Edward Burnett had the pleasure of chatting to friends of the show and three-piece girl group BAXTR on their new single ‘In Pop We Trust’! Floss (vocals), Keiko (drums) and Bash (guitar) talk about the single, what inspired it as well as what they’ve been up to this past year and why they continue to remain faceless on press releases! A bumper interview packed with behind the scenes content and more
RNRR: Hey BAXTR! Long time no see girls! Great to have you back on Spotlight almost a year onwards! How are all three of you doing?
BAXTR: [Floss]: Thanks for having us back! It has been a ride since we last spoke and we're holding on in disbelief, soiled briefs, with white knuckles and nervous chuckles! We're doing good though... I think!? It feels great to birth our 4th musical child, so we're all surfing on the euphoria of that right now. [Keiko]: I’m really good thank you! It has been so amazing actually being in the same room together and we are so excited for the year ahead. [Bash]: Hey Ed! [Laughs] Oh boy, where to start!? First and foremost, thank you so much for your continued support and for inviting us back. I'm super pumped to be part of the Spotlight fun this time ‘round! This year has just been something else! We are literally putting our all into every aspect of BAXTR, 24/7! As a result it has made for one heck of a ride! It’s been wild, exciting, both emotionally and physically demanding but oh so rewarding. There’s something unexplainable that happens when the three of us get together in the same room. So as lockdowns have been easing and we’ve been seeing each other more, things are just naturally and organically evolving and growing from strength to strength. there’s a lot of pinching ourselves, just to check we aren't just dreaming.
RNRR: There you mention about being back together and since we last spoke, all three of you have been able to meet up and rehearse in the same space! How great does it truly feel to all be in the same room again, making music?
BAXTR: [Floss]: Being in the same room basically gives us superpowers. We've done everything a bit back-to-front. We formed, then we recorded and released remotely, then we made a video, then we finally rehearsed together and it felt like the shaken champagne bottle that was able to pop at last. [Keiko]: It feels amazing! The first moment we saw each other it was very out of body and magical. It felt so affirming and we can’t wait for more! [Bash]: It feels like something just takes over, a kind of spiritual or magical feeling. You can just feel the love, respect, adoration and complete support for one another. It feels like the safest space, where any and all ideas are welcomed. Literally within seconds of the 3 of us being together, (and this applies for any place we are together) all real words and vocabulary go out the window. They no longer exist, and we somehow just end up communicating with nothing but syllables and sounds, through tears of laughter. We pretty much sound like a travelling zoo!
RNRR: [Laughs] Sounds quite the creative experience! On the subject of music, you have some very exciting news don’t you as your newest single release, ‘In Pop We Trust’ has been released this week. Tell me a little more about the track and what inspired it’s theme and overall concept?
BAXTR: [Floss]: Honestly? A trip to Specsavers has a lot to answer for. I was on my way back from buying my new pair of goggles and thanks to the new specs I was able to read a sign that said “In *something* we trust”. I can’t remember exactly what it was advertising, as I filled in my own blank immediately. I thought to myself, what is it I trust in? What has never let me down? One of the top answers was ‘pop music’. Pop has brought me free joy in my darkest moments and is a time machine to some of the best days of my life. I really leaned in on nostalgic music and old pop throughout quarantine. So I saw the sign and thought "In POP we trust". And that was pretty much the birth of the chorus. I sang to myself all the way home from Specsavers and by the time I'd reached the door, the song felt very real in my head. BAXTR all love rock, metal, jazz… you name it but Pop music is where our band’s friendships started, and it ended up being the thing that really pulled us three towards each other, through the pandemic and out the other side. It felt only right to honour that in song; tipping our hats to the music we love, with a little tongue in cheek subversion. We wanted our 4th single to feel like our statement piece; something that represented the core of what BAXTR is; just 3 nerdy mates who like to goof about and make loud noises. To me, it feels as if this song is our theme tune. After the year we’ve all had, now more than ever I think we should all be revelling in the things that truly bring us bliss. If pop music does that for you then crank up this song! [Keiko]: It really is a