New Zealand soul singer, Louis Baker enriches the soul with his heart-wrenching honesty and raw vulnerability. He is set to grace our shores this week with his latest single 'The Way' remixed by Devin Abrams, former member of drum and bass band Shapeshifter. With his honest expression and open view on the world around him, Louis marks the foundation of soul music, drawing inspiration from all aspects of life and vocalising it in ways that define our human connection.
We chat to Louis Baker about his upcoming Australian tour, the incentive behind the remix of 'The Way,' and how we connect as sentient beings. Ayla Dhyani writes.
You’re getting ready for your Australian tour this week, what can we expect from the shows?
Yes, that’s correct. I’ve got shows coming up through Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Queenscliff Music Festival. When I’ve been through there in the past, it’s been solo acoustic, and it's still that sort of structure this time. But I think I’m going to be adding a few more loop pedals and layers, which is quite fresh.
And with your recent remix of ‘The Way,’ with Devin Abrams, tell us about the incentive behind constructing the remix.
Well, it happened quite naturally. Devin and I have been working on other music as well for his album, which has got some good heat behind it. People have been talking about it a lot over here, which is good. I’m really happy for him. But it came about quite naturally as a consequence.
Tell us a bit about the concept behind the self-titled EP you released last year.
With the EP, I was sitting on quite a lot of material. It was really just about getting the old songs done and dusted and dealing with it chronologically. I just felt that I needed to get those done first and that came from a very pure place.
You’re such an emotive artist in everything that you do, what are the biggest aspects of your life that you draw from that influences you the most?
I feel like the songs that I write are really a culmination of things that have happened to me and to other people in everything that I either consciously or subconsciously take in. I think that human beings are sentient, so we’re always listening and looking and touching, but it’s a culmination of all of those senses being used and simulated. I guess I turn it into something musical, because that's how I choose to express it.
You classify yourself in the soul music genre, do you find that there’s much of a soul scene in New Zealand?
Yeah, I guess I find what I do is always subjective to different things, but I do choose to put myself in the soul music bracket. Even though it’s not really your ‘Marvin Gaye' or 'Curtis Mayfield’ soul, a lot of my music is influenced by those singers, so I feel that it’s right. I’m sure ‘soul-purests’ might think otherwise. But yeah, I think the soul music scene over here is cool. Wellington has a nice buzz about it. There’s always a good amount of young, raw talent. I was taking advice from people around me and was lucky enough to find people who were very supportive. I think that’s really what it takes. It really takes a seeking mind to go and find out what you really want to do in life and take on words from people you know.
I hear you studied music in New York as well, how was that experience?
So, in 2013 I went to the Red Bull Music Academy and was only realy over there for three weeks. It was just an amazing experience. New York was beautiful. It was quite a transformation time for me because I’d never been overseas before, so that was quite a big thing. But lately in the last two years, I’ve been across Europe about 5 times, which has been great. Each time it's been maybe for a month or two, so still quite short tours. Some people are out there touring 250 or 300 thousand shows a year, so I’ve got it pretty easy really (laughs).
Do you have any new projects on the go?
Yeah, I’ve been sitting on a whole bunch of new music. Some of which I’ve been doing overseas. So I just released 'The Way' remix, and that’s what the tour is based around in Australia and New Zealand. But I’ve got a new song coming up next year, which I recorded in London. I’m feeling really happy about where this record is going. It's got more electronic layers to it, and I think my vocals shine in areas that they haven’t really done so before so I kind of feel like I’m trying some new things with it.
What stimulates your soul?
Wow, isn’t that a big question (laughs). Well like I was saying before, we’re sentient beings, so I feel like it often comes through touch or what you hear or see. What stimulates my soul most is learning new things, travelling, and meeting new people and hearing new stories and hearing how they perceive life.
Tuesday, 24th November
Lazybones, Sydney NSW
Thursday, 26th November
Wesley Anne, Melbourne VIC
Friday, 27th / Saturday, 28th November
Queenscliff Music Festival, VIC
Sunday, 29th November
Porch Sessions, Adelaide SA