Del Osei-Owusu interviews BAXTR band members Floss, Bash and Keiko…
Floss, Bash, Keiko, how are you all doing?
BP: Always good here in DreamSpace 🙂 We’re currently working away on some super exciting stuff for the very near future.
FM: We’re sweaty! Just finished an all day rehearsal. We’re so fired up to gig and release, chomping at the bit!
Congratulations on making the Fresh Faves Batch 415. How does it feel?
KJ: It feels amazing!! We are all so proud of this latest single, so making this batch is the best feeling. The concept that others like it too is just wild for us!
FM: Yeah, thank you so much for the kind words. We’re grateful that Fresh On The Net gave us a listen and honoured to be included! As a fledgling, DIY indie band who just spent our first year as a band in isolation, getting your ‘one to watch’ badge meant a lot. We definitely let out a little collective scream when we found out we’d made the batch.
What was the inspiration behind “In Pop We Trust”?
FM: It’s an ode to the thing that brought us together and keeps us together.
I was trundling home from good ol’ Specsavers and saw a sign that said “In __ we trust”. I can’t remember exactly what it said but straight away it set me off, thinking what is it that l trust in? What is it that has never let us 3 down? Pop music!
Cut to a possessed blonde nodding and mumbling furiously on her walk home, and by the time I’d reached the door the chorus was formed in my head. It just seemed like the story for us to tell at that time, because the power of our own pop music truly was pulling our band out of the mire.
We went on to cram the production full of references to pop that we love; bratty girl band gang chant BVs, 60’s pop claps, waspy Brit Pop guitars. It’s a big sticky pick n mix of our favourite pop references really.
“In Pop We Trust” also has a very colourful video. How did you come up with the concept for it?
KJ: Haha!! We’re glad you’ve seen it!! We just did what we could with what we had. Honestly it cost about a tenner to make. We took over my drum room and stuck blankets to the wall and bought some slime and had a lot of fun. The second and third day were shot at Floss & Bash’s houses and we really just got creative!
FM: The brief for the video was pretty much ‘fun, manic, high colour, maximalist KIDS PARTY’, ha! But we wanted it to border on grotesque and ridiculous to mirror the nature of pop music and our addictive relationship with it. The song is about innocent indulgence, simple pleasures and pop music, but pop can be saccharine or contrived; its sweetness can become obscene and revolting if one overindulges.
Someone remarked that the video kinda made them “feel a bit sick – like a kid on too many E numbers at a party” and that’s a compliment, really, because that’s what we were going for!
We’d not been able to all be together for an entire year, so I guess it was also an excuse for us to throw a therapeutic fake party and hurl our instruments about like toddlers. And hurl, we did!
It references pop culture – Walkman, colours from the 90s, what’s your favourite pop culture reference?
KJ: Oooh I think we all love Walkmans, Bash loves her vinyl and Floss her DMs 🙂
FM: Jarvis Cocker! (Can a person be a pop culture reference?).
One of my fave 90’s pop culture references would be the video for Don’t Falter by Mint Royale Ft. Lauren Laverne. It just absolutely reeks of the 90s and is gloriously mundane – a low budget production set in a supermarket and the song is a twinkly, sickly sweet earworm that will rotate in your brain forever. Lauren perfectly depicts an apathetic checkout girl ‘Lill’, goofing off with her crush and fellow worker Bill. I just love Brit Pop and its obsession with supermarkets. I want to live in 1999.
BP: Most of me is completely stuck in the 90s. It plays a huge part for sure, and our appreciation of that era is a common ground for us all. We didn’t need to look very far or do too much digging to find the props we needed. Between the three of us, we pretty much had them all! I’d like to reassure that absolutely no vinyl’s were destroyed for the purpose of making the video! They were all previously damaged and rescued records that got their time to shine again! 🙂
You are originally from London, what was the catalyst for starting the band?
BP: Keik’s is actually the only original Londoner, but it’s been our stomping ground for long enough to make us honorary Londoners I’d say. Flossy is a Wiltshire Lass and I’m Welsh born and bred.
