BAYLi’s an Up-and-Coming Music Artist Making It On Her Own Terms
Every so often an artist comes along that leaves you completely hypnotized. Today, that artist is BAYLi. And with anthemic, in-your-face jams like her debut single, “MYOB: Or Whatever,” she’ll also get you in a downright tizzy on the dancefloor. Born and raised in Bed-Stuy, the charismatic artist has been doing the music thing for ages now—and she’s only 24. You might already be familiar with BAYLi as the front woman of the popular rock band, The Skins, but recently, she’s found herself going solo, with her genre-blending songs already garnering praise from the likes of Billboard and PAPER. The buzz surrounding the songstress is majorly appropriate. The aforementioned “MYOB: Or Whatever,” which she wrote with Justin Tranter (Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani) and Sasha Sloan (Camila Cabello, Tinashe), is an electric pop banger that deserves to be high up on everyone’s “Song of the Summer” list. Then there’s her recently-released gem “Underneath,” created with songwriters Britt Burton (Jessie J, Fifth Harmony) and Noise Club (Hailee Steinfeld, Zedd). With an immaculately layered chorus that that slowly builds, fragile and luminous, before exploding like a firework, “Underneath” is the kind of song that leaves listeners wanting more. If that’s not enough, you can hear more from BAYLi soon on forthcoming mixtape, SUMMER. We talked to BAYLi about going it alone without major label backing, loving that studio life, and how she’s preparing for chart-topping, world domination.
What made you go solo?
I never really thought about going solo, but at the end of 2017, we were parting ways with our label. We’ve been together for so long—just working non-stop, touring and writing—so we thought okay, let’s just take a break. And I just kept doing music—I do a lot of songwriting for others. And then I have a billion of songs of my own. I just was like, why shouldn’t I put them out?
What’s been your experience in the studio and onstage so far as a solo artist?
It feels a little lighter. My approach and my mindset for my performances is just not letting myself overthink it. Sort of like giving the audience more of a feeling. Doing a performance they remember—whether it’s me being turnt up or whether it’s me doing a ballad and it being beautiful. My approach with my music right now is really from like a nerdy, deeper kind of artist circle perspective.
Your newest song “Underneath” is such a bop! And you co-wrote it with big-time songwriters. What’s your songwriting and collaborative process like?
I feel super lucky just to know the writers and creatives that I collaborate with. We ended up writing that song really quickly. But, you know, I do sessions like this all of the time. Whether I’m writing the song for myself or for another artist, we just hop in the studio for six hours and we just try to write as much as possible. I’m constantly just collaborating with different writers and different producers.
Was it a struggle when you were signed to a major record label? Now you can just throw songs on SoundCloud without their approval and just do your own thing.
It’s so nerdy to say but I’m always just like, Oh my God, you don’t understand to people. I get into so many weird arguments, especially when I was on the label with my band. I’m just not interested in the commercial element of it all. Sometimes I prefer to put out a demo or something over a super polished, mastered song. Because it needs to be a vibe. I guess that’s really my approach right now. It’s a journey. It’s like okay, what is my purpose with music? It has to be… a feeling.
Do you feel liberated and more creatively fulfilled now that you don’t have to deal with a big label telling you who to work with and all of that manufactured mess?
Yeah, it becomes so manufactured and contrived. When you’re making music, it can’t be something that’s so manufactured all the time. I literally write pop music all of the time, and it’s like, this is the hook, this is the format of the song… But I’m more interested now in doing that if other artists want that help because I have that pop sensibility. But for my own stuff, it could be random. I’m thinking about dropping a demo that I just made two weeks ago, just because I wanna experiment and I wanna put something out. I don’t want it to be so manufactured like I’m selling something to people. I’m just making music—that’s all I know how to do right now. That’s why I wanna put a lot of music out this summer and fall, and just see what happens. It’s a really good release for me as a creative because I feel like if I don’t put stuff out, it’s hard to keep working on stuff.
So you’re a true New Yorker. Is writing and recording in New York important to you? In New York, you can just hop on the train and show up at your friend’s shitty apartment and record in their bedroom, whereas in Los Angeles, everything has to be so planned out… LA seems to lack the spontaneous magic of creating to me.
I love being a writer in New York. I like going to LA, but it’s a whole different vibe. To me, LA is like… for pop. You can find different genres for writing and different people for writing styles, but it’s still kind of one mentality which is let’s write a smash. So the session goes a little bit differently. In New York, there are new, upcoming artists, there are people pushing the envelope in an art way. In LA, it’s very productive with people doing huge songs and stuff like that. It’s just different vibes. In New York, you can work with the next Kanye West and not know it. And then in LA, it’s just like, oh, you can work with someone who is just right now a super pop star.
Do you dream of having a smash hit? How do you think you’d deal with fame?
As a songwriter, I want to be big. It’s not like a fame thing—I’m actually quite terrified of that. But I want my songs to be global. I just want my words and my ideas to travel, as selfish and crazy as that is. If I had a song that was global and impactful, even if it wasn’t a number one song, but if it had an impact like Bob Marley or David Bowie, I would love that. In terms of me being Beyonce level? No, that sounds terrifying. I feel like I’m pretty aware of this industry. It’s kind of crazy.
You can see more of BAYLi on here Instagram here.
Words: Alex Catarinella