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How would it be to translate the current global political situation into music? Stop wondering, because Chris Baio has made it. The eleven songs in Man Of The World, his second album, make you travel through topics and issues that affect our daily life while questioning why is this happening and what is our responsibility as citizens. Being part of the band Vampire Weekend and after his debut album, The Names, Baio seems more confident, implicated and even better at creating music.

It’s been two years now from your very first solo album, The Names. What conclusions do you take from this period of time that gave you the rules to record eleven songs for your new album, Man of the World?
I learned a lot about my voice from making my first record, The Names, and playing a hundred shows for it. It almost became like training a muscle. It made me feel much more confident when I started making Man of the World last fall.
Man of the World is a huge political statement. Where does this version of Baio who is worried about the world, people, society and government come from?
It comes from my perspective as an American living in London and witnessing political upheaval unlike anything thus far in my life. Watching the rise of a vile political figure that I consider a threat to humanity while living an ocean away. The world as our main environment and the situations that affects us have the lead place on this album.
Can you tell us about the vibes behind the songs with great power in social change as Sensitive Guy or Dangeroue Anamal
I tend to try and question answers rather than answer questions — Dangeroue Anamal comes very specifically from my disdain for climate change deniers while acknowledging that I eat meat and travel the world constantly, and have a greater carbon footprint than the average denier. Who is ultimately more culpable? Obviously climate change is something that needs to be tackled by all governments, but I’m questioning the morality of it as a single person. Sensitive Guy is very similar in that, as I question my complicity in the violent acts of the government I pay taxes to. I don’t have the answers, but I wish I did.

At the beginning of creating Man of the World, did you have any specific sound in the back of your mind? How has that sound evolved to the final version we hear in the album? 
I wanted to make a sound that blended electronics with brass, and that had flourishes of hip hop production while referencing soul and funk. Records that were front of mind were So by Peter Gabriel, Konnichiwa by Skepta, 1965 by the Afghan Whigs, Do It (Til You’re Satisfied) by B.T. Express, Stax compilations, and early Wu-Tang production.
Has being the bass player in Vampire Weekend helped you create your own music? Is there any artistic or creative transfer between the group and your solo work?
Of course, being in a band for the past ten years of my life has played a major role in shaping me as a solo artist. Being able to self-produce, art direct, and direct videos comes from watching my incredibly gifted band mates.
There’s such a difference between your own music and that which you play with the band. In what way have you created your own personal music style?
My solo stuff ends up being the fullest expression of what I like. I have total control!

I consider listening to and enjoying music to be an inherently political act, perhaps more than ever before.
Can you tell us the difference and the similarities between being a consumer of music and a creator of music content?
I consider everything to ultimately be an expression of taste, whether it’s a playlist I listen while running, or a bassline I wrote. It’s all connected!
I’d like to ask about your music development. How would you define your solo music nowadays? Can you tell us about how has the history behind your personal music background been?
I grew up in suburban New York, took piano lessons since I was nine, played in a terrible pop punk band in my teens, moved to the big city and in my junior year joined a band called Vampire Weekend. I started learning about production and sound after the band’s first album, eventually got confident enough to put out my first EP, then started singing and put out my first record two years ago. Doing college radio and DJing were also very important parts of my development as a musician and as an artist.
Your songs have really deep, personal feelings about world issues. Is music an easy way to raise awareness in society, or will people dance to and sing your music without noticing the meaning? What are your keys to not let people fall into the second category?
To be honest, I consider every response to the music I make as valid. Good review, bad review, deep analysis of the lyrics, enjoyment of the songs without thinking about the lyrics, etc.; it’s all good as far as I’m concerned. We’re living in a serious historical time and I think that however people want to tackle it – whether as music listeners or as music makers – is appropriate. We’ve had multiple terror attacks at concerts over the past few years, and as a result I consider listening to and enjoying music to be an inherently political act, perhaps more than ever before. Music as pure escapism is also a beautiful thing.

What are your keys to compact really serious topics into a three-minute song?
Make it catchy and stay true to what you are feeling.
When you work on your songs, what comes first? Lyrics, music, bass, electronic rhythms…?
Lyrics come last. I either start with chords on a piano or with beats on a computer, and then find my way.
Is there any kind of mood that you are into when you feel the need to write and share it?
Yes. Usually when I have this mental itch, I need to scratch it. I never force working on music, I only do it when I need to.
What is your attitude towards trends in the music industry?
I am a big fan of streaming and am happy to be making a living off music!

Words
Raquel López
Portrait
Dan Wilton

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