Julien Baker shares his writing process for a new record, ‘Little Oblivions’

Little oversights, Julien Baker’s third studio album, presents listeners with new forms of instrumentation associated with a raw look at the life and experiences of the writer. Baker said American songwriter she entered the creative process with a desire to use the musical components that would best serve each song, even if certain aspects had not been presented in her previous projects.

“Early in my career, I discovered that working in a minimalist style served the music I made. I was intimidated trying to arrange drums or trying to arrange with synthesizers or drum machines and not being able to do it, ”says Baker. “But I wanted, regardless of my own fears or apprehensions or the uncertainty of whether I had the ability after making music with just a guitar or just a piano for so long, to leave the song and how I Imagine her dictating what she needed, instead of forcing arbitrary parameters around me for the sake of style consistency.

His assessment of these tentative undercurrents in the creative process came in retrospect, Baker notes. Looking back, she can see the thought process, but at the time it was both intuitive and deliberate, with the key found in balancing the two perspectives.

This album comes as a confident next step in his arc as an artist, following his second album Turn off the lights in 2017, and the collaborative project with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, boygenius, in 2018.

Baker notes that working with Dacus and Bridgers played a big part in eliminating fears of collaboration and allowed him to take his art, ideas, and impulses more seriously.

“I find that I am a person who can overthink very easily. Too much thinking and doubting myself keep me from doing the things I want to do. This prevents me from allowing myself to have drums on a disk. It keeps me from allowing myself to have a weird synth on a song, ”Baker says.

But the beautiful heaviness found in creation Little oversights gave the writer an opening to follow the thread of his musical instincts, greatly inspired by the renewed joy of collaborating with boygenius.

Combining unfiltered lyricism with complex musical components, Baker says finding the aspects that match well is a process of trial and error. With a larger palette of instruments, Baker says she opened up to the endless directions the process could take her, being ready to turn things around as she moved forward.

Baker notes that she pushed herself to work against some of her natural urges to stick to the original orchestration of the songs’ first step.

“I find that a lot of my songwriting tries to work against the impulse to be precious with the first iteration of a work, being prepared to deconstruct and reconstruct a song,” says Baker. “Several of the songs on the record were originally demonstrated in different pitches, different meters, and they didn’t feel right, but I enjoyed the lyrics so I just tried them out on a bunch of different musical pitches to see which one complimented them the best. ”

While Baker’s writing carried both outward and inward-facing elements, the artist notes with this latest project the primary focus was to spend time looking inside, looking at understand themselves better, and then deliver those raw feedback to their audience, regardless of the response they may generate on an individual level.

“It’s a more inward-looking record, not that any of the other music I’ve released is inward-facing or told in first person – it’s about my life, my experience. lived, ”says Baker. “I spent a lot of time on the last record considering all the possible impacts that the things I was saying could have on a listener because I suddenly realized that an audience had quickly swelled from what I was used to. ”

However, in a sense, art has to be selfish, says Baker. Because what a writer can report for sure are not observations about other people or the world, but rather about things going on in their own inner world.

“You have to know yourself to better understand the people around you, the relationships in your life – strangers, society, the people on TV. If you look within you can learn something very valuable about all human beings, ”says Baker.

Sometimes during the process of creating the songs on the disc, it felt weird to write without redirecting each song to have a clear agenda or message for an audience, Baker says.

“When I stopped doing this, I think I accessed parts of myself that I might not have known,” Baker notes. “I discovered that I could make art true to my experience that maybe could be of use to someone without having to obsessively consider the message I send in a song. I can just do art because it fills me up and because I believe my stories are worth it.

Art true to personal experience brings value to the world and connects with others in ways sometimes unexpected when a writer simply tells her story. Baker says she’s in a place with creativity where she fundamentally cherishes what she does as an artist.

There is, however, a certain separation between interpretation and musical creation, explains Baker. Performance is occupation, music is passion. This album was an explosion of new ways to support this passion and the joy it brings.

“I am passionate about writing songs and it gives me great joy to do something like learn a new chord or find out how to create a new sound with equipment. It’s those kinds of things that bring me joy, and now I try to follow that impulse more, ”says Baker.

Baker notes that she has often found herself toggling between self-deprecating humor mixed with low self-esteem massed in the form of humility, pulling away from her job to protect herself from criticism or even the expectations that arise from it. praise. Corn Little oversights is a record that she feels confident to say she’s proud of, no matter how much space it takes up in the culture right now.

“It was meaningful for me to release this record and take it seriously. Now that it’s out in the world, what gives me the most satisfaction about it is the power to be able to share something. that I have done with the help of so many very good friends and colleagues, and to be okay with that and to love it and be proud of what I have done. painful, I’m in a very peaceful place about it.

Scott R. Banks