Baro On American Hip-Hop, The Future Of Bought Music And A New Album

Written By Michelle He on 07/09/2015

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Baro is a new face on the Australian hip hop scene but expect his jazz-infused rap tracks to make waves as part of a new generation of local hip hop artists. At only 18, he's remarkably productive. He's about to release his 3rd EP/mixtape, also writes stoner rock under the guise of his alter ego Poncho and has already toured with some of Australia’s most successful hip hop acts on national tours. We spoke to him about his secret plans for Splendour in the Grass 2015, his foray into indie rock and the evolution of the Australian hip hop scene ahead of the release of his new EP, 17/18.

Let’s start with your name. Is Baro your actual name or a stage name?

It’s my birth name, my Christian name.

Cool. Tell us about your recording process. You’re definitely part of the rise of bedroom producers, who do you record with and how did that come about?

Usually it’s like, I wake up in the morning or late at night and I’ve got a bungalow in my backyard. It’s just really cool and everything and I get a beat or like, my friend comes over, who makes beats, or I make a beat and I record there. I just sit down and play the beat over and over and I write a song in two hours, tops. Make a song and it’s done. That’s how I make songs.

How did you get into rapping? Do you have any formal musical training?

Nah, like I was watching a lot of Rage and VideoHits when I was really young, like 8 or 9 and I was really into Eminem. Really old school Slim Shady LP Eminem. Someone showed me that when I was younger and I turned 13 or 12 and I got given Guitar Hero for Christmas and I sucked, really sucked at the game and stopped playing the game and I plugged the microphone into my computer and started recording Eminem, writing songs to Eminem beats and Drake beats and stuff.

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BaroQuote2

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Your music seems to be inspired by jazz and slacker, stoner rock. Where did that come from?

Stoner part about it is just like my character and who I hang out with. Jazz, I just love the sound of jazz. Old songs, old jazz songs, that’s my favourite shit.

What did you listen to growing up? Any particular artists or albums?

Yeah, like Eryka Badu, I listened to shitty hip hop everyone listened to when they were younger like you know DJ Challenger. Like I just bought Green Day albums and I was listening to a lot of Green Day and Blink-182.

Any particular Jazz artists that influenced you?

Yeah, is Jill Scott considered jazz? And Eryka Badu, Ray Charles, there’s more but I literally can’t think right now.

That’s alright. You’ll be playing Splendour for the first time in a few weeks, in the Red Bull tent. Is this your first time at Splendour and have you planned anything special?

It’s my first time at Splendour, it’s one of my first big festivals and I’m really excited, really really excited. I’ve got 11 – I’m  playing all my songs on my EP and me and my DJ, are doing something we don’t usually do to make it a bit more impressive. It’s a secret thing, people can look at it at the Splendour show.

How much touring have you done? You’ve been on quite a few tours as a support act, and you have your own headline tour coming up.

I’ve done a lot of touring since I got one mixtape that got a bit of exposure and I did five tours off that or more tours off that which is really sick like the first one was the best one, just really fun. I was 17 and a couple of my friends came along and we were running around cities and everything, just getting in trouble. Then I went on the Illy tour in December, that was pretty cool. And then I went on Thundamentals tour which was really fun, Thundamentals are great people. Then I went on my own tour so that’s it for tours. Then I’ve got another tour after Splendour. Great fun.

BaroQuote1Do you have any overseas plans? To crack overseas markets, for example. What do you think it’ll be like for an Australian hip hop artist?

That’s what I want to do, I never want to consider myself…like my friends all make music, we’re really influenced by artists overseas and that’s part of our goal to crack into international, American hip hop music scenes.

Okay, can you tell me more about your key international influences?

Tyler the Creator, Mos Def, Mac Miller, I’m really into Mac Miller’s last album - Watching Music with the Sound Off really influenced me musically.

There’s a new wave of Australian hip hop and rap music, like Remi, Allday and of course you, who are very different to Hilltop Hoods, Bliss n Eso and others. Do you think this is part of the evolution of Australian hip hop?

Yes. Artists like Allday, Remi and Tkay, all the new artists doing really great things in Australia and abroad, they’re great albums. Definitely part of that evolution of Austrlaian hip hop. It can only go up from here.

Your EPs are quite lengthy but when can we expect a full-length album?

I’m working on the album now but I’ve got little plans that I want to do too before the album but hopefully the album will be here mid next year. But you’ll definitely hear music before that I’m used to releasing music and other shit.

Other plans?

Nah that’s a secret too. I’m not even going to say anything, I’ve got to give you some juice to make everything more exciting, like I’ve got plans that are just…

Tell us about Poncho. You’ve released some songs as Poncho, where you have a similar style but the sound is very distinct, right?

