Fresh on the heels of the release of Baraka‘s (aka Geoffrey Dean) new 6-track EP release we wanted to catch up with the pianist and composer to find out more. Beyond going into detail about what goes into creating his zen mix of electronic, hip hop and jazz, we found out what he does in his down time and also that he feels very strongly about the death of the late great Tupac Shakur.
Check it out:
Cougar Microbes: What time did you wake up today? Was it out of choice or necessity?
Baraka: 5:45 AM. Necessity I had a skype jazz piano lesson with a teacher in Boston at 9 AM had to rise and practice.
CM: Describe your sound to the uninitiated?
B: BARAKA is groove music that uses hip-hop and electronic beats with jazz piano harmonies and glitched out vocal samples as melodies.
CM: What have been the highlights of your year (musically and not) so far?
B: McDonald‘s all day breakfast. Playing Pygmalion Festival. Writing a third album with Knoxville producer PERSONA LA AVE due for 2018 release. Performing my second of 4 jazz piano as part of my doctorate in jazz piano that I am into my third year out of four.
CM: Tell us a little bit about your recent release:
B: ‘ROKU‘ is a 6 track EP dedicated to a trip I went on to Japan with 5 elementary school friends last summer. It covers some of the vibes of the different places we visited. This EP has a heavy hip hop influence in the grooves and lots of reeds, chimes and Japanese instruments mixed in. In a way I wanted to do the flip of what Nujabes did as a Japanese guy touching on American music, well Im an American touching on some Japanese vibes.
CM: How do you kill time on the road when on the road? hobbies/games?
B: Halo Halo Halo. I have a modified xbox with all the old systems Nintendo, Sega, snes etc so I get into vintage games for fun, they are endless.
CM: What have been your favourite venues to play? Any Venues you hated?
B: One time I played an outdoor venue next to a train station and during the slow ballad this R&B singer was performing a train came by- a very long train that made the song..a unique experience. I have a lot of love for the Knoxville venue the Preservation Pub– one of the last places I know I can perform at and leave reeking like smoke.
CM: Are you able to write on the road or do you do this in your off time?
B: I write during down periods or in between jazz piano concerts when I have a few months of less intense piano playing, I have too many keyboards to stay making the tunage while mobile.
CM: What is the songwriting process like for you?
B: Every song is pretty different but essentially they either start with a harmonic progression or a beat that I like- once the foundation is set I will add whichever of those is missing. Then I try and create a melody ideally with a sound that is unique and stands out. I may add flourishes and bass often comes late in the process. After that its sfx bells and whistles and a lot of cleaning.
CM: What came first, the lyrics or the melody?
B: Melodies always first, then lyrics when I must.
CM: Do your songs go through many revisions and demos before recordings?
B: Some fall right into place but the majority go through many revisions, form changes, length changes and mastering tests before ever seeing the light of day.
CM: What is your favourite track of yours?
B: “Electric Blanket“
CM: Is there a song of your own you are simply sick of playing live?
B: Not yet, but I’m sure that special tune will present itself in time haha.
CM: Any other artists/bands from your local scene we really should know about?
B: Crofton Coleman a singer who has a band known as Melvin Knight and The Amber Sky – strong soul vibes, very talented up and coming vocalist and songwriter.
CM: What is the most flattering thing you’ve read about yourselves?
B: I think a French blog once told me that I personally am in fact a “magical dream” haha
CM: What was the first record/tape/cd you ever bought?
B: Pearl Jam ‘V‘ on cassette from Tower Records in Tysons Corner, VA
CM: What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
B: “It Ain’t Easy” by 2Pac
CM: If you had to bring on artist back from the dead in exchange for sending a living artist down, which artists would it be and why??
B: 2pac for Diddy. Because 2pac‘s light was burnt out far too early at 25 and he was one of the most intelligent thinkers of that generation- Diddy and Biggie absolutely tried to have Pac killed in 1994, read the Vibe interview with Pac, yet Diddy lives today, travesty…
Long live Cougar Microbes.
Be sure to check out these tracks from ‘Roku‘ and follow him on your favourite social networks. Long live BARAKA!