Watching Caiti Baker live is an unforgettable experience, audiences find themselves drawn into her world …

— by Rebecca Renshaw

Caiti Baker with John and Paul Bartlett, Beyond the Dust Tour, The Bat, Tennant Creek. Photographer: Duane Preston

Caiti Baker is one of the Territory’s most outstanding musicians and her unique voice and eclectic musical style toured the Northern Territory in March 2019. Working on a suite of new music during the second half of 2018, Baker has been collaborating with Sixfour, musician brother duo, John and Paul Bartlett who joined her for the Beyond the Dust Tour. Unleashing a couple of new tunes as they headed up the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs to Noonamah and then across to Nhulunbuy, Baker has now just released a new single. Taking some time out of her busy schedule Ktima Heathcote, Acting Communications Manager chatted to Baker about the tour and her new work.

How was the tour of the Northern Territory?

The tour was great. It was a nice chance to wind up a chapter that I have been focusing on for the last two years, as well as try out new things that are likely to be in my repertoire in the future. My band hadn’t been to that part of the country either, so it was great for them as well. The Northern Territory is such a wild card. There was an interesting occurrence and funny stories from each place we were at. Where I’m a little more accustomed to the random wildness of the Territory, it was interesting and exciting to see the whole experience through their eyes.

For example?

Well, the Outback has such an interesting selection of humans compared to other parts of the country. The complete cross section of culture and demographics which come together in one place is very rare for the rest of the Australia. The Territory has the kind of demographic where different kinds of people from all walks of life meet, and that makes for a fascinating tour.

What was performing at Daly Waters Pub like?

It was fun. It’s an interesting spot. They [the pub] had the largest amount of people turn up in months, which was great. The audience was a selection of grey nomads, people from outstations and community members who lived within a 20 to 50km radius.

Was that the highlight for you?

I’d say my final show in Nhulunbuy was the highlight. To get to that part of the Territory and meet the people there, see old friends, and be able to perform to new fans was wonderful and memorable.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

Big Mama Thornton, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Irma Thomas, Fiona Apple, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Frank Ocean.

Did you play music from previous albums or was there some new material?

It was a mixture. I played new two tracks that have not been heard before. On tour it was just about feeling them out on stage and making adjustments. It was also nice to get some feedback from people who have heard my music before but haven’t listened to my new work.

Can you tell us a bit about your new songs?

I would say that there is an element of change in the genre direction. These songs are closer to more mainstream R&B. They still have my blues and soul heritage but with beat inspirations from hip hop and that sort of thing. It will be a combination of all my influences and experiences all mashed into one, executively produced by myself. I feel like they are probably my best body of work so far.

Where do you find inspiration for your song writing?

Personal experience and emotions, my friends and family; their experiences and emotions. Maybe a line from a novel I’ve read or a movie I’ve watched; or a four hour YouTube binge on a couple of comedians I love. Inspiration comes from everywhere.

Were there any challenges on the tour?

Not really, but the sheer randomness and wildness of the Outback can bring up situations you may not necessarily get anywhere else. The intensity of weather as well. We were caught in the middle of an extreme storm in Katherine. There were lightning storms and the gig was rained out. And I think we probably lost some numbers at the next gig because of this, but that’s something that’s unpredictable. We have no control over these things [weather]. If anything, this tour was a blessing. I had finished up a big solo tour last September and October. So, technically the Artback NT tour came up during a time when I would be in the studio writing and having some down time. So, it was nice to be able to break that up, go back on the road, and play a couple of new things just to test the waters before they went to mixing and mastering. Due to the nature of how my band and I create and make our music it’s not always easy to play everything new that we are working on. So, this tour gave us the chance to road test and workshop some songs along the way.

How do you look after your voice?

I look after it by looking after myself. I can’t afford to get sick, so I stay healthy and rested when I’m not on the road. I talk or hum a lot when I’m not singing, and I do warm-ups before gigs.

What’s next on the horizon?

I just finished a gig at the Darwin Festival and the Gympie Music Muster, and I’ve got one coming up in South Australia called November Nights at Woodville Town Hall. I’m not sure about creating an album but I hope to be releasing a single soon [released 6 September]. Hopefully that will be released with a video clip, too.


Caiti Baker with her artistic collaborators James Mangohig and Paul and John Bartlett have now released the new single GONE. You can listen to it here