"infectious neo-soul” - Rolling Stone
"sonic serotonin” - Happy Mag
'rich and intoxicating' - Pilerats
'such power in Baker's songwriting' -
Line Of Best Fit
'incredibly soulful... stiflingly raw' - Earmilk
“solid soul goodness” - KCRW
Crafting his work from a place of deep artistic integrity, Louis has gathered a loyal following that spans the world over. Everyone from India Arie (“Louis Baker, you sing my soul”) to BBC 6 Music, Clash Magazine and Earmilk have shown love for what he does.
Growing up in the working-class suburb of Newtown, Wellington, Louis developed his passion for music at an early age listening to his parent’s diverse record collection, which featured the likes of Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye and Joni Mitchell.
Picking up his singer-songwriter mother’s Yamaha acoustic guitar as an 11 year-old, he was shown a few chords and then went on to learn to play the instrument by ear. This obsession with the guitar would lead him through a metal phase all the way to the world of rhythm and blues, with guitar players such as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. The former inspired the then 15-year-old Baker to pick up a wah-wah pedal in an attempt to conjure the spirit of the late great Voodoo Child.
At the age of 17, Baker entered Play It Strange, a national songwriting competition organised by Split Enz’s Mike Chunn. His song ‘Three Ladies’, dedicated to the experiences of his mother and two sisters, saw him place top five, with his prize being an acoustic guitar that he still records and travels with today. Following high school, Baker enrolled at Jazz School through the New Zealand School of Music, supplementing his studies with live gigs around the city.
Baker’s first official release came in 2011 with the song ‘Even In The Darkness’. The track won him the most votes on 'The Audience', a New Zealand government funded website dedicated to new, unreleased music. Then in 2013 Baker was chosen out of 4000 applicants to take one of only 60 places at the prestigious Red Bull Music Academy in New York. The programme included guest lectures from Brian Eno, Questlove (The Roots) and Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest) and also saw Louis experience a studio session with legendary hip hop producer Just Blaze.
Following the Academy, he spent the summer in London recording his debut self-titled EP with UK producer Andy Lovegrove (Supergrass, Breaks Co-Op, Badly Drawn Boy), which upon release in 2014, debuted at #3 on the New Zealand Top 40 Albums Chart. The EP track ‘Back On My Feet’ saw Baker debut as a finalist in the prestigious APRA Silver Scrolls Awards. Baker quickly followed up the EP by teaming up with New Zealand-born, UK-based Ninja Tune signing Jordan Rakei on the track, ‘Just Want to Thank You’.
Throughout 2016 and 2017 Baker released four stand-alone singles, ‘Rainbow’, ‘Fade’, ‘Gave It All Away’ and ‘Addict’. Accompanied by an equally stark video, which has since seen over a quarter of a million views, long-time New Zealand music critic and author, Grant Smithies said of ‘Rainbow’, “A glorious song this – sad and sparse, wise and true, with a restraint to the vocal that suits the vulnerability of the love-lorn lyric.” Baker’s next release ‘Fade’ was co-written and produced by Brad Ellis (Wilkinson, James Arthur, Sam Smith) of London based duo The Nextmen. ‘Gave it All Away’ saw the release of two distinctly different versions, a strikingly raw acoustic version and an electronic version produced by Fat Freddy’s Drop’s Mu. Finally ’Addict’ saw Baker team up with two-time Ivor Novello winner and Grammy nominated songwriter and producer Sacha Skarbek, fellow New Zealanders producer Josh Fountain (LEISURE) and Theia. The four tracks saw Baker accumulate over 7.5 million streams within the space of a year and make the top 20 finalist list for the APRA Silver Scroll in 2017 with ‘Rainbow’.
Over the years Baker has toured New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Europe multiple times, he has also played at key international festivals including Field Days - London, Sonar Festival - Barcelona, Sziget Festival – Hungary, Splendour In The Grass - Australia, as well as Rhythm and Vines and Homegrown back in his home country of New Zealand. He has also toured with the likes of Allen Stone, Jamie Liddel and Jordan Rakei.
