Spearheading the excellent 'Build' imprint, Baobinga is rightly regarded as one of the UK's most innovative bass producers. Incorporating elements of dubstep, house and garage, his sound generally finds itself at home between 130 and 140 bpm and tends to draw influence from everywhere, although he now admits he may have reached 'a bit of a crossroads' creatively with regards to 'doing a bit of everything'. Fresh from putting the finishing touches to his 'Joint Ventures' collaborative album alongside a real mix of fellow bass-driven talent, I managed to catch up with him on everything from life in Bristol to playing pots and pans with chopsticks as a kid:
"Well I guess the big thing from the last 12 months has been the collaborative album 'Joint Ventures' that I did for my label ' Build'. It was probably about this time last year that i really got stuck into getting it ready, getting heads down to the studio, working on ideas to send to people I couldn't work with in person and whatever. Once the musical side of it was sorted, it was straight onto working out the promotion side of it, and sorting out the artwork, PR, press and so on - once it came out, it was a case of pushing it to the shops, hyping it online, and deejaying to help support it. I guess now we are kind of reaching the end of that particular cycle and it's been really interesting. I think it did a lot for my profile, which was one of the main aimsand it got me coverage in places like Fact, Pitchfork, XLR8R and the like, all of which are really good places to be making connections with."
Whilst some were first hooked after raiding mum and dads' record collections, Baobinga cites growing up playing classical piano and listening to Placebo's first album when he was 14 as his first 'defining moments' in music. He was really into synths and mountain bikes too though:
"I grew up playing classical piano and even as a baby I was always getting the pots and pans out and plaing them with chopsticks, so eventually I learned the drums as well. One kind of defining moment would be when I was maybe about 14 or so and I was really into the first Placebo album, but also starting to hear jungle and such on 'One In The Jungle' - I listened to that Placebo album loads, and I rememeber one day really clearly thinking, 'hang on - all these songs have the same drums and the same guitar sounds... but this electronic stuff can use any sound in the world!' and just being pretty blown away by that concept.
It's kinda mad, from a really young age I was also obsessed with keyboards and synths and I used to drag my mum into the music shop in town so I could gawp at the latest models. When I passed my grade 5 piano, she got me a Yamaha DX11 - like a less famous cousin of the DX7 FM synth which I've still got and still love. Before long, I'd persuaded my Dad to get me an Atari ST and I'd midi them up and make little jams, sequencing off the Atari. I didn't really know what I was doing at all, it was just for the fun and the challenge of working it all out!
At the time I was also really into mountain bikes, and that was what I wanted to do with my life - go into engineering and make bikes, so I wasn't thinking about trying to do anything with music at all really. I didn't do music at GCSE or A-Levelbut for some reason I took a left turn before Uni, went to China to teach English for 6 months and came back and decided to do a music technology degree!"
As well as Placebo, Baobinga also took an early liking to 'loopy' techno and jungle:
"My first loves in terms of music were loopy techno and jungle / DnB, both of which are massively drum led styles and i think you can hear that in most of what I do. The drums are normally pretty interesting, sonically and texturally because I can't handle stuff that just sounds like stock hits out of Logic etc. Me and I.D. often say that a really good drum track is enough to loop for 5 minutes and the little melodies and shifts in the drums will keep it interesting - trhere's almost an internal melody in the percussion that not everyone tends to pick up on."
Despite being renowned for his ability to mix sounds from almost everywhere, Baobinga concedes that 'a lot of people' are now taking a similar approach and as a result, a new alias could be on the cards:
"I think at the moment I am at a bit of a crossroads in my sound because for a long time my whole thing has been to try and bring ideas and influences together from all over and do a bit of everything. The idea with my label 'Build' was that one side would be around 140 and the other around 130, so you could pay both sides of the record at different points of your set. The thing now is a lot of people are doing that at the moment so being a contrary bastard, I am feeling like maybe I need to find a sound that no one else is really looking at and just focus on that for a bit. It could result in maybe even changing the name up to do that... I dunno!
