Release Date 11/20/2020
(AWAL) NACC, SubModern
Whether we know it or not, we all rely on a little cosmic intervention to keep our lives on an even path, to put us in the rooms with the people we're destined to meet and show us the lessons that even hardship can bring. For Babeheaven, serendipity is more than a superstitious comfort - it's the reason for their very existence.
The project of lifelong friends Nancy Andersen (vocals) and Jamie Travis (instruments and production), Babeheaven is the work of two creatives united by a similar outlook on life and the organic nature of true creativity. Introduced to one another after meeting at age 13 at a father-and-son football group (Nancy on the sidelines), they stayed in touch, and found their lives colliding once more as adults.
"That thing that everyone writes about us working on the same street is true," says Nancy. "We really did end up walking past each other every morning at 9am and every night at 6pm, just hanging out in each other's shops." Jamie concurs with a laugh, "yeah, and then we'd go back to my house and hang out and watch Gordon Ramsey."
Both with musical tendencies handed down from their fathers - Nancy's a commercial jingle writer, Jamie's the founder of Rough Trade Records - the pair soon found themselves working on tracks every evening, initially as part of a wider group but soon just the two of them when they realized just how much they had in common. "It was a pretty organic choice - me and my friend were making something together, and we got Nancy in because we knew she could sing," explains Jamie. "Slowly we decided to just do our own thing because we were hanging out so much, and we ended up with 'Friday Sky'."
Since 'Friday's Sky's' release in 2016, the pair have certainly had plenty of fun. Impossible to put an exact finger on it, their genre-evading music has amassed over 15 million Spotify streams with support from all manner of laidback music playlists, translating to sell-out headline shows at Bush Hall and Jazz Café as well as support slots for Loyle Carner, Cigarettes After Sex and Nilüfer Yanya. At the heart of West London's thriving art and fashion scene, they have been able to call upon lifelong friends to bring their vision to life, part of an exciting new charge of young creatives on the rise.
Having missed out on their opportunity to tour the US (rescheduled for 2021), the pair make the best of lockdown by throwing themselves into recording, crafting what would become their debut album. Four years in the making, it's an encapsulation of all the relationships, good and bad, that have shaped their lives to this point - friends, family, partners past and present. But you won't find an abundance of diss tracks here - instead, it's a rich tapestry of growth and learning, not least in Nancy's own reconciliations with self-love and insecurity.
"As a person of color and a plus-size woman, I've never felt that comfortable with myself as a performer," she explains. "When we first started making music, it just hadn't crossed my mind that I'd have to be someone who took up that kind of space, so over lockdown I've had a lot more time to think about how I want to be perceived on stage." Having had her first-ever singing lesson just before lockdown, her teacher informed her that things would get a lot easier is she just remembered to breathe.
Finished in a time of global upheaval, the record itself could have easily become a simple mediation on the pressures of a pandemic, but in Nancy's own words, "nobody wants an album about us being stuck indoors for four months." Instead, they took the opportunity to throw the metaphorical windows wide, polishing up older fan favorites and making use throughout of Jamie's collection of foley sounds captured from all over the world. Tweeting birds and pulsing alarms offer urgency to "Swim In The Thames" inner-city melancholia, while snatches of laughter and static frame "Human Nature", a brooding song about Nancy's struggles with Instagram comparison. Always striking a balance of calming euphorics, their music actively benefits from its outwardly gaze, drawing the listener into an immersive world.
While the world remains unsure of exactly how long they'll be confined to their living rooms, Babeheaven's debut proffers a comforting sense of honesty, stretching out a hand to mean something a little different to each and every listener. "If It's a personal experience of mine, I'm happy to share it - we've written songs about each of our mum's passing, and it's a real relief to get some of those emotions off your chest," says Nancy. "I know I should probably just go to therapy, but whatever works! That said, I think it's nice to write from a more gentle perspective, where people can take it on for themselves. Once your music is out into the world, you kind of have to give it away so that people can own it however they want to. The important thing is that it's just a true amalgamation of everything we've gone through the past few years - everything that makes us human."
Whatever Babeheaven's album makes you feel, you can trust that it's come into your life at exactly the right time - just the way the universe intended it.