BABY ROSE [@babyrosemusic] ON HER LATEST ALBUM ‘THROUGH AND THROUGH’, WORKING WITH SMINO [@smino] AND ACCEPTANCE
Baby Rose’s music is gut-wrenching and heartfelt. The vulnerability that lies within her lyricism, captivated by her deep, husky voice grips your emotions like no other. Her latest album, Through and Through takes you on an emotional rollercoaster of healing, acceptance and self love.
Kat: How do you feel you’ve grown creatively as an artist in between your debut, ‘To Myself’ and your upcoming album ‘Through and Through’?
Baby Rose: I feel like I’ve gained a lot of perspective in between those albums. When I was doing To Myself, I felt like my back was up against the wall. I was writing about a heartbreak – it was just pouring out of me. Every song was really an ode to that space I was in and I didn’t know what was going to happen from it. This was like fourth quarter, 10 seconds in the game, you gotta shoot your shot, type sh*t. I made it pretty quickly using free studio time and favours – I did everything I could with what I had. With Through and Through I created it in a space of firstly, having way more resources and being able to create with in spaces I’ve always dreamed of creating in. I went to Nashville to use Ocean Way Nashville Studios, which is like a old cathedral that they turned into a damn studio, it was fire! And also Revival in LA, which was Earth, Wind and Fire’s old studio. ‘I Won’t Tell’ and ‘Love Bomb’ and ‘Fight Club’ were all done at Revival and Nightcap. At the same time having this weight of pressure on me, but I was so high up. London – last show was so crazy and surreal, and then the next day having to rush out, Trump shutting down the s**t and we gotta rush back to the US and then everything shuts down and you have a side of you that’s like, “Well, yeah, of course this would happen. This wasn’t meant for you anyway,” and these dark thoughts that just kind of seep in, and I didn’t know what was next, but I knew that the fact that I have a chance to do this again, I really want to not hold back and really give like a thorough picture like Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or on the other side, Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – just an all-encompassing album that shows who I am and every part of me. The fear, the growth, the love, the heartbreak, all of that, you know? I didn’t wanna hold back with this. We made so many records, like 90 and had a board and had to narrow it down. This is just my best work to date, I believe. I’m always creating, so [I’m] always like, “I can’t wait for what’s next,” but for now I’m so grateful to just be able to express myself so much bigger and wider than where I was before [and] keep pushing this s**t forward.
Kat: As an artist, the expression of your emotions is displayed on a larger scale than the average person. Are you ever apprehensive about being vulnerable knowing people are listening? Is there anything you want your listeners to take away from your new album?
Baby Rose: Before going on stage, I feel very nervous. I’ll be cool, we’ll be backstage and pray and all the vibes are good and then like 10 minutes before, I’ll just get real quiet. I just have to breathe because it feels like a weight. It’s not just performing music – this is like my diary. These are experiences that I’ve gone to therapy for and I’m going to therapy for, that I work through, that I come to terms with, that I am accepting about myself as a radical act – it’s art. And then going on stage is the next step. Performing it in front of people and having the intention of people that I don’t know, but that know me and know me in a way that is so much deeper. To see me in that state is very powerful. [The way] I look at it, it’s an honour for me to be able to do it – to write, produce, record what’s coming from my soul and my own experiences, and then for it to resonate with others and possibly get them through [something], or they feel a little less alone with whatever they’re going through. Hell yeah, that’s amazing! So, I hope people take away from my music that everything is working for your good – All of it. Even the negative, even the tension – It’s working for your good and all is well. I want people to accept the parts of them that maybe they hide or they’re afraid or ashamed of. Meet yourself with the same love and kindness that you bestow upon others. See yourself as that little baby girl or that little baby boy. See yourself in that state and let yourself know that it’s okay – I got you, you know? I’m so grateful that the pandemic hit and I got that space to really ask myself the real questions – “If all of this sh*t was the end, if my mom or all the people that really matter are gone, what do I have to show for myself? What do I want to say? What do I want? Do I want it to be just what’s hot? Do I want to be just playing the game?” Or do I really want to stand on something that’s like, “Okay, I have a shot, I have an audience, I have the resources.” I want to perform this sh*t like it’s just me and God.
