With only 12 days left until the SFTOC Quindecennial, we asked writer Emma Davidson to have a chat with one of the most anticipated acts of this year’s Sounds – Babii. Read the full piece below.
Tickets are now at amber alert on Skiddle – meaning we’re absolutely down to the final handful. Get yours here: https://www.skiddle.com/festivals/sounds-from-the-other-city/
A small girl making big noises, Daisy Warne (aka Babii) is on the rise, warping the DIY sounds of an echoing mill with sweet pop paradigms. A self proclaimed one man band, artist, writer and performer, Babii will be joining us in Salford’s soaring bank holiday sun to channel her inner Grimes and embark on a neon ensued Kawaii adventure. Ahead of her debut album ‘Hiide’ and her show at SFTOC, I chatted to the electro pop pioneer about her inspirations and what we can expect from her at the festival.
So Daisy, who is Babii (Did I say that right)?!
I don’t really mind how you pronounce it. I say ‘baby’ but I don’t mind if you say ‘bab-ee’, personal preference I suppose but either way is cool! I grew up in a big old dusty mill with my Dad and I was always surrounded by instruments as he worked a lot with second hand stuff. I was naturally curious, so I used to pick up whatever was around and play with it. Whilst we were living there the first thing I picked up and learnt how to play was a bugle, so I used to run around playing this bugle all of the time. Possibly the loudest, most annoying thing I could have chosen. My Dad would listen to tonnes of records too, there’s not a moment that goes by without him playing music, so I think I was also absorbing all of that at the same time, I think a lot of my love for music came from my Dad.
I didn’t take the music thing seriously until I was in secondary school though. I did music lessons whilst I was at school in Canada because it was free and I’ve always been attracted to instruments, especially horrendously loud and annoying ones, so I started playing the trumpet when we moved over there. I was always trapped in a closet at home because my parents would not want to listen to me playing the trumpet really badly all of the time. Then I went on to playing nicer, friendlier instruments like guitar and piano and I started singing too but what I really badly wanted to play was drums. Another instrument to wind everyone in my household up, but I wasn’t allowed! I was banned from playing drums but I wish I wasn’t, it’s basically what I do now just in different ways.
Do you think you’ve taken inspiration from the mills you were living in in the music you are making now?
It’s only a recent thing that I’ve realised, people picking up this industrial sound to my music but it 100% makes sense. I’ve grown up these mills and warehouses and also when I was a kid my Dad would deliver furniture to places, so he’d be driving around in a huge lorry so yeah, I think I have been influenced by all of that.
What was it like living in Canada?
I lived there between the ages of 8 and 10. I’ve lived in a lot of places throughout my life but that’s probably the most interesting. My Dad and Step Mum moved over there straight after they got married, that’s where all of my Dad’s family are from. It was an amazing experience. Before I moved to Canada I didn’t really have that many friends because we were moving around a lot of the time and I sort of became a weird feral child who grew up in the back of a Lorry. When we were in Canada it was the first time we’d really settled down and lived in a proper house and I had friends for the first time ever, it was so nice.
Canada is also really built upon achievement and competition and when I lived there I was more into sport than I was music but it taught me how to be competitive in a healthy way and also really push myself which I’ve carried over into my musical career.
What else has your music been influenced by?
It’s not usually music that I’m interested by, I don’t hear a piece of music and then get sparked to make music but what I listen to is really abrasive electronic stuff. I’m also really inspired by the Pocahontas soundtrack! It’s amazing! I also like a lot of gentle music and I’m really into pop. I think you can hear each of those elements in my own music.
Have you always been interested in music? Was it the path you expected to go down?
I definitely went through a few phases like all kids do but I don’t think the music thing was really there until I was teenager. I was immersed in it growing up for sure but it was more so that I just loved making things, I still do a lot of art stuff and make things apart from music that’s why my sound is so DIY because I just want to make everything myself.
What can people expect from your live performance?
