Unveiling Sailor Jerry Presents 'The Lock In Series' with Hak Baker, here, the G-Folk musician talks the power of community, best ways to drink rum and how to have a good time in 2024.
If there’s one thing we know about Hak Baker, it’s that the proud Eastender likes to have it large. ‘Doolally’, a swashbuckling single from his debut album, Worlds End FM, speaks to riotous weekend shenanigans, wearing your Sunday best, hitting the pubs and stumbling around the capital armed with a four pack, chasing the highs of hedonism and musical collectivity. It’s the wordsmith at his most visceral, soaking shuffling indie-jazz with a cockney drawl like a lager wetting the woodpulp of a beermat.
So, it should be of little surprise that, when Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum wanted to throw an intimate party series, Hak was the first artist that came to mind. Travelling across the country to intimate 100 cap venues, where the G-Folk musician and his friends will be DJing and vibing closely with fans, ‘The Lock In Series’ represents an urge to build a community around like-minded people from all walks of life. To enter, all fans have to do is purchase any Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum served at participating UK venues (sorry, Ireland, not this time), and upload your receipt to www.sailorjerryparty.co.uk, to be in with a chance of attending one of the nights in Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Bristol.
When we checked in with Hak – at 3PM chilling in his dressing gown – before the end of last year, he was giddy with the excitement such a unique proposition may bring. He’s a people person: a voice of the working class that cares for hearing the stories of others. Much of his lyrical content brings to life people’s realities, relaying their struggles and the little regard our government has for them. Who knows what the conversations on the road will breed this time round, as
As for new music, Hak is currently hunkered down in Columbia recording the follow-up to last year’s Worlds End FM. Embracing a rare moment of solitude, the Isle of Dogs native is grounding himself after a typically merry Christmas and New Year. Headed back to East soon, before embarking on ‘The Lock In Series’ with Sailor Jerry, he’s ready to unwind, enjoy the company of strangers and help others to let loose at a time when people are finding it increasingly difficult to do so.
Here, Hak talks the power of community, best ways to drink Sailor Jerry rum and how he’ll be having a good time in 2024.
Next year you’ll be hitting the road with Sailor Jerry for an exclusive party series. Why is it important to you to provide such an inclusive space for your fans?
We had some real fun with Sailor Jerry last year! I did a tour in a Sailor Jerry decked-out van and always had my first release Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum x Hak ‘Doolally’ bottle in hand at festivals. This year we’ll be having even more riotous shenanigans with rum in hand. We have some epic intimate parties planned for up and down the UK this year and it’s gonna be large.
There’s only a handful of free tickets available, so you know what you’ve gotta do. Purchase a Sailor Jerry drink at any participating bar, upload your receipt and you are in with a chance to join us. The receipts don’t lie. We need to have a laugh and I think that’s been lost a bit since COVID and everything that went with it. People need space to unwind and forget about everything. My fans love letting go! I love seeing people escape for a few hours; that’s what it’s all about. I want to make people feel seen!
Is there anything in particular that you’re looking forward to about the Lock In Series, compared to your normal tours?
It’s going to be very much me and me mates, having a good time, DJing, playing some tunes, connecting and chatting to people. I may play a few acoustic tracks but it will mainly be a party atmosphere rather than a ‘traditional’ gig. We just want to bring everyone together and create a fun environment, with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum to enjoy.
What can people expect from the parties?
A laugh. You will leave with a smile on your face.
Sailor Jerry is famous for their spiced rum. What’s your favourite way to drink the spirit?
Usually, I drink it with apple or pineapple juice. Sometimes just neat! It depends on what mood I’m in and what type of night I want it to be if you know what I mean.
Moving onto your general tour life, you like to take your close friends on tour with you. Keeping it PG, what are some of your most memorable times on the road with them?
Not sure I can go into too much detail here without getting in trouble. We all like to have a good time, let’s say that, it doesn’t matter where we go we will always have a great time. Probably too much of a good time.
