To celebrate the release of his aptly named new single, “Wonderland”, we chat to the artist about his inspirations, attacking the ear, and the revolution ahead.
Having garnered critical success for his subversion of what it means to be a British folk singer, Hak Baker is back with a, may we say, wonderfully named single: “Wonderland”, Taken from his upcoming project, the song shows off Baker’s inimitable flow and fresh, unique take on not only folk music, but also the themes of life and more. To celebrate the release, it was only right that Wonderland caught up with Baker about his inspirations, the revolution, and the importance of hitting the ear. You’ll see what we mean.
How did you first get into music?
I first got into music when I was 10, when I was tricked into joining a cathedral choir as a kid.
When did you realise you wanted to be a musician?
I never wanted to be a musician, even when we were mc-ing back in the day in the youth club, making mixtapes, videos and whatnot. It was kinda something you just did back then, without thinking. Everybody wanted to be a ‘somebody’, but not a musician – it kinda just happened. When I was In jail playing guitar, I knew I was gonna come out and do something though.
Who did you listen to growing up?
Growing up I listened to Bob Marley, Beres Hammond, Buju Banton, Richie Spice…you know, them kinda artists come by default, as my mum was listening to them everyday in the car. My sister liked Bashment and Reggae too, so yeah, that and golden era RnB & Rap; Keith Sweat, SWV, 702, Busta Rhymes, DMX etc. Oh, and 90s pop; Madonna was a G – “Holiday” was myself and my good friend Tom’s riding out tune when we knew the razz was about to begin.
Your song ‘Dopehead’ opens with ‘Addiction is a bitch / addiction is for the rich.’ Could you talk to us a bit more about this?
It is what is brother. Who can afford to be addicted to anything…who has the time, who has the resources who has the money?
Only the rich can make time seem to lapse continually, only the rich can source things of non-detrimental quality…if one’s land isn’t reaped of liability and possession. Only the rich pal. The others, we die…faster.
“Wonderland” is taken from an upcoming project – Could you talk to us some more about the themes that will run through the project?
The project will be a deeper delve into my life, our lives even, as bottom of the ladder mavericks; what we deem as important, our small first world, second class citizen mental problems. What we like, what we hate, how we act. My first EP “Misfits” was the outline of it, this one’s a little more magnified; love, distain, escapism.. then escapism again, politics, youth. It’s some time portal shit. I hope that makes sense.
What’s your process like when you are compiling a project – do you have to eliminate tracks, or do you build tracks specifically with a whole project in mind?
We don’t really think too tough when it comes to the compilation of tracks. We’re always creating and don’t hang on to stuff. My producer said this to me from the get go; I got annoyed at first, but it’s the best bit of advice really. We’ve got dozens and dozens of riddims, so we just look at what makes sense, in reference to time and now, instrumentally – so on and so forth. Then we shortlist, then we listen and jiggle and juggle. Then we make the snip/add and just crack on. We Definitely don’t create in reference to projects, we don’t even know they’re projects till its project time, na’mean?
Does London inspire you creatively?
Of course London inspires me, my music is literally what I see. And making this stuff is a necessary release I need to aid me in not going completely and utterly barmy.
Your sound is a lovely reversion to acousticism – how would you describe your own sound?
My sound, I dunno. That’s for other people to say, I just try to describe how I feel, what comes easy and natural.
Do you give more importance to the lyrical / songwriting side of your music, or the production side of things?
Both sides of the music are important, but I’d say more how it sounds on the ear – the lyrics come simple or as they come, you can’t force that. The sound we work on hard, it’s just got to touch the ear man, it can’t attack the ear. It has to feel right on the ear.
Do you enjoy the more visual side of being a musician, the fashion, the public image?
LOL, the visual side is cool, but a joke ting really. That’s got nothing to do with being a musician, I’d describe it as more of a perk – something that comes with it. I step out in trackies or just normal clobber, I been through that designer thing heavy before, been broke and back again due to it, so now I’m not too bothered really.
Do you like performing live? What’s a stand-out gig you’ve done?
Yeah this is the part of it all, even when we were touring. I can literally feel like shit all day, until I plug the jack into the guitar, and shout ‘OI OI’ to the legends in the crowd, and that’s it, instant empowerment. LOVE IT. Stand out gig was on my tour, the first night in Bethnal Green. Woah man, that was mental. Unbelievable – up there with one of the best days of my life.
What’s next for you?
Whats next? Fuck knows, we’ll get this project out and see how it goes. Revolution would be a start. Who’s ready?