Perpetual Change — Pam Interviews Baby Dee

| Sep 21, 2015

 

baby-deeAnybody who has actually followed this column over time knows that I’m a huge fan of music you can’t dance to, primarily prog rock and jazz. This month, that’s where Baby Dee comes in. She completely defies categorization.

She has been featured here a lot in the past. Our first article about her was back in December, 2008. In April, 2012, we posted our first interview with her. Also that year, we reviewed three of her albums, Baby Dee Goes Down To Amsterdam, Songs For Anne Marie, and Regifted Light. Here newest album, I Am A Stick, was released earlier this year and will be reviewed next month.

The word artist has pretty much been beaten into the ground to the point where it no longer has any real meaning. Seems like anyone who can half-ass play an instrument and knows how to upload a crappy, homemade video to Facebook or YouTube is suddenly an artist to watch. Not so with Baby Dee. She is the true definition of the word ARTIST — she continues to grow, challenge herself and her audience and find new ways of expression. It is an honor to know her and present this latest interview.

TGForum: I know you’re probably very excited about your latest album I Am A Stick. How does it differ from your other releases?

Baby Dee: How is it different? That’s a good question. The artwork is very special for this one. There’s a particular work of art for almost every song. Christina de Vos made the cover — a marvelous forest of sticks with the lovely little stick girl. Each collage is so deeply connected to the song it was made for. Some are obvious, some not so obvious — like the image of the girl riding the donkey with the flames and the smoke. That was Christina’s representation of a Tibetan deity Palden Lahmo, the protector, a sort of fierce female Buddha.

baby-deeTGF: The last two project of yours that I’m really familiar with, Baby Dee Goes Down To Amsterdam, and Regifted Light, are great. Who produced the new project? Are you working with Andrew W.K. again?

BD: This album was produced by my manager Rich. Rich also produced the last album I made, State Of Grace, with Little Annie. He did such a good job on that one that it seemed like the most natural thing in the world for him to do this one. I’m very, very happy with it.

TGF: I found a partial list of musicians who played on the new project (Colin Stetson-sax, Alex Neilsen-drums, who also worked on … Amsterdam:, Victor Herrero-guitar, and Laura Woody-cello.) Beside yourself, is that everyone who is on I Am A Stick?

BD: We can’t leave out Joe Carvell, our wonderful bass player. Joe is on the Amsterdam album, too. And Jordan Hunt who wrote the beautiful and sometimes hair-raising string parts and plays violin.

TGF: Are you touring much now?

BD: Actually I just finished. Right now I’m on vacation.

TGF: I read that you were recently in Europe, correct? How are the gigs there? Also, how is the European climate/attitude towards trans people?

BD: I live in Holland now. The gigs are absolutely great-all sorts of venues, from beautiful old theaters to funky bars and art galleries and yes, rock clubs that look the same everywhere. I’ve encountered nothing but friendliness and that’s a good sign because if they’re nice to me then they’re just plain nice. I do not blend in. I have no gift for conformity.

TGF: In doing research for this, I noticed that the new project is also being rereleased on vinyl. I grew up with vinyl and personally love it. What’s your opinion? does it matter to you? When played on good equipment over good speakers, I can tell a difference in sound quality. Maybe I’m just prejudiced…

BD: I love vinyl, too. It’s so much more substantial. Vinyl is serious. Vinyl exists more. Here’s something amazing. In the U.K., at Tesco’s (kind of the equivalent of Walmart), you can buy a turntable, but you can’t buy a CD player. I think that says it all. In some cities, like Berlin and Copenhagen (great places to play), I sell more vinyl than CDs. Especially among younger audiences, vinyl is totally where it’s at.

TGF: Your management and record company is in England, right? Do you get good distribution in Europe?

BD: Yes, I’m very happy to be putting records out on Tin Angle (U.K.). I know nothing about distribution except that there are some very shady companies out there. I think we’re good now, though.

TGF: Getting airplay, either standard or Internet?

BD: Yes, both. I get on the radio sometimes. Yah!

baby_deeTGF: This is something I’ve always been curious about since I first heard your material. I personally really enjoy your writing…very eclectic. In particular, I enjoy your harp playing. I’ve wondered, what does Baby Dee listen to for enjoyment and/or inspiration?

BD: I always feel like I’m on shaky ground when I talk about influences. I had, earlier in my life, a series of musical obsessions, during which I listened and participated in the making of lots of different kinds of music from the soppy Irish ballads of my grammy to the earliest written forms of music, to Palestrina, to Bach, to Gospel, to Afro-Cuban, to frinkin’ Harry Ruby and of course playing in bands. I’ve bumped into all sorts of things, noisy industrially, heavelly, metally, rockabilly synthelly, poppelly, Lord-knows-what kinds of music. So there’s a mess of stuff in my experience. But in all honesty, I don’t listen to much. When I do, I prefer to hear things live. I love to be blown away by a great band. I love to hear the music of my friends.

