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Julien Baker to play Warhol’s Sound Series

April 18, 2018

Julien Baker expects the best, but plans for the worse.

Admittedly, the Memphis, Tenn., singer-songwriter has a compulsion to prepare herself for things to go poorly. But with that mindset, she contends she’s fortunate because everything that goes positively is an overwhelming surprise.

“I find myself doing that a lot in my life, saying like ‘I will be content if X, Y and Z don’t happen, therefore it won’t disappoint me if they don’t,’ ” she says by phone April 12 during an off day on her current tour.

Baker rolls through Pittsburgh as part of the Warhol’s Sound Series on April 20 at Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland.

Even after the successful release of her 2015 album ‘Sprained Ankle,’ the 22-year-old didn’t think her latest album “Turn Out The Lights,” released in October, was guaranteed to be successful.

“It’s entirely possible that people hear this record and they think ‘I’m kind of over it’ and then maybe I’ll go back to school and be an English teacher and that’ll be OK with me,” Baker says.

It looks like the prospective backup plan of being an educator is on hold with the success of “Turn Out The Lights.” The LP boasts at least three songs, “Appointments,” “Turn Out the Lights” and “Sour Breath,” that have each accumulated over 1 million streams on Spotify. Appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in January and having her music featured on shows like MTV’s “Catfish” also would indicate she has a pretty good thing going.

But she tries to take those opportunities and experiences and be appreciative of them, feeling content when they come but not overvaluing them.

“I try to be mindful of not attaching security to the accolades or achievements that come with creating music,” Baker says. “I’m very fortunate to be able to call music my job and say that I’m a professional touring musician. But also, I think it’s important not to think of things in terms of ‘getting there’ or ‘making it’ because I think if you’re not careful, it can become a vanishing horizon.”

When she and her band take the stage in Oakland, it will mark the third show in the last year for Baker in the city. She also has played Mr. Roboto Project in Pittsburgh with her former band Forrister and has gained an appreciation for it.

“It takes a little bit of uncovering to sink into the city (Pittsburgh) and find the little buried treasures,” Baker says. “It reminds me of a Memphis or a Detroit. There’s a lot of growth happening in a very organic way.”

Zach Brendza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1288, zbrendza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @imxzb.