Yeah, clearly. I’d like to explain it as my sad, pasty white dude in my past life, it’s just like a persona I channel with my friend Mitch and my producer in the bungalow and we, like, make rock, indie soft jazzy rock because that’s our favourite shit. I like Friday, Mac Demarco, Peacocks so making that, I love making that. Some of my favourite music I made. I can’t wait to develop that much better.

So you’ll be releasing music as Poncho as well?

Nah, I don’t know. I just like that, that’s - I just want to sometime do stuff under Poncho but not take away from Baro. I want people to know what Poncho is like make it more obvious what Poncho is but not exactly make a career out of it.

Fair enough. Tell me about your EP event, Park Jakk. Are you looking forward to that?

That’s happening on Saturday. I’m looking very forward to it, it’s just pretty much people coming listening to the EP which I had an idea of doing that and I really wanted to do that idea because it’s cool, just meeting new people, and people listening to your music. Just like-minded people, just running around the park to music, it’s great. Can’t wait.

I heard you’re launching a website called Divercity.

Raw DiverCity? 90sRD is a collective of my friends and like-minded people. Some have talents, like music talents, some do shit all. I got some of my best friends, it’s just a collective of like-minded people. That’s the group 90sRD. In long, 90sRd stands for 90s Raw Divercity. We want to call the website rawdivercity.com so like that website is going to have all our mind on one website and everything there. Premiere videos, music and photos and shit. That’s going to happen very soon.

When are you launching 90sRD?

Like in the next 3-4 weeks.

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You seem to have an unconventional attitude to shows, tickets and selling EPs. Recently, you apologised for an EP costing money and you decided to make a show free because it was your birthday, which was interesting. What do you think about the future of selling music, given all the controversy over streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music?

I don’t know, I just did that cause I know people don’t have that much money, and I don’t have a big, big following so I just did it like sorry it costs money but I made it like myself and music’s going to start costing money at some point like…That’s why it costs money.

I think music will always be sold because everyone likes records. A lot of people like records, physical CDs. I don’t know, maybe that will drown out in the future but I hope not because I sure do like my records and physical CDs and everything.

Before we finish up, a few quick questions. Dream collaboration?

Probably Mac Miller or Tyler the Creator.

Finally, what’s your favourite place you’ve been on tour or just while travelling.

Perth. Definitely Perth. Such a cool vibe. Probably because when I go to Perth I go for two to three days.

Catch Baro playing the Red Bull Music Academy Stage at Splendour In The Grass 2015.

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Baro is a new face on the Australian hip hop scene but expect his jazz-infused rap tracks to make waves as part of a new generation of local hip hop artists. At only 18, he's remarkably productive. He's about to release his 3rd EP/mixtape, also writes stoner rock under the guise of his alter ego Poncho and has already toured with some of Australia’s most successful hip hop acts on national tours. We spoke to him about his secret plans for Splendour in the Grass 2015, his foray into indie rock and the evolution of the Australian hip hop scene ahead of the release of his new EP, 17/18.

Let’s start with your name. Is Baro your actual name or a stage name?

It’s my birth name, my Christian name.

Cool. Tell us about your recording process. You’re definitely part of the rise of bedroom producers, who do you record with and how did that come about?

Usually it’s like, I wake up in the morning or late at night and I’ve got a bungalow in my backyard. It’s just really cool and everything and I get a beat or like, my friend comes over, who makes beats, or I make a beat and I record there. I just sit down and play the beat over and over and I write a song in two hours, tops. Make a song and it’s done. That’s how I make songs.

How did you get into rapping? Do you have any formal musical training?

Nah, like I was watching a lot of Rage and VideoHits when I was really young, like 8 or 9 and I was really into Eminem. Really old school Slim Shady LP Eminem. Someone showed me that when I was younger and I turned 13 or 12 and I got given Guitar Hero for Christmas and I sucked, really sucked at the game and stopped playing the game and I plugged the microphone into my computer and started recording Eminem, writing songs to Eminem beats and Drake beats and stuff.

BaroQuote2

Your music seems to be inspired by jazz and slacker, stoner rock. Strong jazz influence question – where did that come from?

Stoner part about it is just like my character and who I hang out with. Jazz, I just love the sound of jazz. Old songs, old jazz songs, that’s my favourite shit.

What did you listen to growing up? Any particular artists or albums?

Yeah, like Eryka Badu, I listened to shitty hip hop everyone listened to when they were younger like you know DJ Challenger. Like I just bought Green Day albums and I was listening to a lot of Green Day and Blink-182.

Any particular Jazz artists that influenced you?

Yeah, is Jill Scott considered jazz? And Eryka Badu, Ray Charles, there’s more but I literally can’t think right now.

That’s alright. You’ll be playing Splendour for the first time in a few weeks, in the Red Bull tent. Is this your first time at Splendour and have you planned anything special?