The last great totally mind-blowing band I’ve heard was a Dutch band with an Ethiopian singer. They’re called uKanDanZ and they’re absolutely magnificent. The last recording I’ve heard to really knock my socks off is Historical Recordings by Hugh Tracey’. It’s a 22 CD series of field recordings from the ‘40s and ‘50s in Africa. There’s one in there of three little pygmy girls singing that could change your life.

TGF: In closing, any final words?

BD: Just, thanks. It’s nice to hear from you. You ask nice questions.

Baby Dee will be on tour with Joan Nederlof’s Sinaasapppelstraat in theaters throughout the Netherlands, Sept18 through Nov. 29. For more information, please check out her website at www.babydee.org; also on Facebook Twitter, myspace, and YouTube. Music is available through her website as well as major outlets such as amazon.com.

ALSO THIS MONTH

David de Alba

David de Alba will be presenting a new show entitled Judy Forever In My Heart, Nov. 18, 2:30 PM at the Jewel Box Theatre, located in the Erotic Heritage Museum (3275 Industrial Road, Las Vega, NV 702-794-4000) For more information, please check out David’s website.

David serenades French photographer Verner Degray during his exhibition at the Erotic Heritage Museum. [youtube]uMdNq-yyKQo[/youtube]

Georgie Jessup

Georgie Jessup will be opening for nationally acclaimed singer/songwriter Dirk Hamilton, Oct. 10, 7:30 PM at Edith May’s Paradise (7711 Apple Ave., Jessup, MD) Check out Edith May’s Facebook page, and Georgie’s website.

Rev. Yolanda

Rev. Yolanda will be performing at Bearded Lady Productions launch party, Oct. 17, 3-5 PM (Sidewalk Café, 94 Ave. A, NYC). Also, please check out this Bearded Lady Productions event, Mighty Companions Ministries The Face Of Our Ancestors: Samhain Retreat (Easton Mountain Retreat Center, Greenwich, NY Oct. 30-Nov. 1) For more information, please check out Yolanda’s website.

NEW MUSIC

I Cry When I Laugh by Jess Glynne

jess_glynneThis is the debut CD by British singer Jess Glynne, who has previously worked with the band Clean Bandit. She has an incredible R&B flavored voice and approach to her singing. The best example of this is the tune Take Me Home, which features the best overall production on the project, as well as one of her better vocals. The other great example of her vocal ability is the piano/vocal only track My Love.

The aforementioned Clean Bandit is featured on the track Rather Be, and Emeli Sande is featured on Saddest Vanilla. The Clean Bandit track is the only song were Jess Glynne does not have a writing credit. Check out the CD insert for producer and musician credits. (www.jessglynne.co.uk; also Facebook, Twitter, and instagram)

E.Mo.Tion by Carly Rae Jepsen

carly_rae_jepssonThis newest release by Carly Rae Jepsen is infused heavily with techno-pop hooks and lyrics. That’s pretty understandable when she admits that while growing up in British Columbia, she was raised on pop music. Her ear for catchy material is immediately apparent on the project’s first track, Run Away With Me, very radio-friendly techno. Other stand out tracks include the title cut E.Mo.Tion, the dynamic techno groove Let’s Get Lost and I Really Like You, which is the best production moment as well as her best vocal.

A couple of totally unexpected (for this project at least) tunes are the laid back All That, which is almost pure R&B and the jazz/funk Boy Problems which definitely has the best groove on the project.

Carly Rae Jepsen shares song writing credit on each tune. There are multiple producers as well as musicians, so you’ll have to check out the insert for proper credit.

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Bombastic (EP) by Bonnie McKee

bonnie-mckee-bombastic-ep-2015This is what my art looks like when you remove the filter of a corporate overlord record label, said Bonnie McKee in a press release that accompanied my copy of her new four song EP, Bombastic. It’s a pretty accurate way of describing what’s going on. There’s only four tunes, but each one is different, although very well written, played, and recorded.

The project opener, I Want It All is full on rock, but does have it’s dynamic points. Title cut Bombastic is in-your-face rock that has McKee’s best vocal performance. Wasted Youth is the project’s anthem, while Easy closes with laid back techno.

McKee shares writing credits on each tune. Produced by Sean Walsh. Check out the CD packaging for proper musician credits.

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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About Pam Degroff: Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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