The Big Issue : Edition 456
THEBIGISSUE18APR–1MAY2014 35 PHOTOCREDIT CAITI BAKER AND JAMES MANGOHIG But what would seem a blow to most people was something of a revelation for Baker. “It explained so much,” she says. “I was able to make sense of all the labels that people had given me... Knowing what I was feeling and why, I felt that sometimes it would be just as easy to let it all go and not exist anymore. I don’t think I ever felt ashamed of feeling that and I still don’t. I do have those thoughts, but [the diagnosis] explained why. And from there I was able to understand maybe what to do next about it.” Baker’s forthrightness has seen her become something of an ambassador for individuals suffering from a bipolar disorder. She’s determined to capitalise on a shift in Australia towards a more open attitude to mental health and illustrate that such issues need not stand in the way of a productive career. This is reflected in the emotional undulations of The Invisible River. On the previous album, The Seventh Passenger (2011), Baker’s lyrics were often about taking on her own illness. Now, with tracks such as ‘Let it Go’, ‘Invisible’ and ‘Carry’, she seems stronger and more determined to help others, while Mangohig’s predilection for bass and thumping percussion gives the songs a primal, energising propulsion. “Everyone is different and goes through experiences in their own life,” Baker says, “but we have the ability to help. I wouldn’t say I know what someone has gone through, because that can trivialise their experience. But [it’s important to let] them know that there [are] other people in the world that have the compassion or empathy to sit and listen, and let them know that, no matter what they’ve been through, there is always a light, a way.” Baker and Mangohig are taking The Invisible River on the road around Australia throughout April and May. “I love singing our songs,” Baker says. “I love [performing] for people... There’s nothing like the buzz when you come off stage. That’s something to look forward to every night.” Music is medicine for her. “It just comes out in waves,” she says. “If I feel the need to write it, I write it, [record] it, it’s done, and then it takes on a life of its own and doesn’t mean exactly what it did when I recorded it. Watching that translate to other people and watching how they feel about it, I think that’s a medicine as well.” by Matt Shea » The Invisible River is out now. See also sietta.com.