It’s already been an incredible 2018 for Danzel Baker, AKA Baker Boy. On top of being the first Indigenous artist to have two singles in Triple J’s Hottest 100 (‘Marryuna’ came in at number 17), he was nominated in April for three gongs in the Australian Independent Records (AIR) Awards, including best artist, best single and breakthrough artist of the year. There’s no end to it in sight, either. After touring the Groovin the Moo circuit in May, playing solo shows across the country and heading to Splendour in the Grass in July, Baker Boy will kick off a tour of Norway (his first visit to Europe). Oh, and there’s also a new EP in the works.
I was talking with the boys from [dance troupe] Djuki Mala when they were down here in Melbourne, and they’re all foodies. Sounded like wherever they go in the world, they’re just eating the whole time. They’re all your cousins, and you’re a former Djuki dancer, so is the real reason you’re living in Melbourne for the food?
Well, that’s the other reason! Plus I get to experience all different types of culture. But yeah, there’s more opportunities here than back home, which is a remote community up in Arnhem Land with only about 800-1000 people living on it. There’s probably about seven jobs, and that’s it. I still love back home though. I get to go hunting up there, and I love hunting and fishing. It’s the best.
How do you fare in Melbourne then? You get homesick?
I’m starting to actually feel like I’m home here as well, 'cause I’ve got friends and family here. This is my second home. I’ll stay here and keep my little dream going. One day I’ll bring all the family down to show them around, so they can have a holiday house, where they come to Melbourne just for a holiday. Now and then I’ll go home, just chill. Go fishing.
It’s been a crazy year for you. How are you coping with so much success all at once?
I pretty much stay humble and you know, stay true to myself. And the audience get to see who I actually am. You know, I’ll just be me and everybody just wants to see me just being me. But It’s definitely been a wild ride.
I read somewhere that some of your influences are old school, like NWA and Public Enemy?
Yeah, when I was growing up my dad and all them always played that stuff on the stereo, a little cassette tape, ay. It was just crazy. And growing up listening to all that stuff was amazing and came in handy when I started doing hip hop stuff. I like old school, because old school talked about the struggle.
Do you see the work you’re producing as political?
Not really. I’m more showing people what we can be. I love what A.B Original do, I really love it. But for me, I’m just making a song where everybody enjoys it and doesn’t feel like they getting attacked.
Now, where I’m from, country music is massive among community. Can we expect a country music album from you at some point in the future?
[Laughs] I grew up with country music too! But nah, I can’t. I reckon my bruthaboi Dallas Woods can! He’s one of my MCs. He’s an upcoming artist. Keep a look out for Dallas Woods.
What about your time in Djuki Mala? Did performing and touring as part of that troupe prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Yeah, definitely. It taught me confidence to perform in front of thousands of people. Just that confidence of being on top of the stage and having fun and being ourselves. It all came in handy when I started doing my own thing. Working with both Djuki Mala and also working with Indigenous Hip Hop Projects. I mean, I started rapping because of Indigenous Hip Hop Projects. Now, going around remote communities working with them, just seeing all the struggles that kids have in remote community, all of that stuff really inspires me.
All right, time to tell me where you can be found eating in Melbourne.
Well, If I want to go and just graze, taste different foods, I go to Victoria Market, or Footscray Market. I also love Ethiopian food.