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  • Writer's pictureKuyper

Climbing the Summit: an Interview with Brendan Baker

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Brendan Baker is a dynamic alt-pop musician born and raised in Los Angeles with a new album titled Summitless coming out on January 28. All of his tracks are self-written, self-produced, & even self-promoted: Brendan’s namesake project is through-and-through a DIY reflection of himself. The only thing that Brendan doesn’t create for his project is his album art; it’s made by his good friend and roommate Aaron (yes, Aaron does take orders), yet another lens into Brendan’s world. Brendan’s goal with his music and his young record company, BABL Records, is to create a community: a simultaneously local yet international, intersectional community that focuses on social work while celebrating artistry, humanity, and creativity.

During the interview, Brendan explained BABL Records, his own record company which has a beautiful big-picture vision attached to it. The name references both Brendan’s initials (B. A. B.) and the Tower of Babel, a story from the Bible that depicts why people speak different languages and shows that humans can do anything if we were to cooperate. As the story goes, after the Great Flood and the effective rebirth of the human race, a united race of Homo sapiens that only spoke one language attempted to build a tower that reached the heavens: the Tower of Babel. Worried that if humans completed this marvel “nothing they plan to do would be impossible for them” (NIV 11:6), God complicated their process by forcing everyone to speak different languages. Thus the Tower of Babel was never completed and different languages were erected. Similarly, Brendan’s goal is to reunite the world (or at least a community in it) to create a better world. Brendan said, “I really resonated with that idea of my record company that I created my bedroom, being something that stands for more than just me and is able to bring people together under one sort of idea [...] for BABL Records. [...] Like the things that this community would be able to do if we're all of like-mind and feel like we're running towards the same goal. Like, I've always fantasized about starting a charity organization that helps clean up LA; like literally take the trash out because there's so much garbage, and I feel like the community service that is there just doesn't cut it. So, that's one thing on my bucket list and I have a bunch of other community service-like ideas that I want to pursue. And so, I hope that the people who like those ideas will gravitate towards me because I feel like I have a lot to offer in the way of making that happen.”

Following Brendan’s philosophy on life, his production and lyrics alike are hopeful, personal, largely upbeat, genuine, and catchy as hell. Concurrently attending school as a music production major at California Lutheran University, in 2020 Brendan released his first EP, Lessons Learned in Quarantine. Trying to keep his 20-minute EP relatable and real, Brendan states that, “in [the song “Crazy”] I'm talking about like a fictional girl who is just completely bonkers and wants to see the worst for me and have everything come crashing down because she wants to be with me so badly. And like, it's not an entirely fictional situation; like I've been in that situation before, but I didn't assign it to a [individual] person if that makes sense. Like there's no like actual muse for the song, that's just kind of like an inspiration-thing, based on a situation, which is how I find a lot of that EP came to be was like, I couldn't see anybody. So I was thinking about situations that had happened or could it happen.”

Brendan continued describing what makes Lessons Learned in Quarantine an impactful and genuine album, both in his personal life and possibly for the listener, “Then there was the song, “The Man Who Never Cried” on that EP [which] is really a different space for that EP: it's a ballad in the midst of all these like kind of like poppy techno sort of things. And on that song, I was thinking about how I hadn't talked to anybody for so long, like in-person but also online. Like I just kind of like shut myself in my room and was just making music. So I was really just focused on the product. And then I was watching like my relationships with my friends kind of dwindle because I was not giving [those relationships] any attention. So that's how I was feeling, and then making that song made me make a change in my life so that I could bring those friendships back. So, yeah, I think music can be a really cathartic way to handle things like that.”

Brendan continues explaining how he creates his music and what his goals are as he stated, “I draw a lot of influences from different places, but I feel like a lot of it comes together in sort of like a pop music way in that I like hooky and catchy sounds. I think a lot of my music is derived from trying to find things that I would want to listen to myself so I like to experiment with that and try to figure out what sounds good what sounds hookey. So, yeah, I think my genre is kind of ‘old pop’, because it's a little more experimental than like [modern] pop, but nothing like super out there weird, I don't think.”

As a man of Christian faith, Brendan takes moral inspiration from Christianity but doesn’t necessarily feel called to preach in his songs. Rather, Brendan uses Christianity as a moral framework of how to live his life and how to treat others. This framework, in turn, is apparent in his music as he describes himself, others, and the world around him while other pop artists focus on fucking at the club or being way too sexy for their shirt or bashing bitches in the bathroom stall. Brendan states, “I feel like sometimes [faith can be found] in my word choices. It can be influenced. But I think overall it's more of like the value. Like if I'm gonna write a club song it's not just going to be like, ‘I'm going to take you home and we're gonna we're gonna have sex and this one night stand’. I feel like it's more like, ‘I see you for you and I'm going to go after the person rather than the thing.’ It's kind of like a moral framework for songwriting which sounds so weird to say because it's like, ‘I don't think that my song has a lot of influence on morality’, but it's like if someone's listening to my music and can take something away from like, ‘oh hey this is really different way of thinking about that and that's kind of cool’, then that's good. That's where I want to be. I want to be in sort of that niche where I'm different from other people because I don't only want the ends… I want my means to be to justify the end. I want everything to be good along the way. So, I think that's really how [faith] plays into [‘my’ music] and it doesn't necessarily show through my music: [it’s] not preachy at all or anything. I feel like that would be boring; [...] I feel like a lot of times it like takes the artist out of it almost.”

Brendan’s upcoming EP, Summitless, is slated to drop on January 28. Notably, none of Brendan’s recent singles will be on the EP, so every song on it will be novel. You can presave the album on Spotify using this link; one lucky presaver will receive a 1/1 Brendan Baker merch shirt. It will never be reprinted and was made by hand, by Brendan himself. Additionally, after the album drops, Brendan plans on doing a CD and possibly an official merch sale, so keep an eye on his Instagram @bbuis.ic for more information regarding those drops. Towards the end of the interview, Brendan hinted at the journey that Summitless will take the listener on. He said, “Summitless will make the listener feel like there is no there is no top; like the sky is the limit. That's my hope, that you take away from the EP, but I think the idea with Summitless is that you are coming with me on this journey. We can go together as far as we'll let ourselves go you know and I think that it doesn't have a peak, so long as we don't put one there.”

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