Having just released his brand new EP ‘Every Vessel’, Nottingham native singer/songwriter, Joel Baker will be spreading his sound across a selection of festivals this summer.
We caught up with him this morning to chat about the new EP, support tours and the Nottingham music scene…
Hi mate, how are you?
Very good thank you, how are you?
Not too bad! You have a new EP, ‘Every Vessel’ which was just released. What can we expect from that?
Ooh, let’s see! It’s a lot more honest. The production is much better, it’s really really cool. But it’s the same kind of formula as ‘Long Sleeves’, so it’s god cello on it, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals. It’s the same sort of sound but it’s just much better.
We finished this one off at Universal Studios so it just gives it that bit more gloss. I’m really proud of it actually.
The sort of lead track, ‘Every Vessel Every Vein’ sounds really fresh. What’s your song writing process?
Ok, I’m gonna let you in on my song writing process!
So, I’ve got two folders on my computer – one called “Song Lyrics” and one called “Song Concepts”. So all day everyday I go around noting down song concepts or nice little lines or words or I might watch a movie and they’ll say something that I think is really cool. So I steal little bits from here and there and whack them into this “Song Concepts” folder. Then I sit down with my guitar and mess around with some chords until I get a vibe that I like, either guitar or piano, I start singing stuff and get a melody. Then I pick whatever from my concepts folder that I think fits the melody and transfer that line or two into the lyrics folder and then start painting by numbers really!
That’s the tricky bit really, trying to take what you’re trying to say and communicate it through the melody. But that’s the usual process. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes I’m just playing along and it will come naturally. But usually I do it like that.
That’s really cool! So you’re original from Nottingham yeah? I hear you moved to London to work in the House of Commons… Bit of a random transition of careers!?
Weird right!? It’s ’cause I’m weird! See, I never wanted to do music, not in a million years. In fact, I remember having a very vivid conversation with one of my friends before I left to London saying that I don’t think I’m gonna play much music anymore. I took my acoustic guitar to London thinking I’d just strum along from time to time. I very much thought it was just a hobby that I’d get rid of.
So I wanted to pursue politics. I wanted to change the world or something! That’s what university will do to you! At Leeds University I studied International Relations which is like International Politics, and I wanted to make a difference so I applied for an internship in Parliament and then also worked for a year. So I was doing things like speech writing and project managing, and organising the MP’s daily lives. I really loved Parliament actually.
BUT, running parallel to that, two days after I moved to London, I got a call from this rapper who asked me to go to the studio and hang out. I didn’t know him but I knew of his music. I knew nobody in London. So I went along and ended up finding the friends I’ve been friends with this whole time. So then, my best friends were all making music so I was naturally influenced by them, so I really wanted to do it too, it seemed fun! I also wanted to do something more creative. Parliament was wicked, don’t get me wrong, but you had to stick to the script you were given so the creativity was very limited and I found it hard to express myself.
I love being a songwriter because all I’m doing is being creative and expressing myself. So yeah, it was a weird transition but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I loved both experiences.
Going back to Nottingham – what do you think of the music scene back there at the moment? Anyone we should be looking out for?
Yeah the Nottingham scene is amazing. No disrespect to anybody who was around when I was trying to do it ten years ago, but when I was growing up in a band in Nottingham, no one was really inspiring. Basically, you didn’t make it in music if you came from Nottingham. It wasn’t really on the map. Just not cool enough.
But then the biggest thing to happen to the Nottingham music scene was Jake Bugg. He’s really paved the way for a lot of cool artists to come through.
Also, somebody who’s gonna blow up massively is Saint Raymond. I went on tour with him last October. Here’s a weird story… Callum is about four years younger than me and I used to jam with him ’cause even as a young kid he used to be quite good at singing and acoustic guitar. This was about ten years ago. And then, I’d left Nottingham for a while and people were talking about this guy called Saint Raymond and it meant nothing to me. Then I played a gig with him and was like “oh my frickin’ days it’s Callum! That boy!”. That was a really odd experience. But yeah, he’s just got a really good thing going on, he’s gonna blow. Certified.
Amber Run are cool too. They’re not really from Nottingham but they’re from Nottingham uni. I’m feeling them.
OH, and before we move on I’ve got to say Noah. Noah are a wicked duo and the singer is my best friend so I’ve got to say them! But they’re fantastic. Imagine The White Stripes but more chilled and folky.
You’re set to play a few festivals this Summer. Are there any you’re looking forward to most?
Yeah I’m really looking forward to Barn on the Farm. I wish I could stay for the whole thing. I’ve got another festival on the Sunday which means I’m probably gonna miss all my favourite people. But I wanna see Hozier. I’ve got a feeling I’m gonna miss him.
Hozier is incredible live. I saw him live recently over here [in Ireland] and he just blew me away.
Thing is with Hozier, I try limit my consumption of his music! Because he’s so good, it hurts my soul a little bit! So maybe it’s best if I miss him!
But yeah, Barn on the Farm is cool. British Summertime I’m doing as well. The reason I’m excited about that is it was in the Metro! I’m in the paper, imagine that! They’re the two I’m really looking forward to anyway.
You’re not doing any Irish festivals this year are you?
Well, no one’s invited me! I would love to. I’ve never even been to Ireland. Get me over there!
We’ll put in a word for you next year! So lovely speaking to you, thanks a million for the interview.
Thank you so much for your time. Catch you soon, 100%.
Get Joel’s brand new EP here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/every-vessel-ep/id853381398