Aidan Baker Interview

When I look back on the amazing growth this blog has experience in only a year and a half, I can look to one moment that sent us hurdling through the interweb: our first interview with Aidan Baker. To think that such an influential (and busy) musician would take the time to talk to me really meant a lot, so it is an honor to talk with Aidan again about what he's been up to in the last year, and hopefully we can make this a yearly tradition here at HSJ. And away we go...

HSJ: OK, last year at this time I asked you about your insane release schedule, and you said you'd be slowing down. What happened? :)

AIDAN BAKER: Ah, but it has! Sort of...there have been fewer full-lengths and more singles/comps/vinyl releases in the last little while, at least. And the only solo album I've released this year is "Gathering Blue." I/we actually haven't done much recording at all since we've been living in Berlin, apart from "Clinging to the Edge of the Sky", but considering the number of forthcoming albums whose release has been delayed, for whatever reasons, I doubt anyone will notice a lack.

HSJ: You had also said that you had some writing projects you needed to work on. So how is the writing going these days? And,would you ever put your music and writing together, like a book with a CD? Seems like something that could really work well.

AB: I have done next to nothing on my writing projects, apart from some editing of a forthcoming collection and the sporadic keeping of tour diaries. I have a couple different literary projects I started at least 2 or 3 years ago and have made very little headway's frustrating, but I find writing takes much more concentration and focus than making music does.

I did release a book/cd set a few years ago -- "Wound Culture" -- but the publisher has long ago gone out of business and did a really shitty job on the production of the book itself -- I saw a copy sell on Ebay recently for some ridiculous amount -- I hope the book didn't fall apart on whomever spent so much on it. I don't have any plans to try and get this re-printed, but a couple of tracks from the cd appeared on the "I Wish Too, To Be Absorbed" compilation Important Records released last year.

Afore-mentioned forthcoming collection -- "Passing Thru" -- will be released later this year by Beta-Lactam Ring Records. It's a collection of poems about other artforms (paintings, songs, films) and will also include a cd with versions of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Arvo Part, etc. on it.

HSJ: So, not content with a killer solo career, and a critically acclaimed band in Nadja, you've started a new band called Whisper Room, which I really love. Tell us a bit about Whisper Room, and please tell me we'll be hearing more.

AB: Neil, Jakob, and I have a long history of doing shows together and collaborating in various permutations, but all three of us first played together at a show in december 2006 when we filled in for a band that didn't show up. Since then, we've played a handful of shows and done some sporadic recording, but it wasn't until we went into the studio last October that we captured something with which we were happy, which turned into the "Birch White" album.
I'm sure we will do some more shows and recording in the future. No specific plans, as yet, though.

HSJ: BUT...Whisper Room isn't your only band outside of solo work and Nadja is it?

AB: At the moment it is, yes, although my ARC project is still sort of active (although it's been fairly sporadic the last few years). I've been kind of itching to do something different, though, so if I find the right people it would be nice to play in another band.

HSJ: Last year I had asked you what your favorite work of your career was up to that let's change gears.In the last year or two, what work are you most fond of? To me,the Bungled and the Botched could've easily won Album of the Year in 2008. It was/is a truly stunning release that is still a regular listen, and really carries a heavy emotional impact with it.

AB: We had a lot of fun doing our covers album "When I See The Sun Always Shines On Tv" -- and I think it's interesting how reviewers have commented on how 'focused' we sound on it. Especially so, considering our forthcoming album "Under The Jaguar Sun" (Beta-Lactam again) is one of the most abstract and experimental albums we've done. We invited a few other people to play with us on it as well, so it's also much more varied instrumentally (strings, sitar, harmonium, percussion, etc.) and sonically than our previous albums.

When it came out, there were a lot of comments about "The Bungled & The Botched" being new and different sounding for us, but we actually recorded that several years ago now...a label that originally expressed interest in releasing it sat on it for almost two years before we gave it to Consouling. Bungled will be seeing a re-issue (digitally and on vinyl) this fall with Toronto's Blocks Recording Club, so it will be available again.

HSJ: In relation to the last question, even though you have a bit of a higher profile now, it still seems that Bungled was a bit overlooked. Is this just a case of having so many releases? Have you ever put out something and it didn't really get the reaction you had anticipated?

