live takes. Which was not the case of the first one, we registered bass, then piano and the drums step by step. For this one we were in a studio in Brackley, in England, a residential studio with a huge recording room, so all the musicians were inside and I was the only one on the other side of the glass. All the basic takes of the album are recorded live. I think the second difference can be found on the texts and the content. The first album was very autobiographical, an introspection. In the second one I’m rather a spectator of life, I watch what happens, I write about stories other people tell me. I think these are the two main differences, also the way of putting the text and finding the sound. There’s quite a lot of difference.
The Liberation: Do you think you’ve musically grown up with this second album?
Bastian Baker: Yes, you evolve, which doesn’t necessarily mean that’s better or less good, it’s just a different face of it, a different moment resulting from travels, concerts we did, all the people we’ve met, the musicians with whom we’ve played. I also produced the album, for the second time, as I did for the first one. It’s a new experience in the studio so it gives you more experience.
The Liberation: Why this intriguing title “Too Old To Die Young”?
Bastian Baker: Yeah, having an intriguing title was the aim as for the first album Tomorrow May Not Be Better. They’re titles which can make everybody think about their own definition of it. I chose “Too Old To Die Young” because I thought about this phrase a lot. I’m a person who gives little importance to time in its still sense. For me New Year it’s not at all important, I find it weird that in a second you decide that a year is over and that a new one begins. For me it’s all a continuity because there are billions of years of history behind us and I find it bizarre to segment time like this. It was also to make people relax, it doesn’t matter if you’re 30 years old, you can do cool things when you’re 40 too, it’s also a way to tell myself “OK, it doesn’t matter, time is not important, it’s how you make use of it which is important”.
The Liberation: What about your production process?
Bastian Baker: In fact in this album there are two phases, two different situations. For half of the songs I made demos, therefore I had pre-recorded and pre-produced them, so the recording with the band was pretty fast, I worked with amazing musicians. The other half were guitars and voices which I made and we had a room in the studio which we named “the Scoring Room”, it was all the musicians and me together: OK this is the rhythm, this is the structure, this is the tonality, this is the history of the songs, my idea of the arrangement is a bit like this. We would discuss a lot, then we would record and play the song like 2-3 times, we would listen to it, make changes and re-adapt it. For me this is really important, I would be incapable of working on an album for 3 years and change 7 times the arrangements. For me the album remains a moment and your inspiration goes with it. Voilà, this was a bit the processing. Only the voices were registered in Switzerland all the rest in England. I worked with a very very talented sound engineer, Tom Fellor, 27 years old, who brought a very nice sound to the album, it was easy to work with him. It was easy to produce because I had incredible people around me.
The Liberation: Lyrics or music first?
Bastian Baker: It depends, lately for example I write plenty of texts but I don’t have the melodies yet. I like when it comes together, it’s the sign that the song is natural and that it was meant to be. It’s always a little bit more complicated when you write the lyrics and you try to fit a music on them, it’s a little collage and it may not work. I took this reflex to write every time there’s something I see, that I think, even if it’s just a tiny bit of composition.
The Liberation: Which are your plans for the future?
Bastian Baker: Now we have all the Summer Festivals, we do like 30-35 of them, which is a lot, we are gonna tour this Summer. This year was really dedicated to the development abroad, we played in Japan at the beginning of the year, in Korea in May, we’re gonna go back to these Asian countries between September and November. Then we’ll do a tour in Germany, which is shaping step by step, we play in 5 cities in November: Frankfurt, Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. We just entered the charts in Germany for the first time and we’re really happy. We’re getting big also over there! All the end of the year will also be focused on the promotion abroad.
The Liberation: How did you experience touring abroad?
Bastian Baker: It’s legendary, there are countries like France and Belgium which we’ve known for quite a bit now, we’ve been touring there for 2 years now. But Germany is awesome, in Korea it was excessive. Every time before the show I ask my manager “Are there people?” “Yes man there are people!”, so it’s super positive.
The Liberation: Do you think you’ll collaborate again with other artists as you did in the album Noël’s Room with Stress and Noah Veraguth (the Pegasus singer)?
Bastian Baker: That was a holiday project, it was real fun, we had a ball doing music, well then behind it we went “Gold Disc” (Disc d’Or), we did a “Swiss Music Award”, we went number one, so for a holiday project it wasn’t bad at all (laughs). But, yeah sure, there are quite many artists to whom I wrote lately to see whether we can do great songs and great featurings together, it’s always connection, you always have to hold on to it in order that it works, sometimes it does other times it doesn’t.
The Liberation: Caribana is the first festival of this Summer. How do you prepare yourself in order to resist throughout all the festivals?
Bastian Baker: We rehearsed yesterday with my band, so we have our festival setlist ready, brand new, and we look forward to play. It’s true that on a long time it’s hard to cope but you do it through a healthy lifestyle. I think I’m someone who loves partying but who also knows how to be professional. Before concerts I am very concentrated, it’s really relax but we’re not on a “destroy” side. I respect the audience who paid their tickets and who are there to see an artist and his music so we try every time to do the best show possible.
The Liberation: Are you already thinking about your new album?
Bastian Baker: I’m not entirely sure that I’ll do a third album, perhaps it’ll be an EP, maybe a single. I don’t know yet, I didn’t think about it yet. We have a lot of musical material right now, which allows us to tour a bit everywhere. There’s also a gap, because since we are independent artists, we didn’t come out in the entire world simultaneously. Now the first album comes out in Germany, in Japan,… We also have this material to work on when we are abroad. So there’s not much time left to go into the studio.
The Liberation: Because obviously it takes a lot of time…
Bastian Baker: It takes time, many travels, many energies and there’s not much free time to be in the studio.