words by victoria parkey
Listening to BABY!’s debut LP, ‘Sunny, F.L.’, it might come as a surprise to hear that Kaley Honeycutt – the musician behind the Baby, uprooted from Florida last year to move to Boston.
The ‘Baby’ moniker came from her childhood nickname and went on to help form her identity within her music, she explains. “I’m the baby of my family. I have four older brothers and growing up I was made fun of a lot for being overly emotional, sensitive and crying all the time. I think since music was a really big outlet for me and kind of became a way that I processed my feelings, I just thought that it was a good name.”
This processing of personal feelings and the cathartic nature of songwriting seems to be an ongoing theme as we chat about the recording and writing process for the last album, and it’s this that makes Honeycutt cautious to give up creative control, preferring to work on songs individually. “Because songwriting is a way I process things, I think I’m a little wary to bring in other influences because sometimes I feel like a song really represents how I was feeling in a moment or how I was processing something. When someone adds in a part that changes the mood or the vibe of the song, then I feel like I kind of lost that memory or that part of myself, I guess.” She describes the songs on the record as providing a timestamp of how she sounded during that period, which helped to alleviate the pressure to some degree. “It’s how my songs sound right now and I don’t really need to focus any more on it than what is naturally and organically happening for me… I’m excited to refine it even more and I think I’m still kind of figuring it out. It was a really good learning experience”. The organic nature of Honeycutt’s ‘timestamp’ mentality towards songwriting translates effortlessly in the form of an easygoing and coherent record that is instantly relatable from the first listen.
The record itself is sun-drenched and surfy, sounding more suited to LA than a harder and more punk sound we may be more likely to expect coming out of Boston. “I honestly feel like if I was going follow my sound and move to a city I would move to LA,” Kaley tells me, “but I don’t have financial support from anyone besides myself and I don’t think LA would have been doable for me, and I think New York would have been pretty tough too… I had been talking to someone up here who was a music writer and he was always telling me about cool bands up here like local bands and like cool on goings”.
Boston’s thriving DIY music scene is something we discuss in detail and it’s clear from listening to Honeycutt passionately talk about it that she’s quickly established herself within the tight-knit community despite the differences in genre. “For the most part when I play a show and it’s with bands that aren’t necessarily the same genre I think people are excited to hear something different. Something I get a lot is [people saying] ‘that was so refreshing to just be able to dance around and listen to something upbeat and fun’.”
Having a different sound from a lot of the other bands in the Boston area has proven beneficial so far, helping Baby to stand out amongst the punk and harder rock bands, opening up new opportunities that may not otherwise be possible. “There’s actually a pretty big music scene and a lot of really good bands tour through here so it kind of feels like an advantage because it’s not very saturated, so we’re able to play with a lot of really great bands who come through.”
With the American political climate plagued with divisiveness and hate, the importance of the role that scenes like Boston’s can play is only amplified. Musicians are being given a platform to address political topics and create safe spaces and it’s encouraging to see that they are taking advantage of these opportunities. “I think the DIY scene is very important in this climate, coming together in those DIY spaces and basements in tiny little venues and making it really clear that everyone there is welcome and that it’s a safe space is something that I try to do at every show”, explains Honeycutt. “Also just addressing topics that are happening – as they’re happening – during shows… I think we are very clear during our shows on our political views. I try to bring it up when I can.”
It is apparent Honeycutt doesn’t shy away from making her political position known and this seems commonplace across the entirety of the scene. “I know that the political views of the scene as a whole – we’re on the same page – but now more than ever it needs to be reiterated and the support needs to be very vocal and there, I guess. I don’t think that you can really repeat yourself too much at this point with your support for marginalized people.“
Since the emergence of Trump’s presidency, she explains that people have constantly been coming together to put on DIY shows to raise money for organisations like Black Lives Matter. The tight-knit and proactive political nature of the Boston DIY scene is something that Honeycutt sounds proud to be a part of as she continues to put on shows herself in her basement. It’s clear that she’s settled in to her new city, though not without a few initial hiccups – “when I first moved up here I moved outside the city and I didn’t realize it was outside the city until I moved… I lived right by the woods and there were no people around and I would go outside and see this giant dead forest and just like start crying like ‘Is this what Boston is like?!’”, she laughs.
With the release a debut LP as strong as Sunny, F.L. and her intense involvement in a nurturing scene that seems to become a perhaps unlikely but perfect fit for her, there’s a lot for Honeycutt to feel positive about.