This month's artist feature is an amazing talent whose music, and art speaks for itself.
baron. is an award winning poet/spokenword artist turned electro hip-hop, rock, lyricist/singer-songwriter/producer on his sophomore album "Celebrity". Originally from Newark, New Jersey, baron. now finds his home in the borough of Brooklyn. According to Deepah Soul, CEO of OutMusic, "baron.'s music will make you feel inspired to be sexy, fabulous, glamorous, bold, submissive and aggressive."
Upon listening to the album, the number of influences packed into this project is extensive. baron is a dear friend of ours at BSC and we are proud to share with you our candid interview with him about his latest project, "Celebrity" as well as his thoughts about art, inspiration, and music.
As it pertains to your artistic talents (music, spoken word, photography, graphic design), is there one particular medium you enjoy working in more than another? If so, which one and why? Additionally, are there some other artistic talents you would like to continue to develop as time goes that you've yet to conquer?
Listing them together makes it look like a lot of stuff. It's strange but I love them all because I get to create. Being a creative person who uses various mediums, it's not a matter of what I like the most but more of what's my focus at the time. And at this time, my focus is all about the music. "Celebrity" is where I've been channeling all my energy lately. I'm the kind of guy who gets possessed by his projects. So you can say that I'm very much possessed by this CD.
In some of your promotional materials for Celebrity, you are quoted as saying "I live under a belief that focuses on the similarities between human beings. Can you embellish on that statement and talk about the value that you find in this way of thinking as is pertains to being an artist?
It's a belief that has keeps me grounded as a person then as a performer. As a performer no matter what the audience demographics may be, I strip myself of judgments, classifications, and labels. When I perform, I'm looking to connect. It's usually those labels, judgments, classifications that hinders the connection. The value I have is in being able to connect to the world in a deeper way. When I'm talking, singing, or whatever, I'm not just communicating with a particular group of people, I'm talking to everyone. And my supporters respect that from me.
In terms of how your songs or spoken word pieces are written, do you have a particular process that you follow or do you tend to let each individual experience dictate how a piece is created?
Various things in life inspire me and often what happens is that I elaborate. It's a very random process. Sometimes the songs are developed from an event as in "Birds". Most of my work begins in the shower. I remember singing the chorus to "Birds" while I was in the shower after me and my ex-lover had an argument. It's just that real. Songs like "Feel Like Fashion" were concept driven. I wrote the lyrics first and then created the music. I wanted to write a song that speaks to us who likes to dress-up to feel better. While at the same time point out that the clothing can't satisfy the beautiful we really are.
How important do you feel it is for artists to be TRUTHFUL in their work? What have been some of the pros and cons being honest and truthful in terms of your work as an artist if any?
I think artist have a responsibility to create art. My request is that the artist be authentic with what he/she creates. For example, Whitney Houston doesn't write her songs. However, when she sings you walk away feeling as if she's been through it. That's what I'm talking about. The artist has to be true to the experience. If not, it's just more garbage and who wants that. The pros for being truthful in my work is that I allow myself to be accessible. I believe the honesty creates a connection. A con, is that some audiences aren't ready for that kind of honesty. And in some instances it could get a little crazy.
Can you talk about the concept behind your latest release, Celebrity and discuss how the album was created and differs from your previous project, Troubled Man?
"Celebrity" is a CD designed to celebrate life and accept what is. It's filled with music designed to make you think while you sweat. I liken it to a dance-club with 3 floors. Tears and heartache on the first floor; sex and sexuality on the second floor; and then there is VIP. Where in VIP you can relax and enjoy all of what you've been through because it's made you who you are right now. My close friends worried that people won't get how personal "Celebrity" is especially for those who have 'Troubled Man'. I'm not too worried, but there is a sharp difference between the albums musically and visually. ' Troubled Man' was about anger, upset, and unrest politically and emotionally. I wrote the album as a troubled man so listeners are meant to feel that. I chose music that was darker, grittier and heavier in sound. I still get goose bumps when I listen to "Gray". Celebrity on the other hand is more exotic. It's way more in charge and glamorous but with it's own sense of maturity. In the spirit of celebrity-ism, I wanted to create a CD that dissected the phenomenon. A balance of what we choose to celebrate in people/ourselves and what we choose to be ashamed of. The songs have their individual complexity. My sound developed as I developed because I was new to everything; songwriting, beat making, producing, everything. Therefore I had no template to follow except for the music I liked and the stuff going on in my head.
