Q&A - Baba Naga
We have sat down with musical soothsayers, Baba Naga and convened a shamanic circle for your delectation. This extraordinary musical force is hurtling towards Liverpool Psych-Fest in September to soothe your weary souls and inspire your fractured minds. Read what they had to say about their upcoming performance and their dedication to achieving spiritual liberation.
Q. As part of your 2016 tour you will be playing at the Liverpool Psych-Fest this September, what can we expect to see from you?
A. We are looking forward to Psychfest, we saw Goat there in 2014 and always wanted to play so it’s a nice to have been asked. Expect to see 3 men melting.
We must make you aware from the outset that our ripostes to the cryptic questions of the universe that you are about to pose will not satisfy you. It is doubtful that our responses will satisfy anyone.
We disagree. Even this opening gambit has the satisfaction levels soaring and our anticipation titillated.
Q. During the 1960s Liverpool was a hotbed of music from all around the world and had an important place at the heart of the psychedelic rock movement. What bands are there from this era that have had a significant influence on you?
A. Whilst we recognise that exceptional artists and architects of reality have been spawned in the great city of Liverpool. A Baba Naga worship is not a geographically hermetic occurrence. A Baba Naga worship will always transcend the constructs of county boundary and city wall. Our citadel rises higher than the tallest skyscraper of Manhattan. Our ultimate goal is most noble. We will always seek to take our influence from the Mersey Docks before we cast our gaze toward the human dwellers of the land. We will praise the factory buildings before we will acknowledge the temporary flesh and bone that happen to inhabit a space at any one time. Remember, there will be a day when Sir Paul McCartney is no longer exhibiting the mortal qualities he does today. Long after the erstwhile Beatle has ceased to be, the trees of Toxteth will continue to grow, the crowds of Croxteth will continue to dance, the buildings of Broadgreen will continue to thrive, and the waters of Walton will continue to flow. The current incumbents of the Baba Naga mould will expire one day, yet the spirit of the Baba Naga is immortal. The next torch bearers of our proud name may be the future geniuses of the Liverpool music scene. Hold your waters for now, and close your eyes. The surprises to come are but cosmic fictions.
Q. If you asked a geography teacher to point at a map of the UK and tell us the placewhere the present custodians of Baba Naga originated from – he would probably say Sheffield. This is a fantastic music city- with Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, Richard Hawley and (latterly) Drenge all adding to its revered reputation. What are they putting in cornflakes up there and how do you regard its influence in relation to your music?
A. First and foremost, please join us by amalgamating your inner energy with ours...We send a deep spiritual blessing to the beauty of the enchanted land that is Sheffield. It is indeed a city of true beauty, equidistant 'twixt urban sprawl and rural tranquility, cold harsh steel and deep roots of the oak trees of old. In many respects, the Baba Naga quest for ataraxia cannot be deracinated from this setting. No. Yet once again we must question the simplicity of creating a chain gang of free spirits. That is to say, the lazy approach to categorising musicians from a geographical land mass, who have no tangible connection, other than the superficial. Yes, beauty has been created in the city, whether it be the electronic beauty of the 1980s, the social commentary of the 1990s, the youth engagement of the 2000s, and latterly, the tales of longing of the present day. Yet there is a danger of becoming encased in ice on a colonial ship of myopia. Beauty exists all around. There is beauty in the suburbs of the East, tranquillity in the caverns of the West, guiding lights shine in the Northern skies, and intense passion lies ‘neath the surface in the South. Sheffield is but one of an infinite number of zones in which creativity is harnessed and celebrated.
Q. In reference to your band name, can you tell us about the Naga Babas and why you identified with them?
A. They are solely dedicated to achieving liberation, the fourth and final stage of life. Through meditation and contemplation of Brahman. Brahman as a metaphysical concept is the single binding unity behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe. We identify with their cosmic principle.
Q. You have described yourselves as Shamen delivering a ‘hopeless prayer’ in a world where the soul is denied. In a world in which ‘happiness’ is (perversely) fetishized and the truth is continually despairing, the truth-Sayers often get a kick in the urethra. Discuss.
A. We often don our Shamanic worshipping gowns and trudge the cold, empty, soulless streets of the post-industrial north to contemplate these existential questions of Mother Earth. We see the fetishisation of happiness everywhere. People taking the soma pill of false contentment. As Shamen of the mind however, we do not need to look too deep into the people's faces to realise that behind the smiling expressions and white teeth lurks a desperate sense of cosmic longing. A true yearning for substance. A fervent desire for genuine acceptance in the warm bosom of the lady of our Earth. The truth is vivid in our eyes but many of the illusionists of this harsh society try to deny this. As truthsayers, however, we are already in possession of the facts. The veneer of false happiness will slip. The rotten edifice of transitory pleasure will crumble. Ultimately, the only building remaining will be the granite Ashram of the Baba Naga.
Q. There are so many terms encapsulated in the term ‘Psychedelic’ right now – ‘drone’, ‘rock’, ‘ambient’ etc.. You have been categorised (by some) as a ‘Psych’ band. Is this how you see yourselves? What do you think of this impulse towards ‘categorisation’ (generally) and how would you describe your music?
A. The people that speak in such terms as 'drone', 'rock' and 'ambient' are the aforementioned lost souls we see on the bleak pavements of the crumbling cities in which we hold our worships. We see their mouths move, we see their lips form sinister shapes as they enunciate platitudinous dogma about vacant pigeonholes of musical style without substance. We look into the eyes of these pitiful urchins, so eager to cast their idols into a convenient and easy to access pigeonhole. They are empty. They are dead. They hold no captivation to the cosmic warrior of the true world within a world. Yes, to some they are pigeonholes. To all those imbued with the spirit of the Baba Naga, they are nothing more than cages. They are prisons of insanity. They shackle the artist to their past, condemning them to remain static as the cosmic waves sweep them out, far far away, into the cold sea of untruth. The ice of the world is cold, but the fire of Baba Naga is hot. Could there be a more apposite categorisation?
Q. We are nosey, we are so damned nosey. We want to know it all and we want to know it now. Bearing in mind you released the double sided single ‘Somos Lobos/Odmience’ this year. What are you up to at the moment and what can we expect to see and hear in the future?
A. Worshippers can expect some fresh shreds in November.
Q. What other bands/musicians are you looking forward to seeing at Liverpool Psych-Fest?
A. We’re looking forward to discovering some new music as well as seeing Dungen, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, New Candys, LA Hell Gang, The Moonlandingz.
Q. Finally, do you know any Liverpool/Scouse phrases and can you put one into a sentence?
A. This granite Ashram thing is blaggin’ me ‘ead am tellin’ ye’ (It shall NEVER be dismantled)