Bae Tigre: "I Wrote Most of My Songs with Whiskey in the Basement"

Eye of the Tigre

Eye of the Tigre

Minneapolis artist Bae Tigre paired up with rapper Botzy and Wesley Opus to create an album that showcases her lovely voice with a creative backdrop of synths and beats. Memoir of a Happy Drifting Chemical is an ambient pleasure that ebbs and flows as it should.

The self-described introvert and board-certified music therapist answered Gimme Noise's questions on how someone who is so guarded performs in public.

Gimme Noise: What do you dislike about doing in-person interviews?

Bae Tigre: Interviews require using words, which is a pretty hit-or-miss form of communication for me. Looking back, I have always been a shy kid.

Does it translate to stage performance?

Yes, I started playing violin and piano when I was five years old. I remember freezing up, and running off stage crying during my recitals. I like to think that I have gotten over it, but I did it once playing in a string quintet at a college chamber music concert once a few years ago at the age of 25. was super embarrassing.

How do you move past that to let the music out, and did it take a long time to be able to want to perform live?

I started playing in bands while living in Duluth when I was 18. I may have had a few episodes of freaking out on stage in the very beginning, but I have basically overcome most of my nerves performing in bands. Frequent rehearsals and drink tickets make it easier. It is also helpful and comforting to be surrounded by your bandmates who usually become your best friends through playing music together.

I guarantee I will be a little nervous during the first couple songs at the debut Bae Tigre performance since it is a new project, but I'll try not to let it show! I will have an awesome and talented group of musicians playing with me; we are excited to share our live sound. Even though I have had some bad experiences performing live, I have never wanted to not do so. I love performing live and have a fulfilling need for live performance in my life as an artist. Because I have a hard time expressing myself upon first meeting people with words, being able to do so through performance and music has been very liberating and empowering for me.

When I was 19, I temporarily lost my speech abilities after an hypoxic brain injury. It was very scary, and I did not tell anyone about it during the time due to fear and shame from how it came about. Luckily it was not permanent, and after a few weeks, the words started coming back. I do not have any noticeable speech impairments, but I have some loss in language fluidity and struggle with forming my thoughts into words more than I used to. Combine that with anxiety, and it can be really hard to feel comfortable conversing with new people.

For my day job, I am a board certified music therapist and in the past have used singing and rhythmic interventions in speech therapy with clients, witnessing some amazing results. Being able to effectively express yourself and communicate to others is so important to daily living, but we do not all speak the same language and for some people (like myself), voicing yourself to others can feel threatening.

Performance has been scary sometimes, but it has also been empowering for me and I feel like I can expose myself more. I plan on performing a lot over the next year. It has been awhile.

Can you tell me about this song "Now or Never"? What was the story you wanted to tell with the piece?

It was one of the songs I wrote last. Most of the songs on the album are revisits of songs that I have written over the last few years, mostly by myself with whiskey in my basement, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter, in the middle of some personal crisis, relationship crisis, or conflicting-self situation.

In the middle of July this year, I started revisiting one of my old riffs that came from one of my favorite songs, but it was a very dark song. Maybe it was because of the weather or the people I was around at the time, but I felt compelled to give a little twist of harmony to the riff and add a simple beat. The old riff took on a new color and to me conveyed positive energy.

At the time I was feeling very good about my recent decision to write and record the entire album myself, and was feeling very empowered. I felt that I had arrived to a spot, a personal realization, that I have been searching for for a long time. Also was feeling more confident with sharing my voice. So that is where the lyrics come from -- take take take -- what am I taking? I'm taking pride, I'm taking time, and it all feels right.

In the music I created a some drone-like synths that resonate on one note throughout the entire song. I did this to create a feeling of balance, consistency, power, and warmth, which matched what I was feeling at the time. I creatively strive using keyboards and electronic instruments to build a soundscape or sonic atmosphere that matches what I am feeling, and when closing my eyes, brings me to a particular place, whether its an old memory, current surroundings, or a dream.

How did Wesley Opus shape the track?

The process for recording this album started with me doing all the recording and production in my basement. I am new to some of the recording and mixing processes, so I probably have taken more time to do it. I went through a lot of YouTube tutorials, which included trial and error and happy accidents! Then when I feel that I have taken the mix and production as far as I can with my abilities, I bounce down the stems post-production and drop them off at Wesley Opus's house at some hour of the night. It has been more often dark than light when arriving to his abode.

When I started working with Polkadot Mayhem in July, Botzy was so excited and verbally ecstatic for me and Opus to meet and start working together. I have repeatedly found that Botzy has a good intuition about people and working artists. It was very exciting and refreshing to start working with an engineer and artist who is just as excited about your music as you are and with someone who has the special ability to improve and accentuate your sound without changing it or losing it's original voice.

Opus took my mixes where I left off, cleaned them up, improved the EQ and sound quality, added a little fun production pieces here and there, cast a magic spell, and BOOM. Wesley Opus is my spirit animal. I hope and plan on to continue working with Wesley Opus in the future; I feel like we're just getting started.
What other tracks do you connect with on your album?

I connect deeply with all of the songs on this album -- no filler. Like I may have mentioned earlier, many songs in this album were written during specific times over the last few years and express my feelings of personal conflict during those times or are reports of earlier memories that stick with me throughout the years. Throughout the album you will hear feelings of frustration in relationships -- frustrations with self, love, loss, loneliness, and general expressions of feeling jaded. I purposefully stuck all that noise in the middle and begin and end the album with songs that convey feelings of hope and motivation. I feel all the feels. It's okay. Tracks two through eight are almost like a collection or personal time-capsule of little-big memories of mine, which is why I recently decided to title the album Memoir of a Happy Drifting Chemical.

Any favorite songs?

I was born and raised in Minnesota, and this will be my 28th winter here. Like every year, come November, I start bracing myself for snow. Growing up and living here I feel an intimate connection with winter, in that it is no longer just a season, but it's an emotion, a memory, and a hurdle that can shape your character and well-being. With the snow, comes so much beauty, but it also comes with the cold, and it is a lengthy cold.

Does our skin really get thicker? I think that many artists living in Minnesota would agree that winter has influenced their art in some way. A couple favorite songs on this album that are placed at the very end, "Go Ghost" and "After the Snow," reference the winter and snow. I may have planned the album release to come out just in time for it.

Tell me about how you met Botzy. How does he influence your work?

I think I first met Botzy for the very first time at the Fine Line in the spring of 2012. I was performing their with my previous band Tiger VS. He offered to put a song of ours on the Best Love is Free compilation. Fast forward 2 1/2 years later, I was reconnected with Botzy last spring through forming mutual friends. We performed at the Best Love is Free, which I finally got to figure out what the hell that was all about! It's fun.

In June I was figuring out how I wanted to lead a new project, for I have dealt with a few failed collaborations over the last couple years. The songs to me are so personal to my emotions and memories. Part of me felt like working with others was taking that closeness to the music away from me. I knew that I wanted to do it on my own.

Botzy was one of the first people to approach me as a musician and tell me that my music is good how it is. In July, he approached me about working with Polkadot Mayhem for the album release, which I agreed to and we have been working together since.

Bae Tigre's upcoming shows:

11/13 - Nomad World Pub
21+, Free, 9 pm 

11/15 - Duluth - Pizza Luce
21+, Free
11/16 - Minneapolis - Icehouse "Masquerade Mayhem" Masked ball event -
21+, Free, 10 p.m.   
with Battlerat, Choral Reefr, and special guest DJ Photo Booth with Serene Supreme


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