The London singer-songwriter spoke to us just after he’d made his main stage debut at R&L, but the fourth time he’d played at the hallowed festival overall.
“It always feels like a home festival,” Bakar told NME. “I like it in the summer when you go and do all these festivals in Europe and America, and come back to a good, nice home reception.
“I still feel like we’re in our infancy here because it’s like they made us do the rounds to get the main stage. I don’t know if I feel like a veteran, but I definitely have a deep connection with this festival.
He added: “I first came to Reading when I finished my GCSEs and watched Foals. That was a big thing for me. I remember seeing seeing them in one of the big tents. We’ve been playing loads of festivals with Foals and I just got to meet them recently the other day in Brussels. It’s so cool that I get to share a stage with them.”
Could a Foals collab be on the cards in future?
“I’d love to, but honestly I just love watching their growth,” Bakar replied. “They’ve aged so amazingly. There are so many UK bands that don’t carry on in the right way for me, but Foals have done it and shown everyone how to do it. Arctic Monkeys, too, but Foals are a little bit left of centre so that’s why I like it.”
After inspiring a wild crowd reaction on the closing day of Reading, Bakar told us about his “deep connection” to his fans.
“They’ve just been with me from the start,” he said. “Even a song like ‘Small Town Girl’, is more a deep cut than a big Bakar song but they all knew the words. I’ve grown with them and they’ve grown with me. It just feels like a friendship at this point.”
However, Bakar’s favourite song from his set was recent single ‘Right Here, For Now’ – the latest taster of his hotly-anticipated second album ‘Halo’.
“For ‘Halo’, we wanted to go back to our true indie rock roots and just try to make the best versions of those songs that we can and have fun while we’re doing it. We actually made it in New York at Electric Lady studios, it was all live and about us going back to basics: drums, guitar, vocals. That’s what this song is. And it feels fresh – especially in the context of 2023.”
Teasing what to expect from the record, Bakar said: “We wanted to make music in the light for ‘Halo’. That was a big deal – trying to go to these environments and make a lot of it in houses, AirBnBs, while we were travelling and on the move. I think that comes across on the record. There’s a movement and an urgency to it. It’s a lived experience, so I’m just excited for everyone to hear it.”
He added: “Lyrically, I don’t really change. I just carry on explaining what’s going on in my life and in my friends’ lives. I’ve just got better at writing songs.”
Check back at NME here for the latest news, reviews, interviews, photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2023.
Bakar releases ‘Halo’ on September 22. His upcoming UK and European headline tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.
Thursday 9 – Magnolia – Milan, Italy
Sunday 12 – Kesselhaus – Berlin, Germany
Tuesday 14 – Melkweg – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Wednesday 15 – CBE – Cologne, Germany
Thursday 16 – Trix – Antwerp, Belgium
Saturday 18 – DR Koncerthuset – Copenhagen, Denmark
Wednesday 21 – O2 Academy – Glasgow, UK
Thursday 22 – Academy – Dublin, Ireland
Friday 23 – Limelight – Belfast, Ireland
Saturday 25 – Le Bataclan – Paris, France
Tuesday 28 – Eventim Apollo – London, UK
Thursday 29 – Albert Hall – Manchester, UK
Friday 30 – Albert Hall – Manchester, UK