From all your years of touring, what’s one life lesson you’ve learnt on the road that you still hold with you today?
Just being thankful that I get to wake up and do this as a job.
Worlds End FM has been out for a little while now. Have you taken time to sit back and reflect on the process or are you still basking in the glory of your debut album?
I’ve lived and breathed that record for so long. It comes from my heart, directly. I’ve gotta make a statement on where we’re at in this country, or what’s the point [of being an artist]? I am so proud of it. I can now relax into the next record. I’m in Colombia atm writing, walking, exercising, just living really. We’ll see what comes next.
The record takes on the structure of a radio station, with skits from Connie Constance and Allan Mustafa. How’s radio impacted your life both in pirate radio and beyond?
Radio is community. Whether you are a listener, a broadcaster, or involved behind the scenes, it brings people together. You never feel alone. I was immersed in the pirate radio scene from a young age, and this record is a homage to that. I would always rush home from school to make sure I’d be back in time to listen to the set I wanted to on pirate radio. I’d record it all on tapes and listen back time after time, usually when I wasn’t meant to be. I don’t think you can recreate that type of culture now, things have moved on. It was a moment in time. I was glad to experience it, it helped shape me.
Thematically, there is the occasional nod to The Streets’ Original Pirate Material. You’ve collaborated with Mike Skinner before, can you tell me about how you know him and the impact he’s had on your music?
I collaborated with Mike on a track called ‘Falling Down’ in 2020. He is someone who has pinnacled my career in terms of an artist who has integrity, honesty and makes timeless music. I supported him on his UK tour at the end of last year. To see that crowd, to be a part of it, it was electric.
As a man who famously loves a drink and a good time, what would be Hak Baker’s ideal night out? Start us off at 3PM.
Well, we’d probably start earlier than that if truth be told. The thing about me and my mates, it doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing, we will always have a good time. It’s the company you keep that’s important. We’d usually start around someone’s house, then move on to a local pub and see where the night takes us. There isn’t usually a plan, that’s always the best way, right? Let the night take you, rather than the other way round. Meeting and speaking to people with stories, who have been on a different journey, who have a different perspective – that’s also part of a proper night out for me.
The influence of your east London upbringing is so audible on the record. When you walk around the Isle of Dogs, do you still get the overwhelming feeling of home, or has gentrification given you a different feeling towards the area?
There’s’ no doubt the place has changed, everything has changed. I don’t live there anymore but it will always be a part of me. There are different communities and classes there now, compared to when I was a young boy growing up. It’s a new breed. There’s nowhere for young people to go and connect, what are they meant to do? We had youth clubs, spaces to go, now youngsters don’t have those sorts of spaces to try and keep them out of trouble. It’s a bit fucked really.
Immersing yourself in grime during your teenage years gave you an early introduction to writing lyrics. In a musical sense, what did that period teach you that you still try and transfer into your current creative process?
When I was younger being part of that world allowed me to feel inspired, to witness artists first hand like Dizzee Rascal and Trim at my local community centre – the Alpha Place Community Centre – I was surrounded by all of this iconic talent, right at the inception. Can you imagine? It filled me with ambition, ideas, perspective and artistry. That early grime culture has shaped youth culture today.
And why rapping? What was it about words and lyricism that grabbed you more than, say, the DJing, promoting or media aspects of the culture?
I appreciate the intricacy, honesty and power of rap as a genre.
What’s next for Hak Baker?
More music. I’m writing in South America and grounding myself. No distractions. I need to have solitude as well as take the role of the entertainer. But I’ll be back in the east end soon: more parties, Sailor Jerry collaborations, fun and just enjoying myself in 2024.
Follow @hakbaker and @sailorjerry on IG for a chance to win a pair of tickets to attend one of the Sailor Jerry Presents ‘The Lock In Series’ with Hak Baker and Friends parties across Glasgow, Liverpool, London & Bristol.