Kat: I read that you made the album in Nashville, LA and Atlanta and that these cities mean something to you – what significance does each city hold?
Baby Rose: Atlanta has my heart. I have a house there now, because no matter where I go, I’m gonna always be able to lay my hand down in Atlanta if I need to come back to myself. Atlanta is a breathing ground of creativity, you can come there with a vision and meet like-minded individuals that will help you foster that sh*t. You can hear yourself there. I know it gets a rep of trap, all of that, that’s deep too and that’s fire too! It’s lit there, but there’s also the rich energy of the south in general – it’s just electrifying. You have that tension but you also feel the ancestors, you feel like [they’re] rooting for you, you know what I’m saying? That’s Atlanta for me – the Black Mecca.
Nashville, I wanted to go there to get stronger in my pen because I’ve always admired old classic country records for how simple they are. ‘I Will Always Love You’ – Whitney Houston was written by Dolly Parton – one of the most simple songs, but it hits you right where your heart is. I think country songs are some of the most well-written songs. Taylor Swift be going crazy. I was a stan, she’s hard. I wanted to see what the fu*k was going on over there, and sharpen up, become a student. I learned a lot ’cause I would start my sessions late as fu*k notoriously – it was terrible. In Nashville, they’re like, “We start at 9:00 AM and we end at 2:00 PM because we have to go home,” and so I had to be on their type of time and it gave me discipline and I wrote a lot of records. ‘Go’, ‘Dance With Me’, ‘Stop The Bleeding’, ‘Water’, and so it was really good for me to do that and I’m glad I did that.
I’m coming to London [to write], there’s something in the water here. Majority of my favourite artists come from here. Definitely taking my talents here next.
And then LA – that studio, Revival, is magical. It’s a hidden gem, and when you go in there, there’s no way you can’t make anything fire. My friend Biako, who’s the producer I’ve worked with for a while – one of my best friends – he runs it. It’s just like a safe space for me. I don’t do go in there long, I probably book like three hour sessions. I go in there with nothing and come out with something fire as f**k. So I turned that b***h into a camp when I was there. We were just making so many songs. Eventually all of them are gonna be released. I want to die empty. God forbid I’m going anywhere anytime soon, but I’m not having these [songs] live in my Dropbox forever. They all gotta go as they are. I felt that all of this s**t matters, these [songs] are all my children. I could only fit 11 on a vinyl – it was hard, but I’m proud of the ones that I chose.
Kat: You mentioned that a lot of your favourite artists are from the UK, who are your favourites?
Baby Rose: There’s so many to name. There’s the current ones – SAULT, Cleo Sol, Little Simz, Jorja Smith, Mahalia, Maverick Sabre and then there’s ones from the past, The Beatles, Amy Winehouse. There’s a richness here. Adele – the list just goes on and on. It’s deep here. I think it has something to do with the overcast weather. I just write better when it’s like that. I live in LA now and it’s too sunny. We need some rain. I need to feel something.
Kat: I can hear quite a few different influences on Through and Through, like psychedelic funk for example. What music were you listening to while in the process of creating the album and how did it influence you?
Baby Rose: I was listening so much. I was listening to Joan Jett, she’s like a fire-ass rockstar. I watched her documentary and I was really inspired by her and that kind of brought that energy of ‘Nightcap’ and ‘Fight Club’ to the chat. There’s Dark Side of the Moon – I remember just getting high, smoking weed and really just transporting – I feel like Dark Side of the Moon is an album [that] if you were an alien and came down to the world and wanted to know what it’s like to be a human, that would be your guide. It’s money, time, love – it’s all the themes. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon was definitely on high rotation. Lauryn Hill – Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo Voodoo, and then so much acid jazz – too much to name. Lonnie Liston – there’s a lot of sh*t that I had on rotation, Arthur Verocai, I was fascinated with people that would just make an iconic album and dip. Arthur Verocai literally gave us an album and was like, “I’m gone now,” and that sh*t became iconic as fu*k. There’s this band named Rexy, they did the same sh*t and that inspired ‘I Won’t Tell’, just finding these low-key people that just blew up. I was into a lot of sh*t when I was creating that inspired where my head was and just knowing in the back of my mind, if this is the last thing that I ever leave behind, go fu*king crazy. Pull from all of the things that I love – I’m not really confined to any particular sound, I just love honesty and rawness and uniqueness and s**t that makes me feel something. I was just like, “Just go for that. Go for the realest, purest feeling.”
