Interview by Kris Griffiths
“It’s a sha-a-ame… the way you mess around with my heart” – remember that tune? Maybe not. It was an early nineties hit for London rap artiste Monie Love. Ten years later arrives her little sister intent on following in the footsteps of Monie and their late father, jazz musician Basil Gooden. Her debut soul-pop single ‘Believers’ was produced by Guy Sigsworth (Madonna and Bjork). Her name is a cross between the Plastic Population singer who had an eighties number one hit with THE ONLY WAY IS UP, and the dancer from the Happy Mondays. Although she can’t dance as well as Bez, Baz definitely has more than a passing resemblance to Yazz. She has labelled her music ‘undersoul’ because “it’s my emotion, my thoughts, my feelings, mixed into sound”. I snatched a very brief chat and a sample of this so-called ‘undersoul’ during Baz’s support slot for dull dance duo Modjo at London Scala.
Let’s start off with the new single. Who are these believers you sing about?
Well the believers is my company, my patrons, my friends, everyone that believed around me… but the concept came from when I was shopping for my deal and everything. It’s a very deep song… its about the experience of believing itself at the end of the day.
What do you think of the remixes?
I think I’m very lucky to have some great remixes… I can’t complain. I think they’re great.
Where did you get your name from?
Baz was my dad’s name… my late father’s name… he was a session musician. I figured I didn’t want to use my own name so I just took my dad’s.
May I ask how old you are?
No. That’s not important.
Fair enough. What part of London are you from?
I’m from Dulwich but I grew up in South Clapham.
Do you write all your own stuff?
Yeah, but I co-wrote a couple of songs on the album, PSYCHEDELIC LOVE. My way of co-writing is when they give me an instrumental and I go home and go away into my little corner and just vibe to it and write the song that way.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Nope. I’m a bit ratty on the guitar but that’s about it.
So how do you write all your songs then?
Getting deep in my thoughts, write whatever comes out… even if it don’t make sense… and then the melody comes… sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t… anything can trigger it off. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to write songs… sometimes it just doesn’t happen. It’s got to come natural cos it’s an art, you know?
Obviously your father must have been a big influence in your life. Exactly how did he influence you?
He influenced me by the music I used to listen to when I was growing up… every morning, every day: jazz music, film music, Motown, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Miles Davis… all the oldies… and his own music too. I’ve grown up with music and I’ve always loved it. It’s in the genes.
PHASE9: Out of all this music you grew up on, what would you say has the biggest influence on the music you write today?
BAZ: For the lyrical content all the old Motown stuff, particularly Stevie Wonder and even Michael Jackson. I think songs were more real back in the day, so that’s what I’ve learnt from them.
I read that you dig John Lennon too.
Yeah, he was bloody amazing. From the heart you know, when songs can make you cry – that’s a song.
Solo stuff or Beatles stuff?
Some solo stuff, some Beatles stuff (starts singing “She loves me… yeah, yeah, yeah”). It’s the little hooks in them and the harmonies that sound so sweet together. But when Lennon went solo it was a completely different tranquillity of sound, you know. It touched everyone and that’s why when there’s so much disasters and everything, Lennon always comes out.
What’s the last thing you listened to on your stereo?
Well I was listening to Maxwell today… the new one… there’s some good tunes on there. He kind of reminds me of a modern, up-to-date version of Marvin Gaye. I love his songs cos they come from the heart, you know.
What are your plans for 2002?
Just to spread the word about my new album, PSYCHEDELIC LOVE, do loads of gigs and just try to get heard really and hope that everyone appreciates my lyrical style.
Where do you see yourself a decade from now?
Who knows? I hope to still be making music if I’ve still got it… I mean I’ll always have it but sometimes you just want to retire and chill out and appreciate life. I don’t know. I’d still like to have great hits out there and have my tunes playing on movie soundtracks and adverts and stuff. I hope to be around for a long, long time.
We’ll have to wait and see if Baz and her undersoul can stand the test of time. Released on the 3 December, BELIEVERS entered the UK Top 40 at number 36.