Interview: Caiti Baker

Caiti Baker plays at Bello Music Festival

Vocalist and frontwoman Caiti Baker was raised in a house full of the sounds of vinyl, CD and tapes of blues, soul, gospel, jazz, big band and rock’n’roll. It’s no surprise that this daughter of a blues musician should become one herself.

How has your childhood with a blues musician as a father influenced your own musical career?

Entirely I would say! I guess you’re a product of your environment and I grew up immersed in the sounds of America’s great founding blues musicians and everything that was spawned from or influenced by it. I grew up watching my father in the industry in Adelaide and wouldn’t say I was disheartened, but I got a realistic view of the ins and outs. I have never been hoodwinked by the facade of the musician’s life. I never saw it as glamorous or easy; I saw it as something that required hard work, determination and a thick skin beyond the love and need to do it. I’m lucky that music is my vocation and, no matter what my circumstances, I’ll always be doing it because I need to. But I definitely work for it and I’m grateful that my childhood prepared me for that!

I heard you started writing songs when you were 12.  Can you still remember any of those songs you wrote? 

Yes! I get one of them stuck in my head every now and then – they’re little ear worms. With terrible lyrics! I have the bag of mini-discs that I recorded a lot of these songs on… I will find a player one day and sit through and listen. I’m sure there’s some gold in there somewhere. Definitely some laughs!

How did your reunion with your dad influence your music? Did you use any of the music he had recorded in your music?

For my debut album ZINC it was in fact the reunion with my father that influenced the style and sound thematically. We hadn’t spoken for more than four years before meeting up and he bestowed upon me and my producer James Mangohig a USB key filled with files. Files that had to be converted to MP3 to listen to. MP3s of recordings my dad had made using a crappy phone’s voice recording app. He recorded guitar lick ideas, riffs, entire compositions, harmonica lines, sung ideas and thoughts. James sorted through the sample heaven and using his signature hip-hop production style, created banging instrumentals for me to write to.

You seem to have many musical influences. What direction do you see your music going? Is there a progression to a particular destination or is it more of a spontaneous unplanned process?

Music is spontaneous to me; it’s a reflection of what I’m going through and my reactions to life’s experiences definitely aren’t planned! I love a variety of music, I’m influenced by a lot of sounds, artists, genres and eras. I think I will create music as I create it and release it appropriately. I definitely have a few avenues I’d like to venture down – I love low-fi RnB, acoustic soul, a little country, produced hip-hop – there’s lots of places I can go!

How did you like playing at Bluesfest? I saw your gig and your ability to engage with the crowd was really impressive.

Thank you! Bluesfest was a pinnacle for me performance-wise. I absolutely loved every second of that festival and being onstage doing what I do. It was an amazing audience to have and I enjoyed performing for them, sharing my music and making memories!

What can people expect from your gig at Bello Winter Music. Do you have anything special planned?

I think my performance at Bello will be a surprise even to me! I’ll have finished up a national tour with The Teskey Brothers in June and that set will be something I’ve not yet done before, so it’ll be a surprise for all of us I think! I’m extremely excited to be in Bello and am grateful to play two shows; there will definitely be something special in the works!

Caiti Baker plays Bello Winter Music 12–15 July

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