Chris Baio has kept a secret for some time. If that name doesn't jump off the page immediately, just know that Baio is no slouch in the rock star department. He's spent the last 8 years putting the pep in Vampire Weekend with his spirited, low end contributions on the bass. Playing in such a beloved band is one of those unique, full-time jobs that also somehow creates a ton of down time on planes and tour buses, in hotel rooms, at concert venues, etc. There is a lot of time to sit around and think...there is a lot of time to figure out what to do about all those sounds bopping about in the brain.
In Baio's case he took the opportunity to find his own unique voice and fashion himself a songwriter. It's a side of his musical persona that he's tinkered with for the last 6 years or so, only recently introducing his solo project (efficiently titled, Baio) to the world. So we invited the bespectacled and blazered New Yorker-turned-Londonite by Baeble to show us around his brand new solo debut, The Names.
"I consider myself a songwriter as much as a bass player", Baio told us during his visit. "This is now a place where I get to do that, so I'm psyched on it". As he should be. Actually, that particular quote is falls on the modest side of things. He's actually a musician, songwriter, producer, and DJ these days; all roles that influence the refreshing, meandering nature of both The Names and the impressive session we captured.
On electronic inspired cuts like "Brainwash yyrr Face" and the album's title track, Chris refrences both classic art rock and the early days of techno music (think Bowie, Television, Talking Heads, and Arthur Russell). Naturally, there are also glimpses of his other gig with Vampire Weekend lurking on the album and our performance here, particularly on the skittish, acoustic rendering of first single "Sister of Pearl" (Baio's "little Woody Guthrie moment"). "The most exciting part for me is that I've been thinking about this record for a really really long time," Baio concludes. "Now that the songs are out there it's not my secret anymore".
called Sister Of Pearl. For the last nine years, I've played bass in the band Vampire Weekend, and for me took a very long to transition to a songwriter and singer. Gonna write it down-down-down If you'll just regret it, don't bring your ass around-round-round It is what it is until it was what it was So just keep on swinging if only because-cause-cause I can tell by the look, you don't mean what you say Like a sentimental crook, it's tough to get away If it even would matter, I would play every part But I'm too overeager and I just false start Oh, sister of pearl, I wouldn't change you for the world Oh, sister of pearl, I wouldn't change you for the world In the band my role is, really, you know, the bass player. Coming up with arrangement ideas. Coming up with bass lines. But, probably around six years ago, I was having ideas for sounds in my head, and I didn't know the first thing about how to translate them into songs. You know, I consider myself a songwriter, as much as a bass player. I consider myself a producer, as much of a bass player. And this is, now, a place where I get to do that, so I'm psyched on it. Ooh-ooh Think I might forget it, gonna write it down-down-down If it's copacetic, bring it back around-round-round I'm tired of fighting another man's pointless war So please keep up with it just like you have done before. I can tell by the look, you mean what you say Like a sentimental crook, it's tough to get away If it even would matter, I would play every part But I'm too overeager and I just false start Oh sister of pearl, I wouldn't change you for the world Oh sister of pearl, I wouldn't change you for the world Ooh-ooh-ooh Ooh-ooh-ooh The first single, it's called Sister Of Pearl, and it's definitely the poppiest track on the record. And, even though I've made it like an electronic musician, just kind of alone, in the room, programming drums and then playing stuff over it, I think that it's still is a very, very different from a lot of other tracks on the record. I'm excited by the idea of just sitting down with an acoustic guitar, kind of, like, one of the rawest forms you can perform a track, and letting the melody and vocals speak for themselves. I get to have my little, you know, Woody Guthrie moment or whatever. And, yeah, it is a fun song to play. Ooh-ooh-ooh Yeah, with my record I was really trying to make something, where you didn't know what was gonna happen next, and a lot of my favorite albums are kind of more 70s art rock. I was thinking about records, like Maggot Brain by Funkadelic, which opens with a 10-minute instrumental guitar solo, and then drops into a bunch of tight, concise pop songs, and it's never, like, contrived, but it's really exciting. On my record, I want it to be the case that, if you were to jump five minutes forward, at any point, it would kind of make no sense. Like, how could these sounds coexist on the same record, but then, if you were to go back and listen over the course of those five minutes it made complete and perfect sense. So, yeah, I would describe this album as techno and pop, but not technopop. I've been a DJ for a very long time and I like the process of, kind of, building the narrative over the course of the DJ set. You know, sometimes I'll DJ for, like, three hours, and you do get this kind of opportunity to tell a story. And with this record, I really wanted to do maybe, like, a 40-minute story, through sound. Slurred words, will not talk The streetlamp, I don't walk Well, I don't ever like to look that way The secret I don't keep The blurry, fitful sleep Well, that was not what I had meant to say, say Fucked up and zipped in The scratch marks, red linen Well, I don't like it either when I stray The slurred words when I talk The streetlamp, I don't walk Well, I don't ever like to look that way I can do it, like the one you'd never want I can bend it, sinister like his last thought He played his hand, you needed time You found your place when you fell behind You can make it, disappear without a voice See you by the windowsill Delicate like elders' wills See me in a distant land Recognize I've fallen mad But there's a line I won't cross into another shadow There's a line I won't cross, I don't wanna look that way again But there's a line I won't cross into another shadow There's a line I won't cross, I don't wanna look that way again You lift the weak without a name I came discreet cause that's my way Inside the world, we fell into I played the role and so do you I think, maybe, the most exciting part for me is that I've been thinking about this record for a really, really long time, and now that the songs are out there, it's not my secret anymore. Actually, being in the room with the music playing loudly and get to share that with other people, that's, kind of, the most exciting part for me. Hi, this is Chris Baio, aka Baio, and you're watching Baeble Music.
Chris Baio, a passionate lover of dance music with eclectic taste and no allegiance to genre, plays bass in Vampire Weekend. Before that, he ran a radio station, threw basement shows and DJ'd parties at Columbia University in New York. He lives in Brooklyn with an incredibly beautiful cat. His performances have rocked clubs across the globe from Ibiza to Paris to Sydney to Seoul. No one does not leave crying. Ever.