My Baby, a mesmeric trio from Amsterdam, journeyed to the USA for Joshua Tree Music Festival this year. Electrifying, funky, and bluesy, their music goes beyond reality. If you have yet to hear them, listen below. Read on for my interview with the trio:
So, whose baby is it anyway?
‘My Baby’ is our shared, imagined muse. So 'our' baby has resulted from our combined imagination.
Amazing. How did your band come together?
Daniel (guitar) met Joost (drummer) in Amsterdam while traveling from New Zealand. They formed a series of bands/formations that were fronted by a then teenaged sister of Joost named Cato. My Baby is essentially a three-piece split off from those earlier groups.
How was your experience at Joshua Tree Music Festival?
Joshua Tree was gorgeous; so much fun. The audience had such a great energy, and [it was] in such a beautiful part of the world to boot.
Being based in Amsterdam has got to be fascinating. What's one way Amsterdam's music scene differs from North America?
Amsterdam has its share of great venues and jazz and art scenes, but have to say, [it’s] nothing compared to the music history and tradition of North America.
Seems like you've been all over the globe with your music. What is your favorite country to perform in?
We do a yearly tour to New Zealand (Daniel's a kiwi) which is a highlight for us, but the U.S. is getting up there pretty quickly as the place to play.
What do you love about your music?
We love the expression of freedom it allows us to delve into, and sharing that experience with an audience.
Your lyrics are incredibly visionary. How do you manage to merge music and story so well?
Our music, it seems is primarily focused on creating a particular mood. A particular mood can quite easily be fitted to accompany some type of storytelling. It also comes from a natural urge to create characters in songs that resemble something or somebody important. And [they] resemble something you can relate to.
What does your songwriting process look like?
We often start with improvised pieces/jams/moods which Cato sings melodies on. Then we look through words that fit, or scenes that fit the mood of the music. Sometimes a storytelling lyric has already been written and can be edited to suit a melody from those jams.
Your album, ‘Mounaiki, By the Bright of the Night’ was released last year. Tell me about it.
For this album we decided to develop a story around the MyBaby character from which to base songs around. The My Baby character is introduced, and named Mounaiki by a fictitious shaman, and a plot develops following the hero’s journey, a traditional mode of storytelling.
It’s also a coming of age type story, where a young girl is trying to find out what the world means to her, spiritually or any other kind of way. We like to describe her as, ‘a girl in the '70s fantasizing about being a flapper girl and dancer in the '20s. So the songs are loosely connected to a storyline that follows the adventures the character undertakes over the course of a night.
Your trio presents such a profound, layered sound without the use of computers or samples. What are some of your favorite effect pedals to use?
Playing without a bass player forced us to experiment with bass octave pedals. Also, we use a lot of delay on both guitar and vocals. Particularly, layering rhythmic delays over each other has became a signature sound of ours.
And your go-to guitar?
Your music reminds me of Sister Rosetta Tharpe in a way. Just as she did, you manage to bring the sacred to the secular. What inspires you to perform this way?
Music has such a power to connect people. Spiritual music has such an awesome power. It serves a higher purpose. Music in general serves a higher purpose in many ways. The feeling of being part of that in some way is inspiring.
With such soul-stirring vocals and hypnotic beats, you are sure to set your audience into a trance. Do you find it fulfilling to facilitate that transcendence?
If that's where the music takes us, then for sure.
What's next for My Baby? Any upcoming tours or projects?
We are gonna work on a live record this year, and hopefully an extended visit to the U.S. is in the near future.
I think we could use all the moody, world music we can get here in the States. Nothing says the blues like having to fight for our basic rights. Thank God music heals, because most of us can't afford to see a doctor. Thanks My Baby.
Keep up with My Baby here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.