celebration of pop music and how it can get you through anything. It’s helped all of us and we wanted to release a song to show that and to promote listening to what you want, when you want, no limits! [Bash]: I feel like it’s exactly as advertised. It’s all in the title. For some reason ‘Pop’ seems to have become a taboo or uncool word these days, especially amongst live music bands/musicians. And a lot of people tend to refer to any pop song that they like as "a guilty pleasure”! I absolutely LOVE pop music! In fact it was one of my first musical loves. It was my safe place, my happy place, my dancy place. But then I got heavily into rock and blues. Jimmy Page and Angus Young were the reasons I first started playing guitar. As I started becoming a more established player, people would ask about influences and I'd find myself shying away from mentioning anything pop. Yet when I finally embraced it and fused all my loves together unashamedly, I started to play in a whole new way, creating a style that was just completely true and unique to me. So when Flossy came with this concept, and sent over a rough demo, I was so excited, I made sounds I didn't even know I was capable of, and I pulled every muscle in my body from dancing to it on repeat. Keik’s sent drum ideas literally the same day and that was it. I could hear everything I was going to play before I even picked up my guitar. I feel like it was such a milestone for us, finding and establishing a part of ourselves, by just simply letting go, and giving into something we love and letting it steer the way.
RNRR: Now that is an unexpected backstory but an amazingly unique one for sure. Bash spoke then about the image of the band with the mention of music videos but interestingly, one of the most notable features of your band is that your faces remain anonymous on all releases. This I feel adds a very intriguing element to your act as a whole. Will this continue once you’re able to play shows again? Why did you initially go down this route?
BAXTR: [Floss]: There are many reasons behind the decision to not fully show our faces. A big part of why is because, well, it's just FUN isn't it!? We're living in a world where, in a heartbeat, you can find out what someone ate for breakfast, what pants they're wearing etc. Real life can be mundane and depressing and as much as BAXTR strive to be authentic, we also want to create a space for escapism, for play and mystery. We're big believers in the allure of curiosity, leaving something to the imagination. We're probably going to carry the mystique through to live shows, but you'll have to come along to one to see how that works! [Keiko]: Yes! We are wanting to keep up the mystery going and make our shows immersive and magical somehow. We’ve got lots of ideas so come to a show and you’ll see! [Bash]: It was a mixture of so many things. Personally, I think I really wanted the music to do the talking. It was during the first wave of the pandemic, so there were no gigs, meaning we could really go with this idea and experiment. It’s so easy to allow an image of someone's facial appearance to cloud genuine judgments of songs. You can already decide something about a track you haven't even heard just from seeing a face first so I definitely wanted to break that barrier. We also wanted to create an air of mystery to allow for an element of magic/something unearthly because that's how it feels to us. We want to broaden people's imaginations and encourage the acceptance of being experimental. [Laughs] We didn't expect it to become such a big thing. We didn't even really expect to be releasing music. So this has all just built up naturally but the curiosity really seems to be becoming a lot bigger than we’d anticipated. We are just taking it all in our stride though.
RNRR: That all leads straight onto my next question as I’d like to shift our focus to live performances. On the topic of gigs, have you got anything in the pipeline and are you looking forward to being able to play shows throughout the UK and beyond after lockdown fully lifts?
BAXTR: [Floss]: There are some potentially very magic things in the pipeline but yeah, we can't say too much, teehee! [Keiko]: We have a couple of gigs pencilled in but nothing set in stone yet. We will definitely keep you posted! [Bash]: It’s hard right now for even the biggest acts in the world to guarantee gigs. There are definitely exciting potentials bubbling up behind the scenes for BAXTR. As soon as it’s safe we will 100% be itching to get out there. Aside from the studio, gigging is my escapism. Playing my first gig with BAXTR will for sure be the most magical gigging experience of my life.
RNRR: So moving away from the audio side of things, how have you been spending your downtime this summer? Have you all gone football crazy for the Euros or do you instead have some TV and film recommendations for the readers?
