Second-year communications student Dia Jane and her hometown friend Jo MacKenzie are Baby and the Brain, an indie rock band who just released their debut album, “BrainBaby”.
DIA JANE: So she’s got about a million Apple Notes things, and I was going through them, and I saw one called “PT Cruiser” and I was like, “What is this?” And I was like, “Are you writing a song on a PT Cruiser?”“ Because I have a lot of opinions about PT Cruisers. I think they look like what a horse would look like if a horse were a carriage.
[“PT CRUISER” PLAYS]
ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: From the Daily Northwestern, my name is Onyekaorise Chigbogwu and this is Sound Source, a podcast about the music scene on and around the Northwestern campus. Second-year communications student Dia Jane and her hometown friend Jo Mackenzie first collaborated to create indie rock and pop at the start of the pandemic. Their duo is called Baby and the Brain. And now their debut album is released on all streaming platforms. As a warning, this podcast contains explicit language.
DIA JANE: I’m Dia Jane singing and writing for Baby and the Brain and playing minimal guitar.
JO MACKENZIE: My name is Jo MacKenzie and I produce, write and sometimes sing and shout in Baby and the Brain.
DIA JANE: And mix.
JO MACKENZIE: Oh yeah, and I mix our stuff and record it.
[“MOTHER SOON” PLAYS]
DIA JANE: We met about five years ago now at an open mic at the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City, Mo. We bonded over a Declan McKenna sticker because I saw a Declan McKenna sticker on his guitar case or something like that.
JO MACKENZIE: Backpack
DIA JANE: Backpack… right, right, right!
ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: Jo said they played together at an open mic the next day, but then fell out of touch for about five years. When they reconnected in 2020, they bonded again through a group of songwriters in Kansas City. However, they had no intention of becoming a group at all.
JO MACKENZIE: This is how much we didn’t think we were going to be a band: I submitted this to a songwriting contest just for fun and our band name was Teen Pregnancy.
ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: How they decided on the teenage pregnancy, and ultimately a new name, is a bit of a controversial topic.
JO MACKENZIE: You see it’s not that at all –
ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: But now they’re Baby and the Brain.
JO MACKENZIE:The idea of having a brain baby and the songs are like our babies and they came from our brain.
ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: Dia and Jo’s latest brain baby is “BrainBaby”, their debut album. The product of their creativity is a 25-minute album, consisting of nine original songs.
[“LEAVE YOU FOR MYSELF” PLAYS]
ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: Was there a time when you were all like, “Let’s make an album! Or did you have so much music that you were…
JO MACKENZIE: That one.
DIA JANE: Yeah. The second.
ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: So what does the process of creating a song look like?
DIA JANE: It’s different for each song because there are songs that she would start entirely by herself which were the most pop songs. Others that we have created entirely in the same room.
JO MACKENZIE: “PT Cruiser”.
DIA JANE: Well, yeah, “PT Cruiser” is its own thing too. I’m like, “Do you want this?” Like I brought in, like, a chord progression, and I had words and a melody, but we kind of gave it all up and kept the intention of the song – the meaning of the song. And then we just wrote it all in one night just on guitar and piano.
[“DO YOU WANT THAT?” PLAYS]
JO MACKENZIE: We have a concept. Usually we spend a day doing a lot of work, and then maybe we spend another day recording vocals – sometimes over a week, like “On the Run”. And so after recording it, I’m going to take a long time to produce it and get the right sounds, and then mix it.
DIA JANE: I just want to say for the recording, “On the Run”, the chorus is so hard to sing because you have to sing it all in one breath. And that’s four times, no breath.
[“ON THE RUN” PLAYS]
ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: From the Daily Northwestern, I’m Onyekaorise Chigbogwu. Thanks for listening to another episode of Sound Source. This episode was reported and produced by me. The Daily Northwestern’s audio editor is Jordan Mangi, the digital editors are Alex Chun and Sammi Boas, and the editor is Isabelle Sarraf. You can find Baby and the Brain music on Spotify, Apple Music, or any major streaming service. And follow them on Instagram and Twitter @babybrainband. Be sure to subscribe to Daily Northwestern podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or SoundCloud.
E-mail: [email protected]
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