Foundation Five: Sweet Baboo

Sweet Baboo makes the sort of colourful psychedelic pop that refuses to fade with repeat listens.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 23 Jul 2013
  • min read
Sweet Baboo (aka Stephen Black) makes the sort of colourful psychedelic pop that refuses to fade with repeat listens. Unlike the tarnished guitar sounds of many of his contemporaries, Stephen’s charm lies in his sparkling melodies and jangly guitars.

His musical compass clearly points deep into his Welsh homeland, with cardinal directions Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals, The Gentle Good and obscure folkies Galwad Y Mynydd looming large in his songs.

Ships, Sweet Baboo’s fourth record, has been on repeat at BBC 6 Music since it was released earlier this year through London indie label Moshi Moshi. Dubbed a ‘brass-heavy concept album’, each song is an ode to the sea and was recorded with long time collaborator The Voluntary Butler Scheme.

Stephen is no newcomer to the Welsh music scene, having already worked with Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals, Neon Neon), Cate Le Bon and Islet. He was shortlisted for the Welsh Music Prize in 2011 for his third album I’m A Dancer/Songs About Sleeping and has received funding from PRS for Music Foundation.

For the latest instalment in our Foundation Five series, Sarah Thirtle caught up with him to find out more…

What inspired you to create music?
I've never really been interested in anything else. Ever since about 15 or 16, I've only ever wanted to play in bands and fortunately I've been able to continue to do so right into my thirties.

How would you describe the music PRS for Music Foundation supported?
I make music under the name Sweet Baboo and have done ever since I can remember. I guess you'd call me a singer songwriter but it's also a band. I like to describe the music I make as Welsh Pop.

What has the funding enabled you to achieve?
Earlier in the year I released an album called Ships on the record label Moshi Moshi. I, along with Moshi and ITB (live agency), put together a promotional tour which will be ongoing until people are sick to death of hearing the album. PRS for Music Foundation were instrumental in achieving this. Without their help I would not have been able to fund paying band members, hotel rooms, travel etc. on the initial tour with the band. I would then not be able to continue to gig throughout the summer and autumn to promote the album and reach a wider audience.

Have you any tips for other artists applying for funding?
Be honest and don't take the p*ss.

What's next for you?
The band and I are playing a fair few festivals over the summer but with a slightly larger band. I'm going to start recording a new album soon too. Then there's another British tour in November and hopefully a few more exciting things before the year is done. Just try and keep busy and out of mischief really.