It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine

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Baby Jesus interview

Where do you even begin with the wild, psychotic, madness that is Baby Jesus?  Walls of reverberating noise implode into themselves, fractured sounds and howled vocals decimating the void like trundling giants in a world of China glass, Baby Jesus literally chews on the scenery in the greatest possible sense.  They’re the latest in a series of jaw dropping bands to sign with Levitation Records, the geniuses behind both Chino Burga’s recent 3AM album (Interview here) and the deranged amazingness of Narcosatanicos (Interview here) this year alone.  Baby Jesus, like their label mates, have a wildly original sound, however Baby Jesus are distinctly more psychedelic than Levitation’s previous offerings, and that’s saying something!  The reverb is literally palpable on these recordings, dripping and spilling from the listener’s speakers in contorted, spasmodic fits.  This is gnarly garage psych in its truest form right here, folks.  No bullshit, no fucking around.  The shrieking organ rhythms, the twisted jangling hideousness of the guitar, the tympanic explosion of drums and the screeched Iggy Pop vocals team to create some of the best noise I’ve heard in a long while.  Their self-titled album is due out any day now on Levitation and I’ve been frothing at the mouth for it since someone sent me a link to their SoundCloud page a while back, featuring a scant three track preview that left me wanting way more and wondering where these guys had come from!  I kept trying to put off an interview until the album was out, but eventually I just couldn’t wait any longer and I managed to corral every single founding member of the band to fill all of us lucky folks in on the details of where Baby Jesus is coming from and where they’re headed from here.  I could seriously go on all day and night about Baby Jesus, but I’m not going to.  Instead I’ll just recommend that you check out some music while you read these words and by the time you’re finished I basically guarantee you’re as stoked for the new album as I am!
                - Listen while you read:

I just heard about you all.  Who’s in Baby Jesus and what do they play?  Is this the original lineup for Baby Jesus or have there been any changes since the band started?

Baby Jesus:  Baby Jesus consists of Fredrik (lead guitar, lead vocal), Robin (saxophone, percussion), Rasmus (drummer), Elis (bass), and Björn (organ, guitar).  This is the original lineup but one of the members, Pontus, had to take time apart from the band due to personal issues.  Otherwise we’re all original members.

Are any of you involved in any other bands or do you have any active side projects going on right now?  Have you released anything with anyone in the past?  If so, can you tell us a bit about that?

Baby Jesus:  At the moment none of us have any other serious side projects going on.  We jam a lot with friends in our rehearsal-space/studio.  Before Baby Jesus some of us played in different configurations, such as the punk band Dösnack, and the indie band Sleep Tight Mr. White.

How old are you and where are you originally from?

Baby Jesus:  We’re all in our twenties and we all grew up in the same city.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Were you very involved in that scene?  Did you see a lot of shows, or do you feel like it played an important role in shaping your musical tastes or influencing the way you perform at this point?

Baby Jesus:  Our town made no difference at all to our musical ways.  The music scene during our younger years consisted of a lot of metal and the average singer/songwriter stuff.  Out here there aren't too many scenes.  We create our own scene here and nowadays we arrange our own shows.

What about your home life as a kid?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or maybe just extremely interested/involved in music?

Baby Jesus:  None of our parents dislike music, but they weren’t musicians themselves.  They've always been supportive of what we’re doing.  In the band, our musical backgrounds differ, some of us are schooled in music and others are self-taught.

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be?

Fredrik:  When I was five, my parents threw a party and put on the song “Joupolle Joutunut” by the Swedish group Hedningarna.  My mind was blown by the psychedelic Sumerian witchcraft-sounding music and I knew what my quest was.

Rasmus:  My father dragged me out of my room and made me listen to Bob Dylan and the message he was telling.  “Listen to the lyrics, you must listen to the lyrics” he said.  I was six or seven.

Robin:  I was shuffling among my fathers records and found a Michael Jackson record.  The cover was of Michael Jackson looking like the Silver Surfer.  The first song was “Black or White” and I thought it was the best thing ever.  I walked grabbed a bucket, filled it with gravel and shook it like a mad dog to recreate the sound.

