Last week we let you in on Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio's delightful little secret. Baio's solo debut The Names was released last month via our friends at Glassnote Records. It's a surprising listen...especially if you can't see past the whole, "he's the bass player" thing. Because Baio is so much more; a songwriter, a musician, a DJ, a producer. He channels it all through his album and the session we captured during his visit to Industry City, BK.
During the session we also sat down with Baio to source out some of the inspirations that cipher through his project and the album he just released. It was a long process...just getting comfortable with his voice took 3 years. Once he had that, he was rolling though, referencing classic art rock, early techno music, psychedelia, and pop all at once. "On my record I wanted it to be the case that if you were to jump 5 minutes forward at any point, it would kind of make no sense," Baio told us. "How could these sounds coexist on the same record? But if you were to go back and listen over the course of those five minutes it'd make complete and perfect sense." It's a fascinating conversation with an extremely multi-faceted artist you probably thought you had pegged. Oh, how these pesky musicians surprise you sometime.
transitions. I love it when a band plays two songs, and they find a way musically to get from point A to point B without stopping and tuning their guitar and saying, "Yo, what's up Milwaukee?" So, for the last nine years of my life, I've played bass in the band Vampire Weekend. And, for me, it took a very long time to transition from bass player to songwriter and singer. In the band, I play with incredible songwriters, and incredible producer, incredible lyricist. My role is really bass player, coming up with arrangement ideas, coming up with bass lines. 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. I decided I wanted to get into production and take on new forms. If you just want credit don't be right so wrong, wrong wrong It is what it is until it was what it was Youn know, I consider myself a songwriter as much as a bass player. I consider myself a producer as much as a bass player. This is now a place where I get to do that. I'm psyched on it. I can tell by the look you mean what you say Like a sentimental crook It's just to get away If it even would matter I would play every bar But I'm too over eager and I just false start I think it's definitely was a long process to figure out what my voice was and what I wanted to sound like. It took me about three years to get to a place where I could put my vocals on a track and not be absolutely disgusted by them. It's a process of trial and error. A lot of grunting into my computer. Months and months of grunting into my computer and waiting till I liked those grunts. It took a very long time to come up with a compelling vocal take. Yeah, with my record, I was really trying to make something where you didn't know what was going to happen next. 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. 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. 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 would make 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. I like the process of kind of building a narrative over a course of a DJ set. Sometimes I'll DJ for like three hours and you do get this kind of opportunity to tell a story. With this record, I really wanted to do maybe like a 40 minute story through sound. The album is called The Names. I called the record The Names for a couple reasons. When I was in my mid-20s, I found out that the square mile town where I grew up is where Don DeLillo wrote all his books. I always considered it kind of a boring suburban New York town, but the idea that there was a desk in that town where a lot of great works were written, I was very struck by that. When I just saw the title The Names, I knew that I would call my record, if I were ever to make one, that, because it has kind of a grandeur to it and a bit of a universality. I think that everyone has a relationship to names on this planet. People have been titling records titles for a really long time. No one's ever called a record The Names. For me, that's pretty thrilling that you can find a universal title that hasn't been used. Even in the months leading up to announcing the record, I was just paranoid that someone else would call their album The Names and then I would have to go back to the drawing board because I knew it was going to be the title of my record for about five years. I'm glad it didn't happen. When I talk, the street light I don't walk, well I don't ever Like to look that way The secrets... The opening two tracks on the album Brainwash yyrr Face and The Names get to explore the more electronic side of things. That comes from DJing and playing out a lot. One of the fun things about playing a live set is that you can think of how to transition in between songs. The record is a little bit that way. Both sides are continuous mixes. When I play live, I tend to play about 20 minutes of continuous music before I say "Yo, what's up Milwaukee?" which is kind of just fun for me. Scratch marks, red linen Well, I don't like it either way I stray The slid words when I talk The streetlamp, I don't walk Well, I don't ever like to look that way I would say that I've been thinking about this record for about five years. There's still many, many minutes in the day, and I can be on tour and traveling with the band and still sort of be thinking about the record. So, a lot of tracks on the album, like a song like Needs, I would have made the instrumental of that at home and then would have taken it on tour on the last Vampire Weekend tour, gotten up in the morning, gone for a walk in whatever city we were in and start trying to write lyrics and hooks for it. So, it definitely was a kind of long process to come to the point where this record's now coming out. I think maybe the most exciting part for me is that I have 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. Getting to go and play a couple of shows. We've played eight shows now. Actually be in a 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 a. k. a. 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.