AB: I think it's more about the label than the number of releases. I like to work with different labels since it gives us a chance to work with people who have different aesthetics and fanbases and such, but some do a better job at promoting and distributing a release, of course. That said, we have been trying to stay away from really limited releases because they just end up on Ebay.
I have been frustrated sometimes with releases that I think would appeal to a wider audience but the label in question doesn't have the resources to get it out there. This is one of the main reasons I've been trying to get some of my solo albums re-issued, since the majority of them had such limited availability but I still want people to hear them (and not have to pay those Ebay prices).

HSJ: You've done an amazing job recently of releasing compilations, or re-recording older tracks. Seems to me you're turning a corner marking a new phase in your career, but still respecting the old stuff.

AB: See above. Some of my older releases I can't listen to anymore, for various reasons, but there are a number that I still like and want people to hear. At the same time, though, there are still a number of things I want to try, so it's a question of balancing the new with the old.

HSJ: Ok, tell me someday I'll be able to buy some crazy-ass Aidan/Nadja 100 CD boxset. Ever think of massive stuff like that? Hey Merzbow had the merzcar or whatever. You could do the Aidan Baker Tour Van, just stuffed with loads of CDs and records.

AB: I have been contemplating doing a USB memory stick release...

HSJ: That would be amazing! So...I asked Stephen O'Malley a few months ago why he never put his music on cassette, and then a month later there was a live Sunn O))) tape, so I'm going to try to work some similar mojo on you. Seriously though, I think that bit of warble would sound amazing on a Nadja tape.

AB: I can't say I'm very fond of tapes...I have too many memories of favourite albums getting chewed up and mangled in shitty cassette players. We did have someone say they could do an 8-track release for us recently, which was kind of perversely tempting...

HSJ:So how'd the recent tour go with Thisquietarmy? You guys do any live collabs?

AB: No live collabs, no. The tour for the most part was pretty good. Some strange experiences, particularly in Poland...but generally it went well.

HSJ: I think that's it man. Thanx again for your support of HSJ. Means a ton. Give me the scoop on all the new stuff coming.

AB: Okay, let's see if I can remember everything...this will probably take us over the course of this year and into the next (and doesn't include some collabs we currently have on the go with, for example, Troum and Picastro)...

Nadja - Under The Jaguar Sun (2xcd/lp) - Beta Lactam Ring Records
Nadja - The Bungled & The Botched (lp) - Blocks Recording Club
Nadja - Thaumogenesis (lp) - Important Records
Nadja - Bliss Torn From Emptiness (lp) - Anthem Records
Nadja - Autopergamene (cd) - Essence Music
Nadja/Black Boned Angel collaboration (cd/lp) - 20Buck Spin
Nadja/Pyramids collaboration (cd/lp) - Hydrahead Records
Nadja/Bloody Panda collaboration (cd) - Important Records
Aidan Baker - Passing Thru (book/cd) - Beta-lactam Ring Records
Aidan Baker - Songs of Flowers & Skin (cd) - Beta-lactam Ring Records
Aidan Baker - Liminoid/Lifeforms (cd) - Alien8 Recordings
Aidan Baker - Noise of Silence (cd) - Essence Music


AK said...

it's nice to see someone else who doesn't care for cassettes. i can't figure out why the hell people do cassette releases. were they too young or can they not remember what hell the cassette years were?

having to return my "ultimate sin" cassette 6 times because of sound defects was a nightmare. or watching one of my rare metallica tapes getting chewed beyond the recognition with no easy way to replace it. how many times did i have to bust open the case to salvage the reels and place them in the shell of a blank?

attention all people who make cassette releases. they suck. and if it's for irony---you're a bastard.

JL said...

Thanks for this great interview with a wonderful - & insanely productive (Whisper Room, Nadja, ARC & solo notwithstanding, "it would be nice to play in another band") - artist!

See my recent post at


Lend Me Your Ears

Anonymous said...

C'mon AK! But they sound so cool right before they die! Like your own personal pitchshifter.

Julian,gonna check you out later. Thanx for stopping by!