“I’ve had an itch to make a record for a really long time. You get to create your own world when you make a record. It was really fun.” As Chris Baio talks about his recently released solo debut, The Names (Glassnote Records), there is a hint of excitement in his voice. Better known as the bassist of Vampire Weekend, Chris steps into the spotlight as BAIO – the electropop music producer with art rock sensibilities and meticulous production.
“Once I started to write songs I knew I couldn’t look back,” explains Chris. “I knew I was good enough and that I wanted to put it out there into the world.” Although his own musical universe started to come into fruition, Chris sat on the project for a while until this past fall when The Names was released. “Making the album and then sitting on it was a different kind of crazy because I felt like I had made the exact record I wanted to – a record where I wouldn’t change a single thing, but no one else in the world had heard it. It was a bit excruciating, but when it finally came out I got to start playing shows and playing music for people. It made me really happy because this world that I created, this thing in my head, suddenly became a real thing that other people could experience.”
Currently on tour in Europe, Chris continues to carve a name for himself as a solo artist, something that is admittedly challenging after finding such success with Vampire Weekend. “It’s thrilling to have something that’s entirely my own. I think there have been a few challenges along the way but I’ve been enjoying myself so far.” As for the differences between playing bass on the side and stepping out centre stage, Chris remains ever the consummate performer: “I always have so much fun playing live no matter what. Playing bass on stage is a pretty wonderful feeling and getting to sing a song in front of an audience of people that are really enthusiastic is a wonderful feeling, too. I’ve been waiting to get out and perform consistently, and now that I’m doing it I’m a very happy person.”
The Names is a thrilling electropop record with art rock influences that take the listener on a musical journey from short, punchy electropop songs to sprawling instrumentation and experimentation – all within a concise 40 minutes. “I love records like that,” explains Chris. “I love art rock records where it’s not particularly long but there’s tons of experimentation. That was where I was coming from with my record.” The title of the record, The Names, is a direct reference to Don DeLillo’s 1982 novel of the same title. “The novel is about an American living in Greece and his experience in Athens. Many of the themes involve paranoia and the idea of how you carry your country in your identity when you live abroad. For me this really came together when I moved from New York to London about two and a half years ago. It was the first time in my life where I was regularly reminded of my “American-ness.”
From growing up in Bronxville (coincidentally, also the home of DeLillo) to Vampire Weekend and its strong ties to New York, to his current project BAIO (where he’s an American expat in London), a strong sense of place has been inextricably tied to his musical journey. “I think I carry a little bit of these places with me as I get older. My time growing up in Bronxville – a suburban New York town – will always be etched in me. There will always be a bit of New York in my identity and now I feel that there is a bit of a London imprint on me as well. Things constantly change and mutate every day. That’s the nice thing about being alive – there’s so much to draw inspiration from and get excited by.”
In the ten years since Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg started First Aid Kit, they have been going non-stop. The indie-folk duo got their start when their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” went viral, and have since released four albums, won five Swedish Grammis awards, and brought two of their idols to tears on live television. Following a brief hiatus, and four years after their last record, Stay Gold, First Aid Kit is back with Ruins, a raw account of losing love and finding yourself. In the middle of a North American tour, Georgie talked to Klara and Johanna about the new album and what brought them to Ruins. G—You’ve said in past interviews that Stay Gold was a more put-together, polished kind of album, and Ruins is a lot rawer. What caused that shift? JS—The production of Stay Gold is very lush and elegant, and I think that’s what we wanted at the time. But we started longing for this rawness, this almost lo-fi aspect that we had on our first records. [For Ruins]…our attitude was that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. If we sing a bum note or there’s a little crack
Charlotte Cardin is on track to having her biggest year yet. The electro jazz-pop singer has been nominated for Songwriter of the Year and Breakthrough Artist of the Year at next month’s Juno Awards. Along the way, she has performed at Osheaga—an experience she calls “surreal”, having attended for years growing up in Montréal—and Festival d’été de Québec where she opened for Sting and Peter Gabriel. More recently, she has been touring behind her EPs Big Boy (Cult Nation Records, 2016) and Main Girl (Sony Music, 2017). Through this past September and October, she supported Nick Murphy (formerly Chet Faker), and she’s been on tour with BØRNS since January. This spring, Cardin will headline her own dates. Prior to her full-time career in music, Cardin modelled in fashion which afforded her pocket money and freedom to work on her art. She also competed on the first season of La Voix, a francophone Canadian version of The Voice. But being on television, like modelling, was never her passion. “I never really felt that much pressure when I was on TV. For me, there’s something a lot more real about what I’m doing right now.” She feels more pressure performing her own
Garland Jeffreys’ album, 14 Steps to Harlem, grew out of a soulful period of retrospection late in the artist’s life and career. As a veteran songwriter, Jeffreys started writing provocative, ahead-of-its- time, genre-bending songs in the early 1970s, with lyrics focused on everything from relationships to racial diversity to political turmoil. Now in his seventies, the New York musician is looking back on his life with an album that takes on bold topics and includes a title track inspired by his turbulent relationship with his father. Jefferys spoke with Georgie about his latest release, his relationship with Lou Reed and his somewhat unconventional approach to songwriting. Georgie—14 Steps to Harlem is a great album. Garland Jeffreys—Thank you. I’m very proud of the record. I took some chances in recording it but had confidence that it could be something special. You don’t know a record is good or bad until it’s done – then you know. I worked on the album with my co-producer, James Maddock, who’s a great artist in his own right. G—The title track, “14 Steps to Harlem”, stood out to me. I read that it was written with your father in mind. Did the experience of writing about your dad