When we first started discussing this mix from Baauer and HOLLY, we weren't even thinking anything like, "Hey, Baauer's sophomore album Planet's Mad will soon be a Grammy-nominated album." That's not shade, but with everything going on in 2020, it's hard to remember that award shows and those kinds of accolades still go on. All of those facts distributed, this makes this situation a huge deal.
"I am so so honored by the Grammy nomination," Baauer exclusively tells Complex. "This project was a huge effort by a lot of people, and I am so proud of all of them. HOLLY is one of the people who worked their butt off. He kept telling me as long as you are having fun, and creating stuff with people you love, your doing something right. 2020 was a weird year…and releasing an album during all the turmoil was not ideal, at times it felt futile, and to get this recognition after lots of hard makes me really really proud and grateful.”
HOLLY was equally as ecstatic: "This nomination is a beautiful thing to see! Baauer put a lot of love and hard work into this project so it's amazing to see him being recognized on a Grammy level and see his happiness! I'm really happy as well, because this will bring more attention to the project and more people will be able to listen to such an amazing piece of art. This is also the first time a project that I worked on is nominated for a Grammy and to do it with a good friend like Baauer makes it even more special!"
Funny how life works, right? In producer circuits, you can just know someone by their producer tag online for a couple of years, and suddenly you're linking up and putting music together. Take "Just Enough," the HOLLY collab with Baauer that dropped via HARD back in September. "When I met Harry aka Baauer in NYC last year," HOLLY remembers, "he gave me a couple ideas to work on and 'Just Enough' was one of them. I got really excited about this idea because it reminded me of the dubstep sound that I used to listen to back in 2010, and I was really stoked to flip that sound and mix it into a more futuristic bass sound. Regarding the song name, the original demo name was already 'Just Enough' so I just kept the name like that, and I think it's a good name since there's so much happening in the song that it gets to the point where you feel it's 'Just Enough'."
It wasn't "Just Enough," though. This track is part of a journey that takes this pairing through the Grammys...with a pit stop to drop off this celebratory mix. Titled after their HARD collaboration, Baauer and HOLLY run through a number of productions, including unreleased heat and collaborative productions for CL, remixes for TOKiMONSTA, and much more. Stream that below—full tracklist over on our SoundCloud—while you run through a quick catch-up with Baauer.
Complex: It’s been four years since the last time we caught up with you, which means it’s been four years since you dropped our debut, Aa. How much of that time was spent working on Planet’s Mad?
Baauer: About a year, from collecting all the demos together till release.
At that time, I swear you hinted that the titles of your projects would play off your name. I can imagine what prompted this, but can you talk about if a) that naming convention is still a thing and b) if it is, what sparked this change?
You're right! Since my first EP was called B, and my album AA, I was gonna call the next release U, then ER so I would just spell my name. I have not abandoned this plan! What prompted the change was really just the sound and feel of the album, and the story direction that I had developed over the making the record. By the time it was all done, put together and ready for a name, U just didn’t feel right.
This isn’t just an album, though; this feels more like a fully-realized project/world. Was the idea always for Planet’s Mad to be bigger than just an album?
Yes. I knew from the very start that I wanted to build a universe, not just make an album. I always loved getting caught up in the worlds and lore of books and movies growing up, so this was a way to try to build a world myself. Making music is fun, but working with a visual medium to match every song is twice as much fun.
Any favorite tracks on the album? If so, which ones and why?
They are all my babies so its hard to pick a favorite. One I keep coming back to is "Group," because it kind of perfectly encapsulates the Baauer sound and attitude. Bunch of weird sounds that don’t seem like they should belong together, chaotic rhythms…I'm proud of how weird it came out.
HOLLY’s a name I’ve seen around for a bit, but saw that your work with him has only been going on for the last year. Talk about how you two linked up, and what was it about your relationship with HOLLY that lead to him contributing to Planet’s Mad in the way he did?
Yeah, I had seen Holly around for a couple years, and whenever I listened to a production of his my mind was blown. They didn’t sound like anyone else. They had a chaos that I really loved. We had been messaging back and forth, and I asked if he would be down to mess with one of the tracks I had picked for the album. It took him like an hour, and he sent back something completely insane. So I asked him to mess with another, and another…
Do you two have more material on the way?
Yes. Since pandemic times I have been streaming on Twitch while producing which has boosted my output significantly. Now its just a matter of finding fun and interesting ways to release it.
You’ve also been working on a number of video game-related material, namely for FIFA 2020 and GTA V. Have you been doing any gaming during quarantine? If so, what has taken up most of your non-work time?
Honestly, I don’t game. I love wasting time but gaming doesn’t feel like the right way to do it to me. I did get some games when quarantine first hit but I couldn’t get far. I do love video games, though. I think I like watching other people play them.
Big same. Outside of your work with HOLLY, do you have any tracks dropping before 2020 is over, or anything pegged for 2021?
Yeah, I'm putting together a mixtape of stuff I’ve made on Twitch. Super rough stupid funny beats—the best kind, in my opinion.