Baker released his critically acclaimed debut album ‘Open’ in 2019, which received prestigious a Taite Music Prize nomination, and Aotearoa Music Awards nominations for Best Soul Artist and Best Māori Artist. Written and produced in London, Los Angeles, Sydney and New Zealand, the album sees him reflecting on being open to opportunity, to change and to acceptance. Working with Grammy-nominated Engineer and Producer, Steve Rusch (Kendrick Lamar, Solange, Cody Chesnutt), multi-platinum selling songwriter Lindy Robbins (Andra Day, Chromeo).
Previous singles ‘Back On My Feet’ (2014), ‘Rainbow’ (2016), and ‘Black Crow’ (2018) have been recognised with APRA Silver Scroll nominations.
Louis latest offering, Love Levitates, takes his signature brand of modern-soul to bright new territory. Working with producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Devin Abrams (Dallas Tamaira, Drax Project, Pacific Heights), Love Levitates is Baker’s five-track opus of life, an intimate yet expansive journey of heritage, love, friendship, observation, and beyond.
Music Business SERVICES
We offer one-to-one mentoring for self/managed and independent artists at any stage of your career.
Sessions cover everything from the business of music, artist development, music industry introductions, marketing and promotion, live shows and touring, release strategy, content creation, distribution and goal setting.
We help you to navigate challenges by sharing information about our own experiences, as well as providing practical guidance, motivation and support.
Sessions are tailor-made to suit your needs.
WORKSHOPS & SEMINARS
Aston Rd provides tailor-made workshops and seminars for music industry organisations around the country.
Some of the organisations we've worked with;
Te Auaha Performing Arts, Pao Pao Pao, MMF NZ, Te Mangai Paho, Hawkes Bay Music Hub and Sole Music Academy.
We launched a series of Artist Development workshops and masterclasses for emerging artists in 2022.
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"Self-management is not easy. When I'm trying to do everything myself, being able to call on Cushla – who can look at the situation with an objective eye – is vital. She's a great sounding board, offering honest appraisals on all matters and helping me to see the whole forest, not just the trees!" - Julia Deans
MUSIC INDUSTRY RESOURCES
A one-stop shop of resources to help you on your career path.
Aston Rd was founded in 2010 and is owned and operated by Cushla Aston (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Pikiao).
We specialise in Artist Management, mentoring, music business education, artist development and project management.
With over a decade of experience in the New Zealand music industry Cushla has worked with notable independent platinum selling acts such as Fat Freddy’s Drop, Kora, Trinity Roots and currently manages Louis Baker.
In 2012 Cushla won ‘Upcoming Manager of the Year’ and was a finalist for ‘Manager of the Year’ in 2015 and 2021. She is the Chairperson for the Music Managers Forum, has over 300 hours of artist mentoring experience supplying services to the MMF and Te Māngai Pāho; and is a Senior Lecturer at Massey University College of Creative Arts delivering the industry paper on Artist Development. In 2022 Cushla launched Aston Rd Music Career Masterclass, a six module series of Masterclass focused on supporting the careers of ten self-managing and independent artists based in Wellington.
Collectively her clients have been winners and finalists in the APRA Silver Scrolls, Taite Music Awards, Aotearoa Music Awards and NZ Music Critics Choice Awards. They have toured both nationally and internationally including territories such as the UK, Europe, Asia, Polynesia and Australia. Acting as her clients’ independent record labels she has also helped them reach Top 10 debuts in the official New Zealand Album Charts.
Cushla is a certified and accredited life coach, has diplomas in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Neurolinguistic Programming, a Mental Health First Aid Certificate and has the Mana Ora - New Zealand Certificate in Māori Business and Management.
WHAT MATTERS TO US
To nurture, empower and help support creative talent
Enable our people to live off what they love
To grow our community through collaboration
Contribute to the art of happiness and well-being through creativity
We work with many great organisations, talented individuals and small businesses.
We'd like to take this opportunity to give them a shout out.