The Psychedelic Folk Fusion of Baby Cool, Interview

In Conversation with Baby Cool’s Grace Cuell

Baby Cool is the solo project of Grace Cuell, co-frontwoman of Nice Biscuit. Launched with the album “Earthling on the Road to Self Love” in February 2023, Baby Cool blends psychedelia, folk, and country, receiving acclaim for its dreamlike warmth and introspective sound. The project debuted with singles like “Magic”, “Poison”, “Daydream” and “The Sea,” quickly gaining recognition in the indie music scene. Drawing from her fine arts background, Grace incorporates visual art influences into her music’s thematic and aesthetic elements. Baby Cool has supported notable acts like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Babe Rainbow and has made significant festival appearances.

Baby Cool on Spotify and Youtube

What started your initial interest in music, and what motivated you to start creating your own songs?

For as long as I can remember, I loved to sing. Performing always felt terrifying to me, but singing was something I could do when no one was around. I didn’t have a particularly musical upbringing, so I guess my love for music grew as I grew. It is a part of me just as much as my arms and legs.

Could you discuss any non-musical influences that inspire your music, such as film, literature, or visual arts? 

I’ve often felt split in a few directions when it comes to my creative ventures. I studied fine arts at university and spent this time focusing on screen printing and paper-making, and more recently, I have found a love for ceramics. I’m inspired by almost anyone who uses art as a vehicle to make sense of themselves or the world. The colours and themes in the work of Hilma Af Klint are really present in my album. I was completely floored by Af Klint’s work when I encountered it for the first time at the Guggenheim in 2018. 

1 credit Imogen Thomas
© Imogen Thomas

What inspired the transition from Nice Biscuit to your solo project Baby Cool, and how has this change influenced your live performances?

Nice Biscuit is still very much at the forefront of my musical life. But how I describe it is that Baby Cool was a separate side of myself that I needed to share. Billie Star (NB co-front woman) put it beautifully when she said, “We’re just folk musicians that happen to be in a psych rock band”.

Performance-wise, the two projects give me completely different things. In Nice Biscuit, I embody a real witch energy, whereas Baby Cool seems to be more vulnerable and tender. 

Earthling on the Road to Self Love 2023 Baby Cool
Earthling on the Road to Self Love

Your album “Earthling on the Road to Self Love” reflects deeply on mental health. Could you share how your personal experiences influenced the songwriting process?

The album was written on the other side of a pretty severe downturn in my mental health. I had been battling chronic fatigue and depression for years, and things turned really dark in 2019.

But with the help of my beautiful friends and a great psychologist, I got through. Life felt really magic for a bit there. I think when you come through to the other side of such a low place, the world seems to sparkle for a while—and I can really hear that in the songs listening back. 

Your music blends elements of psychedelia, folk, country, and pop. How do you create a cohesive sound?

I feel as though these genres are meant to blend together. I would say Sam Joseph’s pedal steel and Jess Ferronato’s lead guitar on the record is what guides the tracks in and out of country and psychedelia. 

4 credit Imogen Thomas
© Imogen Thomas

How do you approach the visual storytelling aspect of your work?

The music will often appear to me visually when I’m in the writing process. Originally, when I wrote the album, I imagined a short film spanning the whole record—budget constraints meant I had to contain this to three clips.

What guitars, pedals, or other gear were essential in shaping the unique sound of your music?

So much of the magic of this record was created by the talented musicians who contributed. My favourite element was the harp, written and performed by Lake Kelly

Do you have a favorite festival or type of venue where you feel your music resonates best?

I’m sure every muso in the scene in Aus wants to perform in the Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre. Meredith (and its sister festival Golden Plains) is by far the best live music experience I’ve ever had—so magic, so special.

With your upcoming projects, what themes or ideas are you exploring next? Can you give us a sneak peek into what we might expect?

I’ve almost finished writing the next record and am hoping to hit the studio in July. There’s a sort of grounded energy in the songs—something more tangible and less magic (I don’t think that’s a bad thing). I’m definitely exploring more of the shadows.

What have been some of the most memorable and challenging moments on tour, especially in light of your recent solo performances?

Performing solo is the scariest and most vulnerable thing I’ve done. There’s a real safety and comfort in performing with other musicians; without them on stage, I feel naked. However, it’s led to me using my voice in more interesting ways. I’ve found myself really leaning into this, and it’s been nice. 

As an artist, how do you feel about the streaming era and its impact on musicians?

On the one hand, music is more accessible than ever. We have access to artists we would have never been exposed to otherwise.  But the artists don’t get paid enough/at all. Knowing all of the work that goes into making and releasing music, the devaluing of work is the most heartbreaking aspect for me. 

What new artists or albums are you currently listening to? How do they influence your creative process?

Since its release, Grace Cummings’ new record, Ramona, has been on repeat in my home. She has a way of songwriting that so beautifully weaves humble storytelling with something cinematic and grand. Jonathan Wilson’s influence on the record is also present in such a tasteful way.

I’m also listening to a lot of Jessica Pratt, Anna St. Louis, Angel Olsen and Aldous Harding. You can hear these influences a lot in my newer songs.

3 credit Imogen Thomas
© Imogen Thomas

Photos courtesy of Baby Cool, Featured image: © Guy Niemack

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by retrofuturista

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