At the intersection of British folk and spoken word poetry sits East London hero Hak Baker armed with his acoustic guitar.
It’s not very often an artist such as Hak Baker breaks through the periphery and into the light. Already recognised for his prolific use of poetic justice that is equal parts nostalgic as it is hopeful, Baker’s stanzas are steeped in brilliance.
A certain kind of brilliance that results in sometimes brutal honesty, but always comes from a vulnerable place. It’s this vulnerability that has seen Hak Baker be defined as not only one of the greatest storytellers of our generation but as a voice for the voiceless. Listening to a Hak Baker track is like catching up with an old friend – humorous anecdotes, melancholic tales and a warmth that Hak exudes that is entirely his own.
Tackling experiences from his past – growing up in East London, heartbreak, childhood, finding yourself only to lose yourself then find yourself again – there is no topic off limits for Hak and his journal. When I ask him about if he would change anything, Hak opens up and reveals “nothing, if I didn’t do it how I did, I wouldn’t have these songs, so not a thing. I’d say do it all again”. Not only is Hak’s lyricism profound and hard-hitting, the way in which Hak can flow and serenade his words is equally as impressive – it’s like his gifts are so intertwined that to mess with one would mess with the other.
It’s refreshing to see an artist in the truest sense as Hak is, be so incredibly talented as he is humble. With a smile that invites you in, let Hak Baker tell you his tales with new music just around the corner.
How does it feel to have your body of work out in the world?
It’s a big weight off my shoulders, we’ve been trying to put it together and get it out there for some time. I’m glad and I’m proud, but this is just the start. It’s good a feeling to be proud of yourself.
What is your creative process like when it comes to making music?
There’s many, my go-to is just messing around with my guitar, to begin with. I used to write a lot whilst I drove but since the old bill took my license again, I’m penning on the train a lot lately and that’s new and cool. Ali, my producer, and I sometimes just jam with the band at times too and just freestyle some shit. That’s how we made ‘Fuck You’ on the project.
Who would some of your dream collaborators be?
Damien Marley, Skin Shape and Adele.
How did you first get started within music?
I’ve always been making music at different time periods in my life. I just love it, so it just comes to me when it’s ready to come out and spill. With the guitar, I said I wanted to play it so I got one and just started.
What is some advice you would give to your younger self?
Nothing, if I didn’t do it how I did, I wouldn’t have these songs, so not a thing. I’d say do it all again.
What has been one of the highlights of your year so far?
Playing at Glasto, I always wanted to go since I used to see it on the telly and just be confused about what it was. Doing it whilst being on a bender with my good mates and acing it was bloody ace!
What else can we expect to come from Hak?
More real tunes, nuff cool shit coming but I’m keeping a lid on it, you’ll see.
If you could choose one, what is one album that you could only listen to?
‘Welcome to Jamrock’ by Damien Marley.
Any advice you have been given that has stayed with you?
Be yourself, have patience, be happy and don’t be too hard on yourself.
What is one fact people may not know about you?
I’m very, very shy.
How has London shaped you as an artist?
The exterior you create to keep yourself. Being susceptible to all races and all different sorts of people living in London gives you a demeanour which you can carry with you anywhere in the world. To live amongst any and every person as equals and with understanding. Aligning yourself amongst the people; singing for them, being a voice with them gives me great strength and integrity. I try to love everyone.
What are some of your first memories of music?
Singing Bob Marley’s Redemption Song in the bath. Dancing with my mum in the kitchen. Listening to my dad’s dub tapes and going to carnival with him. It’s always been there.
Who are some of your heroes?
Fleetwood Mac, Daughter, Terry Callier and Bob Marley.