Interview with Slackbaba

On April, 14th we celebrate the 4th birthday of Mystic Sound Records with special guest who support us for many years – Johnathan Smith aka Slackbaba! We spoke about the beard, the inspiration and just had a nice time during this conversation. You’ll definatly enjoy it too, so start reading right now!

What is the story behind the project name Slackbaba? Is there any connection with the Indian accost “Baba”?

How much time have you got? The name is manifold in its meanings and there is a definitely a connection to the Babas of India. It’s a bit of a tongue in cheek, or ironic, joke which makes fun of people, myself included, who go to Goa with their dreadlocks and smoke chillums thinking they’re a baba, but who are perhaps a bit slack, or lazy, in that they’re not the real thing! The slack part is also taken from a made up religion called The Church Of The Subgenius. According to them we are all born with “Slack”, which is like our individual free will. This is taken away from us in a conspiracy by the “Pinks”, which are like the powers that be, as well as society in general. It’s important to retain this freedom of will and expression in order to lead a life that is true to ourselves and therefore be able contribute to the world in a positive way.

How long is your beard ?

Haha, you won’t believe how often I get asked about my beard! It’s a source of constant amusement for my friends and is often commented on both at parties and in day to day life! I try to keep it so it’s marginally longer than anyone else’s, just to make myself feel superior

How do you threat your beard?

It’s hard work keeping up appearances you know! To be honest, I often long for the days of being a scruffy hippie with dreadlocks and no need for a brush. Vanity is a difficult business, mirrors, hair dryers, wax, the list goes on…

Why there were so long 4-years gaps between your albums? Were you busy with non-music stuff, or something else?

This is where you could argue the case for slack meaning lazy! However, whilst my passion truly lies in music, there are so many other facets to life that are equally as important to me which need time and energy spent on them too. I work in the film and TV industry as a sound designer and editor. Along with being a job, it has been, and hopefully will continue to be, something that is incredibly satisfying creatively. I write music when it feels right and I’m not forcing it out or trying to make something for the sake of it. When music comes calling I enjoy nothing more that being in the studio making new tracks and the enjoyment I get from playing it out to audiences can never be understated. I’ve been writing quite a lot of new material recently that will be coming out over the next few months, but you may still have to wait a while for next full album though!

What inspires you? Music, other people, nature, films?

Inspiration comes in many forms, sometimes a chance encounter with somebody or a passing moment can be the spark that ignites the fire of creativity. Hearing a unique and inspired piece of music, new or old, can really make me feel inspired to try a new idea or a different approach to production. I love spending time in nature, and I think this is where most of my inspiration comes from. Being surrounded by nature is a wonderful setting in which to get a sense of one’s place in the world, and the feeling of unity with the natural world really inspires me to create music that has both energy and emotion.

You have been supporting Mystic Sound for years. How did you start your cooperation with the label and when?

I was approached by label boss Alla (Maiia) in 2014 to be a part of the first compilation in the Ethneomystica series. Right from the first moment I could tell that it was a group of people with a really positive energy and an enthusiasm for good music. Personally, I’m always wanting to work with people who have these qualities along with the passion to realise their dreams while helping the scene to grow in a positive way.

How do you choose the artworks for your album? Why you no longer use Fibonacci spiral in your cover arts?

The artwork for my albums has always been created by someone with a close connection to me. I have wanted the artists involved to be inspired by the music and come up with an idea based on how it feels to them. The covers are all quite different, but then the musical content is also quite diverse from album to album. I have never wanted them to just be a remake of what has gone before. We all change as we go through our lives, so how things sound and look naturally progresses and will never be the same twice. There may well be a return to the spiral, but the spiral may also continue to spin the artwork and music further into new areas.

You’ve visiting Moscow for the third time in April 2018. What have you seen in Moscow and what places would you like to see?

I have always enjoyed the time I’ve spent in Moscow. It’s a very exciting and dynamic city that feels modern yet has some extremely powerful and interesting history in its veins. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I don’t really know a great deal about the city and its sights. As far as being a tourist goes, I’ve only really spent time in and around Red Square and seen St. Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s Mausoleum. I’ve seen the walls of the Kremlin from the outside and am very intrigued to know what it is like on the inside of its fortifications.

Your wishes to the guests of Mystic Sound festival?

I can’t wait to come to play at the Mystic Sound party, and wish all who come a great time listening to good music and enjoying the company of fellow psychedelic people. I hope I’ll be able to send you all some good energy through the sound waves and get you all moving and grooving to the music)