Northern Territory artist Caiti Baker has unveiled a passionate and loving tribute to her home in the far north of Australia, in the form of her second studio album, the conceptual ‘Mary of the North’.
“Mary of the North is a vibe. She’s a mood. She’s the essence of the Northern Territory to me,” explains Baker. “With production solely by James Mangohig whose influences ranged from T Bone Burnett and The Mandalorian to Tarantino movie soundtracks and the Moog One synthesiser, I wrote about what came naturally to me at the time… Which was during some extremely sobering and emotional moments in Australia’s environmental history.
“Inspired also by the amazing humans that make up my community here in the NT, I want listeners to hear the textures, colours and tones that make this place the incredibly unique and interesting home that it is to many.”
In celebration of the new release, Caiti Baker has kindly offered to take us through the record, track by track.
‘No More’ is about making the decision that you were destined to make with the utmost conviction; leaving a situation that didn’t suit any more…time to journey onto the next chapter. Move forward, never look back. ‘No More’ was written in one bedroom studio session – the song took form over James’ knocking drum programming and bent guitar demos which were later reimagined by genius guitarist Ben Edgar. Featured on backing vocals are my fellow Territorians Serina Pech, Stevie Jean, Yola Gray and Eleanor Dixon.
‘Mirror’ is all about ego and self-worth. One of the oldest songs on the album, Mirror was written circa 2014 but wasn’t meant to exist in the world until now with its family of songs on Mary of the North. With some minor lyrical changes, It’s now part of the journey that Mary takes through the north of owning her worth and the experiences she’s endured. The only song that features the piano playing of Adelaide based musician John Bartlett with additional drum production by his brother Paul Bartlett (who together are SIXFOUR and my touring band) and extra production of Sydney’s renown hip hop producer PaperToy.
Walk With Yourself
‘Walk With Yourself’ is about confronting the lies and misinformation that has been fed to you all your life. Whether it’s societal structures or religious ethos; I think about how to confront those fears within ourselves to stop the (potentially dangerous) patterns from continuing. Learning to be strong enough to understand that elements of our past have been distorted which can potentially affect the way we live and process information in the present. It’s about growth, about being kind to yourself and taking time to move on. The production is dusty and warm and a little Tarantino-esque which visually places you in an ochre soaked desert with rusty metals and broken trees; places that are uniquely Northern Territorian.
‘Green Eyes’ is about Mary. Mary is a “good time”; she’s a feeling; she’s a lifestyle; she’s a key to creativity. She spreads her happiness and her beautiful green eyes to all she meets and she’s well-loved. Having a cup of tea with Mary is something I love to do and thus inspired the song!
Were the choices made the right ones? Questioning a semi lived life and all that’s been learnt along the way. Is it all Worth it? Do you know too much? Will we ever know if the reasons we believe we’re here for have all been worth it? Worth what? Choices, decisions, paths, directions, options… Autonomous? Forced? Worth it is also the theme song to BIRDS EYE VIEW Podcast which was created by the Women in Sector Four in the Darwin Correctional Centre. The song features found sounds from the prison and the women themselves singing the chorus.
‘Carry You’ is a song I wrote with Pip Norman aka “5ths” (just called ‘Carry’) in the mid-2000s for my previous band Sietta’s second album. The song was originally a duet and the production was full and warm with a keys solo. The song is about carrying and assisting, caring and loving someone – helping them in their time of need. Re-imagining the tune, I sang the song to a simple and warm acoustic guitar; added some lush harmonies and called upon fellow Settle Down sister Serina Pech to lend her honey-toned harmony voice on the backing vocals.
Written and recorded on the days between Xmas and NYE 2019, ‘She’s Cruel’ was inspired by the catastrophic bush fire events happening in our country’s south. Watching the horror unfold from the north, some thousands of kilometres away, was surreal and sobering. Being at the mercy of nature’s undeniable force is what inspired the song. I live in a cyclone-prone environment and wanted that energy to be present in the already “fiery” vocal performances. Like every other track on the “Mary of the North”, She’s Cruel’s production lends itself to an accompanying visual in the listeners’ imagination. A narrative that has yet to be created but inspired by the love and respect the land and environment deserve. Produced entirely by James Mangohig, the deep and moody sonics of She’s Cruel evoke a paradox in the sense of urgency and the warmth of safety.
‘Last Stop’ is a poetic ode to the visuals, sounds, smells and experiences of a simple life lived by the Ocean in Darwin. It was inspired by the parking lot that my apartment looks out over that becomes filled with cars and boat trailers each weekend. Rolling bass, dancing guitars and some organic percussion set off my (for the most part) singular vocal.
Welcome to the aftermath
What a time to be alive! ‘Welcome to the Aftermath’ is about being open to changing perspectives on the world and its constant state of disarray. We live in the craziest and best times of human existence, yet as we collectively have the ability to know and be educated on just about anything in the world at any time, we are overwhelmed and our societies and environments are changing rapidly. It’s an incredible oddity that we are here and whilst all seems to be doom and gloom, we have the power to question ourselves and make different choices that will inevitably affect our younger generations. This is the outro of the album. A journey of two parts that begins with something maybe more familiar; then sketches out into a soundscape worthy of an acid trip.