With a baby face like his, it’s hard to believe that Sweet Baboo is in fact in his 30’s. He’s no new comer to the music business either, although still relatively unknown to the public.
Sweet Baboo is the alias of Stephen Black, a native of North Wales. Black has been song-writing for over ten years. Previously he had been a member of band JT MOUSE for a short time before deciding to go it alone. Since then he has released three solo albums under various record labels. His music is a mix of country and psychedelic pop. He initially began song writing as a way to impress girls and to pass the time by. This may explain why most of his lyrics revolve around girls, heartbreak, sleeping and drinking. His last album ‘I’m a dancer/Songs about sleeping’ was shortlisted for a Welsh music prize and has earned him airtime on various radio stations over the UK.
His new album ‘Ships’ is due to be released in April 2013 under Moshi Moshi Records. Black claimed he was too excited to wait, and has put the first single of his record on his website as a free download. This latest single ‘Let’s Go Swimming Wild’ routes back to his past music, with brass featuring heavily throughout. However this single lacks the country strum of acoustic guitar featured in many of his other singles. His signature quirky vocals make the track instantly recognisable as his original brand of music.
OPE recently interviewed Sweet Baboo, heres what he had to say…
You’ve been song writing for over 10 years now, can you remember what it was that first sparked an interest for you in song writing?
I am the youngest of three boys and both my brothers are obsessed with music. I remember the first time I tried writing a song, I searched through both my brothers record collections finding certain words or phrases from each and putting them together to make up my own song. One loved the Beatles the other, Guns and Roses.
The opening lyrics went something like
Have some patience honey pie
Help, the paradise city of yesterday is gone
I’d then went to the piano, and played a variation on Elton John’s ‘Daniel’
Put the two together and bam!
From then I was hooked.
I spent the next few years honing my craft. I got my my mum and dad to buy me a 4 track for Christmas.
I’ve never really stopped since, it just takes me a bit longer to write a song these days.
-Who would you say have been major influences for the route that your music has taken over the years?
My first influences, coming from a village in North Wales, has to be the Furries and the Gorky’s. To see bands from the same country as me on Top of The Pops and Jools Holland was inspirational. It was even better that they made (and still do make) the best pop music in the world.
I’m also obsessed with The Beach Boys, Jonathan Richman, The Monkees, Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Alvy Singer, my friends music and their bands, Wings, Weezer, anything on the Woodsist label, Bill Callaghan, The Evil Dead Trilogy, Daniel Johnston to name a few.
-Are there any musicians in todays music industry that you feel you could compare your music to?
I wouldn’t like to say, my dad says I sound like The Beautiful South, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.
There’s lots of bands I’d like to be compared to, please see my other answers.
-You’ve worked with an ever-growing array of musicians throughout your career. Are there any others in particular that you would like to work with?
Rivers Cuomo, Woods, Eleanor Friedberger, Let’s Wrestle off the top of my head. I imagine there’s loads.
-You’re still pretty unknown to the majority of the public at the minute despite already having released 3 albums. Would you say you’ve changed it up a bit for the fourth album in order to bring your music to more peoples attention?
No I don’t think so. I know my music has changed over the years but it’s never been a conscious decision to become ‘Popular’ . Without trying to sound like a dick my records all sound pretty similar to me.
My only conscious decision on the new album was I wanted more brass on it, and that was because I’d been listening to a lot of the Dexy’s and northern soul records.
I’d also hired a baritone sax for the recording and subconsciously probably wanted to get my monies worth out of it.
-You’ve been doing the rounds in the festival circuit. Do you prefer performing at festivals rather than doing your own solo stuff?
No, I don’t think I have a preference. I just like playing. My girlfriend says it’s the only time I genuinely look happy and contended and I suppose I’d agree.
-Your new album’s entitled ‘Ships’ and is due for release this April. What inspired you for the making of this record?
I started off wanting to write a concept album about the sea. The Welsh coast (s) are pretty spectacular.
I also didn’t want to make a record about girls.
Somewhere along the way the concept kinda went out the window.
So, it ended up being a brass heavy pop album partly inspired by my love of the sea, my surroundings and girls.
-Finally, is there any advice you would give to those trying to make it in todays music industry?
Be nice, have fun and don’t worry too much about the music industry cause they’re making it up as they go along.
Sweet Baboo is holding a free gig in launch of the single at Shacklewell Arms in London on the 20th February. Tickets are available from his facebook page.