Cardiff is hiding a secret that is slowly beginning to slip out, and they go by the name of Baby Queens. This six-piece band of sisters, cousins and best friends is a family affair, who draw upon everything from Motown-style R&B to rapping reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, with a healthy dose of alt. rock added in for good measure. They recently released their self-titled debut album, which, along with a new track titled “Hear Me”, serves as a powerful statement that the Baby Queens movement is not one to sleep on.
I had the chance to have a chat with the band and gained some insight into what it’s like making music as a family, how fashion and style influence their music, and the highlights of their ride through the music industry thus far. Take a look…
The self-titled album by Baby Queens was released October 28 on Strangetown Records.
Interview and introduction by Jon Vilardi. Read introducing piece on Baby Queens.
Our readers who might not know (yet), who are Baby Queens in their own words?
- Cara Elise – Guitar /Vocals
- Estelle Ios – Bass/ Vocals
- Monique B – keyboard /Vocals
- Ruth Vibes – Guitar /Vocals
- Vanity Jay – guitars /Vocals
- Leroy Rahman – Drums
We are a full live band, best friends and family members, who write our music from our hearts, with the hope to inspire some positive change in this world!
When it comes to production, however, there will be conscious decisions, ideas, input etc.
Being in a band of 5 family members probably sounds like a nightmare to some people, but you guys seem to make it work very well. What’s it like having the lines between family member and bandmate blurred to such an extent?
Yes, I guess it could sound like a nightmare under society’s normal standards, (I’m remembering headlines about the Gallagher brothers!) but we are all real gentle in nature, and pretty trippy spiritual kinda people. I think we would actually all be lost without our little tribe. We are family, but also best friends, we genuinely care about each other heaps, and all support each other through everything. I think our closeness and genuine love for each other is paramount to our creativity, when we are all spiritually tuned into each other during a jam, the bond and soul connection creates an incredible kinda musical magic that I’m not sure we would experience were we not so close.
Off of that, you’ve all mentioned that each of you are thoroughly distinct from one another in fashion and in music. Can you tell us about what some of the distinct personalities in the band – and the give-and-take that plays out between them – look and sound like?
Fashion wise Monique and Ruth tend to rep an Urban /Hip-hop-esque kinda style, but they will both mix in a vintage style within that sometimes too. Estelle, Vanity and I kinda mix up a chilled skate/surf style with vintage kitsch and a splash of “hippy” thrown in! Leroy is a healthy outdoors kinda guy and his dress sense tends to reflect that, he’s mainly sporty or outdoorsy.
Music wise, we all have incredibly eclectic taste, but all love many of the same core artists and bands. We’re all pretty lucky that all our parents are massive music geeks and they provided an incredible soundtrack to our youth!
We are all true music lovers and are massively inspired by artists and bands throughout history, we love everything from 50’s Rock n Roll, to the Roots hip-hop and reggae artists, from Motown and soul to grunge and punk rock. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Red hot Chilli Peppers, Sublime, The Super Furry Animals, all of these bands mixed styles and genres to create their own unique sound, and made groundbreaking, beautiful music, as a result of it. We basically take inspiration from any music that is written with heart and soul. Music that inspires positive change.
We love everything from 50’s Rock n Roll, to the Roots hip-hop and reggae artists, from Motown and soul, to grunge and punk rock.
Some female artists are adamant about not being labelled as a “female rapper”, a “female band”, etc., because they feel it puts an asterisk on who they are musically. However, Baby Queens seems to embrace and take pride in the unique perspectives and sounds that you’re able to bring to the table as an all-female band. What’s your take on being a “girl band” in 2017?
Yes, we definitely respect and understand women in music who feel this way, equality… is indeed key, and something we actively support. Still, we are proud to be female, in a male dominated industry, we like to kinda rep for our sisters out there, with the hope that other females may be inspired to pick up an Instrument and make something beautiful happen, we are proud of ALL females who step up and empower themselves in any industry. As much as we would love to believe that women are now equal in society to our male counterparts, the reality is, there is still a long way to go for true equality, after thousands of years of the oppression and subjugation of women, it will take a huge shift in consciousness to really reach that goal.
Your debut self-titled album has everything from melodic, alt. rock flavoured acoustic ballads, to bluesy slow-burning soul tracks, some rap, and everything in between. When you all approach songwriting, do you find yourselves consciously drawing from different influences and genres, or leaving all that in the subconscious and just letting sounds flow?
It’s pretty much always subconscious in the writing stage, we just free Jam and let things flow. When it comes to production, however, there will be conscious decisions, ideas, input etc.
The vocal work in Baby Queens’ music is incredibly strong and really stylistically diverse. What can you say about the band’s approach to vocals, some of the influences in that area, and what has gone into honing the performances to such a high level?
Thank you! As all five of us sing, we have the capacity for really pushing the levels with harmonies, it’s not an easy thing to construct a five-part harmony, but Vanity and Ruth are master’s, and our producer Cian is also dope.
This new track, “Hear Me”, seems to convey themes of wanting to get a message out, either to the world or to one person in particular. As a band, at this moment in time, what do you really want people to take away from what they’re seeing and hearing?
Yes, Hear Me lyrically expresses the desire to be truly heard, felt, and understood. As a band in this moment in time, we’re coming with a message of love, there is so much going on politically around the globe right now, tensions are high and people are afraid, it is now we need love more than ever. Music, the arts and culture, is where we, as humans, can find real freedom and spiritual happiness, away from the mechanical, sterile, and mundane way of life that western society breeds. We really hope that people will feel our music in their hearts, and connect with the experiences and issues that we are addressing in the songs.
Not too surprisingly, people have been catching on to the great songs “Baby Queens” has released, resulting in some great new opportunities and platforms for the band. What’s been the most exciting bit of success thus far?
We have had so many amazing experiences over the last couple of years, from playing at big festivals, touring with the BBC, recording at the famous Maida Vale studios, to making Music Videos and getting incredible Album reviews from national newspapers and major music mags, there have just been so many exciting times it’s impossible to choose just one! Last month we played live and were interviewed by Dermot O’Leary, on his BBC Radio 2 Saturday show. That may have been the most nerve-wracking performance to date, especially as we learnt not long before performing live that Radio 2 is the most listened to radio show in all of Europe!!
Finally, you’ve got some live performances coming up in the next couple of months… before we finish up, where can our readers catch Baby Queens – both online and in person – in the future?
- Thurs 9th March – Lost In The Manor, @ The Finsbury, London
- Sat 8th April – Laugharne Festival, Carmarthenshire, Wales
- Tues 11th April – Huw Stephens presents… @ The Social, London
- Friday 2nd June – Hay Festival, Hay On Wye, Wales
- Friday 11th August – Boomtown Fair, Winchester