This week’s Swag Spotlight did not grow up riding tractors or bailing hay, in fact, he did not even grow up in the United States at all. Bastian Baker is native of Switzerland, near Geneva he tells us in a recent phone interview. The singer-songwriter was chatting with our Managing Editor from a cab in Paris on his way to the airport to continue as the opening act for Shania Twain’s “Now Tour”.
His childhood was filled with music, he says his parents listened to REM, Led Zeppelin, and Queen and he knew from an early age that he loved performing. “I’ve had this thing for music since I was a baby, I have pictures of me singing with a plastic Michael Jackson guitar on Christmas Eve and I’ve always been into creating music. I created bands when I was in school, played bars and weddings when I was 13-14 years old. I was part of the choir, it kind of always was an obsession.”
Music wasn’t the only dream that Baker was chasing, he loved playing ice hockey and even made the Swiss National team and played in world champions but when he was 18 years old he realized that he wanted to pursue music as a serious career choice and started sending demo tapes out and playing newcomer festivals. He explains he was discovered while playing songs at 2 in the morning at a birthday party, leading him the opportunity to record his very first song, “Lucky”, which made it onto the radio in Switzerland. Pretty quickly after that, he made his debut at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival and started selling out headlining shows and topping the charts.
He explains to us his fascination and love for New York City. “I have always had a lot of great NY experiences, it is my favorite city in the world.” He has spent time recording and writing songs here as well as in Nashville, getting ready for the release of his official American debut album. Baker tells us that he is proud that his music can be described in many different ways, not boxing him into any one genre. “My first album was kind of pop, the second was rock, the third was folk, and now this one is a genre-defying album, there are a lot of different styles, there are definitely are country influences.” He specifically names “Blame It On Me”, a track that is simple, Baker’s vocals resting easily on an acoustic guitar. For his fans that aren’t into the country genre, he also has music influenced by R&B, for instance, he tells us that The Weeknd is an artist that inspires him. “I kind of want to do the Shania Twain thing, how she became a crossover artist and she did it in a brilliant way,” he explains” That is part of the reason why she wanted me on her tour, [my music] is not a specific genre, I’m just having fun playing music.”
He comments that of course, the concept of an album and releasing a full project of songs is so important but now with streaming as prevalent as it is, he is proud that his songs aren’t necessarily defined into one genre. “Nowadays, songs are being added to playlists and I find it pretty cool that my songs can be added to a country music playlist while they are also added to singer-songwriter playlists or pop playlists,” Baker says. “That is the beauty of music, it brings people together.”
Chatting about Shania Twain’s World Tour, he tells us how much he has enjoyed getting to play for these huge arenas of fans in the states. “It’s so much fun, I love to just be me and my guitar, a lot of people think I am crazy but I find it hilarious, there is no pedal loops or anything, I have a half an hour to show my songs and my personality.” Praising Twain as an entertainer and a person, he is lucky to have had the opportunity to open this tour and to come back during her set to sing a duet with her. “I love that I have 100% of the trust of Shania, she was the one who said I should do it alone, she told me a few times I am the only guy she knows who can get on stage alone and get the attention of the audience.” He loves the passion that he feels from the crowds in America and is happy to meet every single fan who show up at his merchandise table after his set.
His own personal brand of storytelling is unique, bringing a new perspective on life. Since setting out on this musical journey, Baker has performed in 40 different countries and has garnered fans all over the world. The Shania Twain Now Tour continues through the end of the year. Looking to the future, he tells us that he can’t wait to continue promoting the new album and putting together a global tour, hopefully making his way back to the states next summer. Be sure to follow Bastian Baker on his socials, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and take a listen to his newest, self-titled album below.
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