Charles Baby is in the middle of a typical artist’s day when we chat, juggling multiple jobs and duties in attempt to keep his craft alive and a roof over his head. Music is an expensive business and never more so than for the independent artist with a debut album ready for release.
“I always end up doing all these things that I’m terrible at,” Baby laughs. “I shouldn’t be in charge of my online presence or anything to do with technology; they’re things I don’t have any skills in but they just end up being part of the job. Thank goodness I have a team doing bios and PR for me now because that’s terrible and they are only so many times you can talk about yourself in the third person and not totally hate yourself.”
Baby original bio makes mentions of his impressive list of support slots – Tim Rogers, Josh Pyke – while also attributing his songs to the mystical force of supreme subterranean beings, hmmm. “Yep that was 100 per cent me,” he says with a laugh. “See that’s what I come up with. When it’s left to me you get absolute gibberish that I’m sure is detrimental to my career. Nothing good is going to come from that bio.”
But something good seems to be coming from his songs: awash with a raw Americana/folk sound and dripping with a level of honesty that shows that Baby is not afraid to be exposed. He brought these songs to life in two old school halls in South Gippsland under the skilful guidance of producer J. Walker.
“There’s a real ambience or reverence in playing in those places,” he says of the recording process. “If you just talk into those rooms that sound washes out and echoes so when you sing what might be a middle of the road song, it all of a sudden sounds really important. As a space, it’s also a really profound thing to play in there. We got to do it all live as well, previous I’d been playing to click tracks, and everything’s been really separated and sterile so I loved this experience.”
Harnessing such natural and unwieldy acoustics could have been a massive hurdle but Baby felt safe that Walker could navigate any sonic chaos. “I would have absolutely no idea how to handle that so that was all his territory,” he laughs again. “We went to one hall that really didn’t work because I have a much bigger voice than the person that was previously in there so the sound was just banging off the walls. Thank god he was there to guide all of that.”
Now Baby is bringing this album to the stage, he’s stepping down from the overly determined idealism that plagues so many song writers and feels he has learned a lot during this experience. “I was adamant in the past that to create good things you had to be an auteur of your own work and your own vision and that compromise is a weakening of that,” he says. “That’s a really immature view in some ways and playing with a band helped me begin to learn that lesson but more than that, having J on board gave me critical opinion that I’d never had before. Typically, people who talk to you about your music pick the one thing they like and talk about it so to have someone say, ‘So this is the worst thing you do’ was incredibly useful and has really helped me transition these songs from the recordings back onto the stage.”
BY KRISSI WEISS
CHARLES BABY will launch The End Of The Terror Lights at The Workers Club on Thursday May 16 with Jackson McLaren and Wishful. He’ll also be at Revolver this Saturday May 11 with Grizzly Jim Lawrie.