Kat: What was it like working with Smino and Georgia Anne Muldrow?
Baby Rose: Smino I met at Revenge of the Dreamers camp and he was just always so impressive to me. Number one, his energy is so cool and calm and then when he graces a track, especially on his own bodies of work, it’s so unique from what anybody else has going on. When I asked him to lace it, he just went crazy. He was excited to do it – which I already knew. I would see him around, running into him at Everyday People or Black Market Flea – these fire ass parties in LA [that are] black as hell – and I’ll see him and he’ll be like, “Yo, when are you dropping this song?” – I’m just very proud we got to do that. With Georgia Anne Muldrow, I’ve always admired her. She’s one of the firest producers. She’s up there with Dilla to me, really different and her soul is so pure, I love her. She came through one of my sessions and we were chatting and I was showing her music – we just clicked right off top. In the other room they were making some s**t while we’re in the control room, we walk in there and they’re playing the beat for ‘Fight Club’, they hand me a 58, I do my first pass, which is that same melody and I was like, ‘Georgia, can you please do a pass as well?’ She was like, “Alright, leave your vocals in. I’ll do something over you.” I was like, “Really? Okay,” and the way she countered my melody was so fire. It reminded me of the movie Fight Club, because it sounded like she was this alter ego version of me, nudging me, instigating it. I was like, “Damn, we wrote that s**t quick as f**k.” It was just hot on our minds. I love where she’s at. She is so outside of the box, so working with both of them made so much sense for me.
Kat: Let’s talk visuals. How did you want to portray the sentiments of your songs in the aesthetics and storytelling of the visuals?
Baby Rose: There’s a through line. I didn’t know how we were gonna capture [them] at first because ‘I Won’t Tell’ and ‘Stop The Bleeding’ are polar opposites on the album, but they’re my two singles before the final one that comes with the album. What I realised was I had an opportunity to express chaos and release. Release often gets this rep of being free, hair blowing in the wind, but in all actuality, it can be very painful and very dark, sitting on the bathroom floor crying your eyes out for weeks and grieving, losing something – even when it wasn’t for you to ever have. So, there comes this moment in the video for ‘Stop The Bleeding’, where I go to this abandoned dinner theatre – it’s me and the little girl version of myself and we’re facing each other. It’s everything that I’ve been working towards internally because I recognise during the ‘To Myself’ era how much I wasn’t present – how much I was there, but I wasn’t there. I was very wounded and I felt like I needed companionship. I didn’t have a moment to tap in with the little version of myself that lives within me and really appreciate like, “Yo, you made it, you did it, we did it.” I would let people rob me of that, rob me of my attention and my energy and not even give me a chance to really appreciate what I had. I’m so grateful that even in the midst of creating these songs where I was in that really heavy place, that I’m able to acknowledge it from the perspective that I’m in now.
I’m very proud of the visuals. The whole album feels cinematic, [even on] the cover. My homegirl shot it, she’s fire. I love it. I’m really grateful to be able to do this and have it be so meaningful. It feels like a success in itself, to be able to do some s**t like that.
Kat: Where did the name ‘Through and Through’ come from?
Baby Rose: I needed something that would encompass everything. My great aunt that helped raise me, she was an elder – she’s like my angel now, I know it. She always say, “Yep, that’s Jasmine through and through. Just like her daddy, just like her mama.” She would say that as in all the way in and out, baby.
