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INTERVIEW: Sweet Baboo On His Return To Solo Music, Songwriting, Touring & His Love Of Liverpool

The Liverpudlian Caught Up With Sweet Baboo At The Deaf Institue In Manchester City Centre After Starting His UK Tour Off At Future Yard In Birkenhead

You can listen to the more than 18 minute interview with Sweet Baboo through the embedded YouTube video player above.

Sweet Baboo, or Stephen Black, is a lovable man writing about the world from his perspective in a gentle and often beautifully wistful way. His sincerity is constantly simmering, and much of what he says is so calming that even the most simple things come across in the most kind and sincere ways — and that is because it's who Steve is, sincere.


I was unable to make the first gig of the Sweet Baboo UK tour at Future Yard in Birkenhead, so I had asked if I could make it to The Deaf Institue gig in Manchester City Centre, and made the journey to the neighbouring city.


Songs from his latest album, 'The Wreckage', such as the song 'Goodbye' are based on sweet and whimsical matters, such as saying goodbye to their neighbours dog that they would take on walks in order to test the waters to see if they wanted a family dog. Yet the way Stephen writes the songs, allows for them to be interpreted in a multitude of ways.


One of my favourite songs by Stephen is 'The Worry', and speaking to him about it further just brought the meaning of the lyrics — which resonates with me on numerous levels already — to an even more precious listen.


We spoke about Ron's Place, the home of the artist Ron Gittins, who turned his home into a living, breathing work of art. Steve had recently visited the space and found it fascinating.

Peter Eric Lang (Left) alongside Stephen Black (Right) in The Deaf Institute after their interview (Credit: The Liverpudlian).
Peter Eric Lang (Left) alongside Stephen Black (Right) in The Deaf Institute after their interview (Credit: The Liverpudlian).

He also spoke about his love for touring and playing to the people that love his music, and that he would play for as long as people wanted to listen to his music which is about the most humble thing you could possibly wish to hear.


If you would like to support Stephen Black on his work doing Sweet Baboo, you can find everything you could want through his website, as well as buying through his website shop, the Sweet Baboo Bandcamp and giving him a follow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and on Spotify.

An interview with the brilliant Sweet Baboo on his return to solo music, touring the UK, songwriting and his love of Liverpool (Credit: The Liverpudlian).
An interview with the brilliant Sweet Baboo on his return to solo music, touring the UK, songwriting and his love of Liverpool (Credit: The Liverpudlian).

The Interview (Conversation Extract):

Peter Eric Lang (The Liverpudlian): Hi. So, it's Peter from The Liverpudlian and I'm with Stephen Black, also known as Sweet Babboo. So would you like to tell us a little bit about what you're up to at the moment and you know, who you are and just feel free to talk away.


Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo): My name is Stephen. I'm a forty year old man from North Wales. I've lived in Cardiff for 23 years and I've just released a new record called ‘The Wreckage’ for my band Sweet Babboo and we're on tour. Well, ‘we’, the royal ‘we’, me, I'm on tour. Around the UK trying to flog my wares.


Peter: Yeah. And you're doing well, aren't you? So you you, you kickstarted your first sort of, gig off in Birkenhead in Future Yard. Yeah. So do you want to tell us a bit about how you felt that went?


Stephen: It was brilliant, actually. Sure. I've been to Future. It's the third time I've played there. All the different people like I went there for the festival, whatever that's called.


Peter: Right, FestEVOL? Oh, wait, which one?


Stephen: Is it called, the Future is Birkenhead? It's... It's whatever the festival that’s in Future Yard. I went there with my friend Griff and we played in Summer, and then I went back last year with my other band, Group Listening and so I've been there a few times. And it was great, actually. Lots of people there, and people seem to really enjoy it too. Do you know what I mean like. I've, I've always had a good reception in Merseyside. It's been good. So yeah, it's been good.


Staff Member: There's a few people after merch. Are you just gonna sell it at the end?


Stephen: Sell at the end, yeah. Do you know what that. If... can you put one of these up and then it says selling at the end. Thank you.


Peter: No worries. Nice to know this demand already.


