I asked Sabrina (AKA BAUM) some personal questions about her personal music, and received some personal answers.
In her brand new track “This Body”, BAUM expresses some heavy feelings over markedly light, exuberantly poppy production. A bit paradoxical, maybe, but the fearless, optimistic artistry combined with the familiar accessibility of a downright-good radio jam is shaping up to be a hell of a calling card for such a young artist.
Having had a wild 2017 that saw her departure from USC’s Thornton School of Music in order to be able to focus on a quickly blossoming career as a CAA-signed artist, BAUM isn’t someone who I’d expect to have a whole lot of free time on her hands. And so, lucky for all of us, Sabrina was super gracious in opening up and answering some of the best questions I could try and toss at her. Enjoy.
Interview & introduction by Jon.
I like having the contrast of dark lyrics with bright music
“This Body” is packed with themes about self-image and personal boundaries. What inspired the new track, and how does it feel to be releasing it at a moment where these sorts of discussions really seem to be getting recognized for how important they are.
A big part of the song was inspired by my personal body image issues and frustrations with beauty standards. It was also inspired by feeling powerless after being cat called/objectified on the street, and the moment when you get that power back. I’m excited to be able to contribute to all of the voices speaking out for women’s empowerment. These were never side issues that should have been swept under the rug. Issues of self worth and gender equality should have always been at the forefront of social discussions and I’m so excited that they’re getting the attention they deserve in mainstream media right now.
What goes in to being deeply personal and honest in a song that a lot of people are going to hear? Is it intimidating to you, or has it been in the past? Or is it primarily cathartic?
I don’t understand how someone can write a song without being deeply personal and honest. For me, it is sort of a stream of consciousness act and I would not be able to write if I couldn’t just say what I was thinking in my songs. It was definitely scary at first and I didn’t want to show anyone my songs when I started writing, but I pushed myself to do it and came to love it.
Sonically, your music is anything but dark or heavy, despite the gravity of the subject matter. What makes you tend toward the bright poppy sounds that you’ve been pulling off so well, and who are some of your biggest influences in that vein?
Hm… I think a lot of the music has dark content, but a more optimistic perspective which inspires the brighter music. I like having the contrast of dark lyrics with bright music; that has always been appealing to me. I was very inspired by artists like Stevie Nicks, Janis Joplin, and Alanis Morissette growing up. I listened to and watched a lot of badass females and sort of developed an attitude from them as well as a musical style.
On the topic of influences, I’ve already heard some comparisons to old-school rock icons like Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks. Who are your all-time favorites of that era, and what do you take most from the classics, musically?
Hahahah. I read the previous question and answered with “Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin” and then saw this… Those women are definitely some of my all time favorites from the era. I am also heavily influenced by The Rolling Stones. My first concert ever was seeing them at Madison Square Garden (my dad did not mess around) and I immediately fell in love.
I could not commit myself to my career and my education at the same time, and I chose my career.
What’s in been like being in music school at USC, while already seeing your material gain some significant traction? Moreover, what do you feel like the structure and community of Thornton has provided you that you don’t think you would’ve gained as an artist otherwise?
I’m actually not in music school anymore, but you are not the first person to ask that. Everyone thinks I’m still in school, because I should have been a junior this year. I chose to not continue at Thornton because of a time issue — I could not commit myself to my career and my education at the same time, and I chose my career. That being said, I would not be ready to be a professional musician right now had I not gone to school for two years. I didn’t know anything about music theory and had no ear training when I first got there; I had minimal stage experience and was terrified to move on stage, etc. School helped me tremendously, but it was time for me to be done.
Your introductory EP, “Ungodly”, is coming out soon – March 16th. What’s the most exciting part of that project for you? And what do you want everybody who might hear it to know about it in the time leading up to the release?
I’m just so excited to finally put out a whole project! I’ve been writing for so long and I can’t wait to put out one cohesive thing that says who I am as an artist.