Introducing Nina Baker

When Nina Baker came into my world of music she really challenged my musical preferences. Let me explain, I can’t seem to fully appreciate music which is mostly piano driven, and I’m not sure why as it is a wonderful sounding instrument. There are a few musicians that have been able to change my mindset and become welcome additions to my music collection. Nina is now part this exclusive group.

Nina has created a sound that is a musical cocktail of blues, pop, rock, folk, jazz, country and a few other mystery ingredients. When I was first introduced to her music, I listened to her song ‘Single Bed’ which at the time didn’t do anything for me, but I thought I would check out another of her songs and this is when things changed. I listened to her song ‘Bruising’ and her honest emotion grabbed me from the start all the way to the end. From then on, I wanted to learn more about Nina and her music.

Only a few year ago Nina was hand-picked by BBC Introducing to attend their Master Class and she came runner-up in MTV’s Brand New for 2013 unsigned competition, impressing the MTV select panel. Her debut track ‘Single Bed’ won ‘Best Song’ in the 2014 Best Of British Unsigned Awards, and she came runner up in the ‘Best Female’ category.

In 2014 she released her debut album ‘Quite Frankly’ which was self-written, self-funded & self produced. This album is a very impressive release which was even better than I expected. The diversity that this album offers was surprising and welcomed as there are not many musicians who offer this range of songs within one album. By this I mean that she performs some beautiful tender songs on one side but then she can switch it up by bringing a more upbeat sound and sometimes this can bring a little humour. Great examples of this range are the songs ‘Breaking Every Rule’ and ‘Little Fibs’ which are personal highlights from this album.

Now I want to talk about what makes the music of Nina Baker really stand out for me, that is her lyrical skills. The more I listen to ‘Quite Frankly’ the more I tip my hat to the writing skills of this talented lady. The detail and honesty she puts into each song is what makes them sound so good. It also feels as if Nina is sharing a lot of herself and personal experiences throughout the album. Nina is also a very humorous person (from my experiences chatting to her on Twitter) and I like how this side of her is also reflected in a few of the songs like ‘Little Fibs’. The line ‘You’ve got a pretty face but the rest is a disgrace’ always makes me smile when I hear that song. This is all shared with the delicate vocal tone that is a little different to the vocal styles in my music collection but I really like it.

I need to recommend the song that I mentioned earlier called ‘Bruising’ which is by far my favourite song from the album. This song demonstrates the wonderful music that Nina creates as well as her fantastic song writing capabilities. A song about heartbreak has got to deliver the right emotion for it to work and Nina does this to perfection. A must hear song!

If you want music that is a roller coaster of emotion as well as wearing its heart on its sleeve then ‘Quite Frankly’ is the album for you. There is so much to discover on this release and you need to check it out! You can find some of her songs at her Soundcloud and YouTube pages. If you are like what you hear then grab a copy of her album at Amazon or iTunes. Go on, you won’t be disappointed.

I wanted to get Nina involved with this review by asking her a few questions about her music to find out a little more about her world. I am glad to say that Nina accepted and this is what she had to say:

Who or what inspired you to become a musician and which musicians have influenced your sound?

NB: I owe a lot to my grandparents. On my father’s side they loved swing and jazz, so I grew up listening to Simone, Fitzgerald and Sinatra. On my mum’s side my grandmother was a tremendous singer, I think this planted a seed at a very early age. My parents were, and still are, rockers, so any music in the house was either Queen, Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd – Or the Quo, mustn’t forget the Quo. So my influences came from what was being played around me as I was growing up, which you can hear in the album. It is all of those things with me warbling and playing the piano in front of them.

When you write new music what is the important part to your process?

NB: Chord progressions – Melody – Lyrics. Always in that order. Always! I’m a pianist at the end of the day so I write music, interesting compositions which sound good in themselves, then I add a song to them. I never set out to write new material, I am not the sort of person that plans to write, it never works that way, it just happens. I can be by a piano, or taking the tube, or in bed and inspiration will just take over and I start writing. This means that I tend to write songs at very strange hours. Most of the songs on the album were probably written between 1am and 3am, but it’s just how I work best. I just wait for it to happen, sometimes I can go months without writing, sometimes I will write 3 songs in a day. I never write about things that I know nothing about, every song has some personal meaning about something or someone. There is a lot laid bare on the album and I hope there is a song in there that engages with everyone.

Talking about writing songs, which is you favourite song from your album and why?

NB: A very difficult question, it’s like answering who is your favourite child! It depends what day you ask me, if the sun is shining I will probably say ‘Little Fibs’ as that is just a good old fashioned romp and we had a lot of fun recording that. If we look at personal significance I would say ‘When I’m Not With You’ as that is the song we were recording when my grandfather Frank Baker, who the album is named after and dedicated to, passed away. If we look at the song I am most proud of it would be ‘Clown’ which had me in tears the first time I heard the finished recording and still does. It is a song I never play live.

If you could go to the pub with any two musicians (alive or dead) who would it be and why?

NB: Lang-Lang and Freddie Mercury. Could you imagine it – it would just be a piano-fest. We would be huddled around the ‘Joanna’ in the corner and be there for hours, maybe days, with ‘Rachmaninoff’ to ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ being played. I would sympathise for the locals that day! The greatest pianist ever, the greatest performer ever and some ginger girl from Norfolk.

What are you future plans and goals for your music?

NB: After festival season I am playing in London as part of Redhead Day, the largest gathering of ginger people in the UK, on the 12th September. I am making music videos up until Christmas and then looking to get back on the road in Spring. I am an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society and planning some events for them next year and I would very much like to play some major festivals next summer (if anyone is listening). Followed by eventual world domination – The last one I could take or leave!

I always like chatting to Nina as she is crazy cool in an awesome way. Our conversations always end up being random and funny. If you want to say hello to Nina yourself then head over to her social media sites at Facebook and Twitter. You can also find out more about the music of Nina Baker on those sites or visit her website at NinaBakermusic.co.uk.

I always like to end my posts with a reminder. Independent music needs the support of the fans for it to continue. If you are a fan of Nina Baker or other independent musicians/bands then it is your duty to tell the world about the music that matters to you! Viva la independent music revolution!