Taking a moment and allowing me inside her world. I had the chance to catch up with Criibaby and talk all things her and the recent release of her project entitled, “Love Songs For Everyone.” Criibaby is a new queer artist pushing boundaries with “Love Songs For Everyone,” and the fans are loving it. For the record, “Sorry” is my anthem and when I tell you she hit the nail on the head with “Sorry,” babeeeeeeeeeeeeee, she did that.
Where are you from?
I was born in San Francisco, California, a city known for its musical heritage and rich LGBTQ+ history.
How long have you been in the industry?
I’m a classically-trained jazz vocalist and I’ve been singing since I was in preschool, but I took kind of a strange route to get here. I tried to have a “normal life,” one with a 9-5 job and a dog and goals to achieve all the trappings of comfort… but once I got back into writing and recording and then into collaborating, it was like a complete paradigm shift and I decided to restructure my life by cutting out everything that was making me unhappy and unfulfilled. Looking back, it led to some pretty radical changes- none of which I regret!
How many projects have you released to date?
I’ve released two singles as Criibaby: my debut single “Sunshine” challenged the heteronormative nature of Valentine’s Day and reclaimed the holiday as a day of love for ALL, and my second single “Some Kinda Voodoo” celebrated normalizing gentle, innocent queer love during Pride month. I’m recently released my debut EP, love songs for everyone, on National Coming Out Day, October 11!
Can you tell us about your latest release and the background/inspirations behind it?
For over a year, I struggled to fully commit to a concept for this EP. But when I had the idea to make love songs for everyone gender neutral and intentionally inclusive, the EP began to really take shape. Every track on love songs for everyone is pronoun neutral. By intentionally avoiding “she” or “he” the music becomes more inclusive, and refrains from promoting a heteronormative, gender binary-focused viewpoint of relationships. In this way, they are truly love songs for everyone. (And yes, there are some wonderful asexual and aromantic interpretations to my lyrics as well!) This kind of intentional inclusivity is desperately needed in today’s media.
What do you think of the state of the industry in 2020?
It’s a hard time for everyone. The world is a scary place right now. For everyone- but it’s especially hard on smaller artists who rely on local gigs and lessons to pay the bills. It’s also hard on the folks behind the scenes, like production crews at venues that were some of the first to close and will be some of the last to reopen. Some venues are getting creative and have managed to put together digital solutions to help the artists that they typically employ, like SFJAZZ’s “Fridays at Five” weekly livestream of previous concerts here in San Francisco (where I also work as an Artist Assistant.) The program shows members past shows and split donations from a digital tip jar 50/50 with the performers. Artists definitely need more support right now and we need more organizations to step up like SFJAZZ has.
Who do you think is the most influential artist at this time and why?
Flying Lotus. His contributions to To Pimp a Butterfly revolutionized Hip Hop and his solo work paved the way for an entire genre of boundary-pushing lofi beatmakers. To say that my next EP is influenced by the stage set by Flylo would be a pretty huge understatement.
Who has been your favorite collaboration so far in your career? Why?
My producer Big Soda has been a critical part of every single project I’ve done over the last two years. I was originally introduced to him through another collaborator, a lofi rapper by the name of Pandaraps; Panda got Soda to mix a single I had been recording, so he heard what I was working on and subsequently asked me to take a shot at some vocal takes for a song of his. At that time, I still had never met him, he was just sort of this mysterious guy who owned the studio and wrote clever songs and made everyone’s tracks sound phenomenal, so I was super nervous to finally meet him and sing on one of his originals. He hadn’t heard my interpretation of the tune until we were all in the room together, so it really felt more like an audition than a session at first, but he appreciated the emotion I brought to his piece- the energy was so good in the room that we ended up recording it in one uninterrupted take, with one mic, which gave it a real live, intimate quality. And it ended up being one of our favorite songs on his record. Fast forward to today- we’re already well into EP number three and are so in sync that during a recent session we literally came up with the same note while thinking through some background vocals during a collaboration. None of this would be possible without him- his ears, his musical chops, his technical and production skills, his support and encouragement. No question about it.
How do you think you differ from others in your genre?
I’m a jazz vocalist first, not a pop singer or R&B singer, so I think with that mindset. I try to bring elements of jazz to each collaboration- I’m fond of interesting and unexpected changes melodies, and rhythms, modulation, etc. and I try to bring an improvisational quality to each take.
Dead or alive, who would be your dream collaboration?
Erykah Badu. Hands down.
What was the first album you purchased?
Come Away With Me. Norah Jones. Blue Note. I had the huuuuugest girlcrush on her and liked to do impressions of her. It made some of my friends laugh. I remember doing a couple of her songs for talent shows in grade school.
Tell us what the fans can expect from you in the coming months?
My next EP will be a pretty strong deviation from this sunny, uplifting popsoul project. As I continue to grow into being Criibaby, I’ve allowed myself the space to totally experiment and evolve- and so has my producer. My songwriting and vocal delivery has remained constant, but the themes and melodies in the follow up to love songs for everyone are a lot darker and the overall sound is much more electronic and lofi-focused. If you’re curious what the name of the next EP might be…. Well, it’s mentioned real softly at the end of this record, because I like to do things like that. Stay tuned!
What are your social media handles?
Follow me on instagram for wholesome & affirming LGBTQ+ content, the latest on my music, and silly pictures of me in purple outfits: @criibabysos!