Music / Features
They Made Me Do It -
Talking Influences with Baby Beef
Words by James Lynch
Wednesday 29th May, 2019

Following the release of their latest single ‘Only if the Water is Cold’, we caught up with Sydney art-pop trio Baby Beef to find out what has been inspiring their weirdo synth-pop, before they head south for their first Melbourne show tomorrow night.
Despite only forming in 2018, Baby Beef have quickly taken Sydney by storm, asserting themselves as a must-see in the local scene and garnering respectable descriptors such as “ABBA for millennials” and “Sydney’s surprisingly best support act.” Over the past twelve months they’ve released a string of singles, and their latest cut ‘Only if the Water is Cold’ finds them taking their left-field electro up an extra notch.

Equally playful and unsettling at once, ‘Only if the Water is Cold’ is a fascinating ride through time that harks back to classic 80’s pop while putting a refreshingly experimental spin on things. Built around the warped R&B backbeat and filled out by a pulsating synth lead, the track is brought to life by the starkly different vocals within the group - bouncing from the brooding baritone of Baby Beef himself to the immediately hooky vocals of Christian Values, while Mumma Beef floats around the edges with her intoxicatingly dreamy voice. The shapeshifting vocals give the track a genre-bending quality, almost as if we’re hearing three friends taking part in an eclectic karaoke session, but with everything held together by the track’s undeniable groove, all it does is ignite the dancefloor even more.

We couldn’t resist exploring what influences lie behind the madness, so we got in touch with Baby Beef to get a closer look.

The Modern Lovers - 'Hospital'
There’s a raw honesty that shines through all of Jonathan Richman’s lyrics, but the way this one addresses mental health really struck a chord with me. I have written a lot about being in love and being depressed at the same time, and whenever I wasn’t brave enough to execute what I wanted to say, I’d reflect on this song and it would inspire me. Musically, it’s so beautifully simple and sparse. This accompanies the vulnerability of the lyrics. There’s a mood to this that can only be created by true pain.

Martika - 'Love… Thy Will Be Done'
Every now and then I set myself the challenge of creating the perfect snare sound when deep down I know it already exists, and it's in this song. The kick, snare, bass combo really just pulses so nicely from start to finish creating a playground for the subtle percussion, delicate melodies, a truly inspirational vocal performance to play in. It didn’t surprise me that Prince co-wrote this song. Just like his work with Sinead O’Connor, he provides the ultimate platform for a strong female to belt out a power ballad for the ages. It’s also a love song that isn't vomit inducing.

Ween - 'Sarah'
A guitar with more flange than you should ever need and a powerful vocal melody. It’s so simple. A lot of Baby Beef songs sound not so dissimilar to this. The beauty of this track is that it’s wedged right in the middle of a bunch of songs containing goofy voices, drum machines emulating metal, and lyrics that probably would not fly if it weren't the mid 90’s. I love Ween and always will, but not all their material has aged gracefully. This is one of the ones that did. this song taught me the value of not overcooking production, and that if I could write melodies this pretty I wouldn't really need anything else… Ween 4 Lyf.

Why? - 'Good Friday'
Beautiful, experimental, sample-free hip hop soundscapes. This band blew my mind as a stoned teenager many years ago, and they still do in my slightly more sensible adulthood. The lyricism is raw, cynical, and self aware, another #sadboi, which if you haven't noticed, is my type. I grew up playing bass along to hip hop, and often try to emulate that sensation I would get from those grooves when I record for Baby Beef. I can only imagine this band does the same. Cool.
Have a listen to 'Only if the Water is Cold' above, and catch Baby Beef for the first time in Melbourne as they launch the new single tomorrow night, May 30th, at the Retreat.