PITY PARTIES AND POP SONGS:
A Conversation with Big Baby's Ali Mislowsky
by Christopher Wolford
AM: I had it in my head as a good name before we started band and before I was even writing songs. When we wanted a name, that's what we used.
During the time I came up with it, though, I was cranking out a ton of really bad metal and emo-sounding band names for a group chat I had with my friends.
CW: What were some of the bad ones?
AM: I wish I could remember. Meat was a common theme, though.
CW: When did you write your first song and how has that process changed since then?
AM: The first song I wrote was for Big Baby in 2015. It's "Crush" on our first EP. I wrote the words first, followed by the melody, and brought it Chris, who wrote the chords and the lead line I play.
Now, I write words and melody together, but still do music last. Chris and I switch between playing lead and rhythm. If I write a song with chords, I play rhythm; if he writes the chords, I write the lead part.
CW: How did the two of you meet?
AM: We’re dating! We met while we were both going to VCU. We'd been dating for two years before we started Big Baby.
CW: That’s awesome! Was starting a band always part of the plan or did it just kind of happen?
AM: Definitely not! Chris has always written songs and had bands, and I never have. Just liked to sing and play guitar. Our first musical endeavor together was me singing harmonies on Young Scum's EP. Then Chris had the idea to start a project together, and collaborate on the songs. After he wrote “Lemons” (Big Baby's first song! Which is on Sour Patch), he encouraged me to try writing one. Then I wrote three or four and it became more of my project.
CW: Speaking about the EP, you wrote "Sour Patch is about the worst year I had after graduating college. I couldn’t catch a break and it felt like everything was crumbling from every direction." I think the song "Everybody" really drives that statement home. Care to elaborate more on that year and how that particular song came about?
AM: Sometimes my songs come together in pieces, if I've got lyrics for some parts, but I need to tie them together.
Chris and I had a Halloween party where I did not have fun, and it ended kind of disastrously, but led to me finishing the song soon after. I found a lot of parallels between small events like the party and that whole time period where everything was going wrong.
It was also me coming out of pity-party mode, realizing that I'm not the only one having a hard time, and I should stop thinking I'm worse off than everyone else.
CW: The lyrics coupled with the music really do capture the twee pop sound. I know you mentioned Tiger Trap and Heavenly when citing inspirations, what contemporary artists do you listen to?
AM: Yes! I love 90's twee and modern bands that have the same sound as Slumberland bands like Joanna Gruesome and Veronica Falls. Some of my other fave bands are Alvvays, Wildhoney, Tony Molina, Mannequin Pussy, Free Cake for Every Creature, Peaer and Cende.
CW: Seems like we're about due for another Veronica Falls album. It's been a few years. Maybe that'll be a last minute surprise this fall or winter. I'm hoping Camera Obscura will release something this year, though I understand them taking their time after losing Carey in 2015.
So what's next for Big Baby - more shows, a full length, or are you just playing it by ear right now?
AM: Yes, I'd love to hear new songs from Veronica Falls. Wow, forgot to mention Camera Obscura. Miss them, too.
We're definitely playing it by ear! We're back to writing new songs, probably for another EP. I'm excited for the fall shows we have lined up and hopefully will be playing more out of town-- a small tour is in our future at some point.
What would the worst year of your life sound like if it was an album? If you’re Big Baby’s Ali Mislowsky, you already know. Sour Patch, the band’s newest release and first with Egghunt Records, is a lo-fi, twee pop collection chronicling the singer-guitarist’s tough breaks, rough times, and how it felt to be set adrift into life after college. Fresh off their release show, I sat down with Mislowsky to find out more about this promising young group.
Christopher Wolford: How are you feeling now that Sour Patch is out in the world?
Ali Mislowsky: Feels so good! Now everyone can hear it themselves instead of listening to us talk about it. I always think it's cool when people I don't know find it somehow and really like it. Our release show last weekend was sick too, so I'm still coasting on that.
CW: Congrats again on the release. I’ve been listening to it all weekend.
Where'd the name Big Baby come from?