4/12/10

FEATURED INTERVIEW: BABY GIRAFFE



so no, i didn't actually have a skype date with an actual baby giraffe (although that would be pretty awesome; the conversation would suck) but i did have a skype date/interview/shooting-of-the-shit with toronto's michael newton; the man behind the band baby giraffe. i've known michael for years, but over the last few he's been creating some amazing music mostly on his own with a little help from a few friends here and there. it's an incredible blend of shoegaze, electronic and rock'n'roll and for something to sound so fresh, it has a familiarity comparable to a warm hug. it's pretty with torn edges. we skyped as i grilled him with a few questions i've been meaning to ask about baby g.



shirk magazine:

Where and when, if you can remember, were you when you came up with the name BABY GIRAFFE?

michael:

The name comes from an ex-roommate. or it may have been an ex-roommate's friend. I was nosying around and they were playing the game of, "if you were an animal, what would you be". And someone said I would be a "baby giraffe" It's kinda embarassing. I should be a bear.

shirk magazine:                                                                                                                                                                                            

When did you record the first track under Baby Giraffe, and what song was it?

michael:

I had recorded a full album in 2004 that later adopted the name Baby Giraffe, but the name Baby Giraffe came stamped on a song I recorded called The Trust Of Spring. Specifically because it was unlike what I was writing in the band I was in at the time. 

shirk magazine:

Was there an album, or anything that you said "I want Baby Giraffe to sound like this"?

michael:
Not really. Um, there had always been music I had written with obvious influences.

shirk magazine:

What were you listening to while writing the songs, then?

michael:

Amongst music I listened to as a teenager, I always enjoyed an album by the Appleseed Cast called Mare Vitalis. I bought it over a weekend in Barrie and to this day, unfortunately, it still reminds me of Barrie. I always go back to that album as far as structure goes. It's kind of a shoegazing type of band for my generation, similar to what My Bloody Valentine and Spacemen 3 were doing  when I was still wearing track pants and matching sweaters, but more to the like of bands like Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor.

michael:

The sort of music that doesent need a a full on "here I am, im the lead singer of a band" structure. It's all very pretty.

shirk magazine:                                                                                                                                                                                              
Do you remember the first album you ever bought/heard?

michael:

The first album i bought with my own money was the Ghostbusters soundtrack. The first cd I ever bought was C+C Music Factory's Gonna make You Sweat.

shirk magazine:

Did it make you sweat?

michael:
Ha, I sweat regardless of musical genre. The first album I CARED about was the Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and the first album I bought I still listen to was The Smiths - The Smiths. 

shirk magazine:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Which leads into my next question; you're a huge Morrisey/Smiths fan. What about their music inspires you, or what do you take from them and incorperate into Baby Giraffe?

michael:
Not only because Morrissey is more than a frontman, he is a character, almost fantasy like, to the point where you can't imagine someone like that actually exists... but you can. Because you feel so connected, the music is very important. Johnny Marr, who is the greatest guitarist of all time, and Boz Boorer (and Alain Whyte) are all very important to the music. Listening to Morrissey acapella would be great, but when you incorperate the contrasting music behind it, it all seems to make sense even if for a minute.

shirk magazine:
Who have you collaborated with on this project so far?

michael:
In total, over the couple years, only two people. My good friend Eli, who ran off to Austrailia because he is loved too much in this country, and my pal Mike who is sleeping one floor below me. Both are collaborative out of a matter of convience, but also choice. They both have things to offer I cannot. And I love them for that.

michael:
Everyone else can eat dirt.

shirk magazine:
"Cept me.

michael:
Who?

shirk magazine:
What do you have to offer in terms of material that a fan can get their hands on? I know that this is an ongoing project for you and that you're continuously releasing B.G. goodies.

michael:
Well I've got a few things...in 2004 I did "Baby Giraffe Is A Lot More Important Than Jesus Christ and the Church of Latter Day Saints". I gave that way to friends. It wasnt great. Mostly instrumental. Then I did a self-titled, which I made 90 of and gave them all away. Next came an ep called "Coma Toes". I did two of those; a lot of the tracks were mostly instrumental. I followed with "Alcohol Drugs and Things Not Meant To Be Loved" where there are three versions and nobody owns a full copy. But I do want to do a proper release, to the masses (insted of just giving it away on the internet, which is also cool).

shirk magazine:
Give me three words that describe Baby Giraffe.

michael:
"Oh that guy".

shirk magazine:  
What are pros and cons to being an independant musician in Toronto?

michael:
Pros- no one to answer to. No rehearsal factory fees. I do it in my room (all good things I do by myself in my room). Cons- I cant afford to put out a release by myself (I cant split it five ways in a five way band, because im a one man band, man.)

shirk magazine:
Where do you see yourself, not even nessissarily with Baby Giraffe, in 5 years?

michael:
Baby Giraffe will be wherever I will be, because, it's really only me. I might pick a different moniker, whatever is trendy. "Easy Girls"? And I have no idea where I will be, if anywhere. But where I'd like to be is comfortable, with a Rickenbacker guitar, and a computer worthy of recording at least 16 tracks. 

shirk magazine: 
Michael Newton is Baby Giraffe, Baby Giraffe is Michael Newton.

michael: 
Baby Giraffe and Michael Newton are the same guy, but I can never figure out which one I want to tuck in at night.

shirk magazine:
Last question, Netwon. Why do you want people to listen to Baby Giraffe?

michael:
I don't mind if people don't. I don't expect alot of people to enjoy it. But nothing, personally, excites me more than finding a new artist that has a back catalogue unnoticed. My back catalogue reflects the past six years of life. And if you know me, you will understand that.

shirk magazine:  
Totally. Well it's moving, innovative, emotional music and it should be heard.

michael:
Baby Giraffe is discoverable music whereas there are specific emotions I was encountering that come across in the music. If you want music to get up and dance to, turn on your radio. If you want to explore and find something that's been under your nose; especially if that nose had been previously occupied by a crisp blue five dollar bill, this will be adaquete.

shirk magazine:   
Nicely put. I think that about wraps this shit up. Thank's Michael!

michael:
I think I spelled adaquete wrong. Editor?









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