How the acclaimed singer-songwriter 'figured out how to be proficient at making bleep bloop music' on her new album, 'Little Oblivions.'
Julien Baker recorded her first album, 2015’s intimate Sprained Ankle, in two days and her second album, 2017's cathartic Turn Out the Lights, in six. By those standards, Little Oblivions, Baker’s third and fullest-sounding rock album, took an eternity. Recorded over two months in Memphis, the project is out Friday (Feb. 26) on Matador. “It’s really hard for me to be patient,” says the Memphis-raised, Nashville-based singer-songwriter. “I’m like, ‘I want to do it now and have music out in the world!’”
But well before the pandemic arrived, 2019 forced her to slow down. After wrapping a month-long tour with boygenius in late 2018, Baker, 25, returned home feeling unsteady. So she went back on tour, despite concurrently dealing with a lapse in sobriety until friends intervened and told her to take some time off. “I didn’t want to because I didn’t know what else to do. This is the pursuit that’s been the highest priority to me since I was 16 years old,” she says. “I was like, ‘What do I do with my life now?’”
Baker found her answer by returning to a once-familiar routine: sitting around her apartment, going to school and writing songs. She commuted two days a week to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro to finish her Bachelor of Arts degree, which she did in a semester. Back at home, she sifted through the 20-odd demos she had at the start of the year, discarding most of them, and making only two or three new demos at a time. “I think that helped me a lot as a musician, being able to sit on the songs and work with them,” she says. “It was nice to do it that way for once.”