Baio is the solo alias (and familiar nickname) of Chris Baio, best known as bass player for the chart-topping indie rock band Vampire Weekend. With his debut album, 2015's The Names, he introduced a stylish synth pop accompanied by deep, detached vocals. His third release, 2021's Dead Hand Control, consisted of tracks of greatly varying lengths, sometimes remindful of the 12" extended dance mixes popular in the 1980s.
Showing an interest in music from an early age, the New York native started buying records and attending concerts before the age of ten. Later, while attending Columbia University, Baio worked his way up to music director at nearby college radio station WBAR and, in 2006, formed Vampire Weekend with Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, and Chris Tomson, who were all finishing their studies at Columbia.
Taking their name from a movie Koenig made during his freshman year, the band started out by playing gigs at the university's literary societies and at parties. Word spread about Vampire Weekend's unique Afro-pop-infused, literate indie rock sound and lyrics ("Oxford Comma" was one of their earliest songs), buoyed by the group's self-released EPs, which they recorded in locations spanning dorm rooms and a family barn. The buzz reached a peak in 2007, and they signed with XL Records before the end of the year. Their debut EP for the label, Mansard Roof, was followed by their self-titled first full-length in early 2008. Debuting within the Top 20 of both the American and U.K. album charts, the eponymous record proved to be one of the year's most popular indie releases. The group celebrated Vampire Weekend's success by hitting the road for the better part of two years and, amidst touring and bandmember side projects, found time to return to the studio for the creation of Contra, which arrived in early 2010. Late in 2011, the band returned to the studio to work on their third album with Ariel Rechtshaid in his home studio; Modern Vampires of the City was released in May 2013.
Baio relocated to London a month later and began crystallizing ideas he'd had for a solo project. His debut under the name Baio, a set of grooving synth pop titled The Names, appeared on Glassnote in September 2015. The project's second album was inspired in large part by the U.K. Brexit and U.S. presidential elections of 2016, combined with his frequent international travel at the time (Baio returned home to London after a U.S. tour on the day of the U.S. election). The anxiety-fueled Man of the World followed in June 2017, also on Glassnote.
Recording again with his band, Vampire Weekend delivered their fourth full-length, Father of the Bride, in 2019. It became the group's third straight album to top the Billboard 200. Baio returned with his third solo long-player, the club-friendly Dead Hand Control, in early 2021. Named for an automated Soviet missile system, it continued to explore anxious themes. ~ Marcy Donelson & Heather Phares
BORNOctober 29, 1984