It’s my first time at Splendour, it’s one of my first big festivals and I’m really excited, really really excited. I’ve got 11 – I’m  playing all my songs on my EP and me and my DJ, are doing something we don’t usually do to make it a bit more impressive. It’s a secret thing, people can look at it at the Splendour show.

How much touring have you done? You’ve been on quite a few tours as a support act, and you have your own headline tour coming up.

I’ve done a lot of touring since I got one mixtape that got a bit of exposure and I did five tours off that or more tours off that which is really sick like the first one was the best one, just really fun. I was 17 and a couple of my friends came along and we were running around cities and everything, just getting in trouble. Then I went on the Illy tour in December, that was pretty cool. And then I went on Thundamentals tour which was really fun, Thundamentals are great people. Then I went on my own tour so that’s it for tours. Then I’ve got another tour after Splendour. Great fun.

BaroQuote1Do you have any overseas plans? To crack overseas markets, for example. What do you think it’ll be like for an Australian hip hop artist?

That’s what I want to do, I never want to consider myself…like my friends all make music, we’re really influenced by artists overseas and that’s part of our goal to crack into international, American hip hop music scenes.

Okay, can you tell me more about your key international influences?

Tyler the Creator, Mos Def, Mac Miller, I’m really into Mac Miller’s last album - Watching Music with the Sound Off really influenced me musically.

There’s a new wave of Australian hip hop and rap music, like Remi, Allday and of course you, who are very different to Hilltop Hoods, Bliss n Eso and others. Do you think this is part of the evolution of Australian hip hop?

Yes. Artists like Allday, Remi and Tkay, all the new artists doing really great things in Australia and abroad, they’re great albums. Definitely part of that evolution of Austrlaian hip hop. It can only go up from here.

Your EPs are quite lengthy but when can we expect a full-length album?

I’m working on the album now but I’ve got little plans that I want to do too before the album but hopefully the album will be here mid next year. But you’ll definitely hear music before that I’m used to releasing music and other shit.

Other plans?

Nah that’s a secret too. I’m not even going to say anything, I’ve got to give you some juice to make everything more exciting, like I’ve got plans that are just…

Tell us about Poncho. You’ve released some songs as Poncho, where you have a similar style but the sound is very distinct, right?

Yeah, clearly. I’d like to explain it as my sad, pasty white dude in my past life, it’s just like a persona I channel with my friend Mitch and my producer in the bungalow and we, like, make rock, indie soft jazzy rock because that’s our favourite shit. I like Friday, Mac Demarco, Peacocks so making that, I love making that. Some of my favourite music I made. I can’t wait to develop that much better.

So you’ll be releasing music as Poncho as well?

Nah, I don’t know. I just like that, that’s - I just want to sometime do stuff under Poncho but not take away from Baro. I want people to know what Poncho is like make it more obvious what Poncho is but not exactly make a career out of it.

Fair enough. Tell me about your EP event, Park Jakk. Are you looking forward to that?

That’s happening on Saturday. I’m looking very forward to it, it’s just pretty much people coming listening to the EP which I had an idea of doing that and I really wanted to do that idea because it’s cool, just meeting new people, and people listening to your music. Just like-minded people, just running around the park to music, it’s great. Can’t wait.

I heard you’re launching a website called Divercity.

Raw DiverCity? 90sRD is a collective of my friends and like-minded people. Some have talents, like music talents, some do shit all. I got some of my best friends, it’s just a collective of like-minded people. That’s the group 90sRD. In long, 90sRd stands for 90s Raw Divercity. We want to call the website rawdivercity.com so like that website is going to have all our mind on one website and everything there. Premiere videos, music and photos and shit. That’s going to happen very soon.

When are you launching 90sRD?

Like in the next 3-4 weeks.

You seem to have an unconventional attitude to shows, tickets and selling EPs. Recently, you apologised for an EP costing money and you decided to make a show free because it was your birthday, which was interesting. What do you think about the future of selling music, given all the controversy over streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music?

I don’t know, I just did that cause I know people don’t have that much money, and I don’t have a big, big following so I just did it like sorry it costs money but I made it like myself and music’s going to start costing money at some point like…That’s why it costs money.

I think music will always be sold because everyone likes records. A lot of people like records, physical CDs. I don’t know, maybe that will drown out in the future but I hope not because I sure do like my records and physical CDs and everything.

Before we finish up, a few quick questions. Dream collaboration?

Probably Mac Miller or Tyler the Creator.

Finally, what’s your favourite place you’ve been on tour or just while travelling.

Perth. Definitely Perth. Such a cool vibe. Probably because when I go to Perth I go for two to three days.

Catch Baro playing the Red Bull Music Academy Stage at Splendour In The Grass 2015.

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