Babeheaven Talk To Us About Their Dreamy Debut Album'Home For Now'
The London duo discuss introspection, collaboration, and writing from the heart in lockdown.
Babeheaven have drip-fed music over the last five years and at last, their greatly anticipated debut album Home For Now has been released. As a band who started off by recording music in their bedrooms and putting on private performances to friends in living-rooms this familiarity has resulted in a unique sound that feels both personal and equally evocative. Singer Nancy Anderson, instrumentalist/producer Jamie Travis, and the live band Luca Mantero, Ned Smith, and Hugo McGuire have all nurtured close friendships since meeting in their teens and it shows.
Home For Now is the very best of dream-pop and Babeheaven welcomes you home (for now), back into their living room with every track on the record. Jamie’s intricate and more experimental production overlaid with Nancy’s sincere lyrics, silk-soft vocals, and lazy melodies result in a dreamy and ruminative catalog of music that is both melancholy and uplifting all at once.
We spoke to them about producing the album, why collaborating with other creative people is so exciting, and why some decent plants are a dressing room essential.
How was it completing an album during lockdown in the weirdest of times? & why now?
N: I found finishing the album quite therapeutic; I knew that there was something to work towards. In a way now that it’s out I’m finding it weirder not being able to tour and play the music live... it felt like the right time to release the album, our music is quite introspective and people have lots of time on their hands to get into it.
What’s your writing process like? Has it changed? & what was the biggest challenge in the writing and production process of the album?
N: I tend to write in the room and work off the track we are working on. I have tried to write lyrics away from the track but I always get embarrassed and feel like I’m trying to work the melody to fit my words instead of it flowing naturally. I think the hardest thing was finding something to write about, during lockdown you are deprived of the everyday experiences that make great lyrics.
Some of your songs have been about loving pizza, others have been about loving people and are more personal. Do you find that writing one is easier than the other & is there anything that you won’t write about?
N: Hahaha, funnily enough, I didn’t write the pizza lyrics, Jamie did. He really loves pizza a lot. I find it easiest to write from the heart; it’s the only place I know to write from... so generally I write about my own experiences small or big. I don’t think anything is off-limits but I guess one day I’ll find out.
Jamie, you compiled a lot of sound recordings that you’ve made over some years from your life and put them into the album. Can you give us some examples of what you included?
J: There are things like walking early in the morning and the sounds of birds in the street, being with friends, and little snippets of conversations. There are also some beach sounds with waves, and I recorded in France and also the Ganges in India. At the end of "Craziest Things", you can hear some seagulls.
Did you look to any producers for a lil bit of inspiration for the album?
J: Geoff Barrow is a big source of inspiration for me, reading interviews and trying to take little ideas from him has been fun on this album. Also, Derek Ali, who did the Kendrick Lamar albums was a good source for tips and tricks for producing stuff. There are soo many though, too many to mention, but you try and listen and learn from what they have done and replicate and put a spin on it in your own way.
I feel like the importance of sequencing tracks in albums- so they tell a bit of a story- has been lost in a lot of modern music with streaming. Was the sequencing of the tracks in the album important to you? Also, some earlier songs like "Friday Sky" made it in, how did you decide which ones made the cut?
J: It was quite important to us, we sat down with Simon Byrtt who helped produce the record, and went through and sequenced it. We made little subtle transitions in between some songs and timed how long we wanted there to be a break between each song or if we wanted it to come straight in. Little things like that we did spend some time on. We decided what stayed in by listening to it as a whole thing and seeing what made the most sense to us.
Has making something as personal as music together ever affected your relationship, or is your friendship one of the reasons you’re able to write together so well?
N: I think our friendship is the reason we write so well. It’s hard to be so open with someone you don’t know, it is also very embarrassing trying to sing really personal things to a stranger.
Growing up together and developing your musical style together, you’ve created a really distinctive sound. Do you now associate your own individual styles with Babeheaven’s sound? Or is there another genre that you may want to explore later separately in solo projects?
N: It’s hard to tell, sometimes you think you want to make something and it just totally doesn’t work for you (or me that is). I like writing really pop-y stuff so maybe one day I’ll have like, a Hannah Montana alter ego that makes bizarre music.
You collaborate with a lot of artists and friends for your videos and covers- most recently River Cousin for the album artwork. Is this something that just happened organically through the people you hang out with, or are you always looking to collaborate?
N: I’m always looking for people to work with, I had seen some of River Cousin’s work before and fell in love with it. It felt like the right time for us to work together and he is so good at realizing one’s ideas. I find it really exciting scouring the internet looking for creative people - reaching out and hoping they would like to work together... it’s so exciting, that aspect of the internet.
Your last few videos have all been pretty epic but really varied, a larger scale production for "Cassette Beat" directed by Margret Bowman (which was shortlisted for a VMA), a trippy and beautifully executed animation by Sacha Beeley for "Craziest Things", and a home-made one in isolation for "Human Nature". Do you have a favorite and do you come up with the concepts yourselves, what's the deal?
J: The deal is that largely it comes from us, some like "Cassette Beat" however are more of a collaboration and can change when talking to the director. But "Human Nature", that was just us having fun, we really like movies so it was nice to try and make something ourselves with the help of some friends like Tegen Williams, who has worked on lots of our other videos. My favorite is probably "Human Nature", I thought it came out pretty good and was funny which is nice in music videos.
What were your top 5, 2020 artists in Spotify unwrapped?
J: Just checked, they were Bill Evans, Okay Kaya, Boards of Canada, Johnny Greenwood, and Laura Marling. Apparently, I was in Johnny Greenwood's top 0.5% of listeners. I listen to a lot of his scores, especially when I’m reading etc, the same with Bill Evans. Laura Marling's album was incredible and I listened to that a lot and I think I listened to Okay Kaya while I was traveling somewhere.
Apparently, Paul McCartney likes to have 6 leafy plants in his dressing room before a show, what would your dream backstage set up be? (+ snacks)
N: Lots of tea, water, whisky, and comfy chairs.
J: I think I’d like to have like 15 types of drinks - tea, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, kombucha, whiskey, beer. I can’t think of any others right now but I’m sticking by 15. Some plants would be nice as Paul says, a really comfy sofa made of towels would be nice also. Nice lighting is also pretty essential as a lot of places just have supermarket strip lights and that can make you feel pretty horrific. I’d appreciate some nice lamps. Maybe a lot of big pillows on the floor to layout on. A painting of the band on a wall above a fireplace would be good. A bathroom that has a sauna and a nice shower could be cool for a little pre-gig refreshment. Maybe a projector to watch a film on as after soundcheck you normally have like 7 hours until the show. I could go on but I’ll stop there.