Sassy Songstress Caiti Baker is one of the must see talents on this year’s Bello Winter Festival bill. Focus chatted to Caiti about her love of music, influences and her upcoming performance.
Tell us about your history with music; what are your first memories?
I’m lucky to have been born because of music. My dad, a blues musician, met my mum through her blues harmonica playing brother in the Adelaide music scene. My earliest memories are music – either my dad playing it, attending gigs or festivals, or listening to it anywhere in the house or car. I have so many memories; I wouldn’t know where to begin!
And when did it become apparent to you that it was something you wanted to spend your life doing?
As a pre-teen, I became obsessed with Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Wu Tang Clan, Jay Z, Fiona Apple and the Spice Girls. I loved singing and started writing my own songs around the age of 12. Watching my dad live the life of a musician was sobering; the late nights, dealing with eclectic personalities, drunks in pubs, being responsible and accountable for the band, the instruments and chasing up gigs and the money you might make – it all looked too stressful.
I didn’t actively seek a life as a musician. I just don’t think I really had a choice. I studied Graphic Design and became a full-time designer, but it definitely wasn’t my purpose. I was good at it, but it wasn’t my calling. I met James Mangohig through a high school friend and we clicked musically immediately, and from then I knew I could do it.
Who are your musical influences?
So very many! Let me start, of course, with Big Mama Thornton, Irma Thomas, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Little Walter, Junior Wells, Bobby Blue Bland, Ike and Tina Turner, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Chuck Berry. Koko Taylor… then I would say Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Timberland, Lauryn Hill, Faith Evans, Leela James, Fiona Apple … the list goes on!
How would you describe your sonic vibe?
The music from my debut album ZINC I would describe as rusty blues meets driving hip hop laced with warm R&B and New Jack Swing!
How was ZINC received when you released it last year?
By industry means, it’s been received amazingly well – I got four stars from Rolling Stone,
themusic.com.au and The Australian, all with super nice write ups about it. It’s also been nominated for an Aus Indie Air Award in the Blues and Roots Category, which is super humbling! I’ve definitely gained new fans, and the people who find me through Spotify or Apple Music or anywhere really, who reach out, always have nice things to say! It’s a nice feeling that’s encouraging and validating. It’s what I wanna do for the rest of my life, and I count myself grateful and humbled to be given the opportunity.
We are excited to have you on the line up for this year’s Bellingen Winter Music Festival. What are you looking forward to about playing this gig?
First of all, that I get to play twice and spend at least two days in Bellingen. It’s gorgeous country, and I love meeting people from the region. Meeting fans and learning about a place is important to me. It helps me understand the world a little more and inspires me to create.
What have you got planned for the next 12 months?
I’m currently in the UK beginning my career here – getting the ball rolling, I guess! When I get back, I’ll be heading to Barunga – an incredible community festival that I attend every year in my home territory – the NT, 3.5 hours’ drive south of Darwin. I can’t recommend a trip to this festival enough! I’ll be doing a national tour with The Teskey Brothers in June, Bello in July of course, then I’ll be locking myself in the studio to write album number two! And the cycle begins again!
And lastly, where can our readers go to follow your journey and keep in touch?
Social media of course! I’m on instagram @caitibakermusic, Facebook and twitter – caitibakermusic, and YouTube – caitibaker. I have a website also – caitibaker.com
Catch Caiti at this year’s Bello Winter Music Festival,12 – 15 July.