Toronto continues to be a well of musical excellence and Babygirl is the latest gem to emerge from beneath the surface. Comprised of Kirsten “Kiki” Clark and Cameron Breithaupt, the indie pop duo labels their musical aesthetic as “bubblegum emo” which they describe as as combination of the “earnest, ‘guilty pleasure’ aspects of pop music as well as the total commitment, lyric style and vulnerability of emo.” Or in other words, it’s essentially “pop songs with sad guitars.”
Babygirl closed out summer with the drop of their Lovers Fevers EP, the follow-up to 2016’s As You Wish EP. Today, we’re premiering the music video for their breakout single “Soft.” The Dylan Mitro-directed visual is a beautiful extension of the song’s message about letting your guard down and being vulnerable in front of someone.
“I think we were hearing a saturation of irony in a lot of new music and wanted to side step it a bit and go into complete earnest love song mode,” said Clark. “There’s a lot of terrible shit going on right now and love songs are like medicine.”
Watch the mesmerizing visual below and scroll down for our exclusive Q&A with Clark and Breithaupt to find out more about the origins of their musical partnership and their perspectives on matters of the heart.
What were your entry points into music? Tell me about your backgrounds and how you fell into this wonderful world.
Kirsten “Kiki” Clark: I always loved singing, and started writing songs pretty early on. I didn’t really have anyone musical around me, it was just the way I interpreted what I was feeling and it quickly became clear it was what I wanted to do forever.
Cameron Breithaupt: I come from a family of musicians. My mom is a singer, and my dad is a keyboard player. We’d harmonize at the dinner table, my dad would do ear training quizzes on me, my mom would give me vocal placement advice while I sang Backstreet Boys to myself. It was just everywhere.
How did you come together as a duo?
CB: We were both vocal majors in the music degree program at Humber College in Toronto. One day I was wearing this Lil Wayne shirt and Kiki comes up to me like, “Are you wearing that ironically?” And I was like, “Not even a little bit.” And she was like, “Cool.” I think right away it put us in this zone where we saw each other as people who weren’t gonna stigmatize music that wasn’t overtly “heady” or “high-art.”
KC: Yeah, basically as soon as we started talking about pop music it became obvious that we should write together. We started writing lots of stuff originally intending to focus on pitching to Top 40 artists. One of the first songs we finished was a song called Unwant You, which then ended up on our first EP As You Wish. We both felt it was a really special song, and it encouraged us to keep working together beyond just a few co-writes.
Where did the name Babygirl come from?
KC: It was what I named my first “band” in grade 5. It randomly came up in conversation one day and Cam suggested that we use it.
Does the city of Toronto inspire you creatively at all?
KC: We both live in Mimico, a suburb just outside of the downtown core. This area definitely inspires us – we’re lucky to be right by a path along the water that we can take all the way downtown, so we spend a lot of time walking and writing outside.
CB: It’s been really cool to be living in Toronto through Drake-mania and all that, and knowing that 40 is tracking all these hit records in Etobicoke and stuff — makes it feel attainable. At the same time, it’s weird being totally outside of the sonic landscape that people see as defining the “movement” out of the city. There’s a lot of imitation and people falling in line with that narrative to try to piggyback on the wave. I think artists like Alvvays and Daniel Caesar are expanding the perception of Toronto music and hopefully making room for everyone to have success making whatever comes naturally to them.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “soft”?
KC: My cat Pumpkin, who is also the flawless model on the cover art for the song.
“Soft” is about a love that allows you to let your guard down and be vulnerable. What was going on at the time when you started working on this track?
KC: I think we were hearing a saturation of irony in a lot of new music and wanted to side step it a bit and go into complete earnest love song mode. There’s a lot of terrible shit going on right now and love songs are like medicine.
How is the accompanying visual an extension of that raw tenderness? What was your concept for this video?
KC: The director Dylan Mitro spent genuine time with the song and conceptualized the video in a way that beautifully supports the music. It’s his treatment entirely, we just gave some small suggestions here and there.
CB: He seemed to focus a lot on the interplay between vulnerability and defensiveness. There’s this haircutting scene, where Kirsten has this wig on that’s like a hyper-artificial idealization of her actual hair and it’s being cut away. There’s a lot in there about having your barriers removed and being called on your shit.
Tell me about the creative process that went into making the Lovers Fevers EP? Also, why did you go with that title?
CB: I feel like, making a record, there are two things happening at once. The creative process is super satisfying. The productive process, the one that pushes the creative process forward, is super painstaking. It’s like, you have to figure out what you want every single word to be. But then you also have to go through and turn down the letter “S” in every single one of those words once you’ve recorded them. That’s what makes it into like, a listenable record. So that’s a big part of how this project came together. Taking a little magic moment of inspiration and applying some elbow grease.
KC: The EP title comes from a lyric in the song “Homemade Holiday”: “Feel my knees get weaker in the heat of a lovers fever.”
Is there an overarching theme for that project? What stories were you trying to tell through these songs?
KC: We were working on quite a few songs at once and decided to group together the love songs, whether hopeful or sad. We wanted to sympathize with the intense moments of emotion/impulse romantic love can bring, like obsession or total spite.
CB: Love sucks, but do it anyways. Or it’s great, but steer clear.
Do you have anything else in the works that you can share?
KC: We are re-interpreting a few already released songs, including a remix of a song on Lovers Fevers. We’re also working on lots of new songs that will be released when the time is right.
What are you hoping to accomplish as artists? What do you want people to take away from your work?
CB: As artists, it’d be great to build a career where we can be creatively flexible and also reach a lot of people. We definitely still want to write for pop artists. I want people to take away that a great lyric and a great melody still really matter, and that they aren’t alone.
What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
KC: Travelling somewhere. Making new music.
CB: Hopefully like, watching Robert Mueller dunk on a bunch of racist chumps.
For more of our premieres, check out Sneaks’ new video for “Hong Kong to Amsterdam” right here.