It's a weird one with alter egos - if you're someone who is into loads of different music and listens to music to be challenged and excited, the idea of one person making loads of different styles is really cool and exciting but I think the reality is that most people don't consume music that way. Most people want to know that when they pick up a record or go to a show, they can be pretty sure what they are going to get so switching up aliases for different sounds can definitely help. I know I've had to battle preconceptions about Baobinga, although much less now than it used to be!"
Bearing this in mind, it's interesting to note that Baobinga finds the current scene 'a little dull', although he does reserve some special praise for Grime and Spooky in particular:
"I'm gonna go out on a bit of limb and say it's a bit dull at the moment. There's a lot of nice people making really nice music but where's the edge? The heavy stuff is just comedic horror for students and a lot of the 'cool' underground stuff seems all quite tame... I want to hear more sweat, sex and danger in the music. I also think there is a lot of quite bland, standard production being held up as 'great' - it all sounds okay until you go and compare it to some actual next level stuff like say, The Neptunes maddest stuff or some of the Bmore classics; drums and synths straight out of Logic don't cut it for me. I do think Grime is going through a pretty exciting phase though and an obvious example would be Spooky - Spartan. The mix down is technically not brilliant but the vibes are massive and it sounds different to a lot of the clean stuff out there at the moment."
Despite being at the forefront of the vibrant underground scene in Bristol, Baobinga is originally from Hull and also spent almost a decade in Manchester:
"I was born and raised in Hull, then Manchester for the best part of 10 years, before splitting up with my long term missus and deciding the time had come for a change of scene. I'd been going down to Bristol to work with Ginz on our 'Bodysnatchers' project for a few years by that point, and I'd always had a fascination with the city through seeing what Full Cycle had achieved, not to mention the obvious ones like Massive Attack, Tricky etc. Bristol is great in that it is small enough and friendly enough that you can meet everyone really quickly and easily without a lot of bullshit, but it's big enough that people can achieve and visualize success. I do miss the mad swagger that Manchester has though."
As a deejay, Baobinga has played at venues the world over and remains a fan of the smaller, more intimate venue, citing a good sound system and a receptive audience as key ingredients for a good night:
"First up, the basics; a good sound system, not too big a room, ideally a small, dark rave cave with proper sound - not harsh, plenty of bass, somewhere you can get immersed into. No stage either or just a very small one so you're not isolated from the crowd - I hate being 6 ft up and 10 ft back from the ravers. Crowd wise, you need a good mix of people who are willing to follow you in what you do rather than what is getting more and more common, which is that people bring their 'YouTube' music mentallity out with them; 'I don't know this song, i want to hear this other song right now, make it happen'. I think because so many people consume music from YouTube, where everything ever made is right there ready for you, they almost find it frustrating when they go to a club and can't recreate that exact experience -'What do i click to make the song i want come on???"
Despite the occasional frustrating crowd, Baobinga has found promoters (and local stores) in the US far more relaxed:
"I played a warehouse rave in San Francisco once where the promoter was giving out acid on the door...that was quite interesting. I actually played in Oakland a couple of years later (Oakland being just next to San Franisco and generally seen as being the kind of gully neighbour), chipped out to grab some fresh air and maybe a can of drink andended up buying a can of Lil Jons' 'Crunk Juice' drink from a corner store. One of ingredients is Horny Goat Weed. Needless to say it was one of my better foreign gig purchases."
Looking to the future and with 'Joint Ventures' now complete, Baobinga is continuing to work hard in the studio and has a series of exciting new releases waiting to grace the 'Build' imprint:
"Next up for 'Build' is the Kahn remix of 'Gun Talk' which is sick. That's backed by a fresh raggastep tune from myself and I.D. with Rider Shafique on vocals. Me and I.D. have also made a track for Pinch's 'Tectonic Plates 3' compilation and I've continued to work closely alongside Guido and more recently, Om Unit too. Feel free to hit up holly@tfabookings if you would like me to merk your dance!"
'Build Recordings': http://buildrecordings.com/
Don't forget you can buy the 'Joint Ventures' album, featuring Ginz, Gemmy, Guido, Geiom, I.D., Roska, Mensah, Untold, Jack Sparrow, Hyetal, Rider Shafique, XXXY and Kowton from the 'Build' site or read up on it via Fact Magazine here first: http://www.factmag.com/2011/06/21/stream-baobingas-album-joint-ventures-in-full/