Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Patrick Baker Interview

Nashville, Tennessee is a town known for its music.  Johnny Cash comes to mind, and recent guest Ben Folds owns a fantastic studio in town as well.  But, rather bizarrely, some great 80s music is coming out of Nashville, too, courtesy of Patrick Baker, a new kid on the 80s block.  Patrick's style is  Prince-esque vocals on a TV-theme style arrangement of synths and drums, and his production levels make you question if he's behind very big music names and has snuck off to do his own solo record.  As soon as I heard his tracks, I knew I wanted him as a guest for the site.  And fortunately, he agreed.  It's exciting to have a fresh artist who's got a bright future ahead of him.

Below is my interview with Patrick Baker, where we talk about his studio, how he came to be in the style he is, and some of his tracks.  Read on...

How long have you been making music?
Patrick Baker: Music really hit me hard in 7th grade when I got deep into hip-hop. After begging my parents to get me a Casio keyboard with a built in sequencer for Christmas I started making beats and recording freestyle raps over top of them which I'd pass out in school.

A couple years later rock music started to resonate with me and I picked a guitar and started playing in some bands with my friends. We always had a hard time finding vocalists to work with so out of frustration I started writing my own songs. Being in a band can be a lot of fun, but eventually I started getting burned out and decided I really wanted to focus on my production chops so I set up a little home studio and started devouring as much information as I could on recording, acoustics and mixing.

What's your studio set up like?
Patrick Baker: My set up is fairly modest. I am fortunate to have a decent sized room which I built some acoustic treatments for. I know you're a fan of analog synths so hopefully I won't lose all of my synth-cred by saying that I use all virtual synths! I own an Alesis QS7 but it's mainly just a MIDI controller for me. My DAW is Cakewalk Sonar and I've managed to build up a fair amount of plug-ins over the last few years. If I have one gear addiction it's probably plug-ins!

How do you typically start your tracks?
Patrick Baker: In past I always started with guitar and voice, but lately I usually start with a drum groove and then add a basic guitar or synth part as the basis for each section. Sometimes I'll work out the melody before starting production. The hardest part is choosing a final melody. I often go through dozens before I settle on one. Right now I have a bunch of acapella vocals recorded on my phone that I'd like to try building songs around sometime in the future.

Do you have any favorite plugins?
Patrick Baker: As far as soft-synths I've recently been loving Martin Luder's PG8X and the Bitley Fairlight collection. My Waves bundle gets a lot of mileage such as the R-Vox, V-EQ, L2, Trans-X and H-Delay. I also use the UAD-1 collection frequently like the LA2A and the Dreamverb.

What modern groups/ producers/ DJs do you enjoy?
Patrick Baker: Well, most recently Mitch Murder and Tesla Boy have been big inspirations to me. Also 80's Stallone, Black Magic Disco, Miami Nights 1984, Lenno, StarDone and FutureCop!. In terms of artists outside the electronic scene I'd have to say Beach House, Beck, Phoenix, Spoon, Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, Two Door Cinema Club, Phantogram and Bon Iver.

Tell me a bit about the production/ making of Get 2 Know U.
Patrick Baker: For Get 2 Know U I was really in summer mood. I started first with the drums getting the groove and sounds just right. In this case I tried something different and took the approach of individually placing the WAV's which is painstaking but has its advantages too. After the drums I came up with the first iteration of the chorus synth part. At first it was pretty bland chord voicings, but gradually it morphed into something a little more exciting. I ended up blending 3 or 4 synths for the final sound. After that I started adding the bass and guitars. I was pretty happy with the bass sound I ending up getting for this track. The melody came last and was tough. I had the instrumentation done was basically stuck. I had recorded dozens of ideas on my phone and tried to sift through them, but everything started to run together so I finally just forced myself to start recording things in the studio. That's kind of a good way to force yourself to make decisions. But even at the end I was still thinking the melody could be improved!

What's next for you?
Patrick Baker: Well, I've been working on some new songs for my first official release which will be on KIEZ BEATS. There will be some great remixes as well for it that I'm excited for people to hear. Besides that there are a couple collaborations in the works which are very promising. I plan on keeping busy over the next few months!

Be sure to check out Patrick's website, Twitter, SoundCloud, Facebook, and BandCamp.

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