KJ: We’ve been friends for ages and have always toyed with the idea of starting a band, but it wasn’t until just before lockdown and I just texted the girls asking how they were and we just started talking more and thought “why not” it was a scary time and we wanted to start something fun to lift us up.
FM: Yeah, the adversity shone an undeniable light of truth on the two things that mattered most to us: friendship and music. So when Keiko sent us that bonkers message, it just felt like the right time to make something together that was worth smiling for.
BP: We were brought together years ago through a mutual love and passion for music. We literally clicked and bonded instantly. From day one we’ve just had an unquenchable desire to create and perform music together. Whenever we were in the same room there was always this magical, unexplainable and undeniable force that could just never be ignored. It felt only natural for us all to move and live in the main hub for making musical dreams come true. Finally after a decade we’ve joined forces to try and make the dream real together.
You do it all yourselves, how does a typical writing session begin for you?
FM: I will usually lay down the foundations of a song or idea – lyrics and rough chords with loose production ideas, then Bash & Keiko interpret this in a way that only they can, and will work their magic, breathing life to the song and turning it into a BAXTR tune. We’re looking forward to the process being more collaborative from now on though, now that we can get in a room together more often!
KJ: It’s been tricky as a lot of our time has been on Zoom!! But Floss will come up with a rough idea for a song, I’ll add drums and then Bash adds guitars over the top.
FM: I should stress, we’re DIY but we don’t produce our records. Our insanely talented mates Peter Miles and Tristan Ivemy have been taking care of that very important task!
Being an act that do it all yourselves, what has been an essential part of your set up for you?
KJ: Internet!! Also very lucky that I (Keiko) have drums at home so can record myself and that the other two also have a means to record as well.
BP: As you can probably imagine, being DIY and still in such early stages, budget has been one of the biggest hurdles. Be it recording, rehearsing, releases, the time and resources it takes to create and share both audio and visual content are a constant cost. But, this is our baby, our absolute passion and we always find a way to make anything work. The amount of unquestionable love, trust and support we have for one another is what keeps our little unit running so strong, and helps us overcome any obstacle with minimal need of outside help. And as Keik’s said, the internet has been a Godsend!
FM: Time. Patience and Community. They’re the three most important weapons in our arsenal. Without those three things BAXTR wouldn’t have gotten off the ground. We needed time to craft and really work at it all, patience to let it unfold in the way it was meant to and lastly but most importantly – community.
The people who listen to us and escape into our music with us, they’re the fuel in our tank. We’re so blessed to have people like yourself coming along with us on this ride and we don’t take you or your support for granted.
Keiko, your drums are solid! Who are your top three drummers?
KJ: Thank you so much! My top three drummers at the moment are Anika Niles, Taylor Hawkins and Justin Scott
COVID has had an impact on the creative industry, what has kept you motivated?
FM: Our fans and each other. The wild idea that we can be a joy machine for people, and knowing that we can be that for ourselves and each other too. That keeps me going. When BAXTR was just a seed of an idea I’d never imagined what it might feel like for a stranger to thank us for our music because it had moved them, or inspired them to go for a run or call an old friend. It is very humbling to be told that something you’ve made with your best mates, from a place of truth as a means to escape, is something that’s gone on to underpin a significant moment or feeling for someone.
KJ: I think we have all felt discouraged in moments but the beauty of this band is that we all lift each other up. When someone is low then the other two are there to point out all the good.
BP: Covid really has been one of the most unpredictable, awful and unforgiving devastations to happen during our lifetime, and although it continues to closely affect myself and loved ones on a daily basis, there is a silver lining that I will forever and immeasurably be grateful for… the birth of BAXTR. After a ‘check in’ message from Keik’s got us back in touch at the start of the first lockdown, one thing led to another and before we knew it, we decided we wanted to start creating music together. With all the unexpected spare time on our hands, along with the need for positive distraction and a desperation to fill the voids of no foreseeable gigs, it felt like the perfect time.
