Interview: Baby Velvet on Please Don’t Be In Love With Someone Else, Girls Rock and Americana Surf-Rock

  • Bruce Baker
  • May 27, 2022
  • Comments Off on Interview: Baby Velvet on Please Don’t Be In Love With Someone Else, Girls Rock and Americana Surf-Rock

Baby Velvet

Melbourne artist, Baby Velvet, is the solo project for Hannah Crofts, and today she released her debut album, Please Don’t Be In Love With Someone Else. It’s an album imbued with reflections of love and love-lost, as well as navigating life as an adult. It is undoubtedly shaped by years of life as a touring musician. Sonically, Hannah was aiming for an ‘East Coast LA sound‘ with bright vocals and ‘rock and roll in the background’. I reckon she has nailed it hands down.

You might know Hannah as one-quarter of the ARIA award-winning quartet, All Our Exes Live in Texas. The album was produced by LA legend Kevin Ratterman and Melbourne maestro James Gilligan helped out locally. The album was produced over Zoom, a sign of the times, which added challenges, but Hannah embraced them with passion.

If you’ve been on the Baby Velvet train as the singles have been released (“Call Me’, “What The Hell is Wrong With Me”, “Atlanta’), be sure to check out the video for “Bad With Money” that was released today – you’ll find it below!

I caught up with Hannah a few weeks ago, to chat about the album, and also about Girls Rock, another project that Hannah is passionate about.

Hey Hannah! – tell us about the title of your album, “Please Don’t Be In Love With Someone Else”

I don’t know exactly where it came from. Do you read David Sedaris?

Not yet!

Anyway, I’m obsessed. I spent a lot of time writing one-liners down in my notebook. It was going to be either that or Mum’s got a divorce and she’s never been happier

I think it sums the album up – most of the songs are about that.

Yeah – it fits in with the general concept… 

Yes –  please stop breaking up with me…. (both laugh)

So, relationships have been a bit tricky – maybe not as permanent as you’d like?

Maybe, but everyone else doesn’t find relationships as tricky…

Does it sum up the curse of the musician?

Maybe, but I know musicians who have partners. I think it’s an interesting thought of why, but lots of people I know manage to work this out, but I don’t.

It must be dislocating being a musician though …

I think with ‘Exes [All Our Exes Live in Texas], especially. We did it for 7 years in a row, and by the end, it was 250 gigs a year. So how you can actually date someone and be away for that amount of time, is impossible, unless you already knew them beforehand. If you’ve been married for 10 years, you can go away for a year. Then that’s fine. You can’t meet someone and make it work, generally.

Perhaps that’s the price you pay. The push and pull of being a musician.

Yeah – it’s a sacrifice you make when you decide to be a musician. You’re not going to have a steady home life or financial security. You’ll miss key events in people’s lives, but it’s a trade-off for what you get for it.

And no doubt you don’t necessarily realise the ramifications of those decisions and the path you have taken at that age

No, not in your ‘20s. I’m still making those decisions now. I still want to tour one hundred per cent of the time if possible. I still want to be away. It puts off having a baby or getting married or any of that stuff. You’ve got to be home to do it.

Your producer, Kevin Ratterman, how did you land upon him?

I love Kevin! There is a singer caller Jenny O. in LA, and I am obsessed with her, and I love her record. When I was working out who to work with, I was listening to her record, and I knew that was the vocal sound that I wanted, and I loved what he did with the harmonies. It’s Americana Surf-Rock, but it has a Beatles-y influence, I just emailed him randomly and said hello, would you make my record, and he emailed back in half an hour and said ‘I’ve listened to some of your tunes’ and said ‘Let’s do it’.

At the time I was supposed to go to LA to record and Covid stopped that from happening, so we made it over the internet together. So, I’ve never met him.

The first thing he said to me was, ‘Just so you know, this is my seventh and final life, and that’s why it’s such a good one’, and I thought you are so LA, I love you, so it had to be him.

I’ve been reading up about him, and before he moved to LA he lived in Louisville in Kentucky, and his studio was above a funeral home. Quite a dude!

He was so much fun, and great to work with. It was a weird experience making a record over the computer though.

So what was your process?

I was living in my sister’s bungalow for the pandemic. I’d packed up and quit my job. I’d sorted a job in LA, and in March 2020 moved into my sister’s house for a month to save some money before I headed to LA. I ended up staying there for a year.

When I worked out I couldn’t travel to do the record, I bought all the equipment and set up a vocal booth and taught myself how to use Logic Pro and recorded the guitar and vocals on repeat at home. I would send him the stems, and then he would add them to drums and bass. Then we would go back and forth on the song, just me and him, for three or four weeks until we were happy. It was a weird way to make a record.

You did a great job. It has a very rich sound, it does have elements of feeling as though it was recorded ‘live’

I think so too – he sent me heaps of videos of him on zoom – so I could watch him do the drum and bass parts. I never really wanted to make a record on my own, so it was weird to be doing it in my room on my own. It was nice to feel connected to him, even though it was over the internet.

Yes – it must have been a leap doing it on your own, after being in a group for such a long time

Even recording your own vocals – you sing a line, then do it again, and again. And wonder if it’s any better or not. If you had someone in the same room as you, you’d have help working it out. I reckon I did 200 vocal takes of everything because I could. It made me feel crazy by the end of the process.

