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June/July 2015

by Campbell Paget

Postcards From Berlin: Bayker

by Campbell Paget

Postcards From Berlin: Bayker

Campbell Paget is Bayker, recently added to the Crazy Planet Records/BMG publishing stable, and even more recently a Berlin-resident songwriter. It’’s been a whirlwind few years for Bayker as he reveals in telling NZM of his musical journey through the States, to UK and now on to Germany. Next stop –– global fame and fortune.

It’’s 2007, I’’m sitting in class in my second-to-last year at college, knowing I wouldn’’t be attending 7th form. My attention span lasted until the teacher turned his back, I don’’t recall ever thinking that one day I would be living in Berlin. But I did know that alI I wanted was a career in music, and nothing else!

I enrolled in SAE and this would become my final year of college and one of the best decisions I have made. It gave me the production grounding I soon used every day when writing and composing my own music in train stations, airports and Starbucks around the world. Wanting to explore myself as an artist and the world outside of NZ, I spent the next couple of years working as a labourer during the days and composing music until the early hours of the morning.

When I turned 21 I decided to see where my musical abilities could take me. It was time to go! I sold my car, and anything that I could flick for a quick buck, jacked up a visa and bought my ticket to the Big Apple, New York city. Having never travelled further overseas than to Aussie, I was told I was in for a shock. True, staring out the window of my yellow cab at the Manhattan skyline my mind was blown, and also overwhelmed with excitement.

postcards Bayker Eastside nzm161I checked in to a hostel on West 20th which would be my home for the next three weeks until I found permanent digs on West 86th, between West End and Riverside Dr. Around this point I realised that from here on nothing would come of this move, unless I made an effort to initiate and engage in conversation with strangers, because I knew… no one!  There was no comfort from an organisation like school, sports or social events where making friends and connections came easy. It was me, a box of Budweiser and a hostel common room.

My time in New York was called short after roughly three months. I met a guy in my building complex that referred me to an LA-based management company. A phone call later they asked me to write a track, which I did that night. I waited until the morning to belt out the vocals, holding a jumper my Nana had knitted over my head to dampen the sound. Next I knew they had me on a plane to the City of Angels to meet up and establish a management relationship.

I instantly became a huge fan of LA – the weather, the lifestyle and most important, In-N-Out Burger! I rented an office from my manager in his building on Hollywood Boulevard, with a 24 hour fitness one block away that I used for showering etc., and a diner next door. It was right in the middle of the hustle and bustle. Hollywood was surreal, a place I had only ever seen on the E channel back home. It is a place where anything goes, and everyone is ‘someone’. Nevertheless, I loved it. I felt being a Kiwi made it easier to weed out the genuine people and established a great group of friends, a lot of whom were talented Kiwis. My days were filled with writing sessions and learning from those I was rubbing shoulders with. I played acoustic gigs here and there, my favourite being the Viper Room –– a bucket list moment for me.

After about a year and a half of dancing around the visa situation and my artistry developing, I felt it was time for a change.

London proved an easy move, very similar to NZ, and full of ex-pats. I would become familiar with snakebites, pub roasts and the infamous Walkabout ex-pat pub. I soon met up with a good friend for a writing session on his visit from Berlin. He encouraged me to come over for a long weekend to establish new connections and get a taste of the German way. Ironically, I booked the weekend of the Football World Cup Final. Germany would go on to win, so things inevitably got out of hand!

Parties aside, while in Berlin I had the privilege of meeting Matthias Mueller and the crew at Crazy Planet Records. We sat outside in the sun in front of the CPR HQ and listened to a bunch of my tracks.

The response was positive and from here we would keep in touch. A couple of months later I received the best phone call I have ever had, and nine months later I would be sitting in Berlin, pen to paper with a publishing deal from BMG Rights Management and Crazy Planet Records. The first half of my dream has come true, now let’s have the second!

After a beautiful early 2015 summer spent in NZ and what seemed like a week of flying, anticipation was high. I arrived in Berlin to be treated to a hearty meal, some beers and darts to entertain my first night, before the jet lag kicked my ass into next week. The next few days I roamed around starry eyed, it was like NYC all over again. I indulged in the famous currywurst sausages, schnitzels and oversized ice-cream, strolling parks, memorials in a city where freedom was clearly not taken for granted. Having a beer here and a beer there, it seems like a replacement for coffee. No complaints!

I was given a tour of the beautiful Riverside Studios, and went on to meet some of the producers I am going to work with, and my family at Crazy Planet and BMG. A great bunch of guys who share the same vision as me, discussing the sound and plan for my first release. This is when it really started to sink in. From here, they teamed me up with one of the biggest producers in Germany, writing new material for myself and other artists. I have also booked my first gig for the Berlin Fashion Trade Show in July. I’’m super overwhelmed and excited, ready to start the next chapter on what so far has been an amazing journey!

To all those who have supported me, family back home, and friends around the world who have let me crash their floors and couches, thank you. Come have a beer with me in Berlin, it’’s a beautiful place.
Bayker