California: A Conversation with Seth Baker
Just two months in, and 2017 has proven itself to be a year of new music. The hit radio stations blare the newest tracks on repeat day in and day out, until the only thoughts running through your head are about not wanting to live forever and fancy buildings that sit on high grounds. Along with the currently big artists, however, many up and coming musicians have started their year off strong as well. A favorite at DOY, Seth Baker, has released his first official EP, California.
Consisting of five lyrically and sonically beautiful pieces, the EP as a whole tells the story of a love and a life in California. These songs are the perfect drive down to the beach with the windows open vibe, and I’m very proud to say that this idea has been tried and verified by yours truly. The EP is a mix of The Mowgli’s and John Mayer, but still is so unique to fit the style of Seth Baker and Seth Baker only. Each song tells its own story, but also adds to the overall tale of California, which is a concept so whimsical.
We were lucky enough to get a behind the scenes look into the EP with Seth, and he shared some stories behind the making.
So, this may be a question with depth, or one very straightforward - either way, why is the EP named California? Did you write the EP while there? What’s the significance behind the sun-kissed state?
California has been a huge part of my life in the past year and a half. I was in a serious relationship with the girl I thought I was going to spend forever with and we were long distance between the west coast and east coast. She lives in LA, so obviously a lot of our memories are in California, and the state holds a lot of sentimental value to me. I thought for so long that California was going to be home after I graduated, because I was planning on moving to be close to the girl I loved. The relationship that inspired the whole EP was a period of huge growth and self-discovery for me; the name "California" kind of encompasses that whole part of my life. It also works well as a title just in that California is a dreamy place, and the name calls forth images for everyone, regardless of whether they've actually been.
Working off of the previous question, I can easily imagine someone driving down a palm tree lined road in CA with their windows rolled down, blasting this EP. What inspired you to perfectly embody the sound of the ocean in your music?
I've always had a laid back personality, and I've always loved the ocean, surf culture and warm weather. Besides the huge influence of John Mayer, I grew up listening to people like Jack Johnson, Zach Gill, and The Beach Boys. I think the combination of all of these elements came together to create the sound you hear on the EP.
Quite obviously, each of the five songs have immense amounts of emotion behind them. Which, however, do you feel holds the most connection with?
I'd say "Leave the Light On" is the one I connect most with; it's the only song I've ever written that almost made me tear up as I was writing it.
I’m not going to lie here. I cried listening to “Leave the Light On” for the first time. And the second time. And the seventh time. Do you find it easier to write such gut wrenching songs when you’re feeling those emotions in the moment, or once the time has passed?
In the moment, for sure. We had actually finished all the other songs and were out of studio time when I sat down one morning, picked up my guitar and just started singing what I felt. I knew the emotion behind the song was raw and real, and it holds a sentiment that anyone can relate to, so I had to figure out a way to get it onto the EP. I wrote the song in about 20 minutes that morning, texted my friend Thomas and asked if he'd be willing to help record it at his house, he said yes and we recorded it in a couple hours the next day. Shoutout to Thomas for being willing to lend his home studio and piano skills to get this song recorded and onto the project.
Are all of the songs written from personal experiences, or were some bits and pieces? The drive behind them displays an exceptional passion behind the lyrics and the composition.
All but one of the songs are from real personal experience. It's a lot harder for me to write about fictional experiences than real ones.
The California EP flows together beautifully, telling a nautical tale of a California love. Are the individual stories told all from the same time in your life, or are each of the songs independent in their own realms?
They're all from the same time in my life; each one tells a bit of that story. The cool thing about this EP to me is that it tells one cohesive story, like a miniature album, whereas a lot of EPs are more like mixtapes - just a mix of different songs, sounds and stories.