Reach Up, Don't Stop: Clash Meets Baauer

Reach Up, Don't Stop: Clash Meets Baauer

The story behind his timely new album 'PLANET'S MAD'...

Baauer's back.

'PLANET'S MAD' is the name of the producer's new album, and it couldn't be more aptly titled for our current global circumstances. It comes four years after the release of his 2016 debut album 'Aa', and is filled with a chaotic energy that's just begging to be unleashed on a stadium-sized soundsystem.

Clash had a quick lockdown chat with Baauer to find out a little more about the new album, and how he's been coping.

We broached 'Harlem Shake', and he told us how Twitch and Discord have really helped in the absence of live shows.

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Hey Baauer, how are you?

Great thanks.

Where have you been based for lockdown and how have you been coping? Has there been anything you've been reading/watching specifically?

I've been at home in Greenpoint (Brooklyn, NYC). I started twitch streaming just as something to do, and found it to be such a a great thing for the quarantine. I go long with it - running for hours at a time while I make music. It sparked my creativity, and gave me a new way to communicate with people who listen to my music. As for watching I need to shout out Sopranos one more time... just a masterpiece.

Tell us about your new album, 'PLANET’S MAD'. There are parallels with what's happening in the narrative of your new album with what we're currently experiencing, but is that just a coincidence? The pandemic hadn't begun while you were writing tracks I imagine...

Total coincidence. I mean the planet was already mad when I was making the album but recently it's gotten a whole lot more mad. The title was always kinda provocative but now it’s just plain relatable.

Can you tell us more about the people creating the music videos for 'Planet's Mad' and the additional production/collaborations? The visuals are pretty trippy!

Yes the studio is called Actual Objects. Rick and Claire are incredible and I'm so happy I was able to link up with them for this project.

Rick came up to the house we had in the Canyons when we were working on the record and we watched movies and discussed the concept really early. January 2019 or something. They make everything in a games engine, so they are super fast and flexible with what they can do.

For example I mentioned I wanted part of the video to be in Times Square and they said "oh we have a times square model already" and with one click I was looking at Times Square.

Are there any featured artists on 'PLANET’S MAD ' that you're excited about revealing to the world? 'Aa' had Tirzah, Future, MIA, Pusha T, Rustie, Novelist etc...or is it all your productions exclusively with no features?

The idea was to make it kind of cinematic... so there are features but they are kind of part of this team that helped put the thing together. I collabed with Holly a lot on this record: a producer from Portugal who is insanely talented and has an incredible ear for strange and amazing sounds. The only featured vocalist is Bipolar Sunshine. He's got such a unique voice that carries so much emotion, i'm really proud of our track together.

'PLANET'S MAD' (and all your music to be honest) feels like it needs to be played on a huge soundsystem to be properly experienced. Are you itching to play some shows?

Yes! I made this album to be played at a show so I hope this happens soon. In the meantime we put on a virtual concert made with Actual Objects and that’s a taste of the live show to come.

What was the hardest part of making 'PLANET’S MAD?

Good question. I might say the final mixes. It's so hard to put the final touches on something and say "OK that's done" I have such a hard time letting go of stuff. I want to tinker with songs forever. Even now when I listen back I think... "I should have made the clap louder."

Looking back on 'Harlem Shake' now (sorry, had to ask!), how do you feel about it? Does it annoy you to be asked about it? I noticed on your website it says you're a #1 double platinum producer, is that via 'Harlem Shake'?

Yes hehe. I've had many emotions about it but ultimately I'm thankful and proud of it. I do want it to be one thing in a LIST of things people use to describe me. Seeing people say "Harlem Shake producer Baauer" is tough to be honest. It’s not like I’ve stopped putting out music and playing out for people for the last eight years.

What are you missing most during lockdown?

I do love being home, but I really miss touring. I love to travel. Japan in particular. My brother lived there so I’d go over there a lot.

What's next for you? Are you finding creativity/inspiration is coming easily during lockdown or are you struggling?

I was struggling, but the album’s given the whole team something to focus on which has been great. The film which drops on release is this epic 40 minute film for this idea i had way back in 2018. Feels great to bring this whole world to life you know. And Twitch and Discord have really helped.

Having an audience there to react to what I am making and to make jokes really gives me a boost. I've made so much new stuff on stream that I’m gonna be able to keep this project fresh for a long time.

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'PLANET'S MAD' is out now.

Words: Patrick Swift
Photo Credit: Teddy Fitzhugh

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