Described as a slow-burning cigarette in a velvet room, Kelli Baker creates the kind of music you're listening to in New Orleans at 2AM, except it's the lounge with ruby lights down the street that only the real locals and appreciators come to. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Kelli Baker moved to New York in 2012, with $500 in cash, chasing the heels of Hurricane Sandy. She was taught music and voice in the church choir, went on to audition choral groups, performing the National Anthem for the NBA at 17 (Phoenix Suns), fronting a hard rock group, pairing in a folk duo, and eventually, writing and performing for herself. Kelli has been compared to Liz Phair, Chris Cornell, PJ Harvey, and Aretha Franklin. She describes herself as if the 1990’s Liz Phair sang blues/rock. Her major influences are The Rolling Stones, Jane’s Addiction, The Black Crowes, Bonnie Raitt, and Neil Young. Kelli is currently in production at Milk House Studios with multi-platinum producer Philip A. Jimenez. She resides just outside of New York City.
“The Living” is an absolute treat for the ears and the soul, soothing the energy in the room with gritty yet smooth blues melodies, seductive vocals, and songwriting that digs right into the core of the human experience in a poetic and completely engaging way. Musically there’s a soul and blues backbone to much of the project, which is met with folk-like story-telling and a few likable flickers of freely expressive jazz. If you’re looking for something you can turn up loud and escape within, “The Living” is essential. I look forward to catching Kelli Baker live someday, you can tell from the recording quality, the crisp and clean, organic nature of the deliveries, that this is an artist who is connected to her audience during performances. Check it out!
Listen to “The Living” here and check out our exclusive interview with Kelli Baker below!
Hey Kelli, welcome to BuzzMusic! What inspired you to pursue your passion for music?
I've always been involved with music, but the past year was a real "coming home" to myself- consequently, coming home to music naturally fell into place. It's just who I am under everything else. I spent almost a full year undoing what didn't serve my best interests and making time for what did. In that process, I really tapped into who I am and where I want to place my energy. It's here. You're meeting my most authentic self.
What can you tell us about your song “The Living”? What’s the main thing you want your listeners to take away from it?
"The Living" is based on part of that process- "The Living" is truthfully not being able to shake off emotion, another person, stress. It's waking up at 3 AM, catching your breath. It's a consuming, unresolved issue.
It's also identifying- I gained a lot through that hurt. I wrote songs, I was at the gym, I was working on myself. I was worried if I let it go completely, that I would throw myself off track creatively. Who am I if I'm not dealing with this issue?
Do you ever worry about revealing too much through songwriting? Or do you think it’s more important to remain vulnerable?
If I'm not being vulnerable and honest in my writing, I'm wasting your time and mine.
Is live performance an important part of what you do, or of your plans?
I love performing- what a beautiful way to connect with people. I especially enjoy the more intimate spaces, but am looking forward to getting in with some festivals in the upcoming year and booking a few smaller tours. I met David Sparrow at a show in Venice this past year- we stayed in touch and I performed with him in NYC for his "Beggars and Choosers" tour. He is an ace at the small, self-funded, impactful tour. I'm going to follow his lead on that.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration?
I used to look for power, now I look for authenticity. I admire those unafraid to show that they're afraid. It takes guts to not fall into norms, to push against what one might think others want you to be. I love people who push the envelope, I like the people who ask the real questions.
I gained so much when I started to be more honest with who I am. I thought I was this tough person, I'm not. I'm as sensitive as they get at times. Once I accepted that, it took so much of the pressure off.
How has 2019 been so far for you? What’s next?
2019 has been a year of realization and a year of WORK. It's been a year of realizing I'm capable of much more than I thought I was. It's never to late to be who you are. I'm working on exploring that more and more.
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