Inspiration. Talk about how important this element is to you in terms of your life, your work and the world at large as you see it.
The thing about inspiration is that there is no general form to it. I get very inspired by the way people talk, so I'm always paying attention to that. I'm inspired by music of course. But my taste varies and I love really good lyrics and complex rhythms. I'm inspired by the unexpected.
As an independent artist, please talk about the benefits and challenges you've faced in terms of getting your work (particularly your music to the masses).
As an independent artist I have the freedom to create as I choose and things are on my schedule. If I want to perform this week, then I perform this week. If I don't, then I don't. There isn't much pressure unless I decide to put the pressure. There's more freedom as an independent artist. The set back in being independent is getting your music to a wider audience. Getting on major radios is almost impossible and you can't be everywhere at the same time. Being an independent artist you have to be your own booking agent, PR, A&R, street team, and still create, rehearse, and write great material and give a hell of a show. Yeah, it's a lot. As a poet it was easier because it was just the poems I had to worry about. But now since moving into music, there's so much more. It's a journey I'm learning as I go along and I do love it.
Performance or creation/production? In terms of responsibilities of an artist, do you tend to enjoy one more than another?
I actually like it all but you can quote me on this, "I will not produce another album again". I've gained lots of knowledge about the studio which I am grateful for, however the production process is rigorous and I'm not sure I'll do it again. It's way more intense than I had imagined. I respect music producers on a totally different level now. Spending half an hour just to find the right snare is down right ridiculous. Performing is what I really love right now. Connecting with the audience. I'm mostly shy off-stage so being on stage allows me to have fun and be outrageous.
Racism, HIV/AIDS, politics. In reference to these three issues, what strides/advancements have you noticed in recent years as far as how they're addressed/acknowledged in the mass media?
You know what, I actually don't pay attention to those things as far as media is concerned. I don't even own a television. What I would like to comment on is that with the rise in numbers as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned in the black community, the media's message for reducing numbers is not connecting. I believe there should be some re-evaluation as to what messages are being transmitted and what's actually happening.
Labels. Black, white, gay, straight, poz, negative, republican, democrat...what are your feelings on labels? Do you see them as a crutch or as empowering?
I don't like labels and have only used them sparingly. They create an "Us against Them" structure that causes some of the things we so-called "hate" in the world. (i.e. racism, disease, war). I can see where people may find labels empowering being it an identity he/she can attach himself/herself to. I find them to be too limiting for human beings as we are more complex. What I find empowering is seeing myself in other people no matter what socio-label he/she has a connection with. People are people to me.
Who/What are some of your influences artistic and otherwise?
Goldfrapp, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Daft Punk, Garbage, Hall & Oates, Missy Elliot, Bjork, Tone Loc, synthesizers, growing up in Newark, Manhattan, The Village, my grandmother, relationships, sex, dance clubs, midnights, fashion, and the youth to name a few.
Dream collaborations. What would they/will they be, with whom and why?
Kanye West: I love what he does musically especially on tracks like "Flashing Lights" and "Stronger". It's so edgy I'd love to work with him. He's also an art whore so it'll be great to see something visual as well. Goldfrapp: They just make some of the sexiest music. Prince: For obvious reasons, who wouldn't want to work with him. Santogold: I love her music. I stalked her on-line a few years back. I've stopped. But if the chance to work together arises, you all better watch out. honorable mention: Missy Elliott, Esthero, Beyonce, M.I.A., Brandy
For more on baron, you can visit him on myspace by clicking here:
baron. on Myspace