Stephen: Yeah, that's people who want to get away before the end of the gig, innit.


Peter: Cause what we've done so far is we went for a coffee. So we're in, we're in Manchester right now. I couldn't make the the Future Yard gig, but been able to make this one and we're currently in the, not the cloakroom. The dressing room of...


Stephen: The dressing room of The Deaf Institute.


Peter: So you're. Saying you've you've. You've played three times at Future Fard.


Stephen: In Birkenhead?


Peter: Yes. Yeah, yeah.


Stephen: And, you know, and weirdly. Here we've always like. I love Liverpool, so my Dad used to work in Birkenhead. I'm from... I was brought up in Colwyn Bay on the North Wales coast, and my Dad worked in Birkenhead and so... It's so close to where we lived and same, same as Manchester really. It's got to feel like it's quite homely. Do you know what I mean?


Peter: Yeah, no. And that's really nice that you say it, it's it's quite homely cause I think a lot of people feel very much when they come here, like to like the Liverpool City Region. They feel quite at home and it's nice and I think especially like, the likes of North Wales as well feels very much, you know, welcomed in the city.


Stephen: Yeah, yeah. We actually went on holiday to Liverpool with my son. The year before last we had a couple of days in Liverpool where he wanted to go to The Beatles Museum. And Anfield. And then we wanted to go to the cathedral. So. So we we did a bit of we did, we did a bit of it all. And we had a good time.


Peter: Okay. That's brilliant. And you were saying we were saying before as well about you, you had a little visit to Ron's place, didn't you, which is like... You just found that was quite, quite a nice little interesting thing. So it's like essentially this, this man that lived in this house, and he rented this flat like I think it was a ground floor flat and he basically made real, like the like his fireplace became artwork and stuff like that. And you went in didn't you?


Stephen: Yeah. So it's a man called. I don't know. What's his name? A man called Ron. Who... I suppose you would essentially call him an outsider artist, I suppose, but I think he considered himself an artist and his flat was his life's work basically like he, he loved kind of ancient Egyptian and Roman kind of pictures and Mythology. And so there's, pictures on the ceiling like the Sistine Chapel or whatever the thing is, and it's just every room was just covered in his artwork and he had, I suppose, the two most impressive things with these... He turned his fireplaces - one into a ginormous lion, which was made out of steel and concrete, and the other one was. It's not a ball, it's a, it's a... What's it called? It's a centurion, I think. And just incredible, really. And. The reason why I went there is cause my friend of mine, they're trying to... they were — they are — trying to save it because the landlord's selling it. Cause I'm guessing it's big, big money or whatever, but it's this, you know, it's this, like, this man's life work. And also it's a great space for creativity really. And art for art. So it's like, you know, art for art's sake is the best kind of art, isn't it? And so it was great that I went there and got to see it, cause, I mean I'm hoping it doesn't, but it seems likely that it if they do sell it, it's going to get destroyed basically. So lucky enough to I was able to see it. [Ron’s Place has thankfully since been saved.]


Peter: To see it in person, yeah. But no, it was nice to just... I thought it was interesting because we were talking before we started recording, and that just came into [conversation] by chance. And I just thought it was amazing that you had. You'd recently been to it. As well. So you've been you've got how many dates is it you've got on your tour at the moment?


Stephen: There's 20 altogether, I think. And we've done. This is gig number eight? Maybe. So we've just under halfway through, yeah.


Peter: Yeah. So you're roughly just shy of halfway through, aren't you?


Stephen: Just shy. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So what's been nice about this in a way is because I'm doing the tour on my own, just me and Clémentine March, who's supporting. We're we're doing like 3 days on 4 days off. So it means I just get to go home all the time and then spend some time at home. You know, part, part-timer, basically, but so there's. So there's 20 gigs, 20 gigs spaced over six weeks, which is ideal. If I could do that for the rest of my life, I would.


You can hear the rest of our conversation through listening to the interview audio embedded through our YouTube video at the top of this article.


Location:

The Deaf Institute,

135 Grosvenor Street,

Manchester City Centre,

City of Manchester, M1 7HE,

Greater Manchester, UK.

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