MY BABY is more than just the band’s name. It’s a title that refers to an allegorical figure, a central character in the band’s musical story. She is in part a phantom muse, a result of the combined imagination of the band members. She’s often described as, ‘a girl in the ’70’s fantasizing about being a flapper girl and dancer in the ’20’s.
For those of you not yet familiar with the Dutch-New Zealand trio, MY BABY, they play roots driven hypnotic dance. It’s a sound informed by gospel and blues singing and playing fused with ancient folk melodies. Added to that is the rawness of seventies funk, African desert blues, Moroccan gnawa, Indian raga and a touch of EDM all played on guitars and drums without using computers or samples. They have been spreading their psychedelic blues-trance rave to the approval of audiences worldwide since 2012, featuring on renowned festivals such as Glastonbury (UK), Isle of Wight (UK), Sziget (HU), Fusion (DE), Exit (RS), Lowlands (NL) and Pinkpop (NL).
“The music pulsated throughout the room and the trance inducing rhythm seemed to put a spell on her….”
These are not only the words of the story MY BABY has written that lies at the heart of their fourth album, it also is the essence of what the band is bringing with their music and live show to an ever growing audience.
For their latest album they started writing a story about their muse first.The trio elaborates:
Daniel ‘Da Freez’ Johnston (guitar)
“We thought it would be interesting to start with writing a story that follows the narratology of the hero’s journey. This offers a template for a tale that involves a hero who goes on an adventure, overcomes a crisis and returns home transformed. A story that takes place during the course of a night. It starts in early evening as the sun sets and the final stages take place at dawn.
The songs on the album are meant to accompany the story.”
Joost Sheik van Dijck (drums / vocals) explains the title MOUNAIKI and the motives of the main character;
“Mounaiki is the shamanistic name given to the main character and to the experience she goes through. A ‘spirit name’, if you like. It means ‘love and will’, or the combined energy of love.
The character’s quest to find meaning and identity leads her to a path of transformation.”
The world that MOUNAIKI inhabits consists of the suffocating environment of suburbia, with all its limitations, juxtaposed by the exhilarating experience of the inner city with its boundless possibilities. The pervading threat of anonymity in the city leads to a search for tranquility in nature.
“This way of working allowed us to be very diverse in our songwriting. The labyrinthian dream like world, where the character travels through different ages, inspired us to delve into jazz and ragtime from the twenties, the american songbook of the thirties as well as film scores from forties film noir and italian neorealism.” Says lead singer and guitarist Cato van Dijck.
“The challenge was combining these influences with our established blend of folk, blues, funk and psychedelic trance. Storytelling on top of a hypnotic groove is how I would summarize what we tried to achieve while in the studio.” ‘We took inspiration from many musical heroes of ours. Most notably Sly Stone, who also became a character in the song ‘SUPERNATURAL AID’, adds Joost.
Cato also describes how some of the Band’s own personal experiences have influenced the songs on the album, BORDERLINE in particular;
“Borderline is inspired by our experiences while taking part in making a short documentary about the refugee crisis, filmed at the Serbian border. We stopped at the border to meet the people there and listen to their stories. The song is a depiction of being on the road and experiencing the twisted irony of being free to travel everywhere you want whilst witnessing the troubles of others less fortunate as you gaze out of the window of your vehicle, while passing by a refugee camp on the border. Although the injustices are all too clear to see, what prevails is a combined feeling of being humbled by the strength and positivity of the people there, who have so little, and the inspiration you take from observing the importance of hope.”
The documentary was part of the band’s role as ‘Ambassadors of Freedom, a honorary title given annually to Dutch artists by the Dutch Government. It involves calling attention to the importance of freedom in our society. “
The blues aesthetic has always been an important influence on MY BABY material.
Daniel gets to the heart of the matter by explaining IN THE CLUB:
“The core of that blues feeling is about losing something that is larger than yourself, something which really defines you. A person you love for instance. When that is taken away you feel emotionally, spiritually desolated, that heart broken feeling. Quite often you find yourself on the run, trying to escape such turmoil. The club is a place where you escape to, a sort of purgatory.
In the club you may find you become a different person. You seemingly inhabit a new reality but it does not match your expectations derived from fantasy. And in that fantasy lies an image of what you aspire to be. The club symbolizes a faltered version of an ideal.
The song encompasses the moment of clarity when you realize the things you pursue in order to be happy become invalid but you aren’t able to reconcile at once…all you are left with is the uncertainty of knowing the path you have taken is no longer the right one and you are forced to redefine the core of who you are and what you want to become”
To put a long story short: MOUNAIKI ~ By the Bright of Night, tells the story of a band that has embarked on a journey and that isn’t afraid to change and improve the (musical) world around them.
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