Baum is a mononymous indie pop singer based in Los Angeles. She's been singing since the tender age of 8 and continues to mature as an artist. Some songs are fun, while others delve into the inner workings of personal relationships. She's even been known to cover Bon Iver songs in concert, so she's quite adept at balancing soulful singing with hip musical credentials.Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): Is your song "This Body" a response to the John Mayer song? [She has a line in the song, "You say I'm a wonderland."]
Baum: No, it's not. I have heard that before - it has nothing to do with John Mayer's song. One day I was catcalled, and I get catcalled all the time, like a dozen times every day, but this one day I wrote a song about it basically in response to being catcalled, and then generally as a statement about how I'm treated as a woman and the things I would like to say to myself when I feel affected by that.
Songfacts: So, would you say it's in part a song about female empowerment?
Songfacts: And have you gotten responses from women?
Baum: Yeah. I've gotten really kind responses. We were playing in Denver and there were some people who said, "That made me feel so good. This body is my body and I have to respect myself and love myself." That's the thing that means the most: when people react that way.
Songfacts: You have a song called "Bad Kid" that gets a strong reaction. Can you talk about that?
Baum: I don't really like going into the lyrics in that one because I like to keep that personal, but it is about losing somebody and dealing with the complexities of losing someone that you thought you had the most perfect relationship with.
Songfacts: I'm a father, and I had an estranged relationship with my son for like a year and a half. It made me think about how I wasn't really able to see my first granddaughter. He has a wedding coming up next month and we just restored our relationship a couple of weeks ago.
Baum: That's amazing.
Songfacts: I thought about what would happen if we didn't. What if something happened to us and we didn't restore that?
Baum: Yeah. That's what I experienced, so I wrote about it. You can try to fix it yourself even when they're not there. You can try to deal with it.
Songfacts: Have you ever thought of doing a country song?
Baum: I always loved pop music, but I grew up listening to classic rock and I grew up singing classic rock. That was how it started, and then when I was 11 or 12, I found music that was similar to what indie is now.
But it evolved a lot. I was sort of like an indie kid, you know what I mean? I didn't listen to that much country, but I'm inspired vocally by a lot of country music and R&B and hip-hop. So, I had branched out a lot when I was growing up, but it took me a while to get to where I am knowing the sound that I want.
Songfacts: In terms of songwriting, what artists have you learned from?
Baum: It's a lot of classic rock artists and classic folk artists like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, but then there are people now that I really listen to lyrically like Kanye.
Melodically I'm drawn to different artists than I am lyrically. So, singing Adele songs or Amy Winehouse songs was how I tried to figure out what vocal sound I wanted when I was growing up. I sat at a piano and tried to imitate that and tried to see what was my thing in comparison to that. I got influenced by a ton of different artists, mostly classic folk and rock.
Songfacts: Was that a difficult period for you to find your feet as a songwriter?
Baum: It came very naturally. I probably was 7 or 8 when I started writing, but they weren't good songs, they were terrible songs. I was writing about relationships and obviously I had never been in a relationship.
I just loved music, so I wanted to do what people were doing that I looked up to, so I just started trying to write, and I just kept doing it until now.
Songfacts: Do you remember the first time you wrote a song where you said, "Wow, this is really good?"
Baum: Yeah. My parents bought a piano – an upright Yamaha piano – and I wrote this one song when I was probably around 11 or 12. It wasn't good, but I thought it was good at the time. That was the first time I thought, "Oh yeah, I'm really going to do this."
Songfacts: What's up next for you?
Baum: Well, I'm on tour right now. I'm opening for Your Smith - she's an amazing artist and it's been really great. It's my first tour and my whole band is with me. They are the best people in the world, so it's been really, really great.
Songfacts: You have a female drummer.
Baum: Yeah, she's from India. We have 12 more shows and then we're back to writing again and then that's it.
Songfacts: You have a full-length album on the way?
Baum: Yeah, I put out an EP in the spring, and I'm working on a second one and then an album.
November 12, 2018
photos: Shervin Lainez (1), Grace Perry (2)
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