Interview: Sweet Baboo

Following the release of his album Ships on April 22nd, TFFT were lucky enough to be able to ask Welsh folk-pop powerhouse, Sweet Baboo a few questions and find out about his influences, his tour and what the future holds for the psychedelic musician

Firstly, how would you describe your sound for those who aren’t familiar with it?
Welsh pop music. 

Who, or what, are your main influences?

The whos: Beach Boys, Daniel Johnston, Paul McCartney, Weezer, Jonathan Richman, Arthur Russell, Euros Childs, Woods, Smog.

The whats: My friends, my friends’ bands, the Welsh landscape, the sea.

Do you come from a musical background?

Yes, I’d like to think so. My dad is a good clarinet and saxophone player (and that’s what I grew up playing) – he plays in the Llandudno Swing band amongst other things. My middle brother is a classical guitarist and plays on all my records.

Sweet Baboo is a great stage name, is there some story behind its creation?

There is, but it’s not a very exciting one. It comes from the Peanuts comic. Charlie Brown’s sister, Lucy, used to call Linus her sweet baboo. It’s a term of endearment in America and at 16 I thought it was a good name for a band and the rest is history so to speak.

I was trying to classify you as a genre, but found it quite difficult. I came up with dark-alt-folk-psychedelic-indie-pop. What sort of genre, if any, do you class yourself as? And how do you think that fits in to the modern feeling towards manufactured, TV-pop?

That’s a tough one. That’s why I like to call it Welsh pop music because in my mind, that encompasses psychedelia, garage, orchestral pop, folk and loads of other genres but doesn’t have to be specific. I like psychedelic pop. As for fitting in, I have no idea. I don’t think manufactured, TV-pop will worry about it. It would be cool if 5ive covered one of the songs though.

You’re on a quite lengthy UK tour at the moment, how do you find the touring process? Is there any particular place that you always look forward to playing?

I’ve spent the last two or three years constantly touring it seems, so I guess I must like it a bit.

It’s not a difficult way to spend a day. We, in the band, try to make sure we eat nice food, have a look around the city and have a good time.

We played in Stroud yesterday, in a pub called the Prince Albert. It was brill, we got fed pie and dauphinois potatoes, the pub was packed and the dogs were running around. I look forward to playing there again. On this tour though, I look forward to playing everywhere really, it’s the first ever Sweet Baboo headline tour so it’s exciting to see anyone coming to our gigs.

Do you find the home Welsh crowd is more inviting than an English one? Do you feel any preferences when playing back home?

I don’t think so, like I said above I love playing anywhere really, I think I’m at my most contented and happy playing music onstage.

Our Cardiff gig is our final one on the tour. I’m a bit nervous about it really – I find it a lot more stressful playing in front of people I know. I think there’s an expectation, on my part, to impress them.

After the success of I’m A Dancer/Songs About Sleeping, did you ever feel under any pressure when making the new album?

No I don’t think so. More than anything, I love recording and making albums. I made an EP in the middle of the two albums which is a bit like a combination of the two so it felt like quite a natural progression from one to the other. I think it’s important to make music first, then worry about what people think after.

If you could play with anyone, who would it be?

Hmm, it’s an obvious one but I’d like to have a bass jam with Paul McCartney. I’m on rhythm guitar and he’s just riffing around me.

What bands/artists are you enjoying most at the moment?

I’ve got quite obsessed with Arthur Russell (I know he’s not new) and I love everything on the Woodsist label, especially Woods themselves. I like the new Devendra Barnhart record, Hookworms and a Welsh band called R.Seiliog are great too.

This may seem like a horrible question, but where do you see yourself in 5 years?

No, not horrible at all. If you mean personally, I’d like to be a family man and live in Llantwit Major in south Wales, by the sea. Professionally, I’d just like to keep making records and touring, you know, putting off getting a ‘proper’ job.

What can audiences expect from your live shows?

A lot of noise, fun and, if they’re lucky, a big brass section.

Which new folk bands would you recommend?  

I really like the new Georgia Ruth Williams single and am looking forward to the album, she’s a Welsh harpist and her song Week of Pines is brilliant.

Questions by Josh King