Rich and poignant, Michael Baker’s new single Baby Books explores themes of mental health and friendship.
Bittersweet guitar riffs and soaring vocal melodies hover above a bed of wistful atmospherics and driving percussion. There’s a gentle balance between fragility and a compelling forward motion that simultaneously soothes and motivates.
I had a chat to Michael about the story behind the song, his upcoming album Salt and the importance of opening up to people around you…
Hey Michael! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, my name is Michael Baker. I am a singer-songwriter based in Brighton and currently in process of releasing my second album Salt.
I love your new single Baby Books. What was the writing / recording process like?
I wrote Baby Books in a session with a wonderful artist called James Dale. It was one of those ideas that just fell out in one day and didn’t really change much afterwards.
When it came to putting it down, Ed Martin, Fred Hills, Andrew Stuart Buttle, Tom Anderson, Oliver Hinkins and myself disappeared into the English countryside and drank a lot of wine. Luckily, we made a whole album too!
I will have a video to support the single and there is going to be a ‘making of’ documentary filmed and directed by Alice Humphreys, giving the viewer an insight into the whole recording process. to support the album release of Salt scheduled in for early 2020.
It touches on some important issues about mental health. What are your views on using music as a platform to shine a spotlight on these issues?
For me, music is the easiest form of expression. It has been a medicine for me in my darkest times, as it has allowed me to open up about things like a diary – without feeling under the spotlight so to speak. When it comes to talking about it verbally though, I often find it one of the hardest things to do. I think everybody talking about it more has in turn given me the strength to open up myself in the hope that it can inspire others to do the same.
I wrote this track after my friend lost their battle with mental health. It made me realise just how important it is to always talk about these things and to know that whoever you are, there is a support network around you.
I see you’ve got a headline show at The Finsbury, London on 29th October. What can we expect from a live performance?
Imagine John Martyn’s love child cry’s tears that turn into a unicorn. This unicorn sets up camp with Neil Young and all of his friends under the stars. With the fire rumbling and the drinks flowing, they are all singing sweet nothings to the distant stars. I would say exactly like that.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
I think it would either be Justin Vernon from Bon Iver who is, in my opinion, the most interesting male singer-songwriter out there at the moment. Or Adrienne Lenker from Big Thief, who is just out of this world.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a musician?
Keep writing and releasing music and play your music to as many people as you can. There’s nothing like trying out new songs to your audience.