Going by a single-word moniker may be a bold move but BAYLI has got it locked. Introducing Brooklyn’s newest star as she prepares for the release of her debut EP 'stories from new york'.
Newcomer BAYLI has encapsulated the artistry of modern pop, driving in a similar lane to her inspirations, Bree Runway and Arca. Originally making her musical debut as part of the classic rock band, The Skins, BAYLI had no idea at the time that the shy, quiet girl would end up in the position she is in now. Though she still admits to being timid away from the stage, there’s no doubt that BAYLI was made to be bathed in the spotlight.
Hailing from the vibrant city of New York, BAYLI gathers every inch of life and feed it into her music – from her “city hippies” parents to being influenced by every artist on the musical spectrum. Mentored by none other than the inimitable Rick Rubin, BAYLI started off as an ‘old soul girl’, listening to jazz singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, but over time, she took a liking to rock music and joined the band. Now however, she admires “innovative people” like Grimes and “transcendental musical artists” such as Iglooghost and Thai Boy Digital.
First stepping out with her solo career last year with the bouncy, electronic R&B single “sushi for breakfast”, BAYLI dropped a number of other tracks including “boys lie”, “not safe” and “clown shit”, before teaming up with ILOVEMAKONNEN this year for “SICK!” and her latest solo single, “16”. Detailed as her “first ever attempt at some type of memoir-esque writing”, the track began life as a poem of the same name, eventually morphing into the pop-funk hybrid song we hear today. On it, BAYLI sings about the life of her mother who immigrated to New York City from the UK at the age of 16.
When we speak with BAYLI, she’s gearing up to release her highly anticipated debut EP, stories from new york’. As she racks up the streams and builds a buzz, BAYLI finds herself just wanting to represent the life around her. The EP is a true pocket of her life and one that she hopes resonates with people through the message she shares. The artist doesn’t believe in constructing labels and genres, saying “I’ve always been a person who’s like, ‘labels, what are those?’ Sometimes I feel labelling or identifying something can be limiting. And I’m such an art freak that I like to leave it open to everyone’s interpretation”.
With the excitement surrounding her upcoming project, Notion caught up with BAYLI to talk about her growth, debut EP, recent single “16”, LGBTQI+ representation and much more.
Emerging onto the music scene last year, you have already grown into a one to watch, but how did BAYLI start?
That’s an amazing intro. Thank you. I started out in the industry in the US in a rock back, in a classic rock band called The Skins when I was a teenager. So that’s how I got introduced to music and wanting to go towards the pop scene. And one of my mentors was Rick Rubin, who’s an amazing producer, a multifaceted producer. So that was kind of how I emerged into the scene.
Talking about growing up, you were born in New York City, but very much identify with your family’s British roots. How did those different cultures influence your musical career, and what do you take from those experiences?
My dad is a super funny, amazing personality New York guy. And my mum is a very cool, artsy, punk rock mix girl from London. I don’t know, but growing up, I always called my parents’ city hippies. I always called them city hippies, and they always allowed me and my siblings to. I come from a big family. There’s four of us just running around New York City. So, my parents always let us choose our own destiny. And they were never like you must go into ballet, you have to go into art class, they kind of, let us show them and tell them. They were always free people. And then my mum was always into punk rock such as The Stranglers and cool London music and punk 70s and then my dad’s hip hop house. So, I don’t know aha, then there’s me. And Brooklyn is a very eclectic place itself. I feel this amalgamation of worldly experience that I’ve been dropped in.
Musically, who were your influences whilst growing up?
It’s so funny. I was an old soul kind of girl. I was into Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and old jazz singers. And I think it was because I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and falling in love with that type of music. And then I got into rock. It’s always been older stuff, such as the 60s and 70s. That’s the music I’ve always been inspired by, oddly enough.
And would you now say you’re going down the more modern pop influences?
I think so. I think there’s a lot of incredible artists. Like for new artists, I do find myself being in love with innovative people. I love Bree Runway, Arca, Iglooghost, Thai Boy Digital and all these transcendental musical artists. But it literally skips from liking Ella Fitzgerald to Grimes. But I kind of love everything, and I take inspiration from everything. Like if you knew me, the sentence I’m about to say is insane. Even someone like Taylor Swift, I love Taylor Swift. Though it’s not my style of music, I appreciate that writing and her being able to capture something.
Further, before BAYLI existed, you were also part of the band The Skins. How does your solo career compare to your past ventures, and do you feel freer to do your things?
Oh my gosh, I will never be over The Skins. I was thinking about our music and those times right before we even hopped on. It’s super different. I feel more enlightened as a person and as a collaborator than I was. We started so young, and it was around ten years ago, so there are so many lessons that I take from The Skins creatively and personally.
I feel there’s more freedom, and I can lean into my own interest within my solo work, but I’m a very collaborative person. And it’s always a huge part of my process to work with multiple producers or bring in writers, even though I’m a writer myself. I think being in a band was where I learned how to create with others.
Now going solo, how would you describe your sound?
Oh my god, this is one of the hardest questions. When people say, what genre of music are you? It’s the hardest thing for me to identify. And I’ve always been a person who’s like, labels. What are those? Like? Sometimes I feel labelling or identifying something can be limiting. And I’m such an art freak that I like to leave it open to everyone’s interpretation. I do know that I’m super pop-leaning in my production. It’s always clean and polished. But there’s so much inspiration in my music. R&B, hip-hop, folk, you know, so I guess I would say alternative pop.
The main talking point is your debut EP, ‘stories from new york’ – how excited are you for this release, and what can fans expect?
