Julien Baker: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Julien Baker performs at FYF Fest 2016. (Getty)

Julien Baker‘s debut album, 2015’s Sprained Ankle, took the indie music world by storm, catching the attention of online music curators and publications, and topping some important end-of-year lists. Baker hasn’t slowed down either, with constant touring and special online performances, she’s been an indie rock constant for a solid year-and-a-half at least. On top of all of that and despite the emotional complexity of her lyrics, she’s only 21 years old.

2017 holds even more excitement for Baker and her fans. So, here are five fast facts about the singer-songwriter that you need to know.

1. ‘Sprained Ankle’ was Originally Self-Released on Bandcamp

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In 2014, Baker recorded a 9-song album called Sprained Ankle, and then put it up on Bandcamp for streaming and downloading. It wasn’t the more polished version that a lot of us have heard, but rather an even more minimalistic execution. Her Bandcamp page was shared through word-of-mouth, which then led to Baker going on tour and selling CDs of the album. She was catching the right kind of attention in the indie scene, which lead to a record deal.

Eventually, 6131 Records signed the young artists, remastered, and reissued the debut full-length in 2015. The release of the album coincided with the premiere of the music video for the title track, featured above.

Though she had a humble beginning, Baker has now amassed thousands of fans. Her Instagram account is followed by over 30,000 fans, and her over 20,000 people follow her Twitter account. A lot has happened for the singer since she self-released her first EP in 2014.

In an interview with Stereogum, Baker revealed that connecting with her audience and fans is very special to her. On the subject of her lyrics, she mused: “For every time someone misconstrues your lyrics, there’s one person who finds the right meaning in them.”

2. She’s Queer, Christian, & Proud

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Julien Baker. (Getty)

Baker opened up to Pitchfork about her song, “Go Home,” last year. The song, according to Baker, is about the separation of “her queerness, her faith, and her Tennessee home.” Here’s an excerpt from her explanation:

“There are things that I might usually feel at liberty to say, and when I’m in the south, I wonder if all these people know I’m gay, and I wonder if I’m at liberty to make a comment about it. Ultimately, I’m not going to change my behavior to accommodate that fear. I would rather be authentic and risk making people uncomfortable.”

Go HomeProvided to YouTube by Ingrooves Go Home · Julien Baker Sprained Ankle ℗ 2015 6131 Records Released on: 2015-10-23 Writer, Composer: Julien Baker Auto-generated by YouTube.2015-11-20T15:14:05.000Z

In an interview with Nashville Scene in 2015, Baker shared a similar sentiment. She explained that many aspects of her life could’ve “turned me off from faith,” but connecting with her fans has shown her that others are dealing with similar issues. “Like, being homosexual,” she said. “I want to be able to say to other people: These two aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Speaking with The New Yorker, Baker revealed that she has a tattoo that says, “God Exists.” And one of her songs, “Rejoice,” certainly brings to mind faith as well. Here she is performing it for OurVinyl Sessions:
Julien Baker – Rejoice | OurVinyl SessionsWe are proud to present to you Julien Baker from Memphis, TN performing her song "Rejoice" from her 2015 album Sprained Ankle. This live performance was filmed in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, TN on a beautiful autumn afternoon. Subscribe for the latest OurVinyl performances at http://bit.ly/1FkkrKs Follow OurVinyl: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ourvinyl Twitter: https://twitter.com/ourvinyl Instagram: https://instagram.com/ourvinyl/ SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/ourvinyl Listen To OurVinyl On: Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/user/ourvinyl Follow Julien Baker: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julienrbaker/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf Twitter: https://twitter.com/julienrbaker Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julienrbaker/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPKdAgBZuTLEgiDFmsQyd1Q About Julien Baker: A Memphis, Tennessee-based singer/songwriter with a knack for finding the shaky ground between heart-wrenching and cathartic, Julien Baker's stark and soulful music invokes names like Bon Iver, Daughter, Birdy, and Natalie Prass. Baker honed her skills while playing in her high school band Forrister, with whom she continued to perform while attending college. After writing a batch of songs that didn't seem to fit the band's more rock-oriented vibe, Baker headed to Matthew E. White's Spacebomb Studios in Richmond, Virginia to begin recording what would eventually become her solo debut, 2015's critically acclaimed, 6131 Records-issued Sprained Ankle. About OurVinyl TV: OurVinyl TV films live performances with both emerging and established musicians. We’ve worked with artists such as St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Ed Sheeran, Allen Stone, Kina Grannis, Dispatch, Iration, Donavon Frankenreiter, Rebelution, Marcus Foster, and Odessa Rose. We do our best to push the production envelop by filming artists in unique settings that compliment their music. OurVinyl is live music. Being at a show is a really magical experience. It allows you to see bands and artists performing their music in its most raw form. It’s all live, all one take, no punching in, no autotune, no cheating. Just high energy and high authenticity. What is OurVinyl.TV? OurVinyl.TV allows users to discover new music through videos by indexing the best sessions online. Today we have partnered with 30 of the best filmmakers online capturing live concert footage and filming acoustic performances with emerging artists. Our platform then allows our users to browse thousands of these videos by clicking a genre or typing in an artist. Join OurVinyl.TV: http://ourvinyl.tv/ The mixing Audio Engineer for this session was Dylan Alldredge (His studio is Skinny Elephant, it's in Nashville, and more can be learned about his services at http://www.skinnyelephantrecording.com/about.html) Use him for your audio needs, he's damn fantastic at what he does! Lyrics: All of my friends, a plastic bag Walking around, jumping the train tracks It's over the fence, veins are black Sleep on the bench in the park on my birthday Caught the blue lights Cursed your name When I find I'm still awake And you give me everything good I'll throw it away I wish I could quit but I can't stand in shakes Choking smoke, singing your praise But I think there's a god and he hears even when I rejoice, and complain I never know what he's saying But I think there's a god and he hears either way And I rejoice, and complain Lift my voice, I was made And somebody's listening at night With the ghost of my friends when I pray Asking why did you let them leave And then make me stay Knows my name and all of my hideous mistakes I rejoice, I rejoice, I rejoice, I rejoice2015-11-18T15:00:00.000Z

3. ‘Funeral Pyre’ is Her First Release Since ‘Sprained Ankle’

In January of 2017, Baker signed with Matador Records and shared a previously unreleased song entitled “Funeral Pyre.” The song is featured on a new 7″ release, which also features the unreleased song, “Distant Solar System,” on side B of the record. Sprained Ankle also received a reissue from the bigger label.

