Hey there fellow socially distanced sisters, welcome to Loose Lips’ third mood board article. The last two focused on new EPs from artists who I consider my friends, Rico Casazza and Jossy Mitsu, but this edition is even closer; I’ve been closely watching the musical development of evilbaby and her self-titled EP for years.
I reviewed In the Ocean I Depart, the last EP of drag-rap from evilbaby's moniker Julia Star, describing its ‘hardcore death-stare into oblivion’ as ‘Napalm Death for the Tierra Whack generation’, a description she appreciated. A consistent contributor to our Deep Cuts articles, she co-hosted a one-off radio show with me, performing a track named notice me for the first time, before getting out her handwritten diary and reading a spoken word piece on the mic, responding and contributing to the first Deep Cuts mix, which I was creating at that point (the piece appears at 9:54 in the mix, and also in the new ep, titled spell for lammas). I had appreciated the enormous power and honesty of her work beforehand, but this new stuff hit different, presenting her sadness with a new calmness, presenting a silken elixir of inner acceptance. As Kanye West did on 808s & Heartache, she stopped rapping and explored new, intimate areas of her voice, balanced against icily cool beats, music that's paradoxically confident in its insecurity.
Below is the ep's artwork (by glittery lilac), followed by 5 sketches by evilbaby, one for each track, followed by a chat between the two of us. Enjoy.
I know that spell for lammas was written before covid began, was the rest of the EP inspired by isolated life?
It was more about online dating ha ha, during lockdown.
That makes sense, I assume you more mean the emotions around online dating, as there aren’t like any references to swiping or super-liking.
Yeah, the main song evilboy is about someone I spoke to online for a couple of weeks and then he just kind of ghosted me, and how intensely I experience all this stuff, it doesn’t have to be that deep, but I’m just overwhelmed by all these feelings, it makes you feel really lost, like big waves coming in all the time, that’s how I experience dating.
Yeah, and online dating is very solitary, it’s easier to get swept up when you’re sat alone on your phone.
For normal people it’s not intense, but for me with my trauma, dating brings up a lot of stuff. And because of lockdown it was the only thing happening, but it’s more about dating in particular, the intensity of these feelings.
I wanna know why notice me isn’t on the EP, I saw it as your transition track, going from Julia Star to evilbaby.
I just wanted to have the EP all from the same producer, so it felt a bit more together.
Which is interesting, as your music used to be a lot more chaotic, the tone has significantly changed, your new vocals are way more smooth, there are points which are more like speaking than rapping. Do you find this new stuff less intense to practice?
I’m still trying to get used to it, somehow it’s easier for me to be a bit aggressive than to be vulnerable, and coming from writing these lyrics in my bedroom in lockdown, as opposed to a practice room where I can just be loud. There’s a discrepancy when I go and perform it, they feel really private, even the vocal delivery is more quiet, I’m just singing to myself in my room.
spell for lammas wasn’t even written as a song, was it?
Yeah I write diaries, sometimes I write a bit of poetry, I think I kind of played with the idea of writing a spell as well. It was just me feeling the moment in a graveyard.
Did you actually go to a graveyard?
Yeah I wrote it in a graveyard.
As in, were you like sitting on a bench?
As I describe in the poem, I was just lying under the crying tree.
I assumed that was a metaphor!
I just really enjoy going to graveyards, it feels very peaceful. I feel like I’m going to see some lonely people like myself.
Yeah, we’re all lonely together, but we keep company.
I’ve recently been re-watching this tv show called the Midnight Gospel, and it deals with death at multiple points, how important – and rare in the West – to sit with a dead body, sit in the moment and not immediately whisk it away. And also that it’s important to think about how life will end, how people with terminal illnesses often report feelings of gratefulness for it, appreciating life more, that death shouldn’t be ignored.
Yeah I’m quite at peace with the idea of death, and there’s nothing after that.
Do you imagine quietness, or like the end of a VCR when you see a little white dot in the middle?
It just makes so much sense that it’s going to end, it’s hard to explain.
Have you heard anyone explain it well?
I’ve told you about this artist before, VELVETEARS, this EP was influenced by her a lot, people with mental health issues are a lot closer to the idea of death in general, it can be close at times, she has a lyric that says ‘I’ve been having this nightmare that when I die this all starts again.’ She talks a lot about dying, and before I heard it I wasn’t sure if people want to hear this stuff, and then it felt so liberating to hear.
