Smooth Sailing with BAER ‘River’ [INTERVIEW]

While I was only introduced to BAER about a month ago, she is quickly becoming one of my favorite (and most promising) new Pop artists this year.

Born in Taiwan, raised in Canada & now living in LABAER  has spent her life chasing her dream and following her heart.  With a stunning voice, incredible understanding of the music she’s making, a great look and an unwavering drive – I have no doubt she will be breaking molds and blowing minds.

My first introduction to BAER was this tune….

While it was still in heavy rotation in my personal playlists, she hit me again.  This time with a video for her new single, “River“.  With a low-key vibe and smooth R&B influences the latest release is an emotive groover.  Her voice cuts through with ease while the production sways beneath.  The visuals take things to a whole new level.  Once again blown away, I knew I had to catch up with her for a little chat.

Check out the new release below and then keep scrolling to get to know BAER a bit more.  You are going to want to keep an eye on her.  Trust me.

RDFO: We love your tone and your toplines.  How long have you been singing and writing songs?

Baer: Music has always been in my life, whether it played a big role or not. I started learning and practicing the piano when I was a little girl, around 4 years old, and way back then, I was definitely only doing it as it was the common thing for an Asian little girl to be learning (that, or the violin, lol!).

It wasn’t until I was 16 years old in high school that I picked up an acoustic guitar and started learning other peoples’ songs to try and figure out how to write my own songs. After graduating, I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston and majored in Music Production and Engineering, while working on songwriting in my spare time. It took a lot of time for me personally to figure out what exactly I wanted to do in music, and when I came out to Los Angeles, I slowly transitioned from being a vocal engineer/producer and songwriter for others, to developing my own voice as an artist. So…the process of working on my craft  has been a long journey (and is still continuing!), but only in the recent couple of years have I been releasing material as an artist and been featured on other artists’ top lines.

RDFO: The new video is a real beaut.  What was the creative process behind the visuals?

BAER: For the “River” video, I worked closely with director Drew Kirsch (blackbear, Bryce Vine etc.) to fulfill my vision for the video. We were working with a limited budget, so we really put out heads together to plan something that not only looked professional, but also had a visual concept behind it. I had been a big fan of Drew’s work for a while, so after meeting him, I felt re-affirmed that he was the director that would really work with my vision and help it come to life.

To start the process, I sent him a vision board of my ideas. It was such a learning process for me, as I was used to compiling musical ideas, but this was definitely my first time putting together visual concepts and ideas. I went through a whole art binge, just looking at different types of visuals, art, in the rabbit hole for days. I knew for sure I wanted to incorporate an Asian element, something that could be an visual representation of “East Meets West”. I also really wanted colors to be a big theme in here, and I definitely wanted Blue and Red/Orange to be big color themes. Dark, murky, but still having an underlying feminine warmth.

Another huge inspiration was Quentin Tarantino, specifically the Kill Bill series. Besides the obviously riveting plot, I just fell in love with that aesthetic when I first watched the movies. He fuses that Asian Kung Fu vibe so perfectly in with a western action movie. Absolutely blown away. I told Drew I loved the scene where Uma Thurman and Oren Ishii have their last battle; I really wanted to recreate that in some form.

After I gave Drew my ideas, he sent back a treatment to put everything together and we were rolling!

Drew and his team took charge of finding all the locations (we ended up doing most of them at my place and his place) and getting that side of things set up. On the other hand, I completed everything with the styling element (makeup, outfits, etc.).

RDFO: What is the message behind the new tune ‘River’?  What do you want listeners to feel when they hear it?

BAER: River is the second single off of my upcoming EP, The Pink Formosa. The movement and concept behind The Pink Formosa is about connecting cultures and creating this globalized pop culture. The Pink Formosa is a name for this dream of a utopia where humans in the world are connected; pink is my favorite color, and “Formosa” is the former name of Taiwan (where I am from).

As this EP is really the introduction to the whole movement, I felt that it needed to showcase my own cultural roots, which is both eastern and western. “River”, as the second single of it, introduces the audience to the aesthetic and vibe of The Pink Formosa. With the sonics and lyrics of the song, I really tried to create a certain atmosphere, even taking inspiration from Chinese folklore for the bridge and using an ancient poem by Li Bai. It’s not about the literal message of the words as much as it is about how the song ties in with the visual. Besides all that stuff…I really just want fans to enjoy it as a pop song.