I’m so excited to share this. I’m also super nervous. We lead with “sushi for breakfast” and “boys lie”, both conceptual singles. But the rest of the project is super intimate. For example, my next single, “16” is about my mum of her journey. I’m excited to let people in a bit more because I am a bit mysterious, and I’m happy to let people in via my music as a shy person.
You have already released two singles, “boys lie” and “sushi for breakfast”, back in 2020. How do these tracks entwine with the rest of the project, and what was the overall creative process?
I wrote most of the project in Montreal, Canada, which is where half my management team is based. And working with those creatives, producers, and in Montreal, I felt the freedom of meeting new people. Like, here’s my story. So, bringing ‘stories from new york’ to Canada allowed me to be vulnerable in front of them. And “boys lie” and “sushi for breakfast” are fun and playful, but if you really lean in and listen to the lyrics, they are snapshots into a night in New York. So, I hope people take that away when they’re listening to the project.
One of the standout singles of the EP is ’16’, in which you delve into your mother’s experiences of her moving from the UK to NYC at the age of 16, and you personally described it in a past interview ‘memoir-esque writing’. Why did you want to feature this track, and with your mother recently passing away, do you believe it does bring that personal connection between yourself and your listeners?
Yes, totally. Also, thank you for acknowledging it like it’s something that I’m still healing through, and it is difficult to talk about. But I wrote this song before my mother passed, so it was a huge team decision within my team as they should be like, do this. Am I ready to share this and actually, I feel it is a part of my healing process to share with others. I hope that people take “16”, and I hope it resonates with people. It’s just about a strong independent girl who survives the city. I think “16” is a stepping stone even in my artistry. I’m also a believer that it’s the artist’s job to be vulnerable, be there for the terrifying moments and share our own scary stories in the hopes that someone else in the world feels that and resonates. “16” is that song, and I hope people take that away from it.
In addition, if you could, what is your favourite track from your upcoming debut EP and why?
Oh my gosh, I’m such a weirdo. I don’t listen to my music – I don’t even think Mark knows this. I lean so much onto my team. We are like a production house just for my music and my project. I write so much, and I do write a lot for other artists, so I think it’s hard for me to know my thing sometimes. I am so vulnerable in my music, but at the same time, I’m like, is this good? Is this great? To choose a fave is hard, and I haven’t listened to it in a while. Like I honestly listened when we released them. So, I mean, off rip, I think “not safe” is one my favourite. It’s such a mood.
On the other hand, you have also collaborated with the likes of Jesse McCartney and Bea Miller whilst also expanding your songwriting artistry. What has that experience been like compared to singing, and who is the dream collaboration?
It’s amazing to work behind the scenes. And it’s amazing to see everyone’s process and help create things together. I love being a writer. I think I am a little intrinsically demure and shy, and it is ironic as I’m a performer myself. So, I love writing, I love connecting with other artists and other people that way. I have to tap into an alter ego when I’m on stage and when I’m performing my own music, but I don’t find it hard. I think because I’ve been doing it for such a long time, it comes naturally to me. I am here to serve this audience and turn up, but it’s so funny because I am shy within my life.
And who would be your dream collaboration?
Dream collab? Oh, my goodness. This is so weird to say. Like Paul McCartney, just dropped, which lol guys, mate all these decades later. I think being an old soul, I love a lot of new artists. I love Grimes. I love Young Thug. I think these are icons, like modern-day icons. But someone like Paul McCartney would be a treat, like fucking Bono from U2 or something. That’s my skill and level. I know it’s so weird, but growing up, they were icons to me. That would be a dream.
With so many things going on and identifying as a Black, queer female within today’s music landscape, what does it mean to you that you can represent minority voices and make a change within the community?
Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Am I guys? Am I even the chosen representative? I don’t know. I guess we’ll go with it for now. The thing about me is that I’m very transparent, and I’ve always been vulnerable and try and be honest when I am here when I do show up, whether it’s creating or doing interviews. So yes, I do take it very seriously, but it’s also terrifying. Like, am I the best representative? The best thing I can do, you know, is I’m such a person still ingrained in the community that I grew up in that’s allowing representation of real voices and real stories just like “stories from new york” is about. And I don’t feel like the best role model, but I do take that representation. And I do try and talk about how I present myself and my existence as much as I can. Even though I’m a reserved, private person, it is still important.
Also, how would you personally describe your journey within the music scene, and what advice would you share with someone who wants to become an artist?
I think we are in an incredible cultural moment right now, where there’s been a shift. I’ve been working in the industry since I was a young teenager, going on ten years. And I have never felt more creatively free. It’s actually cool to try things and be underground again. And since I’ve been working, that hasn’t been a thing. So, I would say, you know, there’s all this DIY culture and technology, with computers and logic and being able to record yourself anywhere, I would say, if you’re a creative soul, this is the time to go for it. And I think the quarantine for me, I don’t know how it impacted other people and other artists, but it allowed me to elevate my art, my fan base and connect with people. It helped me to get to know my audience more and question, how can I serve you these bangers? It’s been interesting, and I’m still so inspired. As hard as last year was in so many ways for myself and many people, I’m inspired by the resilience and coming out on the other side.
Everything feels cooler and open creatively again. So, I’m excited to be part of that and be an artist in the mix.
Finally, do you see yourself releasing an album in the near future? And where do you see BAYLI next?
Well, Notion. I’ve been thinking about coming to London and writing for my next project, because of my mum and that side of history. There are possibilities there. I try to stay super present. I cannot tell you about the next drop, but I have been speaking with my creative director and very close friend, and we’re really pumped. We are thinking about a close drop even after this EP, but who knows? Who knows? I’m also excited to go back in and develop for the next project. But we’re living in crazy times, and I’m just excited, to hopefully capture it.