Getting To Know Baboon from Wuh Oh
Ahead of their upcoming headline show at The Blue Arrow as part of the Glasgow Jazz Festival, we meet the newest member of Wuh Oh – Baboon
We recently caught Wuh Oh's set at the Wide Days showcases in Edinburgh back in April and couldn't believe what we were seeing. Is that turntablist really a baboon? It turns out that the answer was a big fat yes, so we thought we'd better get to know the latest member of Wuh Oh a little better. Big thanks to longstanding Wuh Oh band member Pete Ferguson for taking the time to translate Baboon's answers into English for us – without his help, this interview may never have seen the light of day... time to stop monkeying around with preamble, let's get to know Baboon.
The Skinny: How did you and Pete first meet?
Baboon: "Back in 2007 I was DJing lots at raves in Equatorial Guinea. One night a bootleg cassette of Pete’s old tunes was thrown onstage and I decided to play it even though I’d never heard of the guy before. The crowd went wild for it but more than that I felt a musical connection I couldn’t put my finger on. Some good friends offered to fly round the world to look for Pete. They eventually found him in Glasgow. They gave him my message, he gave them his response to deliver and we’ve been friends ever since."
What's your background in music?
"I was DJing for quite a while before I got into composing and production. My friends had this super powerful sound system set up in an especially vibrant part of the jungle, so we would spend all our time there spinning tunes. The internet was pretty patchy there and the nearest record stores were pretty far out, so we would get all our music from visitors passing through and fans coming to shows with new sounds for us to check out.
"It was such an inspiring time for me musically because I’d cherish every new record I got, soaking up every new chord and cadence, studying every melodic progression and drum pattern. At some point during all this I started teaching myself a few instruments and recording stuff on an old Fostex VF-80 that my friend gave me. There are hundreds of old recordings back home from that period that I still need to show Pete."
Who/what would you cite as your main influences?
"Lots of the stuff people were bringing me back in the sound system days helped make me the artist I am. It was stuff from everywhere and every time. I don’t like to share too many of those records in interviews because it was a pretty personal period of evolution for me. Those years were magic. Pete obviously influences me whenever we get in the studio together. We bring the best out of each other."
As a furry primate yourself, what do you make of the new Arctic Monkeys album?
"I hear a songwriter wholly following his inspiration, regardless of whether it was leading him towards sounds that his fanbase was expecting from him. He went to the piano because it gave him exciting ideas that the guitar couldn’t anymore. Inspiration is a precious thing, and you can’t let it be stifled by external pressures."
How well do you think the primate community are represented in the music industry?
"I think it’s only me out here. The Monkees and Arctic Monkeys turned out to be humans… Gorillaz are humans too aren’t they? Hopefully with Wuh Oh I can open doors for other primates to follow through."
What's it actually like being a baboon in the music industry? Do you face much discrimination on a daily basis?
"It feels as if humans don’t know what to think of me sometimes, which was surprising at first because I didn’t realise my being a baboon would be an issue for people. I guess some don’t respond well to things that are different. It gets kind of frustrating when people assume Pete writes all the music. I dunno… Anyway, I’m not going to stop doing my thing because of what others think."
How do you stay grounded whilst on the road?
"Pete would definitely tell you I don’t stay grounded! Although I vehemently disagree, I can’t seem to think of any ways right now…"
What do you like to listen to in the car on the way to play a show?
"Usually we’re making new tunes right up until we get to the venue, so usually it ends up being Wuh Oh music to be honest!"
The big question on all Skinny readers lips is... what's on your rider?
"Lots and lots of this one breakfast cereal I love…"
And finally, what's next for Wuh Oh?
"We’ve got a headline show at The Blue Arrow in Glasgow on 21 June that already looks like it’s going be crazy. After that we’re going to be playing festivals for the rest of summer and then drop some releases towards the end of the year and early 2019!"