It’s just recently changed. I used to have a synthesiser to play the bass with one of my hands and then I’d have my other hand playing electronic drum kit sounds and triggering loops. I’d also control a pedal with my feet to change my vocal effects and harmonies, so I was using all of my focus. It was so much fun and I love having to coordinate and challenge myself like that but at the same time I didn’t think it was an interesting performance for everyone. Some people would be nerding out and appreciating how much I was doing but I was steadily growing more confident so I decided to take some stuff away so I could move a little more, I was starting to feel trapped and I wanted to be able to do a proper perfomance.
I now don’t have the bass synth I just have the percussive electronic element to it instead which is really fun. I can dance around but I also have this crazy stand which is another element to my performance. However, I recently went to Germany and I wasn’t sure if I could take it on the plane with me so I left it behind and thought I’d just figure out what I was going to do when I got there. I ended up climbing onto a DJ table and doing the whole performance from this DJ table with everything laid out. That is definitely my new favourite thing to do, stood on a table and hitting things that are on top of it whilst dancing and sitting down. That reminds me actually, I need to buy some knee pads.
What’s been your favourite gig so far?
I really enjoyed going on tour with Igloohost, it was so much fun. The last show of the tour was amazing, it was kind of weird because everyone was sitting down but the process of the whole thing was great and it was the end of the tour too, a sold out show so everyone was in high spirits! I was also in costume that I had made for Igloohost’s show so it was the most intense thing I’ve ever done because I was supporting but then I’d have to quickly run backstage and throw the costumes together, get everyone in them and then go back out with Igloohost, it was crazy. Two hours straight of just cramming in so much stuff but I had the best time ever!
What’s the track that you’re most proud of so far?
I don’t know! I can’t hear my songs properly anymore. I’ve listened and worked on them so much and the songs on my upcoming album are quite old because I started writing them a while ago, casually with no real aim. I’m really pleased with the lyric video I made for PHANTOM. I made that in a day because I was aware that I really needed some content. I didn’t have any songs out at the time I was doing SXSW so I decided to do it as a proper release because it was the first bit of my music that was going to be out on the internet.
I threw it all together in the space of the week and I didn’t just want a picture on YouTube I wanted that video element. I made it after I’d been to Asia and in China there are loads of LED signs everywhere and I love the aesthetic of them so I wanted to make my own LED sign with the TV in the video. I made the animation for it which took the longest and then I set it all up in my family’s photography studio. I threw loads of props in that I’d gathered from around the room and then filmed it. All in one day. I’m pretty proud of that.
Have you played in the Salford/Manchester area before?
I played at YES on the tour with Iglooghost and it’s so nice in there! It’s so pink! I really liked it, it was a cool vibe. It suited my aesthetic very well. I’ve only ever been to Salford once though so I’m not really sure what to expect. I’m super excited though it’s going to be so much fun. I’m looking forward to checking out some of the bands who I’m playing alongside too, Cocaine Piss look crazy so I’ll be around for their set.
How important are festivals like SFTOC for artists like yourself?
I think every show is important for artists like me. Festivals especially because there’s a bigger audience from the vast amount of bands playing, it really broadens the range of people who are coming to see me which is great. Festivals usually have a more eclectic variety of different things going on and sometimes I feel like I’m in my own little world with similar artists and likeminded people and you don’t really get that in many other places.
When can we be expecting some new music from you?
My album should be coming out in July! It’s not too far, I can’t bloody wait to put it out I have worked so hard on it. I finished it last March so I’ve been waiting a long time to put it out but I just wanted to have the infrastructure there to do it properly. It’s a break-hop album done in a funny, cool way, it’s a typical cliché object but I tried to do it as interestingly as possible. The tracks on it are old but they really capture a moment in time where I’d moved back to my hometown, I wasn’t that happy and I’d isolated myself quite a lot. It captures a difficult time in my life, I think that’s what it is. I don’t know, I find it quite hard to explain what it is. I’ll be playing some tracks off it at SFTOC as well as some new ones too so I’m really excited for it!
Babii plays Sounds from The Other City 2019 for Tru Luv – you can follow her on Twitter here https://twitter.com/BABii_mp3