Caiti Baker is taking off. A soul-steeped vocalist and front woman who recently embarked on a solo career, she’s already gracing stages the size of Suncorp Stadium. Signed to the impressive Darwin-based label Perambulator Records, the only way this jazzy crooner is going is up.
With a debut album in the tail-end of development and the juicy Wollombi Music Festival on her calendar, we caught up with Caiti for the latest.
A champion for Northern Territory’s enriched scene with a full album on the way, Australia can’t help but pay attention to Caiti Baker.
HAPPY: How are you? What are you up to at the moment?
CAITI: Hi! I’m well thank you! I’m in the last stages of getting my debut album finished. I’m back home, finalising production and vocals, working on the artwork and hanging out with my crew.
HAPPY: How has it felt getting your very own music out into the world for the first time?
CAITI: It feels natural, like exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I released Heavy On My Heart in August 2016 and since then, I’ve pretty much been on tour and finishing the record up. I’m so proud of what I’ve released so far (Make Your Own Mistakes came out in January this year) and I’m even more excited, if not a little nervous, to release more material.
HAPPY: Has becoming a full-time musician had any personal drawbacks?
CAITI: Not really, I mean, I spend more time away from home and my loved ones but I’ve kinda been living this way for the last ten years. Even as a part time musician, I was a part time FIFO worker and spent a lot of time away from home when I wasn’t touring. Since going full time with music, it’s just intensified… epically. Haha!
HAPPY: You’ve become quite involved with Briggs, Trials and Bad Apples. How did that relationship come about?
CAITI: When I was in my previous band Sietta, before we released our second LP The Invisible River, I got an email from Briggs asking if I’d like to collaborate on a track for his then upcoming Sheplife record. I was constantly getting hit up by rappers everywhere I went to essentially be a ‘hook bitch’ and saying no was easy. I really dug the music Briggs had made but I didn’t know him personally and I only work with people I know. So, I said no! Two weeks later, he wrote another email, asking again. I liked his tenacity so I listened to the song and loved the lyrics, it was about his daughter. The song is called Bigger Picture. I wrote the hook lyrics and melody and when I was in the studio recording the track, Briggs rocked up and hung out for a couple of hours. That was the first time we’d met and we’ve been good mates ever since then.
He ‘Ghostfaced’ another Sietta song called Let It Go and turned it into Purgatory and we shot a clip for that. I’d known Trials independently through the scene and had always loved his production but it wasn’t til Briggs filled us in on this EP that they were working on, that we got the chance to work together. In 2015, I was in LA the same time Briggs and Trials were so we hired a studio and wrote and recorded Dead in a Minute. Back in Australia, Sorry was put together and when I was on tour with Gurrumul, I came into the studio to lay down bent background vocals and harmonies for Take Me Home, which not only features on A.B. Original’s Reclaim Australia but is also the theme song to Ryan Griffen’s Cleverman.
HAPPY: Why do you think yourself and that crew gelled so well together?
CAITI: I think there’s a stack of commonalities at play, mainly music, humour and food. Haha! We’ve all toured together a stack and ’cause we’re all mates it just works, none of us take ourselves seriously which means there’s always something to laugh at.
HAPPY: I respect everything you’re doing for Indigenous music in Australia, it’s something we try to cover as much as possible. Who are some of your favourite artists in that space we should check out?
CAITI: Thank you! Being from the Territory and signed to the sister label of Skinnyfish, I’m lucky to be exposed to the plethora of amazing music coming out of urban and rural Northern Australia. I love B2M – a bunch of Tiwi boys with amazing voices and harmonies and a dynamic range of songs. The Lonely Boys are my favourite Australian rock group, they’re from a community called Ngukurr. Watching them perform their bush punk songs which are anthems in the bush is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Watching the rest of the country fall in love with them after their ABC interview about their support slot for Queens Of The Stone Age in Darwin went viral is so heartwarming and makes me so excited for their future.
I love Tom E. Lewis’ album Beneath The Sun, it’s an Australian classic in my books. I also love the beautifully upbeat yet haunting sounds of Wildflower. Their song Galiwin’ku is so catchy and gets stuck in my head a lot! Eleanor Dixon from Marlinja has one of my favourite female voices in the country. She gives me goosebumps when she sings and I can’t wait to hear what she’s been working on! There’s also this dope collection of varying artists that perform under the banner Skinnyfish Sound System. It can change between members of B2M, the Lonely Boys, Saltwater Band… there’s even this awesome up-and-coming producer called Nathan Fejo who is killing it, he rolls with them too.
HAPPY: And are there any initiatives or industry bodies fans can look to if they want to get involved?
CAITI: I think the best thing fans can do is buy the artists’ music, support them by buying their merch, going to live gigs and learning about their beginnings, their journey, who they were influenced by and who they support. Supporting their labels and radio stations is also a good start!
HAPPY: You’re playing Wollombi Festival this September, who else are you looking forward to on the lineup?
CAITI: I haven’t seen Emily Wurramara live yet so I’m excited to see her! Lime Cordiale have a cool vibe I’m definitely keen to check out. I love playing these kinds of festivals because it expands my awareness of who’s out there. I’m looking forward to falling in love with a stack of new artists while I’m there!
HAPPY: I assume the festival is a great place to hear a few unreleased tunes too?
CAITI: There’s a good chance I will have either only just released my album by the time I play Wollombi or it could be soon after. Either way, I will definitely be playing tracks that most people haven’t heard.
HAPPY: Aside from Wollombi, what should we be looking forward to from yourself?
CAITI: My debut album! A couple of singles along the way and clips to accompany them. And really, who knows what else… It’s a random world and random things happen!