Babeheaven’s previous biog arrived entrenched in folklore and rare-meeting points – very much a showreel of moments akin to snapshots from MTV’s Making The Band. All of them true, of course, but for a group several years on from their debut release, all ready to be shoved aside if not updated for the west London duo’s next step from under (or at least near) the Westway and toward cult treasure.
“So why don’t we make up a new story,” suggests Jamie, who handles the production and lead guitar side of things in the group, when mentioning their previously trodden ground. Like what? Lead singer Nancy bursts into action.
Really, the truth is that Nancy and Jamie are the best of friends: a stone-cold duo who riff seamlessly back and forth with an absolute knowingness of one another. It’s the kind of shared carefree joy and outrageousness hilarity that can only come from knowing each other for over a decade.
Their love of music comes from each of their families. On Jamie’s side, his dad: who got him into US rap – the big producers, mainly; people like Pete Rock, who inspired him to pick up an MPC and get into sampling and programming drums, such as the ones you’ll hear on a Babeheaven record. Then, in Nancy’s corner, her dad: who progressed from playing in a funk band, to being into blue-eyed-soul, to writing jingles for TV (“Green planet, or whatever”).
Essentially, to be around the Babeheaven extended family’s back catalogue of interests is to leave no stone uncovered. The pair work out of the same studio where Nancy’s dad writes his jingles, in among a potpourri of dusty old records, books, strange VHS releases, odd-shaped guitars – loads of junk, basically. It’s a curiously endearing place – not too far from the Portobello Road but just far enough, and definitely not on the tourist side – with a small winding staircase running from each of the building’s three floors.
Here, in this eccentric and singular building, is where they penned their first releases. Stuff like “Friday Sky”, “Your Love”, “Heaven” and “It’s Not Easy”. Though relatively light on the outside, these are deeply personal songs – the latter two especially, as they concern the passing of each member’s mother; first Nancy’s, then Jamie’s. They’re strong evidence of how Babeheaven balance and shift weight around with ease, in the vein of groups like Cocteau Twins, as well as the closeness between the two of them.
These tracks launched Babeheaven into the world, earning them tour supports with the likes of Loyle Carner, Formation, Nilüfer Yanya and The Japanese House and their own show at the Scala. But that’s only the beginning. Earlier this year they released the magnificent EP ‘Circles’, featuring the magnificent lead single “Fresh Faced” which is exactly the type of tune that replay buttons were invented for. Fizzy and addictive, meandering between the lows and the highs, it captures Babeheaven’s knack for writing a pop-tune that easily veers into red-eyed, perhaps stoned bliss.
Predominantly, Nancy says the lyrics on the ‘Circles’ EP are about relationships. Or more precisely “friendships, family, losing touch, finding touch and about working out where you stand with people.”
She’s got a close knit family – she texts her grandmother every day. And so, she says, those are the most prominent things in my life right now. She continues: “When I write, it’s quite therapeutic. Like, what is going on right now, that I can get out of my head in a really nice way.” Lyrically, she’s read a lot of Leonard Cohen poems, is a big fan of Bjork (“she writes songs about throwing rubbish off the sides of cliffs”) and has a seemingly never-ending well of remembered lyrical references.
Following the release of “Seabird” earlier this year, Babeheaven’s next release is “Jalisco”. It’s a place in Mexico. Why name it after there? “I just came back from there,” Nancy explains. So is that what it’s about lyrically? “Not at all! I think, lyrically, this song is not about me personally.” But, she says, it’s about the persistence of trying and trying through a relationship that doesn’t seem to be working. “It’s quite tragic,” says Jamie, smiling. Then Nancy follows on: “It’s a tragedy!”
In practice, that tragedy of “Jalisco” has ended up as a warm and enveloping track, with as much rough edges as there are sweet. Think of it like being caught up in the musk of a heat-wave, taking a dab of sugar, then a dab of salt. Or to be more distinct about it: how it feels to be in the throes of love, even when you keep getting knocked back down and getting up again for more. It’ll be followed later this year with an EP.
For now though, get wrapped up, tune in and zone out.