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Artist Survey 2013: Sweet Baboo

Stephen Black on His First R-rated Movie, Bad Reviews, Lou Reed, and the Biggest Scam in the Music Industry

Feb 13, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar‘s 11th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the important issues of the last year, as well as some quirkier subjects. Check out our next print issue and digital issue for surveys from My Morning Jacket, Foals, Amanda Palmer, Local Natives, Wild Nothing, These New Puritans, Lanterns on the Lake, Xiu Xiu, and Summer Camp.

Here are answers from Wales’ Sweet Baboo. Sweet Baboo’s Motorhome Songs EP was released last November on Moshi Moshi. His latest album is Ships, which was also released last year by Moshi Moshi.

Top 7 Albums of 2013

That’s a tough one. I can tell you 10 albums I’ve bought this year.

1. Cate Le Bon: Mug Museum-This is a slightly nepotistic choice, as I played on the album, but I think it’s fantastic. It’s the perfect balance between out-of-tune guitar and beautiful melodies. “I Wish I Knew,” the duet with Perfume Genius, is understated genius. CLB just keeps getting better. I’m very proud to have been a part of it.
2. Islet: Released by the Movement-Another dubious entry, as I helped record it. The best band in Wales, and this album is a joy to listen to from start to finish. Good gym music.
3. Euros Childs: Situation Comedy-Last of the back-slapping, as I played bass on this one too, but Euros Childs is the best. This album, his ninth, is packed full of brilliant pop songs, a peanut vendor reference and some bonkers lyrics. Best gig of the year too (no, I wasn’t in the band).

Okay, that’s it for albums I played on.

4. R. Seiliog: Doppler-A one man Welsh Krautrock machine. Another great gym album.
5. Bill Callahan: Dream River-Less of a gym record, but I love everything Bill Callahan does. My hero. Swoon!
6. Eleanor Friedberger: Personal Record-More than anything, I love the sound of this record. It’s a big inspiration for how I want my next record to sound. The song “When I Knew” is a killer: considered, concise, cool. All the Cs.
7. The Music Tapes: Mary’s Voice-I love the Elephant 6 bands. This sounds amazing and the 3D cover is amazing. It’s kaleidoscopic. I missed him when he played in Cardiff but I wish I’d have got to see the giant metronome.

Seven out of 10 isn’t bad. I’m on holiday at the moment, so I am not near my records. I know there are others I bought that were released this year, but the above are the ones I keep coming back to.

What was the highlight of 2013, either for you personally or for the band?

It’s all been pretty good. The album did way beyond what anyone hoped or expected. The band played its first and second headline tours of Britain and people came and we didn’t lose thousands of pounds. We got to play some great festivals and took a brass section with us. It’s all been pretty good.

What was the low point of 2013 for you?

My tour managing debut in Europe. Sad, sad, confusing times.

What are your hopes and plans for 2014?

The plan is to try and record an album and hopefully release it. Some dates have been booked, it’s just a question of writing some songs now.

What are your thoughts on the passing of Lou Reed? Did his music influence you at all and in what way?

Well, I thought, “that’s sad he’s gone,” but he seemed to have had a pretty good life. He always did what he wanted and didn’t seem to care what anyone else thought. I must have watched the video with him and Pavarotti dueting on “Perfect Day” somewhere in the ‘90s and Lou Reed’s facial expressions are amazing. I don’t know if this is true, but I like to think that Lou Reed took everything in good humor and with a pinch of salt. I’ve been listening to Loaded and The Velvet Underground since his death and what I always forget is that Lou Reed wrote some catchy tunes. I hear his influence in a lot of Welsh music and I guess mine is included in thathis pop sensibility and fuck-you attitude.

What are your thoughts on Obamacare, now that it’s being implemented?

Being Welsh and living in the U.K., it’s very hard to understand the resistance to the idea of universal healthcare. Healthcare is free in the U.K. and Obamacare is trying to make sure the poorest people are insured. It’s not even free. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

What are your thoughts on music streaming services such as Spotify
and Rdio? Are they good or bad for musicians?

As someone who uses Spotify all the time, I have to say it’s a good thing. Music is to be listened to and shared. If people don’t want their music on there, take it off, but don’t make a song and dance about it. My music is also free to listen to on my website. I, for one, am just as likely to buy someone’s record and go their gig if I have heard their music on Spotify or not.

Do bad reviews bother you and which negative review has affected you the most?

On the main, no, but there have been a few who have written character assassinations of me on the basis of listening to my album once. It’s hard not to take them to heart. Say you don’t like the music, by all means, but give me a reason why. Also, give the reader some reference points so he can make an informed decision himself. Music journalism, especially on the web, has gotten very lazy and/or self-obsessed. It’s amazing how many reviews lift big chunks from the press release. It doesn’t seem worth reviewing at all. For a consumer or reader I just don’t think they are very helpful.

What moment in history do you most wish you could’ve witnessed in person?

I wish I would have been alive for the birth of rock and roll. I imagine it must have been pretty wild.

What is your favorite word and why?

“Glorious.” My word for the month of November.

What was the first R-rated (17+) movie you remember seeing and how old were you?

Evil Dead 2. I was about 13.

Which lyric written by someone else do you most quote?

This year I’ll go for “And so I couldn’t get her out of my head/so I got her out of hers instead.” I don’t tend to use it in conversation though.

What’s the biggest scam in the music industry today?

That listeners need constant updating.

What’s the weirdest and/or worst place you’ve slept while on tour?

I spent a lot of one Cate Le Bon tour under a towel.

What was your favorite bedtime story as a child?

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Do you have any other thoughts about the current state of the world or the state of the music industry?

Peace, love, and positivity.


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