BAYLi Is The Skins Frontwoman Going Out on Her Own
After spending almost a decade in the music industry playing alongside her bandmates in Brooklyn crew The Skins, BAYLi is spreading her sonic wings as a solo artist for the first time. It’s a daunting task for a musician who’s already cemented her reputation within a group act, but she’s up for the challenge—and her debut EP, as of now unnamed, is just as optimistic as the master behind it.
BAYLi’s perspective is part weird, part cheerful, part pushing-the-envelope, and 100 percent herself, unabashedly so. With hints of Spice Girls-era pop on tracks like “Or Whatever” and a thread of decisive optimism woven throughout, BAYLi’s EP (or mixtape, depending on the day), is a refresher, especially for those fans who are used to her in the roll of rock/hip hop queen for The Skins. Clearly she’s a force to be reckoned with, and we’re here for it. Listen to “Right Now” below, premiering today on Milk, and keep scrolling for our full interview with BAYLi.
Your debut EP is about to drop! How are you feeling?
I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been in the music industry forever, it feels like anyway. Seven plus years. Dropping this music is definitely exciting, it’s slightly different from what I’m used to. I guess I’m just looking at it in a different way.
I know this is your first solo release, how has it been a different experience for you?
I think my approach and my viewpoint on why I’m making music and the authenticity of stuff—this process felt a little simpler. It was literally me doing it myself. I felt a little bit less stressful because I think my approach is, I’m doing this for a deliberate reason. I feel like I have something to say. I’m not doing it because I want to please a label, or for everyone to feel heard and respected, I’m not doing it for all the other reasons or layers that come about if you’re working in mainstream music. I’m doing it simply because I want to people to hear my thoughts. My weirdest and most vulnerable thoughts.
I’m doing it simply because I want to people to hear my thoughts. My weirdest and most vulnerable thoughts.
Is there nervousness? Nervousness with sharing that intimate part of yourself? Since it’s more personal, do you get any stage fright or anything like that?
Ok so, “MYOB”, that was the very first thing that we dropped last week. The day before I was lying to myself, but I know I had a little bit of jitters. I think I’ve been performing in front of people for so long, it’s not about critique. I’m not making music for other people’s approval anymore. In all respects. It’s a lot of layers when you’re in a band, or working with a major label. There are a lot of layers. I’m doing it as a freelance, indie artist. I just want to put out really good product out there. That’s what I’m good at. I’ve been in the industry since I was 16 or 17. I’m not nervous to drop, it feels more like a release. A positive release. Especially with this music, this is kind of older stuff from a year ago. I just brought out the vault, and I think these songs need to be heard. It’s just me getting my art out there. It’s way simpler, I’m viewing in a way with way less expectations.
What’s the more cathartic part? Is it the making and creating the songs, or releasing them?
I think it’s making them. The process. Only because I’m a songwriter, and I work with Warner Chapel, and I’m working on writing for bigger and bigger artists every week. I’m confident in writing music, thinking about music in way that can make it successful globally. How can I make it easy for everyone to interpret? Naturally, when I’m working on my own stuff, I want to be instinctive and intuitive. I really try not to write anything down, when I’m going in and writing. I won’t put it on paper. I might have a concept or something that I start with, but then I’ll just freestyle. That’s just an exercise for me to be like, “Loosen the fuck up!” It’s surprising to me when people don’t know the ins-and-outs of industry life. My friends think it’s all like a party. It’s literally so stressful! I pray for stability and that 9-to-5 kind of thing. They’re praying to make club appearances. If you’re passionate about anything, if you care, it’s going to be a little bit of a challenge. But it’s always worth it for the product.
I feel like the more you care, the more you want it to work out and be a beautiful finished product. The alternative is not caring, and then why would you do it in the first place?
Exactly. I’m a Pisces, and I’m really sensitive, but I really do care about quality with my own music. That’s difficult, figuring out the production and the mix and everything. It’s boring, I know.
Boring, maybe, but it’s super important! I love the song, “Or Whatever”, it gives me Spice Girls vibes.
It does! It’s so crazy! We didn’t even do that on purpose!
I was going to ask you, were you listening to a lot of ’90s hip-hop/pop, or what mindset were you in when you were making the song?
It was last year, and I was working with Justin Tranter, Alex Hope, and Sasha Sloane. They’re all really awesome writers. Alex is a producer. It’s funny—we wrote the song for fun. I had a writing session, like I do everyday. But this time I was in LA and working with bigger writers. I had a really good vibe that day, working with those days. We didn’t write to sound like the Spice Girls on purpose, but Alex has a Spice Girls plaque on the wall in the back. Maybe it was subconscious, but it came to be. It came to be so quickly. I don’t know if it’s the same with writing, but when you have to force something, and you’re going over and over and over it in your head and it’s still not working hours later, I think you see that a lot in songwriting. But the song was finished in half an hour to an hour. I love writing with Justin Trantor because he always wants to apply a little bit of a deeper message. So that’s my favorite thing about this song. It’s really playful and fun, and funny. And fucking weird, on purpose. Hopefully something that brings a little light air and playfulness in the very heavy world we’re living in right now.
In terms of bigger messages, when people are listening to the EP, what do you want to convey to them?
I want them to celebrate themselves. This is the first time I took time for myself since I started working in music. This EP or mixtape, I don’t really want it to convey anything in particular. It’s something I’m doing for myself. I’m not worrying about other people, or problems that I don’t have control over. But what I do have control over is making myself the best musician/writer/human that I can be. It’s more about celebrating yourself. We’ve survived this far in life, and it’s not been easy. I want to give that summer vibe of “you deserve everything you have, and you have a billion more things coming”. That’s what I’m telling myself, having worked in the industry for so long, and having such big goals. This is a note to myself. You got this. I hope people can interpret that for themselves as well.
It’s great because it’s so personal about you and your career, but the message is universal in that everyone should pursue what they feel called to, and be excited about what they have.
Yeah. I don’t know if you agree, but there’s a fucking ton going on. All I see on TV is murder, violence, and crazy politics. I don’t want my song to sound over-optimistic or avoiding a problem, let’s keep a conversation on the table, and let’s kind of push the envelope. I’m kind of singing about my personal relationship, and some of my friends’ relationships. Just being weird, or being different from what a societal, heteronormative standard is. We have to adapt or die. Or not even adapt for others, life is about social media and other people validating you. Like fucking sharks. This is how good you are, and ranking you. We’re put on the planet to separate, divide, and rank each other. It’s as simple as that to me. My music is nothing but a reflection of me, and what naturally comes out. I think it just has that air. I like to be a little optimistic. I don’t think it’s that deep, I feel very lucky. People should just have gratitude for life and appreciate each other and all of that. I’m also a nerdy nerd.
Do you know when the EP/mixtape comes out? Do you guys have a date?
Well, my tiny tiny team is just me and my manager. But of course, I just want to drop it. I don’t really care about build up and all the smoke and mirrors. I just want to drop. It’ll drop maybe by the end of the month. After we squeeze out a few more songs. I’m already preparing to drop more for fall. I’m just really pumped.
Stay tuned to Milk for more artists of the rise.