Bayli Wants to Tell You Stories: For a while there, it looked like the Skins were going to make it really big. The Brooklyn-based afropunk outfit had formed when the members were in their mid teens, and they had seen a video go semi-viral on YouTube. They found themselves snapped up by Rock Rubin, and it appeared that their star would keep rising. Alas, no.
“My band were together for quite a while, and we started when we were so young,” says singer Bayli. “After seven years of being together, we kind of just grew up and we had even more than just creative differences. We just had personal things – some people didn’t want to go full out with music careers. We all had different ideas about life when we grew up, by the time we got to our early twenties, so we kind of just amicably said ‘this is not working, let’s give each other the space to go our separate ways.’ Then I was getting more into songwriting, and I really didn’t think I was going to do solo music, but I had some amazing friends that just encouraged me and reminded me that I had more stuff to say as an artist.”
Bayli, then, went solo. Rather than rely on musicians who don’t share her vision, she went it alone. Her sound is more pop, more R&B, but she hates trying to define it.
“I don’t know if other artists give you the same response, but it’s so difficult,” she says. “I think I’m just a person that it’s so hard for me to stay within the confines. As an artist, I think part of my job is to just start new conversations. I hope that we’re creating new genres, new sounds. But I always say pop because I just hope that my music is that universal and that relatable.”
Bayli’s latest release is the Stories 2 EP, the sequel to Stories from New York. It’s a continuation of the theme – experiences set to music.
“Stories From New York is really my experiences in New York, it’s giving people who are hearing me for the first time an idea about who I am,” Bayli says. “So you have songs like ‘Sushi For Breakfast.’ I talk about queerness, I come out as a queer person on Stories from New York. And then Stories 2 is this idea of a sonic landscape. Instead of being in New York City, in my hometown, I take it to different territories, and I’m just trying to capture where I was at, how I was feeling, in these new places. There’s a song called ‘Pressure’ on Stories 2 that I wrote in L.A. I’m trying to capture that dusty desert feeling with the production and the lyrics there. And, of course, how I was feeling in the moment.”
The latest single from the EP is “Pressure,” a song that Bayli says was written in lockdown much like the rest of the EP, and is about pining for a loved one.
“I think this project really speaks about isolation and all these new feelings coming up, being in isolation and coming out of it,” she says. “Pressure’s really just like, I was on the road, I was working, I’ve been in L.A., back and forth from home and back. I’m very much a family person, so it’s really just like calling the person that you loved most, the person that’s your confidante, and kind of saying ‘I need you right now. I’m surrounded by people but I’m super lonely here in L.A. somehow.’ That’s what Pressure’s about.”
The artist currently is splitting her time between New York and L.A., spending approximately half of the year in her hometown and the other half surrounded by the industry in SoCal.
“My publisher’s there at Warner Music Group and of course some of my producers I work with are there,” she says. “So I’m really in L.A. like six months out of the year. I love LA. I’m getting a lot of work. I want to go hard at the L.A. music industry. New York, I love it, but all the creativity and inspiration makes me want to be in L.A. and see how it elevates my work. They’re very, very different cities.”
That said, she describes New York as the foundation of her inspiration.
“New York really keeps me on my toes,” she says. “There are so many incredible people there, and so much incredible art. It’s a place that pushes the envelope. You’re never settled doing your thing, you’re always expanding, growing and evolving. I hope that my music does that as well. That’s the main inspiration that I take from New York.”
All of that informs Stories 2 and its predecessor. The music, Bayli says, is cathartic. It’s therapy.
“I hope that it translates and I’m having conversations that people maybe want to have or listen to or want to get out,” she says. “So an overriding theme for me was just coming out of isolation. This search for connectivity again. I’m trying to start that conversation of, there’s ways to connect over the internet, over the phone. I think that’s a lot of the theme in Stories 2. But there’s also nothing like connecting with someone in person. I’m seeing that amazingly on tour. I’m just baffled by being back out on the road and seeing how everyone reacts to the music.”
Bayli currently is out on tour with indie-synth duo Magdalena Bay, and she says that the road is treating her well.
“This is my first time doing solo music on the road, so it’s really just been incredible,” she says. “I’m amazed when people know my lyrics in small towns like Des Moines, Iowa. It’s amazing that people know some of my music and I’m so honored to be touring with Magdalena Bay – I could not have asked for a better starting tour to get back into things.”
Look out for a date near you. In the meantime, Bayli plans to keep dropping new music and giving her songs the exposure that they deserve. Meaning, a lot of exposure.
Bayli Wants to Tell You Stories: Bayli’s Stories 2 EP is out now.
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