New Baker album a form of healing
- Julia Peterson | November 18, 2021
Award-winning Métis musician Brandon Baker has released his second album, Tragic Lover.
Performing under the stage name Electric Religious, Baker was nominated for Métis Artist of the Year at the 2021 Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards.
Baker is using music to reconnect with his Métis roots. Though he says his music rarely sounds like traditional Indigenous music, it has become a way for him to communicate “my experience of being a modern Indigenous person living between two worlds.”
“I typically try to write songs as a form of healing for myself, whether that be healing from a proverbial bruised knee or a traumatic soul wound,” said Baker. “Each song has its own little message, kind of a personal message to myself that I use to try to remind myself that I’m doing okay and things are looking up.
“With this record, I was writing songs about the proverbial healing of a wound that I couldn’t quite see. It was more of a wound that was just resonating in me, and it took a lot of work to try and untangle.”
And while Baker’s music is often inspired by intergenerational trauma, it is equally important for him to write and sing about hope.
“That’s where the album Tragic Lover came from,” he said. “It’s the feeling of being doomed before you start, born under a bad sign, and yet having this fire inside you that just won’t be extinguished.”
For Baker, who grew up in Saskatchewan and now lives in Alberta, music was a formative early introduction to Métis culture. He picked up the guitar at age seven so he could accompany his brother on the fiddle.
“I had no idea what was in store for me when I was growing up in Prince Albert,” Baker recalled. “I knew I wanted to play music, but I certainly didn’t have the tools or the ability or the knowledge to make that a career until much later in my life.
“So coming back to Saskatchewan with my own project, singing my own songs, is really important. It’s something I could never have imagined when I was 10 or 12 years old, wishing I was a rock star,” he said. He played in Saskatoon in October.
Over the years, Baker’s study of his Indigenous ancestry, culture and teachings have influenced his music.
The leading single on Tragic Lover, Catherine, was inspired by the life of 17th-century Mohawk saint Catherine Tekakwitha.
“That is a really important song for me because it encapsulates the way me being raised Catholic has affected my life,” said Baker. “So I took that perspective and made it my own and applied it to my love, my pride and hope for all my relations. It’s like an urban prayer, almost.”
Baker has also been experimenting with different musical languages on this new album. He says the third song on Tragic Lover, Hard Skin, shows how his music is evolving - combining his early influences like blues, jazz and Jimi Hendrix with a slower, piano-heavy, waltz-time style.