Nat Baldwin is more than just the guy with the bass (not the cello...) in Dirty Projectors, as he's proving with his stream of fantastic solo work. 'Weights', for example (have a listen below) is one of the more remarkable pieces of modern composition you'll hear; it owes as much to Owen Pallett as it does Arthur Russell yet sounds heavily indebted to neither.

We caught up with Baldwin before his recent UK shows for a quick chat.

A lot of people will know you primarily from your work with Dirty Projectors - introduce your solo project for us, what's the aim, if you have one? 

I want to play songs that are sincere, and personal, giving glimpses of my life that hopefully others can relate to. I hope that when people listen to my music it makes those moments of their life better, and they forget about how fucked everything is.

   



A lot of your songs feature your cello playing, what's the story behind that? 

the story is that i actually play the bass. I started playing my senior year of high school. It's the only instrument I've ever played. I've never played the cello. The bass is bigger and cooler. I started writing songs with it, not because I was trying to be unique or something, it's just the only thing I know how to play.





 You get a lot of comparisons to Arthur Russell - is that something you enjoy or does it get frustrating? 

I love arthur russell.  It's an honor to be mentioned with him. We also play similar instruments and write very personal songs. I can see why people or writers would want to link us together.





 People Changes is a fascinating album, can you talk us through some of it? What were the hardest parts to write?

I'm glad you like it! I wanted it to be sparse and intimate feeling. I wrote most of the music up in the woods in maine so I wanted the recording to reflect that. Once the songs came, the writing really flowed. It always takes a lot of time to get to that point, but the more time I spent trying to write, the more likely it was that good things would come.





Jazz, especially freeform jazz, seems to play a large part in your music, what's your relationship to it? 

when I first started playing bass, free jazz was my favorite. I got into it immediately. I loved the raw emotion, and still do. I love noise and all possibilities of sound, and never understood the idea that music could only be pretty melodies and traditional rhythms. I always thought there was more out there, and have enjoyed exploring that. There's still plenty of free jazz I would count as some of my favorite music - Anthony Braxton, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Peter Kowald, John Butcher, and so on.





For someone with such a smorgasbord of influences where does inspiration lie? Is it in the discovery of something new and exciting or the exploration of something comfortable?

I dont really think much about where inspiration come from, and I just like to let it come. I never make anything with the idea that it's coming from something specific, I only want it to come from me. Thats the only way I can make totally honest music, and hopefully that comes across to listeners.





What does the future hold for you? What areas do you want to consider moving into next?





I've written tons of new songs. I'm hoping to record them soon. They are long and sad and have a lot of words. They are written in first person, but are not all autobiographical, which is a new thing for me. I'm excited about them. 






Who would be your ideal collaborator?





I dont really like collaborating. I like to do my thing. I like to do other people's things.  The idea of making a thing with equal parts is foreign to me. I would however, love to do some bass duets with the ghost of Peter Kowald.



People Changes is out now through Western Vinyl.