BAXTR: [Floss]: A movie that blew me away recently was the ‘Muscle Shoals’ which is a documentary about a little village on the Alabama border with recording studios (and apparently inherent magic) which were responsible for churning out a unique sound and countless hit records. I watched this awe inspiring rock doc with our producer Tristan Ivemy whilst in the studio doing vocals for ‘Grace on Fire’ and it was so inspiring! [Keiko]: I’m not a football fan but I’ve got into a bit of Netflix! I love ‘The Staircase’, ‘The Method’ and my big guilty pleasure ‘Virgin River’. [Bash]: [Laughs] I am very patriotic about anything Wales is involved in. So Euros and Rugby always. I like to play football too and go rollerblading during the summer. I’ve become a little obsessed with alien documentaries over the lockdowns and I did a little work for Marvel so I became (even more) obsessed with the MCU too. So maybe a few trips to Stonehenge, Lochness and the new Marvel Hotel at Disneyland Paris this summer. Between recordings of course!
RNRR: As you say there Bash, we have had many lockdowns in the U.K. in the past year and a half. Said lockdown restrictions here in the UK are coming to a complete end supposedly on the 19th of July. What have the three of you learnt during this pandemic time? Have there been life lessons or have you taken it all in your stride?
BAXTR: [Floss]: The challenges that lockdown presented really drove home to me the lesson behind the phrase "know your outcome, change your approach". The last year or more has been a real education in creative thinking, problem solving and adapting to circumstance. We knew what we wanted our "outcome" to be: independently release great music with a strong visual whilst spreading a little joy. We just continued to change our "approach" to accommodate the evolving situation, and that outlook seems to have served us pretty well. We've had to be flexible, patient and trusting of the process, which is not always easy when you want to fight hard to realise a clear vision, firmly held. [Keiko]: I feel like we have all pulled together and know that there is nothing we can’t do if we work as a team. We’ve learnt to lean on our friendship and trust the process and like a lot of things such as if it was easy, everyone would do it. So the past year has shown us that things can be hard and stressful etc but we will get through it one step at a time. Keep going is the message I always come to. [Bash]: I think for me it really put things into perspective, that this unforgiving disease knows no bounds. It doesnt care who it affects. It's up to all of us collectively to take care of each other and work together to keep eachother safe. We also have to be forgiving and learn how to be patient and understand and accept other people's struggles. It has really brought to light the different things people are dealing with, yes they may be different but all valid and demand the same respect. I feel like people are understanding and helping each other a lot more now for the most part.
RNRR: Some great pearls of wisdom there girls but I have one final question for the three of you. Last time you were on, I asked you the all important desert island discs question. If I remember correctly, Keiko went for Micheal Jackson’s ‘History’ and Floss sided with ‘Jagged Little Phil’ by Alanis Morrisette. What I want to know is have these opinions changed and what is Bash picking!
BAXTR: [Floss]: Sorry Alanis, I'm switching it up. My new pick is ‘Whatever and Ever Amen’ by Ben Folds Five. Ben Folds can do no wrong. His early stuff is such a rollercoaster of piano driven rage, nerdy self-aware idiosyncrasies and whimsy. That album is raw, charming and genius. I just love it and so does my inner child. [Keiko]: Oooh great one! I might change my answer to Dream Theater’s ‘Scenes from a Memory’.
Ask me next year and I’m sure I’ll have a different answer again [laughs]! [Bash]: Oh no! How do I choose just one? Can it be a mix CD? [Laughs] Urm! Right now it'd have to be Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’. or ‘The River’ or ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’! Oh I don’t know! I would pick one out of a hat [laughs].
RNRR: Brilliant picks there from each of you and interesting to see some changes from last time, poor Alanis! Well, what a pleasure it’s been having you back on the page and with a bang too thanks to the wonderful ‘In Pop We Trust’. Best of luck for the rest of the year girls and hope to see you at a BAXTR gig before the year is out!
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