Björn:  My mother had a cassette of the Australian group Midnight Oil containing the song “Beds Are Burning”.  I loved it.

Elis:  I grew up with a mother that loved Jimi Hendrix and all sorts of 60s music.  But the first encounter with music that really got me hooked was Ebba Grön and National Teatern.

If you were to pick a single defining moment, a moment that seemed to change everything for you musically and opened your eyes up to the infinite possibilities that music presents, what would it be?

Fredrik:  I was eighteen and attended a weed-party, and some guy put on “You're Gonna Miss Me” by the 13th Floor Elevators. That moment blew my mind wide open.  Another band who has influenced us all is the Brian Jonestown Massacre.  They proved what could be done as an independent artist.  We all remember the first time we heard them and how that moment moved us towards each other musically.  We had played together before this, but that was a defining moment.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you, or was it just a kind of subconscious, naturally occurring evolutionary process?

Baby Jesus:  Before Baby Jesus, we knew that we were gonna form the band.  We knew what was ahead, but before that there were things to be done.  After graduation, we went our separate ways but the seed was planted, and once we were together we got ourselves a rehearsal space which we turned into a studio immediately.  From there the sound has been formed.  But to answer your question, yes.  You could say that there was a natural urge in us drawing us together to make and create music.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

Baby Jesus:  We’ve all been there, playing on pots and lids with spoons.  Fredrik started playing electrical guitar when he was eleven.  Rasmus started going to guitar lessons at age eleven, but he lost touch with the instrument and gained an interest in drums witch he learned by himself.  Robin began with saxophone around age eleven, attended school for it, but later got interested in drums which he played for a couple of years and when the band formed he took up the saxophone again since Rasmus played drums.  Björn started playing guitar and piano by himself around age fourteen and has schooled himself since then.  When we formed the band we knew that there had to be an organ and he was the natural choice.

When and how did the member of Baby Jesus originally meet?

Baby Jesus:  We've all been friends since grade-school.

When did you all become a band and what led to the formation of Baby Jesus?

Baby Jesus:  The whole thing started when Fredrik and Björn moved to Oslo.  There, they started to experiment with songwriting and started trying to go for a sound.  After a year they realized that they wanted to do this with the now present band members, and that it would be easier to do everything at home in Sweden.  But first they went to backpack in India experimenting with substances, the conscious mind, and different Indian instruments such as the sitar and Tablas.  Fredrik and Björn came home from India in early 2012 and signed a lease for the practice space the first day they were back that allowed them to do what they wanted, which was to build a basic studio to record all the music live.  We all knew who was going to be in the band.  So, when we got the practice space in early June 2012, we immediately started to jam and form what Baby Jesus is today.

Is there any sort of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Baby Jesus:  It's not a hobby.

While I supposed there’s a religious reference in your name, for whatever reason whenever I say it or hear it all I can think about is some using it as an exclamatory curse; “Sweet baby Jesus that was crazy” etcetera.  What does the name, Baby Jesus mean or refer to?  Who came up with it and how did you all go about choosing it?  Are there any close seconds that you all almost went with you can recall at this point?

Baby Jesus:  There's no religion involved.  We'd been playing for some months and we had to come up with a name...  Which can be difficult.  Everybody threw out ideas and Fredrik said Baby Jesus, referring to Baby Grandmothers, the Swedish 70's progressive rock band.  We all thought that Baby Jesus had power to it, like you almost giggle when you say it.  We also considered Krickerdance and The Rainbow Dancers and Elephant Tribe.

Where’s Baby Jesus located at these days?

Baby Jesus:  Baby Jesus is located in Halmstad, Sweden.  In an industrial area partway outside of the city is our studio, our sacred grounds.

How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at currently?

