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Byron Shire
December 2, 2021

Caiti Baker’s Blues

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caiti baker

Darwin’s Caiti Baker has created a sultry world of hip-hop-laced soul as likely to be inhabited by Jay Z as it is by Fiona Apple or Ella Fitzgerald. A melting of classic melody, urban-inspired lyrics and timeless vocal timbre that exudes strength and a confidence, the world of Caiti Baker has a wide musical pallete: welcoming, rich and a true embodiment of modern Australian culture.

What was it like having your song chosen as an NRL theme song? Did it open you to a big fanbase straight away?

That song Here is by my mate Briggs! We were hanging out one day and he asked if I wanted to lay down some vocals for this song he was working on for Fox League and the NRL. A couple of weeks later, I was in the studio with the producers of the track, recording all these vocal parts! The following week I met Briggs in Melbourne and we shot a video clip for it. It’s been an amazing experience that has allowed me to perform at the Suncorp Stadium in front of a lot of people, to performing at the Dally M Awards in Sydney. I definitely found that I had quite a few new fans on social media who all had a common theme – they loved footy! I love sport, I love watching people who love what they do and are good at what they do shine in their element. I don’t know much about NRL but I’ll catch a game if it’s on!

How do you approach songwriting?

There’s no formula for me; it depends on the inspiration. My best mate and long-term music collaborator James Mangohig is continuously churning out instrumentals that I’ll work on in my own space and time. In this case, I do love writing by myself, in my own bubble, away from everyone. Then I love sitting with James, with his guitar and noodling about together to find chords and lyrics. Writing is a vulnerable and cathartic thing for me so I need to be super comfortable with my environment and collaboration partners.

What about making that transition to the studio – how hard is it to make choices about how a song is going to sound? I imagine there are so many doors you could open…

There are so many possibilities! For the songs on my debut album Zinc, James created a basic instrumental that I wrote to – lyrics, harmonies, arrangement and such. Then Michael Hohnen, our co-producer and double-bass player, would write double-bass parts, work on arrangements and also work with Eugene Ball (an amazing and accomplished Horn arranger) on brass parts for the album. The three of us – James, Michael and me – would then work on the songs in a cyclical manner, building on, reshaping, stripping back, finalising and polishing each song until we felt the song was exactly where it needed to be!

What gets under your skin? What do you want to sing or make music about?

I write about a lot of different stuff. I might hear a phrase in a movie, read a sentence in a book, overhear a conversation… It’s all inspiration for me. I’ll write about experiences I’ve been through, that my friends and family have been through… How I feel about where I sit in the world – identity, privilege, ego, love, the current state of the world…

What can we expect for your Mullum show?

Mullum can expect me to be singing my songs and having a good time! I’m looking forward to meeting all the locals too!

Mullumbimby Ex-Services this Thursday and at the Mullum Music Festival 16–19 November. For tickets and program information go to mullummusicfestival.com.

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