Like his bandmates, Chris Baio knows there's life outside Vampire Weekend.
Since the group’s 2013 record Modern Vampires of the City, frontman Ezra Koenig has performed with Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O and Chromeo; multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij took a solo path (and officially split from the group); and Baio dove headfirst into his longtime dance music project with his beat-centric, full-length record, “The Names."
The 31 year-old Bronxville, N.Y.-native developed an interest in dance music as a college radio DJ while at Columbia University. “It was a time in my life where I really expanded my musical horizons,” explains the musician. “I got really into the [German minimal techno label] Kompakt and would play a lot of Kompakt releases.”
On “The Names,” he toes the line between this experimental music background and the sunny Afropop that defines Vampire Weekend. The record, which Baio describes a journey where anything could happen, came together after moving from New York to London in 2013.
“I don’t think I would’ve made a record, honestly, if I hadn’t moved,” says Baio. “When you leave one place and go to another, you get sort of a new life in a new city … You get a new perspective to look back on your life’s previous moments.”
Cultural references abound on the record but post-modern author Don DeLillo’s influence is front and center. Baio initially took an interest in the writer after realizing that he and DeLillo grew up in the same suburb of New York City. “He very quickly became my favorite writer … It was very much my intent to channel [him].”
While the record’s production — which packs in both pounding electro crescendos and melancholic vibes — is diverse, Baio explains that he had most trouble with the vocal parts. “You have something you want to say in terms of the actual words but then how you say it, I find is just as important as what you say when you’re singing… That was where the majority of the work came from.”
As for Vampire Weekend, Baio is mostly mum. “Stuff will happen when it happens but for now, this record and this tour is what I’m really excited about,” he says. “I haven’t done any work on a new Vamp record.”
Baio performs February 9 at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City, NY, February 10 at Coda in Philadelphia, PA and February 11 at Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA.