Bakar is a young artist from Camden, his sublime sound merges post-punk angst with neu-pop optimism. After sneaking out self-produced tracks via SoundCloud in 2015, his full-length LP dropped in 2018. Since then he’s performed in front of sell-out crowds, walked the runway for Virgil Abloh’s first LV show and released last year’s Will You Be My Yellow. We spoke to Bakar about what his next album sounds like, black Millenials, what he wants his gravestone to read, and more...
Your tour finished up recently, how’s your new material sounding?
I’m still trying to figure it out. It will be my best work, for sure. There’s so much more to talk about. I split it up into two: what I want to get off and what I want the bed underneath it to sound like. I think I’ve worked out the first part, so it’s just about what the rest of it sounds like. It takes a lot of fucking around and frustration, but ultimately it’s the fun part. This is like being in the science lab.
Is there an ongoing narrative?
The story is never autobiographical. Bad Kid had a narrative, but it’s not specific. it’s like themes under one umbrella, but it ultimately tells one story.
In your words, what was Badkid’s narrative?
It was about the black millennial; the new-age black kid. I feel like I just scratched the surface on Bad Kid. The next one will be a progression of that - the honest parts will be more honest, the poppy parts might be more poppy, you know what I mean? Bad Kid was 3D, but now I’m trying to make it 4D.
You’re a relatively new artist, what have you learned about yourself since being in the industry?
When I get into a certain mode, the drive is both good and bad. I learnt that I’m super driven. It’s a look in the mirror situation, a lot comes out subconsciously through the music. For me music is a root of discovery, that’s why I do it, I think.
You’ve been quoted how important ‘being a black guy with a guitar’ was for you. Can you elaborate on that…
That was a couple of years ago, I think I was just starting at the time. I still stand by it, especially back then. There was a grime resurgence at that time, which was amazing, but I was just trying to say that if we’re over here picking up guitars - ultimately, you can do whatever you want. A black man with a guitar is not a new concept, it’s probably one of the oldest - in fact, we were probably the first ones to pick up guitars. Fast forward to 2020, I think we’re in a better place. There was a kid called Sheku (Kanneh-Mason) who won the BBC orchestra prize recently, he’s incredible. He’s a black kid and his whole family, every single one plays an instrument, and they’re the best at what they do. So there are examples if you’re looking for them.
"I REMEMBER BEING IN THE LOUIS VUITTON OFFICE AND VIRGIL WAS PLAYING MY WHOLE ALBUM FROM START TO FINISH."
What’s your biggest fear?
Not reaching my full potential. But that fear also helps. Fear is a mad word, cos I’m not scared, but not reaching my full potential has a knock-on effect on other shit.
You walked at Virgil Abloh’s first LV show, how did that come about?
I think it was through my friend Jordan Vickors. A bunch of my friends had a relationship with Virgil, so when I started putting out music, those same friends started championed it, so he saw it. I sent him Bad Kid early and he was like ‘this is crazy’, then it just went from there. He was just a fan of young black people doing shit.
How did you find it?
I remember being in the Louis Vuitton office and Virgil was playing my whole album from start to finish. Yassin Bay and Kid Cudi were chillin' while I was getting fitted. I was just there like ‘what the fuck is goin’ on’.
Would you like to do more runway work?
Nah, not really. I got asked to do more this year, but for me, it’s more important to establish myself in music. I’ll go to a show, but unless it’s a phenomenal situation like Virgil’s, I’d rather just admire it with my eyes.
Do you think the way an artist looks is important?
In general? Not necessarily. It’s just what fits your style and character. Ultimately it just needs to enable you to be you. The clothes you wear and the style you encompass just needs to be valid to you. I can tell if you’re not comfortable in what you’re wearing, so I think other people can too.
What’s the last thing that made you smile?
I think when someone made a joke in your store...
"HERE LIES BAKAR...… HE DID THINGS DIFFERENTLY."
What are you excited about at the moment?
I’m excited about Mikel Arteta at Arsenal, he feels fresh. At first, I was a bit worried, but he’s a vibe.
Not to be morbid, but what would you want your gravestone to read?
Here lies Bakar... He did things differently. There are tangible things too: like great records, great business’, that kind of stuff. But ultimately a feeling that: ‘his wave was just different’.