The New Frontier: Baro

Turning 18 is an exciting time for most people, but for Melbourne rapper Baro, it’s probably a little more than that. Having taken the Internet and Australia by surprise last year with his mixtape HOWGOODISGOOD?, the rapper dropped just under 40 minutes of forward thinking hip hop, infused with soul and jazz and a youthful attitude that can’t be recreated. From there, he went onto to tour with Allday and Thundamentals, support Freddie Gibbs, tour in his own right and release his own official EP, 17/18.

Ticking off some major boxes in just 12 months, the next year looks set to be equally impressive for the now 18 year old. Being selected to perform at the Red Bull Music Academy stage at this year’s Splendour In The Grass, and a BIGSOUND showcase just around the corner, Baro has also just kicked off his second headline tour for the year in celebration of his new EP. Already receiving more than a few nods from the critics, Baro has stepped up all his game in his latest release, showing a wealth of untouched potential still hiding behind his braids. Having caught him in action at the Brisbane leg, I can’t insist enough how good he is live.

We nabbed some time with the young rapper as he had just arrived at Splendour ahead of his set. After discussing the mud (a mainstay conversation topic for the weekend), we got stuck into his crew, his fans, and what is still to come. All about his friends, there were just under 10 members of his crew, 90’s RD present for the chat, but it’s clear from the creative vibes between them, this a crew that is really going places. Spearheading the new frontier in Australian hip hop, with Baro at the helm, there is change coming and if it sounds like this, it’s definitely welcome.

Are you excited? 

B: Yeah, really excited. Kinda nervous, but really excited.

You’re about to play in two hours or so, what’s going through your head right now?

B: I don’t know, mud?

There is a lot of mud! People have been really getting into it, and in some cases literally…

B: Yeah it’s everywhere!

You’re about to kick off your EP tour as well – are you keen to get back on the road?

B: Hell yeah, my friends are coming with me again.

The whole crew?

B: Nearly the whole crew.

Who’s in? What are we talking here?

B: 90s RD. We’re a bunch of musicians, rappers
Nasty Mars: R Kelly impersonators…

How many people do you take with you on the road?

B: Whoever wants to come!

Fair enough! Do you have to pay your own way?

B: Yeah, we all book our own flights. We’re all grown ass men.

Is it a bit different going on your headline tour as it would be for when you were supporting Thundamentals?

B: It’s a little different. When we’re supporting, it’s usually me, Fets and maybe one other person will come and help us out like our friend. It’s just an excuse to hang out with our friends. But it’s usually just me and Fets, my DJ.

How integral is the whole crew to your project? 

Nasty Mars: We’re all individual artists, we all help each other

How integral is that to the Baro EP that just came out?

B: It’s always. I always have features of my friends with my music. This EP not so much, but the other ones my homies have been on flat out. I was just doing something different with this one.

What’s the difference? Is that just how it came about?

B: Yeah, it’s kind of just how it happened. I just didn’t feel like anybody else needed to be on a specific song. I made other songs with my friends that were going to be on the EP too but it’s just that – I was making something different. But it’s just nine songs on this EP, and the album will be different. I’ll have my friends on that one.

So there is an album in the works? Straight back into it now that the EP is out?

B: Yeah! I’ve already started and I’ve been producing quite a bit. I’ve made a couple of songs but they’re probably not for the album. I’m going to start working on it properly.

You’re not in a rush to get it out?

B: Not really. I’ve got a lot of other stuff I’m doing too. Me and Mars have got this stuff we’re doing that’s not musical but it is. We also have the 90’s RD tape coming out.

What is 90’s RD?

B: 90’s raw diversity. It’s the crew we’re in. All in Melbourne and all in the 90’s.

How did it come about?

B: The internet. I was friends with someone, and then their friends. It was just friends, friends, friends. We all became best friends. It wasn’t like we were recruiting who can rap, everyone can really fucking rap in 90’s RD. I’m not even just saying that.
M: We all met up, and on a personal level it was just easy. We all knew each other.

Do you all have similar influences or similar people that you really respect? 

M: Pretty much. We all like the same stuff but everyone has their own thing too. As a whole, just on a personal level, we’re all on the same wave length so it just works. It’s better to be out here with a group of people with the same mindset instead of just one artist.

