The cream of Welsh pop royalty Baby Queens talk to AfterDark about their upcoming debut album, being chosen for the Horizons project, and the artists that most influence their sound.
The current golden girls of the Cardiff music scene Baby Queens are making a big noise in Welsh shores and beyond – one which will undoubtedly go up a few extra notches with the news that a debut studio album is finally expected to see the light of day.
After an exciting year that has seen them go from being chosen as one of the twelve acts to represent the Horizons scheme by BBC Wales and Arts Council of Wales, to emerging as one of the highlights of last year’s Swn Festival – and in the process being lauded by fans old and new one of the most exciting, hyped-about prospects in the Welsh music scene – Baby Queens have officially begin work on the recording of their debut album expected to be unveiled later this year. Recording has commenced at Strangetown Records studios with production duties overseen by Super Furry Animals synth wizard Cian Ciaran – an inescapable figure in Welsh music news lately thanks to his aforementioned band’s recent comeback and a debut album with Zefur Wolves (also consisting of his partner and Baby Queens member Estelle Ios).
The female five-piece take all their influences, blend them and refine them into one intoxicating, hypnotic and harmonious musical cocktail that warms the soul and entrances the mind. Their natural chemistry (on stage and off it) is obvious to anyone who has been lucky enough to see them perform, and it is a chemistry which seeps through into their distinctive sound which combines raw musicianship with dreamy grooves and polished harmonies.
Fresh from their Swn Festival slot last year, the Queens spoke to AfterDark’s Dean Hodge about their plans for their new album, being selected for Horizons, and their whirlwind year.
DEAN: How did you first form as a band?
CARA: Me and Estelle are sisters, Monique and Ruth are cousins, and Vanity’s a very good friend of all of ours. We’re basically one big family, as well as best friends, and we’re very blessed that we’re in a band with each other. Until we formed the band, we all played music independently. The one night when we were all together in the same room, we decided to jam together and found we just licked as a band.
DEAN: Who are the biggest musical influences on the group?
MONIQUE B: We like to stay as a collective of music genres rather than box ourselves into one genre. We each have our own individual influences – rock, soul, Motown, pretty much everything! Ultimately we like music that has a powerful message and an undercurrent of raw emotion.
CARA: We look up to all the ‘legends’ of music that really stood up for something, and brought back the true meaning of rock ‘n’ roll, and of music.
VANITY: I think the biggest change for us musically is that our vibe is much tighter now. We’ve been playing and touring a lot more frequently over the past year, and as a result I think our harmonies and sense of rhythm is much more cohesive. Being nominated for the Horizons project was amazing for us, and it has been a really life-changing journey for the girls. We’ve been lucky to meet so many great people as a result of it and have our music exposed to a bigger audience.
CARA: The great chemistry we all have has always been there from long before we first formed the band, but I think as we’ve been playing more and spent more time together on the road, this chemistry has translated more into our performance. We’ve become a lot more inspired from being on the road and from the changes in all our lives, and written so many new songs which we’re introducing into our recent sets, and which we hope will end up on the album. Writing more and more has really given us a new lease of life.
CARA: It was absolutely amazing. We always look forward to this festival, and it’s independent festivals such as Swn that really keep the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll alive. It was an honour for us to be a part of it.
VANITY: Because we were on very early, we didn’t expect there to be such a huge crowd. We were expecting it to be quite dead to begin with, so it was a shock for all of us that so many people turned up to see us!
DEAN: You were also chosen as a ‘BBC Introducing’ Artist of the Week on Radio 1. How did that recognition feel?
VANITY: We were just over the moon. We’ve never contemplated that happening, as we’re still a new band and we still feel like a new band too. So that really gave us a boost of confidence and motivation to work as hard as we could and keep getting better. We have been gifted so many opportunities, and it’s up to us to make the most of them.
DEAN: So can you share with us more details about your upcoming album?
MONIQUE B: Prior to the album, what we’ve collectively focused on is perfecting our performance and delivery on-stage, so when people come to see us they are not disappointed in any way, shape or form. Honing our performance and stage presence has really helped inject new energy into our recording sessions.
CARA: We’ve been in the studio regularly over the past few months laying down some rough demos, and we will be for the next few weeks. It’s so exciting hearing all our ideas, and getting it down on tape.
MONIQUE B: There are a lot of really exciting new tracks on there that we think will sound huge live when we tour the record, and they really reflect our range of influences, our sound and our identity. That’s ultimately what we aim for, which is to make our album as eclectic as possible, and that there’s something that appeals to everyone.
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