For our regular Future Is Now column we profile the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos.
SOUNDS LIKE: Penetrating soul feeling wedded to classic R&B cool and juddering hip-hop fervour.
FOR FANS OF: Ngaiire, Saskwatch, Son Little
WHY YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION: Having fronted two LPs with neo-soul duo Sietta, Darwin-based singer-songwriter Caiti Baker has collaborated with Briggs and A.B. Original, supported Dan Sultan, Dr G Yunupingu and Booker T, and netted top honours at the 2017 NT Song of the Year Awards for "Make Your Own Mistakes". Solo debut Zinc enlivens thoracic cavity and hips alike, drawing on Baker's formative love of blues icons Big Mama Thornton and Little Walter, along with seminal Nineties hip-hop, pop, and R&B greats including Wu-Tang Clan and Missy Elliott – and even the Spice Girls. "That pop sensibility really resonates with me, especially because blues informed pop music, it informed rock, it informed all of the genres we now listen to," Baker explains.
SHE SAYS: "It just coincided very beautifully with meeting someone who was able to bring me off my medication safely and treat the underlying causes of the mental illness that I've been diagnosed with for many years," Baker says of the cathartic period of self-discovery that gave rise to Zinc. Also fortuitous was the input of Baker's bluesman father ("I would class him as a musicologist," she says), whose playing is sampled across the album. "I'd had a falling out with my dad four years prior. We reconnected, and he bestowed upon myself and [co-producer] James Mangohig a USB key that was filled with samples of him playing guitar into a shitty Nokia phone – playing blues guitar licks. Without sounding super cheeseball, the stars just kind of aligned! I'd come out of this bubble of numb, this six or seven years of having chronic fatigue – I'd had a bunch of identity issues coming out of that. I was learning who I was, who I wanted to be, and how to be."
HEAR FOR YOURSELF: Bold and brassy song of becoming "I Won't Sleep".