Sure, the night was confirmation that the big winner was the city itself – the diversity and maturity of the musical talent on show was gobsmacking. So much so that the stand ins for shortlisted 12 – Bird, GhostChant, Bill Ryder Jones and co – came dangerously close to us judges huddling together for a recount. And the people’s choice winner, Tyler Mensah, showed us that the future’s bright. As well as reminding us that we’re getting on a bit.
Here’s to more of the same, if not better, next year. In the meantime, fresh from his success, and while we can afford to speak to him, we caught up with winner, Paul Fleming, AKA Baltic Fleet.
Fleming’s Baltic Fleet sees old-school Korgs collide with glowing laptops, squelchy bass lines square up with pounding percussion, to create a heady, pounding stew of dancefloor-ready electronica. It’s a special brew that unanimously earned him the GIT award, and a legion of new fans after his blistering mini-set at the ceremony. Roll on his Sound City gig next month.
What were your ambitions for Baltic Fleet when you set sail?
At the beginning I didn’t have a plan, I just wanted to write and record music. It just gradually took on a life of it’s own, one thing led to another, people asked for a record, I pressed up a DIY promo and then a label came in and I signed. It’s all been pretty organic and that’s the way it’s still growing. I still don’t think there is a conscious ambition apart from to write and produce the best I can and to enjoy the process.
I was born on Merseyside, growing up in Widnes. The Fleming’s came from Anfield. My Dad was a musician in the Merseybeats and had a deal with his brother Mark Peters. My sister sang and went to the West End, so I grew up with lots of music. My first gig was 808 state and then the week after my second gig was Paul McCartney, that sort of set a precedent where I would listen to anything.
As a teen I loved Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers, funk, pop and soundtracks. Later on I got into DJ Shadow and went back in time and discovered artists like Eno, Can, Neu. My time playing with Echo & The Bunnymen (as on-tour keyboardist) as like an education, I spent six years playing and working in the studio with them. At the same time I was writing and recording the early Baltic tracks. I didn’t waste a minute, when the band would be in bed on the tour bus, I’d be up at 6am recording guitars in the back lounge. After sound checks I’d be recording and mixing.
What about the emergence of a viable electronic music scene in Liverpool?
It’s always been though hasn’t it? There’s been a healthy electronic experimental scene for a while and there’s some good nights being put on with really interesting acts coming through. I like the way that electronica is crossing over into other genres like psych and promoters are taking chances.
How important are things like GITs for recognition?
They give bands a platform and showcase what’s going on to a much wider audience. I think they’re vitally important and make up part of that whole infrastructure that’s creating a special scene in Liverpool. Being nominated and experiencing everything that brought was like being introduced to this big family, when you’re a lone producer like I am that is a big shot in the arm. It’s all been good and the reaction has been amazing, it’s generated a lot of national interest with press, promoters and labels, that’s all within a few days of winning the award, so it’s a great opportunity.
How do you work?
Up to now I’ve written and produced the music on my own and have guests to play parts. The first record was done on tour on my laptop, the last record was all at home. My back bedroom studio looked out onto the power station in Widnes, all the industry around inspired the sound.
We then tracked some live drums in parr st with Nick Kilroe. I have a couple of analogue keyboards, a drum machine and a bass and guitar. Everything’s tracked live pretty much, even the arpeggio synths, that way they get a unique feel, robotic but human. I have two friends who make up the new live band, Mark McKenny (guitar) and Keith McKnight (bass), I’ve been best mates and in bands with Keith since we were 11.
Do you think we’re finally getting our groove back in Liverpool?
I love this city, it’s always been diverse and eclectic. Now the scene feels even more inclusive which I love. The live scene’s been great for years, down in no small part to some great promoters who are passionate about culture in Liverpool. Venues like Camp & Furnace, Blade Factory and the Kazimer are also hard to beat. I’m glad there is an opportunity for new artists and creative people in so many venues, it’s not always been like that but it’s been growing for some years and now it’s pretty special.
Who floats your boat, Liverpool wise?
I think Eva Petersen’s voice is amazing, I’d like to do a track with her after I remixed her early this year. I’m also keeping my eye on Lunar Modular.
We’re playing shows promoting (new album) Towers at the moment, next show is Newcastle on the 27th. Then it’s Sound City playing alongside the Warp Records crew Mount Kimbie and Darkstar on Saturday 4th May. We’re back at the Kazimer on the 15th with Public Service Broadcasting and then it’s London on the 22nd. I have a couple of remixes to finish off too. I want to sit down at the end of the summer and start recording new material. I’ve got a load of ideas and demos and a concept so I’m looking forward to that, I’m happiest when I’m holed up with my vintage gear, a computer and a window with a view.
Buy Towers here