Chain D.L.K.: Do you improvise your songs live or play them pre-recorded (by whatever means) during your gigs?
Aidan Baker: Usually I improvise, with solo and ARC performances, at least. Nadja performances are a bit more structured, but still we usually leave space within that structure for improvisation.
Chain D.L.K.: With ARC, you rework it later on your PC, right (as I’ve read it on the CD)?
Aidan Baker: Sometimes, not always. The Small Voices record is a live recording with overdubbed textures, but some of our other releases are just live, as is. We’re working on a new one for Small Voices which will be more live “sounding” at least…pretty much the basic bed tracks with some computer manipulation of the guitar tracks, but no recording of additional material.
Chain D.L.K.: It’s surprising to see how many records/projects you’re involved in at the moment. How can you combine everything? Are they all active and working?
Aidan Baker: To varying degrees, yes–we’re working on 2 Nadja records simultaneously right now, for example. Quite often I will be working on multiple projects at once, which at least gives a sense of option…if something becomes troublesome or problematic, I can switch to another project and allow the troublesome one some space or gestation or whatever….
Chain D.L.K.: A safety exit or what?
Aidan Baker: In a way — also a means of keeping things fresh…rotating projects, so to speak, so that if one feels forced or burdensome or something I always have something else to focus on.
Chain D.L.K.: It looks like Nadja and your solo releases are those in which you put more emphasis, has it to do with the fact you play live?
Aidan Baker: Actually ARC is more of a live project than a recording/studio project — when we first started up we played a lot and it was meant to be a purely improvisational/free/spontaneous type project so we felt we *had* to play a lot in order to achieve…whatever…musical fruition. We don’t play as often anymore, and when we do it’s often just for recording purposes, largely because I think it’s easier for us to just dive right and in play now. So this isn’t necessarily more or less emphasis — more a different agenda/process.
Chain D.L.K.: I know for a “father” it is hard to chose amongst his sons but which of your recordings/projects gave you more satisfaction and which do you think don’t express their full potential? (And, obviously, why?)
Aidan Baker: A lot of the early Nadja releases I can’t really listen to anymore — mainly because the production is so lousy. I improved my home-studio set-up when we started recording “Bodycage” and “Truth Becomes Death” and I think the difference in recording quality is pretty noticeable. As for my solo work, I still find “Letters”, “I Fall Into You”, and “Field of Drones” (among others) satisfying…. I have been tempted to attempt re-recording some of this material in another attempt to improve production values, but I kind of doubt I would be able to recapture the same mood.
Chain D.L.K.: You have a daily job as a librarian right? Are you slowly trying to earn a living with the music you play or do you think work helps you to remain more independent?
Aidan Baker: I work in a bookstore, not a library, but yes: I work with books. It is kind of nice to have another job to go to as a means of distraction or a break from working on my own stuff…although at other times it’s a frustrating interruption….
Chain D.L.K.: When talking about Nadja I’ve mentioned Godflesh and you were not afraid to admit you like them. What other bands have influenced your style and above all is there anything or some special event/period that you think it pushed you forward into music and above all into the music you play?
Aidan Baker: My parents are both musicians, so it was always assumed that my brother and I would play music in some form when we were young as well…so it is difficult to pin-point a time/event/place that pushed me into music…since it seems to have always been a part of my life. I started out on classical piano and flute and turned to guitar and rock music (or new wave or punk or whatever) when I was a teenager. Sonic Youth was a pretty big influence as a teenager — Confusion Is Sex and Bad Moon Rising are still among my favourite records — particularly as they introduced me to more experimental artists like Glenn Branca, Swans, Foetus, etc. I discovered Godflesh when they released “Pure” and just loved the icy ambience and the bleak heaviness of [Justin] Broadrick’s sound. Other formative influences, which might seem a bit surprising, are Jane’s Addiction (particularly Dave Navarro’s use of delay and texture), PJ Harvey (her sense of rhythm and the simplicity/subtly of her guitar playing), and Red House Painters (Mark Kozelek’s use of space/ambience and melody).
Chain D.L.K.: What do you think about the fact that music coming from Canada is getting a lot of attention? And above all what do you think of the experimental scene you have up there?
Aidan Baker: The experimental scene here is okay…not great. Mainly because everything is so spread out. There are lots of people making experimental music, I think, but they seem pretty isolated; I wouldn’t exactly say there’s a well-knit community of experimental musicians. Nor, for that matter, are there really that many people willing to be an audience…. I think it’s good [that] Canadian bands are getting some more attention, even if I can’t say I’m particularly fond of any of the current big names right now.
Chain D.L.K.: Ok Aidan, tell us how many releases in which you’re involved are going to be out in the next months? And on how many recordings are you working at the moment?
Aidan Baker: My solo album “Loop Studies Two” on Dissonance Records, limited edition CD-R, should be out this month. The next thing after that is a 2 x 12″ solo release called “Plague of Fantasies” on Small Voices (though I still have to complete the artwork before that can come out!). Equation Records will also be releasing a 2 x 12″ version of Nadja’s Bodycage sometime in the near future, along with a solo 12″ called “Gathering Blue”.
Chain D.L.K.: And on how many recordings are you working at the moment?
Aidan Baker: Right now I’m working on two Nadja recordings: a new full-length for Alien8 Recordings and one for Radiotarab. We’re also doing a collaborative project with Black Boned Angel for 20 Buck Spin, but that’s still in the planningstages. I’m also working on another ARC recording for Small Voices, a follow-up to “The Circle is Not Round”.
Visit Aidan Baker on the web at:
[interviewed by Andrea Ferraris] [proofreading by Benjamin Pike]