Baby Jesus:  The music scene here has evolved over the past few years, in some good ways, some bad ways and some really bad ways.  There’re a lot of talented people here, and the interest seems to be growing but Halmstad is a small town.  A lot of bands have formed here, and many bands have split up here, because to stay leads nowhere.  To get real attention, you have to get out of Halmstad.

Do you feel very involved in the local scene at all?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or anything?

Baby Jesus:  We have our studio in an industrial area, which has allowed us to throw numerous shows and parties there inviting local bands that we think have something good going.  Since Halmstad has limited places to play, we thought since we could, that we should take matters into our own hands.

Has the local scene played an integral role in the sound, history or formation of Baby Jesus, or do you all think you would be doing what you’re doing and sound basically like you do regardless of where you were at or what you were surrounded by?

Baby Jesus:  We’re not influenced by the local scene.  I think that we're bringing something new and fresh to the scene.  We don't just differ in musical ways, but in that we dedicate our lives to this; this and only this.

Are you involved in recording or releasing any music at all?  If so, can you tell us about that briefly here?

Baby Jesus:  Our self-titled debut record is being pressed at the moment and recently we bought a 4-track tape recorder with the express purpose of recording a 7-inch to release shortly after the album.  We've thought about bringing in local bands to our place to record and we think that it'll definitely happen in the future.

Whenever I talk to bands and do these interviews and write-ups I have to inevitably describe how a band sounds to a bunch of people who’ve never heard them before.  Since I only talk to band I like, this presents a bit of a problem to me as I always feel like I’m putting far too much of my own thoughts and perceptions in to my descriptions of music.  It’s become an obsession with me over the last yea or two and it seriously keeps me up at night sometimes at this point.  Rather than feeding to my neurosis, how would you describe Baby Jesus’ sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?  Wow that’s a sentence I probably won’t get to say ever again in my life, ha-ha!

Baby Jesus:  It's always hard to describe music without being subjective.  If we were to try, it would be like this: Baby Jesus is a garage/psych band.  The music evolves from the raw catchy 60's pop songs, primitive garage rock; a sort of psychotic punk Beatles.

What’s the songwriting process like for Baby Jesus?  Is there usually someone who comes in with a riff or more finished idea for a song to figure out with the rest of the band as a whole?  Or, do you all get together and just kind of kick ideas back and forth, trading off ideas and stuff until you work out something that you’re interested in working on and refining?

Baby Jesus:  It's a little bit of both.  Sometimes someone has a riff, idea or a whole song.  It usually ends with everyone kicking ideas back and forth whilst we jam, until we have a finished song with input from everyone.

What about recording for Baby Jesus?  I’m a musician myself and I think that most of us can appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes into making an album when you’re finally holding that finished product in your hands.  Getting to that point though, getting stuff recorded and sounding the way that you want it to, especially as a band, can be difficult to say the least.  What’s it like recording for Baby Jesus?

Baby Jesus:  From the beginning we've always recorded every time we rehearse.  Rasmus has always been keen to mix when he's at home, so he would send us what he'd mixed, whether it was just one song, or a couple of them.  Over time we've come with different input, but I think that we've always been on the same page about the sound.  So, when it was time to record the debut album, we already knew what we wanted.  Our debut record was recorded live in one night, sort of as a one take kind of thing.

Do you all like to take a DIY approach to recording where you handle most every aspect of recording yourselves so that you don’t know to work with, or compromise on the sound with, anyone else?  Or do you all like to head into the studio and let someone else handle the technical aspects of stuff so that you can just kind of concentrate on the music and getting the best performances possible out of yourselves?

Baby Jesus:  We're proud that we did our debut record utilizing the DIY approach.  The next thing we record will be in a co-op type of thing with a friend who's an engineer.  In the future we're open to work with someone who will be handling the technical stuff, since what we want is just to play.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into working out every little aspect of how a song’s going to sound with all the changes and everything meticulously planned out before you start record?  Or, do you get a good skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like in your heads, while allowing for some change and evolution where necessary during the recording process?

