Baauer Retracts His Hatred of "Harlem Shake" as He Opens Up on 'Aa'

Baauer Retracts His Hatred of "Harlem Shake" as He Opens Up on 'Aa'
Photo: Jake Michaels
Baauer makes big, silly dance music, a bombastic stroll through the club — and there's nothing wrong with that at all. His debut full-length Aa, pronounced double A, (out March 18 on Lucky Me) is wobbly, thoughtful and cheesy in all the right places. Just like his labelmate/boss Hudson Mohawke, Baauer pulls this off by producing tracks so well that they take on a new form, a truly captivating one at that.
 
Aa has secured what many have known for a while now, that Baauer is anything but a one-hit wonder. He could have fallen down the same road as lots before him, but even in the painfully overplayed "Harlem Shake," his talents were obvious. Sadly, it's now impossible to listen to it without conjuring up restless frat boys, or worse, seniors who've been talked into shaking a leg under some pretext. Considering its ubiquity, no one would blame Baauer for reeling against "Harlem Shake," which he inevitably did, calling it "corny and annoying as fuck" in an interview with Rolling Stone.

When we talked to him from his home in Brooklyn, however, he had a much more reasonable view of the track.
 
"It's definitely a weird relationship, but overall I can look back on it as a really cool thing," Baauer tells Exclaim! "I've accepted it and I appreciate it very much. I mean, the thing it became is definitely bigger than the track itself. There was a time when it felt like it wasn't in my control anymore. It had become something else that wasn't me, which felt a little strange. That was when I wasn't feelin' it so much. Now though, I totally look back on it in a positive way."
 
It's hard to say if "Harlem Shake" is actually a source of animosity for Baauer, but he wouldn't be in his current position without it. He certainly wouldn't have the clout to gather the huge collaborations that Aa is home to, at least. Among the star-studded roster are artists like Pusha T, Future, Rustie and Tirzah, to name a few. While Baauer is grateful to work alongside all of them, he can't help but slip one in above the rest.
 
"Working with M.I.A. was a trip. I got to actually be in the studio with her, which was awesome. It was such an experience to see her work. What a talented woman!"
 
Aside from the obvious connection of Aa, Baauer and M.I.A. also have the UK as common ground. Though he moved around several countries as a child, including Germany, Baauer's coming-of-age time in the UK still remains one of his main influences.

"You really gotta appreciate the amount of good stuff that comes out of England. Even just their radio stations have an insane amount of good music, so much more than what's in the States. From that I developed a great appreciation for everything electronic, quite early on. So, that was pretty huge for me in terms of influence."
 
You can stream "GoGo!" from the Aa below, as well as the album's M.I.A. collaboration "Temple."