I stood outside The Gate nervously chain-smoking my roll-ups, I’d never ‘interviewed’ anyone before. And for someone who suffers with anxiety and social phobia, it wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had. Emmi (vocals, guitar) and Siâno (bass) appeared from around the corner, asking for a lighter. Obviously, I had one handy.
After a brief introduction and the shared sigh of heartbreak that Mr Adam Walton, who recommended Baby Brave to me, wasn’t at Wales Goes Pop! this year, I asked Emmi & Siâno how they felt the gig went, taking into account the daunting task of opening the entire festival in front of a larger-than-expected crowd.
E&S – “There was a little girl down the front with ear defenders on, bouncing on a balloon to the music, that was amazing, that’s what I was focusing on. Had to make sure I didn’t get distracted because she was so cute…that’s happened before…”
RRW – “Coulda been worse, there could have been a puppy”
E&S – “Oh, if there was a puppy, I’d have been off that stage”
Siâno and I spent the next few minutes gushing over puppies, well, all dogs. We joked about smiling at dogs as they walk past but forgetting there tends to be a human attached to them, and I admitted to crossing the road if there was a dog coming my way on the opposite side of the street, just in case I get the chance to pet it. I do this a lot. I could have talked about puppies all afternoon, but then remembered I was supposed to be asking about the gig.
Baby Brave are from Wrexham. I travel a lot for shows, but admitted that I had never ventured up to North Wales for a show. At this confession, both Emmi and Siâno offered me the same solution, and it was a good one.
E&S – “Come to Focus Wales!”
RRW – “I really, REALLY want to, but I can’t… I’m going to Lisbon instead.”
E&S – “Oh, well, Lisbon wins.”
RRW – “I wanted to go to Focus Wales last year as well, what’s it like?”
E&S – “Focus Wales is amazing, we’re really looking forward to playing it this year. It just has like a proper ‘big’ festival atmosphere, it’s loadsa fun.”
Continuing the conversation about shows up North, I was curious about two things, what the audiences were like and whether or not it’s hard to gauge what audiences will be like down South.
E&S – “Audiences up there are great, there’s some rowdy crowds up North [compared to down South] … [As for Cardiff], we’ve played Cardiff loads of times, there’s not many venues here we haven’t played. We’ve played festivals here, Sŵn and stuff like that … We have a lot of friends down here, people to stay with and people to play shows with, we’ve got an pretty good thing going with Cardiff, I think.”
We talked about the Cardiff scene and the mutual acquaintances we share both in Cardiff and up North. It’s always cool meeting people from the other side of the country who know of the same places, names and people in music. It makes the Welsh scene feel even closer. But Baby Brave don’t always stay too close to home, in fact, they’re currently playing shows all over the place.
With new shows, usually comes new material, and although Baby Brave are still technically touring their November release, ‘Tacky Birthday’, they also played a (pretty fantastic) new song during their set at Wales Goes Pop! which led me to ask if they were recording again soon.
E&S – “We’ve just filmed a music video, but our drummer is going away soon-ish, so we’re hoping we can record new stuff before June, before he goes away. Pressure’s on.”
To wrap up the conversation to allow more time for drinking, I asked if there was anyone they were really looking forward to seeing at Wales Goes Pop! this year.
E&S – “We need to go back up to Wrexham tomorrow to record a session, but we’re hoping to catch The School and Peaness before we have to attempt to drive through Cardiff on Easter bank holiday weekend, on the day of the half marathon, when loads of the roads are closed…”
RRW – “I do not envy you.”
‘Tacky Birthday’ review
As mentioned in both the interview and Friday’s Wales Goes Pop! article, Baby Brave’s five-track EP ‘Tacky Birthday‘ was the first release of theirs I listened to, only a day or two before the festival. ‘Tacky Birthday‘ was released way back in November, but it’s pretty brilliant, so here’s a little review:
‘Tacky Birthday‘ is a melodic delight which brings the best elements of pop and punk rock to create their distinctive sound which is encapsulated perfectly in only five tracks. Baby Brave’s unique style combines dirty riffs with heavily rhythmic basslines all wrapped up with effortlessly raw, punk rock vocals.
The EP opens with ‘Alone In Tokyo‘; its infectious rhythm makes it an instantly memorable song. It’s catchy, charismatic and to say it is a strong opener to an EP would be an understatement. It’s definitely a hard track to follow, but somehow ‘Rock Paper Scissors‘ manages it. ‘Rock Paper Scissors‘ is sweeter in tone compared to ‘Alone In Tokyo‘ and sees Baby Brave exploring more psychedelic sounds, but its prominent bassline, guitars and loose vocals ensures the subtle sweetness doesn’t sugar-coat their assertive style.
All of Baby Brave’s songs are full of emotion, but ‘Shinichi Kudo‘ is emotive in a different way. The lyrics are brutally honest and real, not veiled with metaphors like a lot of lyrics to more tender songs seem to be. The sincerity of the lyrics make ‘Shinichi Kudo‘ an easy song to identify with, and you can hear courage in the vocals rather than sadness. ‘Shinichi Kudo‘ definitely exposes a softer side to Baby Brave, but not so soft that it compromises their tough attitude. It may be a vulnerable song, but it is not a song that makes you feel sad. It’s a brave, comforting song of encouragement.
Next up is possibly my favourite track, but maybe I’m just a sucker for alliteration. ‘Traxx‘ has a light-hearted melody but, once again, manages to keep things dirty with gritty, unpolished riffs and vocals to match, all built on the foundations of an inescapable head-nodding, toe-tapping, fist-pumping rhythm.
‘Tacky Birthday‘, unfortunately, does come to an end, but it’s a good one. ‘Mimic My Shins‘ is loud, loose, powerful and perfect indie punk finale to this incredible little record.
Click here to return to Friday at Wales Goes Pop!
Header photo: Baby Brave at Wales Goes Pop! 2016 by Chris Hunt