A benevolent ruler to the lavish throne of Baklandia, the Bakmaster sits with a godly stature. His stare is piercing, every second his pupils spend gashing into this writer’s soul boils the sweat rolling down his brow to a more aching temperature. We’re sitting in a restaurant where waiters aren’t the least bit phased by his noblesse – they’re almost unaware of his presence, as though to them he’s camouflaged as an average Joe. His feathered wings clutch a glass of rosé with supernatural poise, washing down the beef carpaccio he pecks at between answers.
On the menu – aside from the prerequisite carpaccio, serrano ham and taramasalata that cornerstones his diet – is a copy of self-described ‘ethno-prog’ outfit BaK’s debut EP (or as they refer to it, ‘Bakpack’), Flower. “All of these Bakpacks are aligned to different Baks that exist in your reality,” the Bakmaster tells us. “There’s an Ancient Egyptian sculptor named Bak, for example. He took the idea of being an artisan from a lowly position to one that was highly sought after. Flower relates to a mystical hybrid orchard, the Orchidaceae Bakerara – a star-shaped beauty speckled in mystifying purples and whites. That orchard is an avenue into Baklandia.”
Okay, we know what you’re thinking: what the fuck is Baklandia? Wedged at large in a dimension somewhere between our own and the ninetieth, a vast universe blooms with myth and legend. The aforementioned Baks (which include a crater on Mars, a Dutch physicist and a breed of Indonesian bee, amongst thousands of others) serve as links between our known reality as humans and the alternate reality that is Baklandia. And because their universe lingers just below the surface of ours, the Bakmaster explains, Baks are virtually everywhere.
“Baklandia is inside, it’s outside and it’s everything, everywhere,” he says. “It’s a spotlight on all the different Baks that exist and have existed through time, space and culture, which unify everyone as one human race, one human entity. Even outside human beings like yourself; Baks are a part of the greater universal entity. Like all those science dudes – Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, myself – say, we’re all made out of the same stuff as the universe. You are stardust. And in that essence, Baks are stardust, and you are a Bak.
"If you’re a scientist, you fall in line with the Dutch physicist Bak. If you’re an artist, you’re aligned with the Ancient Egyptian sculptor Bak. If you’re into pretty shit, you’re a Bak orchard.”
Thus brings us to the lyrical notions of Flower – an ethos rooted in ethical positivity. “If you have to sing about something, it may as well be something pertinent and of importance,” the Bakmaster says. “The thing that makes your world interesting is its vast diversity and all of its little differences – the living, breathing change you witness when you expand your worldview, even through something as small as trying a different food from a different culture. So the music is all pro-environment and pro-people. It’s an observation, without pointing a feather at anyone, of humanity and the state of the world.”
An attempt to pry at the political leanings of BaK themselves proves futile – not because they keep their personal opinions private, but because, well, BaK doesn’t really exist. “It’s not so much an actual band as it is the all-encompassing soundtrack to Baklandia,” the Bakmaster clarifies. “Y’know the German composer, Richard Wagner? He was one of the first dudes to have this idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, which translates to ‘complete entertainment’. It’s not just the compositions or the musicians that bring a piece to life; it’s the story, the music, the lighting, the visuals. It’s a complete experience. And that’s what BaK is, too.”
With that comes the crushing ratification that fans are unlikely to witness the grandeur of BaK live anytime soon. Before being hastily whisked away by his assistants – two doe-eyed gremlins nicknamed Beau and Kit – the Bakmaster drops a claim as bold as it is cold. “Our first gig is going to be in a stadium or it’s going to be nothing. I don’t want to be representative of something hollow, y’know? I don’t want to have this soundtrack built on music that’s big and over-the-top and then have it be ‘BaK: four best friends from the Blue Mountains that play shows at the Lansdowne!’ That modus operandi has its merits – hell, I’ve seen some awesome gigs at the Lansdowne – but that’s not what I’m trying to achieve.”
Flower is out now via Clown Town.