We love the fact that Aidan Baker chose to answer our first question with a short and simple “good!”. We missed his intelligent way of morphing surreal sounds. Our prayers have been heard and, recently, Ici d’Ailleurs and Mind Travel “The Sea Swells A Bit”, one of his best outputs. Similarly, Karlrecords is going to release “In The Red Room”, his recent collaboration with Markus Steinkellner a.k.a. Idklang These will be really psychedelic sounds that combine ambient, krautrock and drone aesthetics. We had a chat about that with Aidan…
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Aidan! How are you?
Aidan Baker: Good!
Chain D.L.K.: You’re Canadian, but you live in Berlin. Do you miss Canada? What did you manage to find in Berlin that Toronto could not offer to such a versatile artist like yourself?
Aidan Baker: There are some things I miss about Canada, yes. Aside from family and friends, of course, it’s mostly the possibility of solitude and the greater cultural diversity of Toronto. German bureaucracy aside, Berlin is still more permissive and relaxed than any Canadian city ty—a and the cost of living is considerably less than Toronto. This means we can live off making music and art here, which was not possible for us in Canada. Likewise, there are considerably more performance opportunities in Europe than Canada (and even North America, in general), which makes it much easier to survive as an artist.
Chain D.L.K.: A rather “usual” question: what’s the aim of your music? Do you make music for yourself or do you want to send a message to your listeners?
Aidan Baker: Both, really. Music is certainly something I do for myself—because it feels good—but sharing it with others is also part of that sensation.
Chain D.L.K.: One of those records I like to listen from time to time is “Already Drowning”. It was labeled as ‘post rock’ by many reviewers. Do you agree with that description or not?
Aidan Baker: I would not say it’s an incorrect label, exactly; but perhaps an easily-put one. No artist wants to have their work so readily categorized, of course, but I like to think that “Already Drowning” exists outside an established genre. Or at least combines elements from various styles.
Chain D.L.K.: Anyway, the recently released “The Sea Swells A Bit” was probably the moment when the psychedelic and soundscape genres interacted perfectly. Do you agree? How do you explain this choice by Ici d’Ailleurs?
Aidan Baker: Ici d’Ailleurs expressed interest in reissuing some of my older work and I suggested “The Sea Swells A Bit” as a good album to start with It has long been a popular album, one of the favorites of the fans. To be frank, I have often found the appreciation of this album surprising—not because I dislike it, myself, but because I think it is fairly simple; simplistic even. But I guess that very simplicity seems to be part of the album’s appeal, in the opinion of most people. It may well be that the album is a good combination of the psychedelic and soundscape genres; an extremely minimal post rock style combined with ambient drones.
Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to bring it on stage as well?
Aidan Baker: I have played the title track fairly regularly over the years, but never the other two tracks. We have been rehearsing ‘Davey Jones’ Locker’ for my upcoming tour. It might be included in our set.
Chain D.L.K.: Where did you take those impressive photos for the artwork?
Aidan Baker: The photos were taken by a photographer called Francis Meslet, as part of his ‘Abandoned Industry’ series, which can be seen on his website: http://www.francismeslet.com
Chain D.L.K.: There’s a live version of the title track of the re-release of “The Sea Swells A Bit” album. Where did you record it? Do you remember some of the feedback from the lucky people that worked with you on that?
Aidan Baker: The live version was recorded as part of a radio session, so there was no audience. The session was at Radio Scarpe Sensée, a small station in the tiny town of Virtry-en-Artois in the north of France, on the show Le plané à Rium, hosted by Docteur Adams. This happened during a tour in 2012, with my friends and Gizeh Records label mates A-Sun Amissa. We each played a short set of ours, and a short collaboration. They are both online here: https://aidanbaker.bandcamp.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you make important changes to your tracks when performing on live stage?
Aidan Baker: Sometimes—it depends entirely on the song and what I can or cannot replicate in a live setting.
Chain D.L.K.: I mentioned “Already Drowning”, but another album I really liked was “Fantasma Parastasie”, a collaboration with Tim Hecker. Any chance to see you together again?
Aidan Baker: Probably not. We shared the stage a few times in recent years, but, as we live on different continents now, another collaboration isn’t too probable.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you tell us something about your recent collaboration with IDKLANG?
Aidan Baker: Markus and I first met in 2011, when we played together in Ljubljana. Back then we talked about working together sometimes. We intended to work together in person and did play once or twice in Berlin. This experience gave us some ideas and direction, but, in the end, the material that ended up being on “In The Red Room” was actually done online through file sharing.
Chain D.L.K.: Its reversed sounds and the artwork on the cover made me think about the last scene of Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Any connection between the two?
Aidan Baker: There is something of a Twin Peaks connection, yes. But more in an abstract, atmospheric way, rather than any literal connection or reference.
Chain D.L.K.: You also write poems, don’t you? What’s the connection between words and sounds, in your opinion?
Aidan Baker: I tend to keep writing and music separate, actually. For me, music is a much more instinctive and immediate form of expression, whereas writing is considerably more crafted and rigorous. There is some correlation and cross-reference between them, of course, but, generally, the two are quite distinct, both in terms of methodology and what they represent, artistically speaking.
Chain D.L.K.: Any anticipation for your forthcoming tour?
Aidan Baker: This is the first tour where I will be playing my solo music with a standard ‘rock band’ format—guitar, bass, and drums. I have toured and performed my solo work with other musicians before, just not with such a traditional line-up—so this tour will at least be novel for me; and give me a chance to channel some of my Codeine/Bark Psychosis influence.
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
Aidan Baker: Always. I have a couple more solo albums and/or re-issues that will be finished and are scheduled for release later this year. There will also be a new Nadja full-length, “Sv,” on Essence Music, plus an episode, “Songs for Wong Kar-Wai,” on Wist Records, which is part of a series presented by and featuring the work of artist Manfred Naescher, sometimes next fall. I also have forthcoming releases from my other group projects—Adoran, Caudal, and B/B/S/.
Visit Aidan Baker online at: www.aidanbaker.org