INTERVIEW: Daniel Baker | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Having already produced a variety releases under several pseudonyms (including Ship Canal, whose 2016 EP The Council Estate Sings received acclaim from The Wire), Daniel Baker is now preparing a new release under his own name, with Special Forces Party/Party LSD Boys set for release on Monday 31st July. Merging Baker’s usual deconstructionist noise production with spoken word performances, I talked to him about his influences and how he produces his startling work.

Outlining the genesis of his Ship Canal project, Baker explains, “Ship Canal is very specifically designed as a kind of flipside or response to the bass/club music me and my friends were obsessing over during our early twenties. I still adore that stuff, but Ship Canal was two things when it started out and pretty much remains so. Firstly, I was trying to recreate the ideas I had in my head when I’d come back from parties or raves out my tree and completely wiped out at 9am in the morning, and I’d be endlessly looking through my record collection to come up with that one record that would perfectly fit my zoned out mood. Secondly, it was a project for me to have an outlet for my struggles with anxiety and depression: like therapy but without the waiting list.”

Certainly, his material may not always be an easy listen, but in his production and his spoken word output, Baker is an artist with plenty to say. I asked him about his lyrical inspirations: “realistic but dissociated is an accurate description really, in that my vocal based stuff is certainly politically motivated. I’m particularly inspired by the work of Claire Potter and Sean Bonney, both of whom have this uncompromising approach to navigating late capitalist society but can occasionally, almost out of nowhere can be grimly funny and self-deprecating.”

Talking to Baker, it’s evident that it’s the DIY potential of noise and experimental music that is of great appeal to him. “In terms of being inspired to perform I was clueless, I’d go to gigs and see people using banks of pedals and have no idea how I’d be able to afford or use it. Eventually I heard that Moon Wiring Club made all his tunes on a copy of Music for the Playstation and that was a massive inspiration. I got a copy of Ableton, and to this day, I don’t really know what I’m doing. It’s really, really basic and I always emphasize, anyone can do this if they’ve got a copy of Ableton and a laptop.”

As dark as his work sometimes can be though, there’s a stubborn streak of dark humour running through it, which Baker agrees is vital to its success. “There’s a huge amount of cringesome, self-important, dry stuff out there that leaves me completely cold, and it’s the stuff people immediately think of when someone talks about experimental music. But there’s always been a great tradition of piss-taking and fun in noise music too. I think experimental music should always be aware of it’s ridiculousness to the majority of the population and play around with that wherever possible in the same way that good genre cinema does, you know? So it’s absolutely vital to me that people can find some humour in my stuff too.”

Special Forces Party/Party LSD Boys is released on Hand Loom Lament on Monday 31st July.

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