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What I Learned at Bandcamp: Basement Babies

Basement Babies formed in Los Angeles when Martin Roark and Andrew Mart, who grew up and played music together in the Bay Area, joined forces with Kate Linthicum and Mally Jones, who grew up loving electronic music and 90s R&B in Albuquerque.

“She and I both began creating music after moving to LA, thanks to a beautiful Casio that went everywhere we went,” says Jones. “Kate is a writer and so songwriting came really naturally, and I took drum lessons from a kind-hearted black metal dude on YouTube.”

The foursome has been making music together for almost two years and in March released a four-track album, Tour de Babes, on Bandcamp.

Mally Jones spoke to The Spec about dead infants, psychic communication between band members and secret handshakes, read what she has to say below…

Who/what are your influences?
Influences are really far and wide – we love contemporary electronic music (a lot of cool experimental stuff going on here in LA especially), Aaliyah/Janet Jackson/Missy Elliot vibes, Phil Spector‘s productions, Kraut rock, and we’ve got deep love for guys like The Beatles, Bowie, Eno, Todd Rundgren, Fleetwood. We were really lucky to play as James Ferraro‘s backing band when he played with Real Estate — and those guys straight up bludgeoned our minds, we are huge fans of theirs.

How did you come up with your name?
Kate’s a journalist and covered this really insane story about local antique hunters discovering an old trunk in the basement of an old building, Inside it, they found all these amazing clothes and artifacts from the ’20s. They had no idea whose trunk it was for a long time. The kicker was the trunk also contained two twin doctor’s bags, and in each one they found a dead infant, swaddled in newspaper. It was this horrific thing, and gripped everyone in LA for a while as they tried to figure out what the hell happened. This was happening right as we were starting to play music, and we loved the heavy meaning — although most people probably think our name is pretty cute!

Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here?
Right now we’re working on releasing some recordings. A jaunt to play shows up the west coast is in the works, we’d love to play more outside of LA. We want to hear our songs echoing in arenas! We’re also working on a split with a band in Japan at the moment, really stoking for that.

What inspires your music?
We are part of such a strange generation — cyborgs in a failing nation — and so much of our circumstances are jarring against the ideals our parents instilled in us that America = power forever; “you’re an American, dream and you can do anything!” America’s in a fiery free fall right now, and all of us are seeking an aim amidst the pressure, distraction, and complacency. Our music expresses that, but it can also reflect something as simple as the beauty of the moon rising over a hill in Echo Park or doing karate on the beach in Malibu.

Why do you make music?
Right off the bat, when we started playing together, there was a really odd wavelength of psychic communication between the four of us. Most of our songs are borne from 20-minute long improvisational jams – we tend to roll to places musically at the same pace with the same intention, and sometimes it comes together so well that we’re shocked at ourselves, like “whoa did that just happen?” It’s really all about feeling united and catharsis, and seeing how far we can take this vibe we share. I’m sure each of us would have a different answer for this question, but fundamentally: we love music and it’s a beautiful thing to contribute to.

Anything you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about?
We share a secret handshake called The Cyclone — all four members’ hands are required. High Life is our lifeblood.

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