Swiss singer Bastian Baker makes U.S. tour debut with Shania Twain

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By Kevin C. Johnson
June 8, 2018

Who is Bastian Baker? He’s the Swiss newcomer enviably tasked with opening for Shania Twain on her “Now” tour, coming Wednesday to Enterprise Center.

Though he has toured extensively abroad, this is his U.S. touring debut.

“It’s a pretty amazing first tour to be on,” Baker says. “It’s giving me a pretty good impression of the U.S.”

The singer-songwriter also has opened for Elton John and Bryan Adams.

“There’s all these good vibes around the tour,” he says. “There’s 13,000 to 15,000 people every night. As the opener, I wasn’t scared, but I didn’t know how the audience would react.

“I go onstage with just me and a guitar. So far, the reaction has been great. I can’t complain. And I get to sing a duet with her every night. That makes it all perfect. There’s a lot of love in the air, and you can really feel it.”

Baker and Twain met six years ago in Switzerland. He had been performing at an event affiliated with the Montreux Jazz Festival, near where he grew up. Twain was at the festival, and after his acoustic performance, she invited him to lunch.

“She wanted to say hi and that she appreciated my performance, and we started talking about music,” Baker recalls. “Her husband was there, and we became good friends. She’s an amazing mentor for me.”

He was just 20 years old at the time and was getting play on radio stations in Switzerland.

“It was an amazing opportunity to ask questions about the industry,” Baker says. “I knew Shania, but I didn’t know all the music and about all her crazy achievements.”

He says that first interaction with Twain was “a very normal conversation,” and he was able to get a bit of career advice. “She told me very basic stuff I didn’t know at the time — that I had to believe in myself, keep writing and stay true to myself,” he says.

The “Now” tour will be his first visit to St. Louis.

“I know about the St. Louis Blues,” says Bastian, whose father, Bruno Kaltenbacher, had been a professional hockey player. Baker also played hockey before switching to music full-time.

“I like getting to places I’ve never been, like St. Louis,” he says. “I like to discover the city I’m in, like asking where to go for lunch.”

Baker is influenced by artists such as Damien Rice and Angus and Julia Stone, and especially Bruce Springsteen.

“I’ve seen him twice, and it gives me goosebumps just to think about it — how much heart he puts in his music,” Baker says of the Boss. “He makes me want to become a better musician. He’s so inspiring.”

When it comes to his own music, Baker says, he doesn’t try to fit into any category. Instead, he aims to write melodies that sound good and mean something to him. “I keep it as honest as I can,” he says.

Baker’s debut was 2011’s “Tomorrow May Not Be Better,” which features “Lucky” and “I’d Sing For You.”

He’s working on his upcoming album with the single “Love on Fire,” which came about after meeting a young woman in Switzerland. She asked him what he did for a living. Instead of explaining it to her, he showed her, grabbing a guitar and writing a song.

“By the end of it, she said, ‘Dude, you should record it.’”

On the upcoming album, he’s working with producer Jacquire King, who has also worked with Kings of Leon, James Bay, Norah Jones and Twain.

“I was really inspired to work with a big producer,” Baker says. “It opened my spectrum of music. I also opened myself up to co-writing. I’m a very normal person talking about normal stuff, my fears, what I’m excited about, what disappoints me.”

He compares the sound of his last record, “Facing Canyons” (2015), to that of Mumford & Sons. “This will be more pop, more modern,” he says. “And I don’t see this album as my fourth. I see it as my first album for the second time. It’s the beginning of a new adventure for me.”

What Shania Twain, Bastian Baker • When 8 p.m. Wednesday • Where Enterprise (formerly Scottrade) Center, 1401 Clark Avenue • How much $22-$395 • More info 1-800-745-3000;