Corey Baker moved from Los Angeles to Miami about a year ago, heading in the opposite direction of most up-and-coming music producers. Known onstage as Kill Paris, the 32-year-old songwriter and multi-instrumentalist grew tired of the grind and decided he needed more vitamin D.
"Growing up in Indiana, I was always outside in the summer," he says. "I found that once you start touring and your schedule gets crazy, you don't really spend that much time outside. So I had a freakout moment where I had to get out of L.A. for my health. Also, the Skirball Fire happened shortly before I moved, and it got really close to where I was living... The fire was so scary, and it happened so quickly."
Now he's balancing studio time with beach time, soaking up as much sun as possible when he's not touring. Baker says it's made a huge difference in his overall well-being, which in turn has helped him be "creative in a sustainable way."
"I want to be spending a lot of time working and making music," he says, "but also not killing myself over it."
Sunshine fuels Baker's creativity in another, more literal way. He uses a newfangled gadget called MIDI Sprout, described on its product page as a tool that "allows creatives to use plants and other living things to control audio and video synthesizers in real time." Attach the two electrodes to, say, a rubber fig, and the MIDI Sprout turns the plant's electronic frequencies into sound.
"Plants, much like our bodies, generate a low level of electricity throughout the day, and that changes second by second," Baker explains. "This little device measures the electricity between the two points and translates that information into MIDI data. When you hook it into your computer or the app, it turns into notes... You can also hold the electrodes in your hands and it will generate music from your body's electricity."
So, fun fact: Noises sourced from houseplants and Baker's palms are part of the soundscape on Kill Paris' sophomore album, Galaxies Within Us, released via Monstercat this past February 14.
Originally from Indiana, Baker says he knew by the time he was a sophomore "that high school was a waste of time." Having played guitar in a number of local bands and messed around with electronic music, he graduated a semester early and moved to Tampa to pursue a bachelor's degree in recording arts from a now-defunct college. He picked up the DJ habit from some friends, thus beginning a long period as a nomadic musician trying on different cities and sounds, struggling to find a place in the music business in the era before SoundCloud and Spotify.
"I've literally moved ten or 15 times since then," he says. "I was moving around, trying to figure out what I was going to do for a job, doing all these really weird gigs. I lived in Nashville for a little bit and played country music... I auditioned for some singer-songwriter-type country groups and did a couple of performances in Nashville, but at the time, they didn't know what to do with me because I was onstage with a laptop. One time I had a bass guitar, a guitar, a keyboard, and a laptop, and I was doing this live looping thing, but nobody cared about it at all."
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He also had a weekly gig at a Bosnian restaurant in Nashville, where he often played two- or three-hour sets for approximately zero people. "The upside was that the lady who owned the place made the most amazing pork chops and mashed potatoes," Baker says, "and that was basically my payment for the night. At the time, it wasn't a bad gig."
As he bounced around from Nashville to Denver to Los Angeles to Miami, even those less-than-encouraging experiences shaped the music producer he is today. Now, with a pair of full-length albums under his belt — including 2015's Galaxies Between Us — he's committed to being a solo music producer rather than performing in a band or as a country singer.
"I've always liked the idea of trying to do everything myself, and it's a great challenge too," he says. "I started playing guitar and got decent at it, and then I was like, I wanna try something I'm not good at. Then I started playing keyboard and a little bit of drums. It's been a good thing and a bad thing, because if you stick with one instrument, you can get really, really good at it. I've gotten decent at a few things."
Baker might be underselling himself a bit. As demonstrated by his live looping videos, the dude's got mad keytar skills. Not to mention, he plays a mean houseplant.