If you’ve been following Baker’s career, “Funeral Pyre” isn’t anything new for you. Though this is the first release of the song, Baker performed it on NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series in March of last year. You can watch her full performance, including that of “Funeral Pyre,” right here:
Julien Baker: NPR Music Tiny Desk ConcertMarch 7, 2016 by BOB BOILEN There are nine spare, simple songs on Julien Baker's debut album, Sprained Ankle, and every one of them is sad. In fact, she came to the Tiny Desk with an untitled new one — since given the name "Funeral Pyre" — and she appropriately introduced it as "Sad Song #11." But Baker's shimmering electric-guitar picking, the purity of her voice and the yearning way she sings make each of her songs lovely and memorable rather than merely somber. She takes raw emotions and weaves them into perfect bits of memorable poetry like this, from the song "Good News": In the thin air my ribs creak Like wooden dining chairs when you see me Always scared that every situation ends the same With a blank stare For fans of Torres, another Tennessee musician, there's a similar intensity to that electric guitar and lonesome sound. But unlike the intensity Torres unleashes with her voice, Baker lets her words carry the volume. It's a tone that lulls you into her world and has me eagerly anticipating "Sad Song #12" and beyond. Sprained Ankle is available now. iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sprained-ankle/id1033453222 Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sprained-Ankle-Julien-Baker/dp/B013WLWB5K Set List: "Sprained Ankle" "Funeral Pyre" "Something" Credits: Producers: Bob Boilen, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Kara Frame; Production Assistant: Jackson Sinnenberg; Photo: Emily Bogle/NPR. For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast: http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510292/tiny-desk-concerts-video2016-03-07T19:07:55.000Z

Speaking with NPR’s All Songs Considered earlier in 2017, Baker opened up about the new song.

“Everything about the song is figuring out how you should act in your level of responsibility for your own health and to others in the dynamic of a relationship, which is a difficult lesson to learn.”

Read the full interview with Baker right here.

4. Baker’s ‘Photobooth’ Cover for A.V. Undercover was Voted the Best of 2016

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The A.V. Club’s popular Undercover series, featuring artists coming in and covering others’ songs, has provided music fans with a number of great performances. Many artists came and performed in 2016, but when the website asked viewers to vote on their favorite out of the bunch, Baker came out on top. She shared a unique cover of iconic song, “Photobooth,” adding to her meteoric rise to indie stardom.

Her take on the song caught the attention of fans, and also Death Cab for Cutie frontman, Ben Gibbard. He brought Baker out on tour with him earlier this winter, and on January 20 at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater, the two surprised the crowd with a duet. Gibbard and Baker traded off verses, with the crowd trying to hold back their excitement during this somber song, as you can see from this video:
VideoVideo related to julien baker: 5 fast facts you need to know2017-02-08T17:31:46-05:00

The similarities between the two songwriters’ music might be clear to fans of the artists, but it needs to be pointed out. As writer Evan Rytlewski points out in his feature on Gibbard and Baker’s duet, the two tackle the very serious subject of mental illness and all that comes with it, but in a way that connects with audiences.

5. She’s Going on a Spring 2017 Tour with the Decemberists, Then a European Solo Tour

Folk rockers the Decemberists recently announced a spring 2017 tour, and the band is bringing Baker along with them. They’ve entitled it “The Shuffling Off to Ragnarök Spring Tour 2017.” It’s a brief tour, only taking place over the course of April, and finishes with three separate shows in New York City at Brooklyn Steel. These three concerts will mark the official opening of the new venue.

Here are the tour dates of the Decemberists’ spring shows with Baker:
April 7 in Ithaca, N.Y. at the State Theatre of Ithaca
April 8 in Pittsburgh, Penn. at Stage AE
April 9 in Richmond, Va. at The National
April 11 in Atlanta, Ga. at Fox Theatre
April 12 in Nashville, Tenn. at the Ryman Auditorium
April 14 in Philadelphia, Penn. at The Fillmore Philadelphia
April 15 in New Haven, Conn. at the College Street Music Hall
April 17 through 19 in Brooklyn, N.Y. at Brooklyn Steel

You can purchase tickets to this tour right here.

Baker won’t be done performing in Brooklyn though. To celebrate her recent signing to Matador Records and the re-release of Sprained Ankle, Baker’s headed to Europe for a short tour in May and June of this year.

Here are Baker’s 2017 European tour dates:
May 24 in Jena, DE at Trafo.
05/25 Berlin, DE at Kantine am Berghain.
05/28 Hamburg, DE at Aalhaus.
05/29 Munster, DEat Pension Schmidt.
05/30 Heidelberg, DE at Karlstorbahnhof.
05/31 Munich, DE at Milla.
06/05 London, UK at Bush Hall.
06/06 Manchester, UK at Deaf Institute.
06/09 Porto, PT at Primavera Sound.
06/10 Amsterdam, NL at Paradiso.

Tickets for European Baker fans can be found here.