Jack Baker drummer of Bonobo at Coachella

Interview with Jack Baker, Drummer of Bonobo

Since the April 2013 release of the album ‘The North Borders,’ the electronic music group Bonobo has gained immense popularity by performing more than 175 concerts in 30 countries around the world, delighting over 2 million fans from Milwaukee and Moscow, to Istanbul and England. Along with a core group of live instrumentalists, Jack Baker made heads nod all along the way with his incredible drumming and percussions. I reached out to Jack, who was very kind to answer a few questions for the first interview I’ve ever posted on ‘Brian Writing.’ The truly wonderful North Borders – Live album was just released. Do you have any favorite moments or tracks on it? Did you know an album was in the works as you were performing on the tour?  Cirrus is …

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Australia from Four Cameras — (4 of 4)

Moto RAZR (phone camera) The least technically capable camera I carried in Australia was the one built into my cell phone, the Moto Razr.  And when I say ‘least technically capable’ about the imaging quality, what I mean is that it is pretty atrocious. The shutter is remarkably slow, the color calibration is bland, the orientation and ergonomics are awkward and unpleasant. That said, although it was less capable than my other ‘real’ cameras, in non-traditional ways, it was the most capable. With all its limitations I was able to do some interesting things. The panorama feature was slightly redeeming – I could wave the phone in a circle, and it would stitch together a wobbly but coherent frame.  I could instantly …

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Australia from Four Cameras — (3 of 4)

Olympus E-PL1 The E-PL1 is an amazing camera. What I love about it (aside from the image quality) is its inconspicuousness. When shooting street photography, or casual travel scenes, pointing a big DSLR neck-weight can easily tip off potential subjects that their image is being captured, and may intimidate them into feeling a need to ‘perform’ for such a large camera. The small body E-PL1 is a much friendlier camera to be in front of – it looks small and harmless, and leaves people to behave as naturally as they would if a camera weren’t around. It uses the same 13 megapixel sensor that the much larger E-30 does, but in a compact “micro 4/3” body system. The Micro 4/3 line …

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Australia from Four Cameras — (2 of 4)

Olympus E-500 The E-500 was the first DSLR I ever used, and I’ve been shooting with it for nearly eight years. I learned how to operate manual controls with this camera, and built a muscle memory with it that I can’t quite replicate with any other camera body. The E-500 doesn’t have the live-view features or the 13MP sensor of the E-30, my other Olympus camera body, but I chose to travel with the 500 because it’s smaller, lighter, and I am more familiar with its nuances. Comfort with a tool could be more important than features, bells, and whistles. Even with its older sensor and more limited features, it’s very capable of producing gorgeous images. I’ve always been impressed …

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Australia from Four Cameras – (1 of 4)

It’s the biggest question I face when I get ready to take a trip – which cameras are coming along?  For my trip to Australia, I ended up packing four cameras, four lenses, and 38GB of memory cards. Each camera served its own unique purpose, and I gave all of them almost equal use. Olympus FE-170 This camera was put to market in 2006, making it the oldest of my crew. I found it on eBay for under $100 back in 2007, so you could probably put 50 cents in a vending machine to get one today. It’s a small 6 megapixel point and shoot, with 38-114mm (equivalent) zoom. By today’s standards, it is very limited in image quality, but it …

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on Walking the World

You can tell a lot about a city by its crosswalks. In Sydney, the ‘Art and About‘ program installed large banners throughout the city illustrating the slight variations in ‘crosswalk people’ around the globe. The little blinking green man who helps you avoid becoming a traffic accident isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering ‘what piece of public art defines where I live?’ But… ‘God is in the details.’ A few examples: In Warsaw, Poland – the Crossing Man is shattered, wrecked, in pieces. What brought him to such a state of discombobulation? How does he even walk like that? Not only are his limbs disassociated, but his head is monstrously large. It’s as if Warsaw Man …

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Current Status

Sitting in LAX wondering why I’m about to return to a city where in the last few days a man immoliated himself on the National Mall, and police shot and killed a woman who crashed her car into the White House while driving with her one year old infant. And this just a few weeks after the Navy Yard terror. Are we done with normalcy, as a nation?

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Trip Note 1, IAD – SYD

I already feel opened up to ‘deep travel‘ in the sense that aggravating situations are transformed into experiences of something different. Instead of being angry that I was next to a screaming toddler on the last flight, it was more of an opportunity to observe, “oh, this is what a screaming toddler looks like up close. I don’t see that often. Cool.” Travel takes situations that everyday would be nuisances and makes them vibrate with a less hazardous nature. Because it can be expensive, and because its away from the regular responsibilities of daily life, and because not everyone is fortunate enough to have the means to do it, I suppose a traveler might feel some guilt when preparing for …

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On Travel, Time, and Plans

In 66 days I’m heading to Australia for a few weeks. Sixty six is an even number, but feels like an odd amount of days. Odd in the sense of familiarity. This is a plan. A plan to spend a certain amount of time in a distant place. A span of time shorter than the 66 days preceding it, and the 66 days that will follow. I’m counting on the trip to fulfill my wanderlust, give me stories to tell for the rest of my life, placate some strange need I have to fly entirely across the world and track down something, that for whatever reason, I have decided doesn’t exist in a nearer radius. But what about the ‘be …

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on National Geographic Live!

The National Geographic Society has launched a program called ‘NG Live!’ in which brilliant photographers from the magazine’s pages present their work at the Grosvenor Auditorium, in Washington D.C. to a curious and appreciative audience. Gardens by Night Diane Cook and Len Jenshel presented an alluring series of exposures from gardens around the world, captured during the darkest hours of night. The soft light from the moon casts a diaphanous glow on the beautiful landscapes in the images. Gardens, curated carefully to be visually pleasant, calming and intricate, show a hidden power at night. Fuling and Changing China I’m acquainted with the modernizing landscape along the Yangtze River from my own travels, but gained fresh perspective from the images captured …

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