Baby Jesus:  This album we have now is completely live, on the spot.  The sound came naturally from what was going on that night.  For example, we made a mistake on one track, but we kept on going and it turned out great.  That’s what we wanted, those spontaneous things that are rock and roll.

Do psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs play a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance processes for Baby Jesus?  People have been tapping into the altered states that drugs create for thousands of years and channeling them into art and I’m always curious about their usage and application to the art that I enjoy.

Baby Jesus:  All experiences inspire creativity.  A state of mind can be reached from anywhere and from anything, psychedelics included.

I know you all recorded a six song demo in 2012 or 2013 but I’ve never been able to track down details about that material.  Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for that early demo?

Our first EP was a warm up for our debut album, just for promotional purposes.  We had a lot of material, so we felt like we could.

You followed up the demo with the soon to be released self-titled album on Levitation Records who’ve put out some of the best Scandinavian psych I’ve ever heard all on their own and people are just now starting to really catch on to how killer their catalog is.  Can you tell us a bit about how you got hooked up with Kasper out at Levitation and what the recording of the material was like?  Was it very different than the recording of the material for the earlier demo?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What can out readers expect from the upcoming album and is there a projected release date at this point?

Baby Jesus:  We played a show at DRONE in Copenhagen.  Kasper fell inside and heard us, only to be amazed.  After the show we hung out, drinking beers and talking, and it was our entrance to Levitation Records.  The recording process for our demo was more casual than the recording of the album.  The demo was recorded during rehearsal, and the feeling was just right.  When we recorded the album, we dedicated a couple of weeks to recording.  We played day after day, until one day everything felt right, and we got everything in one take, song after song.  The demo and the album were recorded at the same place, our rehearsal space/studio, Studio Vansinnet.  We engineered it ourselves.  Our album’s an authentic live album.  You can expect raw energy that will suck you in.  It's a punch in the face, with everything that comes with that.

Does Baby Jesus have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a song on a compilation or a single that I don’t know about?

Baby Jesus:  No, think you got it.

With the impeding release of the full-length on Levitation before long, are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon for you all at this point?

Baby Jesus:  We're currently in the works of some analog recording.  We're aiming to release a 7-inch pretty close to after the debut album comes out.  We have a lot of material, so we'll always be able to record and release something.

How’s the best way for our US readers to pick up copies of your stuff?  I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up imports as I can!  It sucks when shipping is as much or more than the LP!

Baby Jesus:  If we find stores who want to carry our record, we could send a bunch to the US.  It would be fun to get in contact with Burger Records, In The Red or Goner, to name a few, for some US distribution.

What about our international and overseas readers?

Baby Jesus:  If we get an opportunity to sell records overseas, we will do everything in our power to make it happen, to whatever country it might be.

And where’s the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases at?

Baby Jesus:  With this release, we're also releasing a video and some merch, making us more accessible through the internet.

Are there any major plans or goals that Baby Jesus is looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014 or 2015?

Baby Jesus:  As of 2014, our plan is to release the album, a music video and some merch.  Our goal in 2015 will be to tour, release more material, etcetera.  But touring’s one of our primary goals.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  Do you enjoy being out on the road?  What’s life like on tour for Baby Jesus?

Baby Jesus:  On the road we hit bumps.  Sometimes we're all pumped up, and sometimes we’re all worn out, but nonetheless it’s something we’re obligated to do.  We consider it a privilege to be able to play in different places to different people.

Do you remember the first song that Baby Jesus ever played live was?  When and where would that have been?

Baby Jesus:  The first song we ever played was "It Don't Matter".  It was one of the first songs we as a band ever wrote.  Nowadays, we rarely play this song but we’ll probably come around to liking it again one day.  The venue where we played our first show was a local place called Roots and that was about two years ago, in November of 2012.

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes at this point?

Baby Jesus:  All we want is to be able to travel and play.  At the moment, we’re occupied recording the new EP and the making of a music video, but hopefully as of next spring we’ll be a touring band.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?

