17 Jul 2017

Louis Baker shares his soul

From RNZ Music

Louis Baker, the Wellington soul-crooner songwriter known for his introspective, honest material, has discovered the power of collaboration.

He's just returned from the US songwriting with Adele, Demi Lovato and Jon Legend's hit-making team. He speaks with Yadana Saw.

Louis Baker is no stranger to RNZ. A quick search through our archives shows that this is his third visit this year alone.

The striking thing about every visit is the soul singer/songwriter’s increasing confidence and assuredness in himself and his music.

This time he’s brought a five-piece band with him. This particular line-up is a  recent configuration, but one that brims with familiarity and ease as the membership have often overlapped in many other musical projects.

The expanded line-up is a departure from the crooning soul-singer and acoustic guitar set-up Louis is known for. His introspective, “honest” and sincere material is evolving from stripped-back solo routine now he’s discovered that the full band brings a vibe.

“It gives people a lot when they listen because it makes them wanna dance a bit more instead of some guy on an acoustic guitar that doesn’t wanna make people dance as much.”

Chuckling as he says this, Baker explains the moment where an enthusiastic Auckland crowd were dancing and singing his song ‘Rainbow’ back at him.

“That was like no other time before have I experienced that sort of sing along with my song. It was a beautiful experience to have people singing that back. So that’s been something fresh and new that I haven’t ever had quite like that. It was very strong, like a choir.”

It’s a long way from the shy teenager who was a finalist in the 'Play It Strange' secondary school songwriting competition.

“My journey was from being absolutely shy, couldn’t even stand on stage kind of thing, which a lot of people go through. I still get nerves, obviously. I feel experience is the mother of all things and you learn from those experiences.

The industry and business side of making music is no longer as daunting to Louis as it previously was. He’s just returned from a songwriting trip to the US, where he also managed to shoot a new music video with Shae Sterling (director of Stan Walker’s New Takeover) for his latest single ‘Addict’ which was developed as part of APRA song hubs, at Roundhead Studios in Auckland, last year.

Currently working towards his new album, Louis’ enlisted some heavy duty talent to collaborate on the songwriting - think Eg White (who has written for Adele), Lindy Robbins (Demi Lovato's 'Skyscraper') and Tony Gad (Jon Legend's 'All of Me'). He agrees that collaborative songwriting isn’t a common experience to New Zealand musicians, although he explains that the local scene has other strengths.

New Zealand has, generally speaking, a jam-orientated mentality or culture. But there’s still collaborations going on, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It’s just more common in LA or London for someone to go ‘You’re in the writing session with so-and-so and so-and-so.’”

“I’m more used to it [collaborative songwriting] now. I think in terms of being a top line writer, it is all about going in, having a chance to meet other wrtiers and  producers on the day.”

For Louis, sharing the creative load seems to be paying off.

“It brings a whole new energy to a song which you just can’t get by yourself. It’s powerful.”

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Music details

Artist: Louis Baker
Song: Addict
Composer: Louis Baker, Sasha Skarbek, Josh Fountain, Em-Haley Walker 
Album: RNZ Recording
Label: RNZ Recording

Artist: Louis Baker
Song: Gave It All Away
Composer: Louis Baker
Album: RNZ Recording
Label: RNZ Recording