It was hard to get to that name – but it came. When it came I was like, “Hell yes, there it is!” I’m not good at naming sh*t, ever. I had to literally go to New York, I went to go see Solange’s ballet, but I stopped by Secretly’s [*Secretly Canadian, her record label] office in New York. I was like, “Y’all gon’ help me figure out this name, because it’s not happening for me,” and we sat around with coffee and wine and in a little space and [we were] just spitballing, “What about this, what about that?” And came up with it. I was like, “I know that was f**king right.” Shout out to Hannah though, she was actually the one that that gave me ‘Through and Through’.
Kat: How does mastering an album in analogue compare to recording an album digitally? Were there any challenges that you faced in doing so? Were there things you preferred about analogue over digital and vice versa?
Baby Rose: Well, analogue is just the process of recording it. We were in a space where it was all raw instruments. All of the equipment it’s going through is from the seventies. It’s entering pure and then when we mixed it. I took it all to Tyler Scott who mixes Beyoncé’s and Rihanna’s s**t, and I was like, “Listen, this is my baby, but I need you to take it to where we are and beyond, go crazy,” and he sure did. Then, when it came to mastering it, which is putting the final gloss on a record, we got the opportunity out of just pure chance to master the whole album through tape, in Nashville, oddly enough. The difference is [that] it just adds this subtle warmth – it takes you to that place. A lot of the records that I own are classics, it takes you to that space so I was just very grateful to get that same treatment. It’s a combination of all of the good things from the past and all of the good things to come. I’m glad because sometimes people can diminish what I do to ‘retro’ or me just doing what’s been done before but that is so not what I do. I’m very forward in my approach and I’m very present with where we are now. When it comes to the sound, I just keep pushing it forward and be the change I want to see – I don’t see enough people taking risks. It’s very flooded with a lot of people just trying to catch that algorithm or make that playlist and I really genuinely believe there’s more to it. You can have so much more if you’re just purely trying to become the best version of you, not of what you think people want, but of who you really are deep down inside.
Kat: How has creating the album helped you heal and what have you learned about yourself in the process both personally and artistically?
Baby Rose: I’m just in this space where I feel so grateful to be here. I remember my last press run three years ago, I was so drained and I remember feeling like I didn’t appreciate what was happening. I know I did, I know I wasn’t ever rude or anything like that, but deep down inside I was like, “Damn, I gotta keep going and going, I’m drained…What’s next?”
I think that moment we all experienced collectively with the pandemic put things in a perspective – nothing is promised at any point. All of this can go away and so I just value things differently. I valued the process of creating differently. I had to go through that to understand how beautiful it is to be on this side where I am more intentional about routine and habits and know that discipline is a better way. Not to shrink yourself but to give yourself more freedom. I’m so grateful, thankful and also more confident and sure of what I want to do this time around. It doesn’t feel like I’m only doing this because of this and that. I’m just singing this sad song because that’s how I feel – sad and confused and shocked and happy but also scared and not sure of what the f**k is actually happening.
I remember feeling like there’s so many people when there were none. Before, it was just me, my boo, my mom and brother maybe but now there’s so many people and there’s so many things to do. Then, it just shut down and it was like, “Whoa, this quiet is deafening.” It’s hard, but it was necessary. When the first deal left, so many people left. I just felt like at a certain point I was the exception. I will just do all of the mistakes and nothing will happen to me. If you keep people around that only want to use you, then [something] will happen. [I was] going through Painful Rebirth and really just learning, coming back to this space of gratitude. Nobody did anything to me, nobody hurt me, what was, was. I learned a lot from it and they showed me who I was in that moment and I’m grateful for them showing me where I was. I’m just gonna keep going on my journey with my head up and my heart open and my arms wide and just grateful, not jaded, not any of that. We get another day to do this s**t? Let’s go crazy. It’s just a complete perspective change when it comes to this whole process.
You can stream Baby Rose’s latest album, Through and Through here.
Discover more from GUAP’s Music section here