Te Marama puoro o Aotearoa is here (New Zealand Music month). This week SOUNZ shines the spotlight on Louis Baker. Nina Lesperance from SOUNZ spoke with Louis to hear what New Zealand Music month means to him.
Ko Ngā puhi tōku iwi
Nō Te Whanganui-a-Tara ahau
Ko Louis Baker tōku ingoa
What is your new single ‘Brighter Day’ about? And what inspired you to write it?
The song was inspired by a letter I read that my grandfather had sent to his cousin back in 1941. My grandfather was a commanding officer in the 28th Maori Battalion, Lt Col Fred Baker (Nga Puhi) and the letter talked about the many haunting things he had been through. His stories were detailed and through it he seemed to be searching for a silver lining. Fred was shot through the mouth and returned home to do extensive rehabilitation, he had to learn to speak again, and the story goes that he would repeat the words, “today is a beautiful day”.
Has this process of writing the song brought you closer to your history and to Frederick Baker?
I never had the chance to meet him, but through writing and singing this song, I was able to connect with him somehow. It’s amazing how music can do that. It definitely brought me closer to him, and my dad.
How does this single differ from your other music?
It’s a little more retro 60’s with its analog warmth and soul groove.
In the chorus you sing, “Looking for a brighter day, hope you find a brighter day.” What do you hope the audience takes from these lyrics?
Fred taught me about finding the good, no matter what you go through in life. I hope that people gain some kind of positivity from the song so that they can take that energy into their day.
The music video for ‘Brighter Day’ is directed by Anahera Parata. Can you tell us what it was like to work with Anahera and how she brought your vision for this music video to life?
I have known and admired Anahera’s work for a few years now. She is extremely hard-working, talented, and interested in serving the kaupapa of the art at its core, which I really respect and appreciate. In particular, she is a teller of Māori stories. I really trusted Anahera to tell this story through film medium, and the visual depiction that was created couldn’t have been more complementary to the song. It was a pleasure to work with her on this special music video. She really honoured the kaupapa.
What does NZ Music Month mean to you?
It’s a dedicated time to celebrate our homegrown talent.
For our community at SOUNZ, can you please tell us what it was like to perform with the APO?
It was absolutely incredible. To hear a 70-piece orchestra play your songs is next level. There were moments when I had to fight back the tears, and pull myself together because the orchestra sounded so beautiful. I was lost for words at the end of the show when all the lovely people in the crowd gave me a standing ovation. I won’t forget. It was a real team effort, and I feel so grateful that I had that opportunity.