RDFO: You are originally from Taipei, but it seems your now In Los Angeles, what inspired this move?

BAER: I always knew that I would not be starting off my career in Taipei, as I had more to learn and the music industry currently in Taipei still has certain limits as to how much you can really do.

After graduating from high school, I went to Boston to go to Berklee College of Music, and after that, I came straight to Los Angeles. For me, this is the place to be right now when I am still building my career, as I get to interact with other creatives face to face and connect with a lot of people in person. Most people in the entertainment industry are either here or in New York. I love social media and the ease of communication it brings to us, but there is obviously undeniable magic in being around a person in real life. For me, the ultimate reach is global, and frankly, right now US Pop Culture is still what is primarily influencing the rest of the world. I want to be as impactful globally so that I can inspire youth in Taiwan and ultimately bring Taiwanese talent to global Pop culture. I must say though, I have a couple friends doing it in Taiwan right now, and I am definitely excited to see how everything may change from within!!

RDFO: How has your upbringing in Taiwan influenced you as an artist?
BAER: I actually moved around a little as a child. I grew up as a child in Canada (British Columbia) so I my first taste of education was actually in a Western environment, I was speaking English, etc. My family moved back when I was in my second grade of elementary school, and that was definitely the first experience I had of a “culture shock”. It wasn’t even that obvious as a child, but in many ways I just could never fit into the local school system there. I ended up transferring to an international American school in Taipei, so I did an American curriculum (AP’s, all that stuff) in Taiwan. I think that aspect has definitely influenced me a lot as an artist, because I have become so in tune with why humans act the way they act, based on where they are from, their background, what they’ve seen and haven’t seen, etc… you really can trace human behavior and thoughts back to upbringing. And living fully immersed in both sides, it can be confusing, but because of that, I feel driven as an artist to try and connect different cultures, because I am certainly not the only one who has a mixed background. In fact, at this point in time, everyone’s background is mixed, just in varying degrees.
RDFO: We have loved both of your last two singles, how many more do you have on the way that we can get excited about?

BAER: There will be one more single before the release of The Pink Formosa. You heard it first here… it’s called “Waiting For The Fall”.

RDFO: Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?

BAER: Musically, I’m really inspired by a range of different people and things. Drake has always been very inspiring as somebody who fuses truthful emotion well into that urban genre he created – I loved the direction he was going since his earlier stuff like So Far Gone. He really just sculpted that Toronto RnB sound, and paved the way for a lot of artists now. Chance the Rapper is another artist who constantly inspires me. I definitely am a sucker for pop music, especially good pop music. That catchy stuff! So even like…Eagles – who I grew up listening to because my dad was such a fan. I can literally sing the whole guitar solo in Hotel California, haha. The Beatles. For me, it’s never about the genre. I think the idea of “genre” is dying, and I am definitely a supporter of that because why should you be limited to being one thing? That’s what my whole movement is about! Anything that is a good song – great, solid songwriting and a production that compliments it and is able to give it a sonical character…that stuff inspires me.

RDFO: Is there one person who you would say is the main influence behind you becoming an artist?

BAER: I’d say Kanye West and Rihanna are my main influencers behind my goals as an artist. In the sense that – my vision behind this whole artistry is not just about the music. I have so much more to offer than that. It’s about influencing culture as a whole – and that involves many things. Culture is everything that is in the arts – fashion, beauty, film, books, etc. I want to be involved in all of that, in the way that I can, once my music takes me to a position to do that. Culture contributes to the growth of humanity and that’s where I want to be positively influencing my generation and even the younger generation, so that they can build and communicate bigger and better.

RDFO: What are your end goals?

BAER: In general, to create and influence global pop culture. I feel that music is my main vehicle to do that, and I would love to contribute artistically in other lanes. Some tangible goals of mine are to start a label or collective of sorts. Something like Mad Decent, or OWSLA, that houses creatives of a certain style and brand that is BAER. I want to help develop up and coming talent once I am much more established. Another would be to implement some education systems in Taiwan that teaches kids to be creative. I feel like creativity is continuously squashed in a child as they grow older. It should be the opposite! You can literally create in ANY field – even as a chemist, you can create a compound chemical that might change the future of energy usage. How influential is that?! I only say Taiwan because it is what I have seen growing up, but I know that rings true in education systems mostly across the world. But I’d love to change that in my lifetime. On a lighter note, I would also love to have my own line of girly rolling papers. 😉

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