I personally had no idea just how much it would grow into something we’d all be so passionate about, and become one of our biggest mutual priorities! It became so much more than just trying to keep ourselves preoccupied and sane. It became a vision! A yearn to bring hope, happiness and positivity to anyone who needed it.
To create a safe space for anyone looking to feel included and heard with no judgement, a place where being your truest self is nothing but celebrated. That is still our biggest mission and motivation.
Tell us about your morphing crystal ship from dreamspace?
KJ: This is where we work from. Hard to explain yet the place we all feel connected to. Perhaps if you can come to a gig you might get a glimpse as to what this is all about 🙂
FM: The ship is where we all belong. It’s our safe space. It exists in the space between asleep and awake. The place we go when we’re in flow. It felt right to give this place and feeling a name. Often, we turn to each other and I can tell we’re all thinking “we’ve done this before”. We have been through a LOT together and this project feels as if it’s one constant magical deja vu. The ship is xenoblastic so it changes shape according to its surroundings, much like our friendship has done. But the core of it is always there and has always been there, in every dimension, throughout infinite time, just cruisin’, wailin’ and rockin’ out for joy’s sake.
2020 was a time to reflect what did you learn about yourselves?
KJ: I think that we’re stronger than we thought and also that anything you care about takes time so learning to have patience and trust the process for me was a big one.
BP: I feel this is probably the case for most people who were fortunate enough to make it through 2020 with any feelings still intact, but I can definitely say I’ve learned I’m a lot stronger, more patient and resilient than I thought I ever could be. The most important things I’ve learned by far though, are to take absolutely nothing for granted, to properly nurture your relationships and actively leave room to help out anyone you can, whether a loved one or passerby. One of the biggest things that really helped me get through the harsh realities of the pandemic (aside from BAXTR), was seeing just how much kindness, compassion and empathy people had for one another. Seeing the lengths that complete strangers were going to and offering up to help out others in need, it brought back so much faith in humanity and even inspired. I think it’s pretty safe to say that a lot less gets taken for granted now. I certainly feel a much deeper gratitude for life everyday.
FM: Well, those are some pretty profound answers there! I learnt that I am an even bigger nerd than I had ever dared to imagine I might be. I’m basically an introverted hobbit with an insatiable appetite for homemade brownies and early 2000s emo. You know how time eventually shapes people into a refined caricature of all the things they love? Like, how we mostly all inevitably become ‘Robinson’s double concentrate’ version of ourselves? I feel like I time travelled to the ‘me’ that I will eventually become… and… she’s weird!
What are you listening to at the moment?
KJ: John Mayer’s new album “Sob Rock”
FM: I’ve been listening a lot to a Toronto band called Bernice. They make trippy, haunting, mellow, beautiful pop. SO good. And most recently, the beautiful back catalogue of Delays, following the tragic passing of their immeasurably talented frontman Greg Gilbert. Their music is so majestic and dreamy.
BP: Top of my “Most recently played” / vinyl collection will absolutely always include The Boss and Joan Jett, with a good few pop bangers, a decent helping of eclectic golden oldies, and sprinkling of Led Zep. Movie soundtracks always on repeat – Guardians of the Galaxy (both volumes) and Dirty Dancing (not sorry! ;))
What are you looking forward to next?
KJ: More gigging and we have our first gig as part of the BBC introducing Essex tour on the 17th Dec at Hot Box in Chelmsford!
BP: Without a shadow of a doubt, number one on the list is playing our very first BAXTR gig this December 17th. I feel like it’s so long overdue, and I can’t believe we are lucky enough to be doing it as part of The BBC Introducing Essex tour. So so grateful for all the amazing support we’ve received. We also have plenty more songs just waiting to be recorded that we are beyond excited to share. Watch this space 🙂
FM: Yeah, I third that. I wanna give people a time to remember. I want to stand next to my two best mates and finally let the cork off the bottle. Let the ship take off. After 13 years of friendship and dreaming about doing this, it’s been a really, really long time coming.