Country show: The perfect soundtrack …

There’s so much to listen to at the Lambeth Country Show. Nick Jeyarajah talks to Hak Baker, just one of the artists who will be performing

Hak Baker
Hak Baker

Hailing from East London, Hak Baker is an emerging singer-songwriter whose blend of warm folk guitar and grime-influenced vocals make for a perfect soundtrack to hazy summer afternoons in London. Fitting, then, that he is due to perform at Lambeth Country Show on Saturday.

He’s never been to the show before, and after admitting that he “doesn’t have a foggy” as to what to expect, Hak is looking forward to his performance.

Besides this being the largest crowd he’s ever performed before in his short career, Hak is excited by the show’s “huge mix of cultures”, and feels he can “take in a lot of that energy and see what I can do with it”.

Is he nervous about playing to such a large audience? “I’m always nervous before gigs anyway”, Hak says, “but it’ll be exciting”.

The 26-year-old has spent a lot of time in Brixton over the years: “I’ve got friends in Brixton – I was out in Brixton last Sunday, actually”.

Hak says Brixton’s culture makes it a special place for him. “It’s hung onto it, even though the whole gentrification thing is on its way over there now – the same thing that’s happened to Shoreditch and Hackney. But I think Brixton will hold onto its culture”.

The transition from grime to acoustic songwriting has been a natural one for Hak.

Once part of East London’s Bomb Squad collective during his teenage years, Hak says: “I’ve always loved a bit of rock music and acoustic, I’ve always loved different sorts of music”.

Why and how did the changeover happen? “I heard a certain tune by Daughter called ‘Youth’, and I thought: ‘Do you know what, I’m gonna teach myself how to play that’. So I bought a guitar and that’s what I did … and I just started writing my own songs. It was very organic.”

Ease with experimentation and a willingness to incorporate seemingly incompatible styles make Hak’s music unique.

Vocally, a percussive sense of rhythm and close-to-home lyrical themes of East London youth are clear indicators of his grime background.

His dreamy debut single “7AM” features his characteristic picked acoustic guitar accented by a hazy, recurring post-punk electric guitar riff, while a new single “Conundrum” is a nostalgic homage to childhood memories of fried chicken and kicking footballs in the cage.

Keep an eye out for Hak Baker at the Country Show, he’ll be performing between 15.40 and 16.10. Expect folky guitar rhythms and lyrics that will get you reflecting on your own Brixton memories.