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The evolution of Tim Baker 

Hey Rosetta’s leader returns to help kick off the Halifax Jazz Festival with the solo effort Forever Overhead.

“This is me, and I wanted to be me,” says Baker of his new music. - BRITNEY TOWNSEND
  • “This is me, and I wanted to be me,” says Baker of his new music.
  • Britney Townsend

Tim Baker w/Kathleen Edwards
Wednesday, July 10, 7:30pm
Halifax Jazz Festival waterfront stage Lower Water at Salter Streets
$45 ($189 festival pass)


S solo career for Tim Baker wasn't quite starting all over again. It was a new adventure of discovery with its own challenges.

When the Newfoundland indie-rock band Hey Rosetta! called it quits in October 2017, it was announced main songwriter Tim Baker would release a solo album. It took a little longer than expected, but Forever Overhead came out in May.

"It was a big transition, obviously, for me," Baker says. "It was a long sort of tricky process to figure out what my voice would be without Hey Rosetta! I mean Hey Rosetta!'s been my one main thing and creative outlet for everything for 12 years."

The actual conception of songs and the process behind them was similar, but this time he wasn't bringing fleshed-out ideas to a familiar band.

"Inevitably I looked back, because I've been writing songs my whole life," says Baker. "And so what was I before this sort of crazy tornado picked me up."

The personal reflection led to Baker revisiting the 1970s songwriters that he'd hear around the house while growing up. The record carries a certain amount of nostalgia in sound, alongside personal stories in the lyrics. He considered using a different stage name or "something a little less WASPy and forgettable" but ultimately stuck with his real name. "I was like this is me and I wanted to be me," he says. "And so nothing's really off the table in terms of how personal it is, really. I wanted it to make sense that it was my name and to sort of be a reflection."

When Hey Rosetta! played its final gigs in December of 2017, it came at a time when the band was putting on stunning live shows that were full-scale productions in big venues. It was a completely different setting from the intimate venues and house shows where Baker gave the new songs the road test.

"That was my main thing was I want to get back to the basics and play these songs just with nothing, without any production. And I want[ed] to start again simple and humbly," says Baker. "To reconnect with that act of sharing music, and also it was kind of something I was a bit afraid of."

In the process, Baker made a full record, scrapped half of it, then went back and made the other half as the road-testing shows shaped the final direction.

The evolution of Tim Baker continues with him touring with a full band while still mixing in the occasional solo show. And fans of Hey Rosetta! will be satisfied.

"I like people to have a good time when they come to the show. I don't like people leaving disappointed. It's sort of a fine balance," he says. "And I didn't want to be just a Hey Rosetta! cover band, like a cover band of my own band.

"It was some fun trying to rearrange your old tunes that you know so well. Some of them I play on a different instrument and it was like I kept fucking forgetting the words because it's a whole different thing physically."

For example, "Kintsukuroi" was the band's most successful single commercially, but never really worked out live. It's now taken on a new life via a banjo makeover.

"That's definitely an example of something I've come back and tried to raise from the ashes," says Baker. "And there'll be more going forward now as we come into the summer."

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