Yeah it’s interesting, you’re not specifically just writing about mental health, more things that people with certain mental health issues are likely to think about, and also people who’ve lost people very suddenly, or even fought in wars, people for whom death isn’t such an abstract thing, and there’s a massive gulf there, as we spend so much of our lives totally ignoring the idea of death.
Yeah, for me it’s such a big thing, the idea that at some point it has to stop.
Yeah that’s a nice way of looking at it, it’s not an inconvenience or a tragedy, it just has to happen, it’s part of nature. The connection between death and nature, and them both being kind of comforting, they both come through in spell for lammas. I also only just realized your spelling that differently to llamas, those beautiful South American camelid.
Ha ha yeah, Lammas is a pagan festivity, I think it’s about the last harvest.
What’s going on in the artwork you made for it, you sat there with the devil wings?
I think it’s just me when I feel everything intensely, and I feel like I can be intense in general, wanting everything now, that’s that part of me that’s thirsty for anything intense.
Yeah I remember talking to you on the phone when we were working out how to do the Deep Cuts event performance, and you were eating ice cream in a park, which is like the most intense food you can get from a store isn’t it? I know you’re straight edge, are there any other intense non-drug things that you like?
Yeah I love ice cream haha! I like having a lot of stuffed toys and pink things, that’s comforting for me, it gives me some kind of serotonin thing to my brain. Sometimes I feel like my gender identity is not really clear, but all the pink stuff makes me feel like I'm really a girl, perhaps in a performative way too. Still a bit of drag in there haha!
How did you land on the name evilbaby?
It started from the song evilboy, it’s about the point in a relationship when I get really involved, when it all gets intense and I become that kind of evil person in my head. With all these intense feelings, you become scared of emotions, for many years I’ve tried to be on my own as much as possible and stay away from romance, but that becomes a bit of a half life, so I think it’s good to embrace a little bit of that evil about me, but just in cute portions, baby portions, haha.
It’s like evilbaby’s music focusses on these particular hyperemotional moments in your life, where everything’s dialed up to 11, and particular conflicting feelings of love and rejection, fear of death and calmness, they’re all swirling around you.
evilboy is probably my favourite track by you now, partly because it’s a massive banger, I love your dramatic rolling vocals on the verses, it reminds me of like glam rock or Babylon Zoo. What sounds do you hear on it?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Evanescence and kind of nu-metal, but also all these things like Lil Peep, emo rap stuff. I also listen to a lot of Mariah Carey, she has really bad taste in men, sometimes you hear her stories and think oh girl, come on, hehe.
Yeah and there is that uncertainty and concern in that track you introduced me to which I love, Giving Me Life. Looking back over your sketches, most of them make quite obvious, literal sense, one thing that intrigues me is the words ‘demon girl snotty nose’, where does that come from?
I think it’s just from growing up poor, being in a shit family, being a bit of a kid that isn’t really looked after, I think I carry that with me even though I’m an adult now.
That’s kind of reflected in the name evilbaby, reaching back to that innocence, the opportunity to just be cute and sweet that you deserve.
Yeah, I think it’s normal for people who weren’t treated as a child when you were a child, they carry this internal child inside them, it’s important to celebrate it and look after it as well.
It’s funny, there’s a parallel between that and what you’re saying about death, as someone with traumas and challenges you’re more likely to go back and think about childhood and scratch that itch of being childlike, it’s also just something that’s good for you, and healthy for anyone, to not be like an adult all the time. It’s good to think about death, there’s a maturity to what you’re saying, that’s got applications for everyone.
Yeah you can tell I’ve been to therapy haha.
Have you discovered any new self-care techniques over the last year?
I've been drawing more, which is like self care for me.
So with these drawings, were you trying to express yourself, or just a relaxing thing to do, a release?
I think it was both, it made me feel really good doing them, there's something about the black on white paper and the particular pens I'm using, it's just really satisfying, it's a bit like writing, sometimes I feel like I don't know what's going on, and when I sit down and start writing, I can realize what's actually going and what's wrong. I think it's the same with drawings, it helps me make clarity and order for my thoughts.