Baobinga is one of those producers who’ll stay in your peripheral vision for a long time. As an artist he’s now tackled a bunch of genres successfully, impacting on your local dancefloor under a handful of current guises like Baobinga and Skinnz, and as a producer he’s been cutting his own rug steadily for a number of years now. Based in Bristol he’s one of the team behind the Bass Music Blog, an outlet for him and his likeminded brethren to rant on and publicize music they like, and he’s also the main protagonist behind BUILD, a label that deals exclusively in his collaborations with other artists. With Bao himself remaining the only constant producer, steadfastly joining the dots between them, the label has to date released five 12”s containing work by people like I.D., Untold, Ginz, Cosmin TRG, Mensah, Scratcha DVA and Hyetal.
This Friday we’re celebrating the release of the ‘Joint Ventures’ album, a long player that collates and elaborates on Bao’s penchant for sharing studio time, later this month up in Room Three. Featuring further work from fellow Bristol artists Gemmy, Guido, Kowton and Rider Shafique the LP plays out like a unique insight into the working relationships of a humble guy from Hull whose main passion in life is dancefloor focused bass music. One of the most interesting and noteworthy things about the myriad of styles and approaches contained on the album is how well they flow in and out of each other, constantly maintaining the thick and loud production techniques Baobinga excels in, and whilst tackling different, at times drastically, tempos each manages to carve out a distinct voice for itself.
It would seem that in the process of collaboration, Bao has found a heady and intricate muse and it’s really, really evident in the interplay between the collaborators (on tracks like the previously unheard ‘Gun Talk’ with Rider Shafique or ‘Bumba’ with Guido) that all parties are enjoying and reveling in the process. Taking care to probe him on precisely that, we caught up with the man himself who kindly shed a little light on the project and the sometimes lengthy processes that went into finishing some of the tracks - some of which can be heard on his exclusive mixtape style mix he made for the occasion below…
So what made you want to collaborate with different producers in the first place? I mean I know you collaborate regularly with I.D. but what made you want to widen the net?
One of the things that first attracted to me about dance music, besides the actual music, was the way that it WASN'T like being in a band - so you'd have people making up different names for different projects, and you'd see all these X vs Y tunes - like the way Fierce used to pop up with Ed Rush and Optical on Virus tunes, that always seemed really cool to me - the idea that you had these people going round each other's studios and mucking about with all the different equipment and coming up with some cool stuff. So it probably all started with that... On a more recent tip, well I guess it's another way to keep things fun in the studio and stop yourself going stir-crazy, especially in our weird underground bunker! And it's just generally pretty good fun - not least cause everyone's got their own favourite snacks! I'd never have learnt about bacon crisps ‘til I worked with Hyetal...
Was each process different? I can foresee issues in the way each producer works... DAWs, equipment, different ways of programming etc... How did you bridge those problems?
To be honest, it wasn't really an issue - if someone came round the studio, or I went round their place, we'd generally just work with whatever was there - everyone is basically confident enough in their skills not to need to be touching the mouse at all times to ensure they are having input, and as far as different ways of working or programming, again that's part of the fun of collaborating - it's easy to get stuck in a comfort zone of production, always starting with the drums say, or arranging every tune the same, or approaching each mixdown in the same mindset, and bringing someone fresh in helps switch that up.
A couple of the tunes were done remotely, and that was generally a case of bouncing audio and abusing sendspace, but again, that keeps things fresh: if you've only got audio to work with, you approach that differently to having a full MIDI arrangement.
You often split the releases with something more upbeat on one side and something a little deeper on the other... what’s the thinking behind this? Is it more of a challenge to define the parameters for different producers, taking them out of their comfort range etc?
Glad you noticed! It's actually more of a reflection of my slightly ridiculous approach to this whole music thing, which is that I love the idea of flexibility in productions and DJ sets. So quite often one side will be a bit slower and will work in a funky/garage part of a set, while the other side can be a bit faster and would work mixed with grime or dubstep say.
In general though, on most releases people seem to get more excited about the AA, which just goes to show how ropy my A&R skills are…
What does this album mark for you? Is it the end of one set of collaborators with more to come?
I think the album will hopefully stand up as being as good a definition of what I'm about in terms of dance music as possible - I'm really happy with all the tracks on there, they hang together well but are all over the shop in terms of tempo and style, they do the business on the dancefloor but they work just as well as pieces to listen to.
I really enjoyed working with everyone on this project, so I'd definitely like to work with everyone again if possible - assuming they aren't utterly sick of me...
Which tracks are you most proud of?
I really like the track with Gemmy, cos it was the first time we'd really worked together and we had a shed load of fun, doing stuff like scratching a radiator with a spoon to make the drum sounds, things like that. The Kowton track came together really well and I think it's got a pretty distinctive sonic signature - we spent a fair bit of time recording our own handclaps, and running synths through my old sampler etc. - plus the arrangement is quite snappy for weird deep techno! And I'm also proud of the Guido tracks, mostly cos one took about 18 months to finish, and the other took about one day!
Are there more collaborations in the works?
Well, me and Ginz are gradually building up an arsenal of weird analogue-thug hip-hop beats, so hopefully we can do something fun with those, and me and I.D. are working on some more bits with Rider Shafique, the vocalist on Gun Talk. I'd love to build a riddim with Die at some point as well... Fingers crossed!
Baobinga – Joint Ventures Launch Party Mixtape