Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Miles Blackwood Robinson is the man behind the solo musical project Baze Blackwood. He has been recording his own unique blend of freak-pop and bedroom-pop since his home recording 2 was re-released in 2018. His latest single ‘Don’t Remember’ is the lead track off his upcoming EP Retroject. We sat down with Baze Blackwood (BB) to talk about the new single, his music and much more!
OSR: What drew you to the music industry?
BB: I come from a pretty musical family, my parents are both casual musicians and they named me after Miles Davis (at least according to one of them), so there was likely some influence there. I must have internalized the idea of being a jazz musician as a result of the frequent comments on my name because when I was in the third grade I asked my mom to buy me a saxophone. My sister taught me the guitar when I was a teenager and then my brother taught me piano and music theory, and that’s when I really got into songwriting. From there, I played in a bunch of bands, but slowly started gravitating more towards production, there’s just so much to explore there.
OSR: ‘Don’t Remember’ is part of a new record where you revisit old songs, what was the reason for doing this?
BB: I took a hiatus from making music back in 2014, I’d just left Berklee and was feeling a little bit cynical about the industry in general. When I started getting serious about making music again a couple of years ago, I was feeling stuck from a songwriting perspective, and it occurred to me that I had all this “unfinished” material, demos and whatnot, from a time in the past that feels almost alien to me now. I figured, hey, I can take what’s still solid, and work with the rest to mould it into something new. I think of it sort of like a conversation with my past self and that conversation turned into the new album retroject.
OSR: What is the backstory behind ‘Don’t Remember’?
BB: ‘Don’t Remember’ is probably a little unconventional both from a songwriting and lyrical perspective. I follow a school of thought that you probably shouldn’t know exactly what your lyrics are about. I do write literal lyrics sometimes, but I like the mystery of metaphor a lot and using songwriting as a way to explore the subconscious. That doesn’t mean there aren’t themes to the song: I wrote it during probably the most active period of music-making and performing in my life, save for now, when I was just finishing up high school. Like a lot of teenagers, I utilised music and performance as a way to explore different identities, so the themes of the song are about the complicated feelings that come along with having a public persona and having it begin to replace your identity.
OSR: What drew you to your preferred genre?
BB: That’s a great question, I’m not sure I have a preferred genre, though I think I’m influenced a lot by older music in general, both from a production style and songwriting perspective. It feels to me like popular music was a little more adventurous in the late 60s and early 70s, I try to preserve some of that spirit of risk-taking in my music. I think I’m as influenced by the modern revival movements of that period (psychedelia, folk, etc.) as I am by those original movements themselves. The sound of this album, in particular, was also greatly influenced by Arc Iris, who produced 4 out of 5 tracks on the album, and did, if I can toot their horns, a fantastic job creating some entirely unique arrangements to accompany the songs.
OSR: What was it about ‘Don’t Remember’ that made you choose it as the lead single for the upcoming album?
BB: In early previews I gave to friends and family of retroject, it was consistently the track that produced the most curious reactions. Someone said it sounded like a “sci-fi love story”. Besides that feedback, there was the fact that I’d already finished the video for it, so there were practical reasons as well. I’m aiming to release a music video for each of the 5 songs off the album before the end of the year.
OSR: If you could have listeners take one thing away from the single, what would it be and why?
BB: I think my music is aimed at people whose listening habits are just at the border of the mainstream and fringe. I’d like to poke holes in their conceptions about what music can be and what it should do. The range of emotions and ideas that music can evoke is basically unlimited, but in actuality, the large majority of popular music produced is meant to create a pretty narrow, uncomplicated set of feelings. I try to make music that crosses that border, basically, ideally without the listener noticing.
It helps that I frequently work with the producer Scoops Dardaris, who has a pretty keen sense of when I go too far out of bounds. He’s produced, mixed, mastered and performed on various Baze Blackwood tracks. I like to think of our approach as thinking outside the box, while still acknowledging that the box is there. If I take just one person on a short but enjoyable journey outside of their comfort zone, I think that’s a plus.
OSR: What is the most useless talent you have?
BB: Reciting the presidents of the United States from memory. Extremely useless, especially since we probably won’t have presidents after this. Shout out to my grandma who taught me that one.
OSR: If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
BB: Patience. Be your own best teacher. Respect others and yourself.
OSR: How do you handle overzealous fans?
BB: My mom is my biggest fan, I just try to let her know when she comments on one of my videos more than once.
OSR: What are your plans for the next 12 months?
BB: First, I plan to finish up 4 more music videos. I think it’s a great way to use that energy that would probably go towards touring right now, given the current situation with the pandemic here in the US. I am currently “booking” a number of virtual performances though, so I’ve been getting myself acquainted with live-streaming software. I’m already workshopping ideas for the next album, which I’m thinking will be longer and likely a little more Americana-influenced/guitar-focused, like some of my earlier work, though I will likely preserve elements of this new Arc Iris-era sound, hopefully, that will come out by spring of next year. Last, I’m working on a podcast where I seek out little-known songwriters in the far corners of the internet, analyze their music and then cover one of their songs. There are no release plans for that yet, but I encourage people to sign up for my newsletter on my site if they want to know when that happens!