I’d send Kevin five of what I thought were the best, and he would just go with them. I think it’s fine – I sing mostly in tune on the record!

What did James Gilligan do?

He plays bass in my band now. He is one of my oldest friends. We’ve been friends since I was 13. We did pre-production on the record for five of the songs. We went into the studio and he helped me record and flesh them out. He basically produced five of the tracks at the start of the process. I was able to take those tracks to Kevin, and we used a lot of his ideas and basslines, on the record. I was so lucky – he is very talented.

He plays everything. He does it all. And he takes on the role of being very kind to me on stage. He will wrap up my guitar leads and carry my guitar for me. He is very nice. A good tour buddy.

What were the sonic reference points to what you wanted on the album?

Definitely Jenny O’s record.

There’s a band called the Wild Reeds in America. They’re like ‘Exes, but really rocky, which is where I wanted to go with my own record. I still love harmonies, and I still love ambient vocals, but I did want that East Coast LA sound of the drums and bass.

Jonny Fritzes record, Sweet Creep from 2016, is really fun. The vocals are really bright, but also really rock and roll in the background. They were my main aim. I think I did it!

So, you are looking forward to touring the album?

I want to tour all the time. I love touring. I don’t want to be home. We’ve just done six weeks of shows, doing different supports. We will go on tour for the album in July and August, and hopefully, do festivals by the end of the year. I just want to play all the time.

Who else is in the band?

James Gilligan, Brian Campeau, Clio Renner and Holly Thomas. It’s a superstar band.

Yeah – I would have put in a few of those. Quality!

They are all really busy, so I’m trying to book them in early.

Clio is everywhere…

She is – she is doing the album launches which is great.

Tell us about another passion of yours, your Girls Rock project.

I’m on the board for Girls Rock, and I teach at the Sydney and Melbourne camps. It’s the best thing in the whole world. If you ever get a chance, you should go to a show.

It’s five days – and kids between the ages of ten up to seventeen. It’s girls, trans kids and non-binary kids, and they learn how to play rock n roll in the School holidays. You get a bunch of kids, most of whom haven’t played an instrument before. They get to pick one – could be drums, keyboard, vocals, bass etc.

They get put into a band with four or five other people and write a song together. They also do other activities. It’s so wonderful. These kids write music together and on a Friday night at the Factory theatre or Northcote Social Club, they perform their song.

You see 12-year-olds write songs about smashing the patriarchy, while their parents are in the audience. It is about the music, but it’s mostly about the kids finding a home and making friends with each other. They find friends which they might not have found at school.

Baby Velvet

You live in Melbourne now. You used to live in Sydney. Talk us through the differences, from a music perspective.

I do miss living in Sydney. The community is great. It’s a shame that Sydney doesn’t have more live music venues. I’ve noticed since moving back to Melbourne, that there are more little pockets of communities because there are so many venues and so many gigs. I think I forgot that this isn’t the case in Sydney.

And because there are more venues, it feels like there are more sub-genres, pockets of community, and little record labels that startup. In my experience, it doesn’t feel like that happens as much here in Sydney.

What’s on your playlist?

A lot of Big Thief. A lot of Lucy Dacus, heaps of Garfield Fleming – a fun Motown artist. I work for a booking agency and a studio that makes music for film and television, so I do a lot of searching for random bands.

I heard a great album from a band called Flyte. The album is This is Really Going to Hurt. It’s really good.

There are lots of women – Julia Jacklin, Maple Glider – she’s amazing.

Touring overseas – are you up for that again?

I’d love to go to Folk Alliance. I know I’m not that folky, but with ‘Exes we went to Folk Alliance in Kansas City. It’s not just folk music, it’s everybody. It’s the most fun conference that we have been to. It’s so fun – it’s all in a hotel. All the musicians are sleeping and playing in the hotel. The music starts at 11 pm and finishes at 6 am – and it’s just in the hotel rooms. You might play four or five times in the night, and it’s so fun.

I have dreams of touring America next year as well, and going to LA and meeting Kevin. ‘Exes did such massive tour circuits. It’d be nice to bring my stuff over there. I’ll start with America!

Thanks for your time – and best of luck with the album!

Baby Velvet Please Don’t Be In Love With Someone Else’ Album Tour

21st July / The Vanguard / Eora / Sydney / NSW – TICKETS
23rd July / Franks Wild Years / Dharawal Land / Thirroul / NSW – TICKETS
4th August / Northcote Social Club / Naarm / Melbourne / VIC – TICKETS
6th of August / The Bridge Hotel / Dja Dja Wurrung Land / Kyneton / VIC – TICKETS
12th of August / Lighthouse Arts Collective – Wathaurong Land / Point Lonsdale / VIC – INFO

Please Don’t Be In Love With Someone Else from Baby Velvet is out now via ABC Music, and on all streaming platforms. Limited edition merch bundles (including vinyl) are available HERE

You can follow Baby Velvet on her websiteFacebookYoutube and Instagram

Photos by Bruce Baker.

Bruce Baker

Probably riding my bike, taking photos and/or at a gig. Insta: @bruce_a_baker