“It felt like it all happened in a minute,” Bastian Baker says of his meteoric rise. “I remember I was playing music for some friends at a birthday party when I was first approached about recording my songs. I cut a single and sent it out to some radio stations just hoping to get a bit of feedback, but instead they all added it to their high rotation playlists.”
Before he could wrap his head around it, Baker had a hit song in his native Switzerland and was well on his way to breaking out worldwide. He made his first appearance at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival at just 18 years old, and soon after, he was selling out massive headline concerts, topping the album charts, and racking up a slew of major awards. Now 26, Baker is preparing to release his most ambitious album yet, one that pushes his unique blend of upbeat indie rock, infectious pop, and breezy folk into bold new territory as he solidifies his status as a genuine international star. Not too shabby for a kid who was supposed to spend his life on the ice.
“Everyone thought I was going to be a hockey player,” says Baker. “My dad and his dad were both professionals, and I was on the Swiss national team, but I had this thing inside me that just kept saying, ‘Music, music, music.’”
I had a chance to interview Bastian about his current tour with Shania Twain, his new single and more.
Bastian, let’s start off by getting you to tell us about you?
Hey! I am a singer-songwriter from Lausanne Switzerland, a small town on Lake Geneva. I was a professional hockey player, following in the footsteps of my father, until I realized that music was my true passion. I have spent a lot of time traveling and touring, playing over 700 shows in over 30 countries since 2012. I love to spend time on the lake, writing songs, or skiing in the winter.
Your new single “All Around Us” is great. Can you tell me a bit about it (story behind it)?
- I wrote this song because there is a lot of good around us, even though we tend to focus on the drama and negative stuff. Some people in life who do good things don’t get noticed, but they are beautiful and deserve to be seen. This is a song for them, a song about always keeping a positive attitude no matter what. I just did a music video in Nashville with my team at Blue Rose Music. I’m so excited to share it with you once it’s ready. I’m even doing some almost dance moves in it (laughs). Shania and I enjoy bouncing songs off one another and this one just so happens to be her favorite!
Your new album was recorded with Jacquire King. What was it like to work with Jacquire?
A) Shania introduced me to Jacquire, then my job was to convince him to work with me! Fortunately he liked my song, and we teamed up to produce one of my fav songs, Love On Fire. It was awesome to work with one of my favorite producers on one of my own tracks. I feel like he pushed me in the direction I needed to go to make the best song I could. Jacquire has worked with so many artists that I admire – from Niall Horan to Kings of Leon, James Bay to Norah Jones – all singer/songwriters that I look up to and who challenge me to grow. We were in a constant creative conversation, he had a pretty clear idea of where he wanted to be, and I felt comfortable giving him my feedback. We worked on a very organic yet modern song. Love On Fire is a singer-songwriter ballad with a reggeaton/ Latin beat, that makes it a cool summer song, I think. And the sound he’s able to get, the depth of it, is just really impressed me.
You are currently touring with Shania Twain. What has that experience been like?
- The experience has been perfect since day one. Shania, her band and the crew are some of the most talented and kind-hearted people I have ever met. It’s like touring with a big happy family.
Shania herself hand selected you to be her opener on her “Shania NOW Tour”, how did that feel?
- It felt surreal, very exciting of course. Shania and I have been great friends for years now, and that makes it even more special for me. She opened the door for me to the North American music market. It’s an incredible experience to open the show and to be a part of her show with “Party for Two”.
Who are some of your musical influences?
- I grew up singing REM on my dad’s bar in Switzerland, so classic rock is very important to me. Queen has been a huge influence on me. I like One Republic, Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Vance Joy, Shawn Mendes, Shania also has some of my favorite songs of all time.
What are your plans for the summer outside of touring?
- I will spend some time on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, I love to take friends out on my boat and enjoy the beautiful views. I love to spend time songwriting and traveling, but I haven’t book anything yet. Maybe your readers could tweet me some suggestions @bastian_baker?
If there anything else you would like to add?
I love coming to Canada, the fans are so enthusiastic and love to get involved in the show. Not to mention the summertime here is beautiful weather with even better views. I can’t wait to explore on my days off – I have some good friends here which makes these trips even more exciting.