An Interview with the Bakery Boys
The Hippo Collective is proud to publish the following interview with the Bakery Boys, a London-based hip-hop group, composed of brothers Shack and Ace Boogie and childhood friend Dirty Dre. The trio recently focused on musical production after having successfully started their own popular fashion line, Justin Hustlin. The Boys are also heavily involved in community social work. They have founded their own charity called Justinspire and regularly mentor and volunteer in underserved communities in and around London. With their recent track entitled ‘Until the Day’, the group are gearing up for the release of an EP and a tour. We hope you enjoy the article!
Giacomo Grechi: Hello Shack, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me today for the Hippo Collective. To begin with, could you give me a quick introduction to the Bakery Boys?
The Bakery Boys: Hello, I’m Shack Baker, one third of the Bakery Boys. The Bakery Boys are a creative collective. Ultimately, I would say that the Bakery Boys are a hip-hop group.
GG: So you are part of the trio, along with Ace and Dirty Dre. How and when did you guys meet?
BB: Well, Ace is my younger brother, so I’ve known him for a while. Dre and I have been friends since nursery. We met when we were about three years old. We went to the same primary and secondary school and we’ve always been close.
I said that we are a creative collective because since school, we were involved in art. We would produce drawings and street art, like graffiti. So, we’ve always been very close and always worked on art projects together. Becoming a group was an organic transition.
GG: When did you transition from that initial phase to producing music?
BB: Well, prior to that, we ran a couple of fashion brands together. The music was actually more of a hobby of mine. I’ve been producing on the side from the early 2000s. I didn’t do a whole lot with the music. We finally made the transition in 2012. We decided that we were going to put out music in order to promote the fashion brands that we were designing. We would put out music videos to promote the brands, as a sort of product placement. But when we started making music, it went really well. It ended up taking over everything else we were doing.
GG: Cool! So what influences did you guys have? Who still influences your work?
BB: Our palette is quite eclectic. We listen to a lot of hip-hop from Kanye West and Jay-Z. At the same time, I like house music and indie rock. One of my favorite genres is old-school motown. When you listen to our albums, you can hear all the different influences.
GG: So growing up in this artistic environment, what function does music play in your lives? What do you want to express through your songs?
BB: Our main guiding thought has always been: ‘Be all you can be. Anything that you can imagine is possible.’ Our lifestyles have always revolved around that ethos. It doesn’t matter whether we’re doing fashion, art or music, that thought has always guided us. Making the transition into music, we’ve ultimately been doing the same thing. That’s what we promote when we’re talking to kids or other musicians. When they ask us ‘How did you achieve all this?’, I respond that we promote excellence. In the end, we aim to achieve excellence.
GG: When you are trying to come up with the idea for a song, what is your creative process?
BB: Our process is always different. Sometimes, I find it easiest to not concentrate on the process. For example, when I’m driving and have a bit of free time, I get ideas for lyrics and record them on my phone. It also happens when I’m listening to music. Some of our beats feature samples from songs that we like. Nine-times out of ten, we start with the beat.
GG: So could you apply that process to how you came up with ‘Until the Day’?
BB: Absolutely! As soon as we heard the beat, we knew that we had to go with it. I was with Mensah and he started humming it and that was it. In five minutes, he had the basis for the hook. From there, we went back and forth and started writing.
GG: It always amazes me how quickly a song can be created!
BB: Yeah, it’s funny how the best ones are really quick to create. Other songs which might not be as big or successful could have taken us weeks or months to create. I know when something isn’t right. If I write lyrics and they don’t sound good enough, I have to keep going until they’re perfect.
GG: Well it works on an instinctive basis, does it not? Even as a listener, you have a gut reaction and realize whether you like a song or you don’t.
BB: Yes, that’s exactly it! That’s why, ultimately, I didn’t take up producing music early on. I am such a big fan; I have great respect for talented artists. When I hear a song, and I think it’s really good, I think: ‘Hats off to whoever created it.’ But at the same time, when music is that good, it puts me off producing. I can never be better than Jay-Z, so I won’t even try. I’m not going to try to compete with him; I’m just going to be myself. It was an interesting transition, because I never really wanted to be an artist to begin with.
GG: Moving on to your community work, you guys founded ‘Justinspire’, a charity organization. Why did you decide to become involved in charitable work?
BB: We think it’s really important. There is definitely a need for charitable work and I felt that when I was growing up, I could have benefited from it. In the end, all three of us are into supporting our community outside of music. I mean, we’ve been doing this type of work since before we founded the Bakery Boys. I was involved with a few organizations and I was a residential care worker, so I worked with children. Given that our mums were social workers, we’ve always had that spirit and background. We always wanted to give back to the community. I thought it was quite important to have some system in place so that the more we raise our profile, we can ultimately help more young people.
