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A chat with Babebee


21 year old Korean-American songwriter and producer Babebee is creating some of the most immersive, genre-defying, and ambitious music released today. Named one of Pigeons & Planes best new artists of 2022, Babebee is making their return on November 17th with their new EP A PROPHECY. Read more about the artist below!


I read that deciding on your musical moniker “ Babebee” was an ongoing process for you as you attempted to join your Korean, American, and public identities, something that shows how your music has evolved. Can you tell us about that experience, and how you finally landed on your name?

Babebee is actually inspired by a Kirby meme that was popular at the time when I came up with my new artist name. (Kirby’s in front a white board pointing at a text that says “im baby” and since I love puns, I combined Babe and bee to form the word “baby”.) Growing up as one of the few Asians in the area I used to live in, I felt a bit out of place, so I tried to reclaim my ancestry by going by my Korean name once I moved out, but I felt uncomfortable having people outside of my family call me by it, so now most people just call me “Bee”. Since I like to mix both English and Korean in my songs, I feel like my name fits both in one.


You began demonstrating a love for music and a talent for performance from a young age, so what were your earliest memories of music like? Did you grow up in a musical environment?

Coming from a Korean household, my mom grew up learning how to play classical music on the piano, so she tried to make me learn the piano. As I was forced to learn the piano, I tended to goof off and come up with my own songs instead of practicing pieces. I remember creating one of my first songs when I was around the age of 6 and from then on I fell in love with writing poetry, which then turned to writing songs and producing music later on. I didn’t necessarily grow up in a very musical household, but one of my core memories is centered around the Korean karaoke machine. When my dad used to work at a Korean karaoke bar, I would sit in one of the rooms and sing Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson. I remember seeing them on the screen and wonder if I could ever be a singer.


You’ve mentioned you find inspiration in other genre-bending artists like Björk, SOPHIE, FKA twigs, and Blood Orange. What are the specific qualities in their music that you’re drawn to, and how has being able to “study” those qualities translated into the music that you make?

I love all kinds of genres; the music I listen to ranges day to day, depending on the mood I’m in. But I would say I fall back to these artists all the time and get inspired all over again. I love Bjork’s vocal range and her capability to use it as an instrument. SOPHIE is a huge inspiration when it comes to my production, especially in the more electronic tracks I create. I love how genre-bending FKA twigs is and am very empowered by the way she carries herself through her visuals as well. I love how Blood Orange collaborates with other artists; Dev Hynes is able to add his unique touch of production in the tracks he creates and I find myself doing the same when I collaborate as well.


Your new EP A PROPHECY is due out November 17th, congratulations! I was able to have an early listen and it is such a fantastic project. Your unique sound defies genre and tradition, so I was wondering how this EP came about? Was there a certain track that you built it around?

Thank you so much :D I remember Jack, who I worked on the EP with, reached out to me when one of my songs “sunset blvd” came out. At the time I was couch-surfing in LA and I thought it was going to be one of those sessions where we just come out with one song and that’s it. However, as we did more sessions together, I realized it was not just one song that could tell the whole story. The EP idea came around when we finished our second track together called “A PROPHECY ON LOVE”, which inspired the EP title. At the time, I was going through one of my first long-term relationships that unfolded in turmoil. In the span of 6 months, I finished the project, which is kinda ironic because it was linear to my own relationship I was in.


Your ability and utter skill when it comes to producing really shows on this EP, so how does the task of producing, songwriting, and singing all weave together for you? Do lyrics or the music come first?

I would say they work hand in hand. I tend to create the music first, inspired by the emotions I am currently feeling, and then I like to write subconscious flows that turn into understandable lyrics.


Which track on the EP went through the most re-working before reaching its final form?

I would say VIDEO GAME. When I created that song, I was going through one of my most daunting experiences in life, related to healthcare, etc. I came into the session with a different idea in mind, but at the last minute I wanted a track that was more up-beat to lift me out of the mood I was in, so that’s when I drew inspiration from my hometown Atlanta, especially the underground scenes based there.


You’re an earnest lyricist, often incorporating your own emotions into your music which creates a rather immersive experience. Is writing from that headspace a challenge, or does it come easy?

I would say it’s not easy. Music is a safe space for me—a form of free therapy lol. However, in a sense it’s “easy” because I just write what comes to mind. I tend to overthink in vulnerable times, but when it comes to art, it’s a form of my purest self-expression and I am able to open up about the emotions I’m going through. I write it for myself, but I know there’s others out there who are experiencing similar motions, so my songs feel like a collective hug from the universe to me.



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