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Julien Baker - FRZN Fest 2016

An interview with FRZN Fest 2016 performer Julien Baker

Julien Baker CD: Sprained Ankle
Record Label: 6131 Records
Artist's Facebook
by John Noyd
December 2015

Held in the depths of winter, FRZN Fest 2016 presents a dozen hot bands that are anything but frozen. Whether erupting within dynamic songs or evolving as artists fusing genres, this year’s three-day explosion contains a fiery blend of underground favorites and rising newbies covering indie-folk, alt-rock, electro-psychedelics and punk-pop. In its fifth year hosted by Madison’s High Noon Saloon FRZN Fest highlights include cyclonic TORRES, who opened up for Garbage this past tour, headlining January 14th, crackling psychedelic blues-rockers ALL THEM WITCHES the 15th and Minnesotan folkie slash beat-pop troubadour JOHN MARK NELSON on the 16th. A frequent visitor Nelson looks forward to returning to Madison. “There is a life and energy to that place that always makes it stick in my mind,” he says, ” every time we have played there, we have been greeted by enthusiastic and sincere listeners, which is a rare and beautiful thing.”

A showcase for emerging acts, this year brings an extra buzz when the final night opens with nineteen year-old folk-rocker JULIEN BAKER, whose, “Sprained Ankle,” has generated interest for its arresting restlessness pitching perceptive sentiments. Ms. Baker was kind enough to answer a few questions to help Madison prepare for her Wisconsin debut.

MAXIMUM INK: A sensitive, articulate college-aged artist, you seem custom-made for Madison. Do you identify with your generation? Is it strange to be thought of as a Voice representing anyone other than yourself?

JULIEN BAKER: I do identify with my own generation; I think it is impossible not to associate oneself with whatever cultural or generational context they exist within, and as an artist that probably is reflected in my work to some degree. I don’t often think of myself as a “voice” necessarily—I am afraid it might be presumptuous to say I speak on behalf of any particular demographic. Perhaps it is better to just say that whatever personal experiences I am candid about in my music might be relatable to other people around my age group, or might touch on issues that other people face. I think as a musician my goal is not to create a specific platform, but just to create relationships and be open about those experiences so that they can be discussed and shared

MI: Did you always want to be a musician?

JB: Absolutely, from when I started playing music in middle school I knew I would want to do it for the rest of my life, whether that meant being in cover-bands at bars or my living room or a stadium. 

MI: Having lived in and around Virginia and Tennessee, are you prepare to head north in the middle of winter?

JB: I think I am prepared this time; the first time I went up north through Wisconsin it was last year on a little DIY tour with my friend Ryan Azada. I had never been up North, and I found myself in Ann Arbor, MI in January trudging through snow in only Vans sneakers. We even played a show in Detroit where the venue had no heat, I could barely feel my fingers! I had only toured the south and was not at all accustomed to the weather. But I learned my lesson. This time I am making sure to pack enough warm garments, socks, and boots, haha. 

MI: What are your impressions of Madison or Wisconsin in general?

JB: I have never been to Madison, though I have driven through Wisconsin and thought it was beautiful scenery-wise, fields of wheat and corn and the like. That stretch of road gave me a very “American Heartland” vibe, which was nice. As far as Madison in particular, I don’t know much, so I am excited to visit a new city with no existing impressions!

MI: On tour, what’s the first thing you seek out in a town you’ve never been before?

JB: Every time I show up in a new town, I make a beeline for the best coffee - I will have to consult some locals about the best place upon arrival!

Visit www.frznfest.com for more information, including run-downs on psycho-digitbots TOBACCO, six-string minx PALEHOUND, bop-robbers CHARLY BLISS and Anglo-jangle transplants AMERICAN WRESTLERS, among other jaw-dropping acts.

Purchase Sprained Ankle on Amazon.com
Download Sprained Ankle on Amazon.com

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