Or with people that can rap as well as you but you get along with on a personal level. You’re pretty active on the internet with your fans too though, you’re all over Instagram and Snapchat…

B: Yeah yeah, I hate Snapchat but.

How important is that for you to connect with, not only like minded artists, but also your fans?

B: Yeah it’s cool. Snapchat and everything just shows how cool a lot of my fans are. They snap cool shit and that’s why I have it. If they’re doing something funny or something. Someone sent me a video of their fish, and they called it Baro, and this fish was moving it’s mouth along to my song Resume.

That’s awesome! Does that just help you want to keep going now, with all these fans behind you?

B: It’s good. I’d always be doing it but people are actually gravitating towards me and 90’s RD. People fuck with it. We know there’s likeminded people in Australia that will fuck with us, and a lot more but we just haven’t reached them yet.

I really do enjoy the EP, I’ve been listening to it so much. Mostly because it’s so chilled, there are nine tracks on there but it all just blends into one big one. Did you plan it that way?

B: Thank you! That’s exactly what I wanted. Every project I make, I just want it to be a whole. Everything fits with everything, it isn’t just a great song chucked in with the song before so it sound weird. I like listening to shit as a whole.

Is it hard to pick a single then?

B: I made a song ironically, Bears; it was dope, I liked the song but I just made it because it felt good, but then that was the single!

Is it kind of frustrating then because you’re like, “I want you to listen to it start to end,” but people might only listen to that snippet?

B: Sometimes when I’m just listening to one song off the EP, it’ll be Run and Tell Your Friends, because I feel like it has everything. It has everything on the EP in the one song. It’s my favourite. 

You’ve said you’re inspired by Kanye, Tyler, even Erykah Badu – what inspires you about them? 

B: Sometimes it’s the instrumentation. Sometimes it’s like… The way Amy Winehouse sings, have you heard Frank? You know the first song, at the very beginning of everything she’s doing that *scats* That’s my favourite shit. That’s what I want to do, I want to get better at singing and then do that.

Get a bit more soulful or R&B?

B: My inspirations are who I want to be, and who I want to compete with.

Can we expect a jazz/scat EP in the future? With a project like that would you bring in live instrumentation?

B: Yeah definitely. Most of my stuff is live.

Do you already bring some of that with you on the road?

B: No, I definitely want to though. This tour it’ll just be me, my DJ Fets, Nasty Mars who is an amazing artist and my hype man. Then Marcus who’s a rapper, he will come up and do his verses and his song. But he’s also supporting on the tour as well.

Is there any show you’re really keen to play?

B: Melbourne definitely, home town show. Sydney last time was crazy too!
M: We actually have fans in Sydney!

What was so good about Sydney last time? 

M: The people knew the songs! And not just one or two, maybe like 100 or more. It wasn’t that big but the people that were there…
B: 100 people vibing out is better than 1000 people who don’t know any of it.

You’ve also supported some huge artists, has there been a show that has been really meaningful to you?

B: Usually I don’t expect much. I’m excited but I don’t know what to expect. Because of that, the Sydney Thundamentals gig was crazy. The sound and the lighting, it was insane. Going on the Allday tour was dope too, the only Australian rappers I really listened to back then were Seth Sentry and Allday. Allday hitting me up, it was crazy. Freddie Gibbs too!

I was hoping you’d say that! What can we expect next? The tour’s about to kick off, where too from here?

B: The RD tape, and there is some stuff me and Mars have in the works. I do random stuff too, random songs and I’ll release them. It probably won’t be as much as when I was making the mixtape though. I want to be a bit elusive. I don’t want to use social media much.

Fall back and build up the anticipation?

B: And work harder on the music. Stay in my bungalow and make music.

In your bungalow? 

B: Yeah I make all my music in my bungalow! It’s at my house, in my backyard. I live on a bit of land and it kind of sucks. It’s just a shitty hut thing, but it’s crazy to make music in.
M: The roof’s caving in

Put some of the proceeds from the EP to the roof!

M: There’s also asbestos in the walls…

Oh man, where are you recording?! 

B: It’s crazy, I love the bungalow.

Maybe some of that risk comes into the recording of everything. 

B: Yeah all edgy and shit!