Amsterdam band My Baby released their highly anticipated new album Prehistoric Rhythm on 7 April so we took the chance to pose them a few questions, and found out the album, their tribal influences, and possibilities of a York date.
By Jane Howkins
You have a new album out soon, called Prehistoric Rhythm. What can you tell us about that, and what’s with the title?
We actually borrowed the album title from a song by the band Redbone, a Native American rock band who put out a record with that song on it in 1970. We’ve been influenced a lot by their style of hypnotic tribal funk grooves.
In addition, the title refers to our search for trance-inducing music throughout the ages, and across all cultures. We’ve been fascinated by the act of celebrational dance in society, and the idea that there is a specific need for us to get together and feel, and dance to a beat, and join into a certain collective consciousness. The roots of this part of our culture dates back to tribal times.
Your last album Shamanoid won an Edison Award for Best Alternative Album. How did that feel? Did you ever expect that to happen?
We did not expect anything like that, no! But unexpected or not, any accolade is something to be proud of. It gives you a sense of achievement. I think it hit home for us that we made something happen with that record, and that is inspiring.
Do you feel that winning the Edison Award added more pressure when writing and recording Prehistoric Rhythm? Are you nervous about the release date, or more excited?
Not necessarily more pressure. There is always pressure, but it’s due to a great number of things. We’ve probably been too busy with the whole process of writing, recording, and touring to get nervous at all. There is a build up of tension leading up to a release, but once we get there a lot of things just fell into place.
You recently released a single called Love Dance, which will be on the new album. What can you tell us about it, and why did you choose that song for a single?
Love Dance is a song about a search for identity, and a discovery of what love and its expression through rituals means to us in a social sense. And how we’ve come to view love, courtship, and individuality, with regards to our tribal history. We thought the song would be a good introduction to the artistic core and sound of the album.
You’re touring in the UK throughout April, with a date at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on 8 May. Is this an area you enjoy playing in, and have you played here before?
No, we’ve never been in Leeds before. We did play a support set for Seasick Steve in York in 2015.
Any chance of another gig in York? We think your style of music would go down well here!
We remember our last visit fondly, it was a sold out Barbican with Steve. I think we were well received, if I remember. Hopefully we can return soon.
Why do you think people should come and see you live, and what can people expect from a My Baby gig?
It’s probably more rock and roll than the albums which are sonically a bit more mellow. The live show is a lot more energetic and improvisatory. Our aim is to have everybody dancing and sweating, as if it were a shamanistic trance ceremony. Some people call it bikram trance (laughs)!
Sheik (drums) and Cato van Dyck (vocals) are both from the Netherlands, whilst Daniel “dafreez” Johnston (guitar) is from New Zealand. How did you get together and form the band, and what sort of musical and cultural additions do you think having band members from two different sides of the world brings to the table?Joost and I (Cato) are brother and sister. We grew up making music together. Daniel has Dutch roots, and we met at a festival upon one of his returns to Holland about 15 years ago. We have played together in a variety of groups ever since leading up to My Baby’s formation in 2012.
Our shared love of blues, folk and soul brought us together as musicians, so that has been more influential than say our cultural backgrounds. The power of music has no bounds.
What sort of stuff influences you, and what have you been listening to recently? Anything you recommend we check out?
Recently we heard a great track by a Somalian artist named, Aar Manta. The seventies and eighties produced some great acts from Mogadishu in particular. Very sad that the flourishing ended when the country was thrown into political turmoil. His 2014 record Somali songs from the diaspora pays homage to that sound from back in the day. He is a bright star singing for a hopeful future.
Any last words for the fans?
Be real now. Don’t hesitate. Don’t let the past get you down and the future spin you around. Be ready. Be real. Be free.
My Baby play at Brudenell Social Club on 8 May 2017. Prehistoric Rhythm is available now.