- "Showtime as a title just means it's showtime," says Baba Stiltz of his new EP. "Before every gig, every day of travel. Always somewhere." Stiltz is one of those musicians who makes his life the work of art. If you catch the Swedish oddball DJing, shimmying around to disco-house in a colourful shirt, or watch one of his music videos where he talks about relationships and kicking weed in what looks like his bedroom, you get the sense that his freewheeling music is merely an extension of his personality. But remember, this is showtime: a performance. There's a sheen of artifice to this portrait of a life, and unknown quantities of irony are in play.
It's the same with "Maze," the lead single from his new EP on XL. In the video, Stiltz does his morning ablutions, dances in his living room and walks through his neighbourhood. He's on home turf, but there's something stilted about his manner. Cameramen wander into shot, and we sometimes catch the producer smoking between takes. The music is an equally awkward mix, sleek tech-house with a clunky Auto-Tuned vocal slapped on top. Stiltz appears to be seducing someone he's fallen for—"But I always seem to / Find my way back to you"—but he sounds bored. Or maybe he's taking the piss?
This ambiguity aside, the track's earworm chords and wiggly bassline find Stiltz at his popwise best. The rest of the EP is less about the music, and more a piecemeal meditation on the inscrutable silliness of the Stiltz persona. "Serve" is a further three minutes of downcast house that never quite finds its centre. He swaps method on the second half, sing-rapping over slow-jam patchworks of dusty soul loops.
On "Showtime" he's the hedonist star with a Cheshire Cat grin: "I'm a DJ with a good soul / Treat you good girl […] Got bags full of money, so much money / You've never seen this much money before / Welcome to my world, girl." On "Situation" he's pulling Barry White moves after a day's work in the studio: "Oh my girl / You mean the world to me / I hope you can see that I'm for real". Both modes seem so absurd coming from a 24-year-old Swede that they're hard to take seriously. Yet they don't seem pitched as jokes. It would be more interesting to hear what Stiltz is like after showtime's over.