At the same time, it gives kids an example. If you follow alongside with their development, you show these kids that it’s possible for them to do the same thing. If I became successful and simply said that they could do so as well, it could seem far-removed at first. But if they follow our progression from the early stages, our message becomes more powerful and achievable.
GG: What does the organization focus on?
BB: Ultimately, we work in the creative field. Given our broad experience, we want to help kids who want to work in fashion, music, art, television or film. We function as contacts and provide solid advice. I think that advice from people who are active in the industry is much more helpful. We wanted to set up an organization that allowed us to create events and talks and that allowed us to enter into schools, on a frequent basis, to create projects in those communities. We wanted to create projects based on design, production and fashion and pull in other influential people that respect and admire. That’s what we’re concentrating on.
GG: Moving on to your fashion work, I hadn’t realized that this phase was as important in your development as a collective. Could you give me a summary of what you’ve been up to?
BB: We started over ten years ago. Dre and I finished college and fell into fashion. A friend of ours was putting on a fashion show and one of the designers dropped out. They were panicking and on a whim, I asked what she needed. When I heard that she only needed three pieces, I volunteered. We made an outfit but we couldn’t sow or anything like that, so we ended up gluing stuff on. And yet, we received a great response!
We quickly realized that we could make money from fashion because people wanted to buy our products. We taught ourselves and made plenty of mistakes. My mum taught me how to sow and I perfected my skills. We started with a premium denim brand called ‘Dirty Denim.’ We then expanded into the street-ware market as it was becoming bigger. That’s when we founded ‘Justin Hustlin’ and that really picked up. We started attending trade shows in Europe and eventually ASOS picked up the line. It ended up being one of the fastest selling lines in 2009.
So we’ve done considerably well but there was a lot of hard work that went into it. You do need significant capital and presence and you need to learn how to handle the scale of orders. You need a backend that can sustain that amount of production. It was fun, but it was a lot of work!
GG: Do you have any plans for the future that you can discuss?
BB: Given that we really enjoy the fashion, we fused all our productions into one brand. So we used our slogan ‘Holla at a Baker’ and put the same type of designs and the same ethos into the Bakery Boys. We created a high end street wear and we just launched a jewellery line. We kept the same design style but we’re simply pushing it through the ‘Bakery Boys’ brand since we have a greater audience for it. Therefore, we don’t focus as much on traditional retail.
GG: Looking towards the future, you guys are about to release an EP?
BB: Yeah, it’s a mixtape called ‘Holla at a Baker’ and it’s our first body of work that was written and recorded at the same time. We’ve not really given fans a body of work that they can listen to. We called it ‘Holla at a Baker’ because that’s our slogan and because it’s an introduction to our sound and where we’re from. We recorded about 14 songs and it’s just under an hour. It’s due to be released in January.
GG: Who would your dream collaboration be (for music and/or fashion)?
BB: For fashion, I have to say Commes des Garçon, although Ace and Dre might have different answers. In terms of music, I think it would be good to mix it up. I really like crazy mixes, so working with an alternative or indie artist would be awesome. In terms of hip-hop, I’d really like to work with Travis Scott.
GG: Are you planning on touring after you release the mixtape?
BB: Yes, we want to drop the mixtape and release all the promotion for that. And then we want to hit the road. It’d be nice to present the new stuff and it’s always better to perform it when the fans are familiar with the songs. We’ve performed some of the songs before and we’ve had a great reception.
GG: For tickets, where could fans find them?
BB: Fans can find the tickets through our site and through our social media accounts [see below for links].
GG: Finally, seeing as the Hippo Collective caters to a young audience, what advice would you give to other artists who are starting out in the art world?
BB: I think that people don’t realize how much hard work goes into achieving projects and goals. I’d say that hard work is crucial when you’re going into any creative project. What separates people who create art as a hobby and those that create it professionally, is planning. I think that that planning your work and sticking to your plan is so important. I used to that planning was unnecessary or useless and I was a ‘go-with-the-flow guy.’ But doing that, I always ended up with certain types of results.
If you want to change your outcome, you have to change your approach. Learning a business approach, how to manage costs and mark-ups, also really helps. Finally, know your market and your audience and learn how to use your platforms appropriately. When you learn all that and you apply yourself, you’ll begin to succeed.
GG: Thank you very much Shack!
BB: Thank you very much for having me! We really appreciate you having us on.
GG: My pleasure!
That concludes our interview with the Bakery Boys. We would like to thank Shack for taking the time to speak with us. Visit the Bakery Boys’ website to check out their merchandise and to learn about their upcoming mixtape and tour. Follow their social media sites for further information. Thank you for reading!