Baby Jesus:  We all love the Danish psych-scene, with bands such as Fribytterdrömme and De Underjordiske, which we've played with during our shows in Copenhagen.  They’re good people with great live acts.  At a show we played in Malmö, Sweden we met a band called The Nykels who really inspired us creatively.  They played this kinda artsy punk rock, sounding a bit like the ending of White/Light White/Heat by The Velvet Underground.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Baby Jesus:  Igor Dortnotkniev, the greatest flute player in all of Jukutan.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Baby Jesus:  Once, we played a festival called "Rosenbergsfestivalen", where we played over twenty songs while heavy intoxicated.  Eventually, they shut out the lights and came up to the stage to grab a mic, but we just kept on playing.

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, covers and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re attempting to convey with your artwork?

Baby Jesus:  As our music can come in different shapes, so does the artwork and the making of posters, etcetera.  Our artwork represents a state of mind, since it’s spontaneously created.  All that represents Baby Jesus is also created by Baby Jesus.

Do you all have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to art?  If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Baby Jesus:  As previously stated above, we do everything by ourselves.

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the methods of release that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your music?  What about when you’re listening to or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference, can you tell us what it is and a little bit about why?

Baby Jesus:  We release vinyl, because it’s what we buy.  It's an immersive medium that we're all into.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Baby Jesus:  We’re not collectors, but we still like to browse in records stores frequently.  Though, we all have some tastes of heaven in the universal music library.

I grew up around my dad’s massive collection of music and not only did he encourage me to dig in to his music but I he would take me out to the local shops and pick me up random stuff I was interested in.  I remember, I would rush home, stick on a set of headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the cover artwork and let the whole mess just carry me off on this whole trip!  Having something physical to hold in my hands, something concrete and seemingly really attached the music, and by extension the band, that always made for a much more complete listening experience.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Baby Jesus:  Yes, we all like the psychical form of records.  We're not purists when it comes to records, though.  Primarily for us it’s the music it contains, not the quality of the psychical product.  Nonetheless, there is something about holding the cover of the record while you listen to it.

Like it or not at this point, digital music is here in a big way.  On one hand it’s exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and allowed them for the first time to really reach out and communicate with just about anyone that they want to, while eradicating geographic boundaries that would have crippled bands in the past.  On the other hand though, while people are being exposed to all of this incredible new music, they’re not necessarily interested in paying for it right now.  Illegal piracy is running rampant right now but there are a lot of interesting arguments on both sides of the fence there, but it is harder than ever to get your music noticed in the insanely chocked digital jungle out there right now.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Baby Jesus:  Availability is something good.  Being able to reach out to the entire world cannot be a bad thing.  But nonetheless, it reduces the possibility of being able to live on your music.  We’re not politicians.  We're just interested in making music and art.  We leave the bigger matters to others, who are more capable.  If something helps us to get out, touring and exposing people to our music, it must be good.

I try to keep up with as many possible good bands as I can but sometimes it’s hard to even know where to start.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Baby Jesus:  If there’s anything we would recommend from our town it’s the artist Peter Wahlbeck.  You and all of the readers should listen to his record Music fur Alle and also check out his video "Joyride" on YouTube.  Tell everyone about Peter.

What about nationally and internationally?

Baby Jesus:  At the moment, we really like the bands collaborating with Burger Records.  We would also recommend the Back From The Grave collections and the Nuggets Compilation part one.  These collections of garage material have influenced us heavily.  Not only musically but also the way they do it.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, it was seriously cool of you all and I’m stoked to be able to talk to you before you get all busy and famous after the album drops, ha-ha!  Before we call it quits and stuff though, is there anything that I could have possibly missed in the last forty-some-odd questions, or that maybe you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about?

Baby Jesus:  First of all, we'd like to thank you for this interview.  And to the readers; want a copy of the album?  Want us to play?  No doubt we'll make it happen!  Don't hesitate to contact us through our Facebook page or email.

(2014)  baby Jesus – Baby Jesus – Digital, 12” – Levitation Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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