An Interview With Pop Singer-Songwriter, Bebe Huxley!
Posted On 01 May 2015
Tag: Ace of Base, All Access, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Aunt Charlie's Lounge, Azealia Banks, Barbara, Barbie Girl, Barbra Streisand, Bebe Huxley, Britney Spears, Club High Fantasy, Cocteau Twin, Daddie's Plastik, Daughter Adonis, David Bowie, Debussy, Fiona Apple, High Fantasy, Hunx, Hypnotik, Joanna Newsome, Kate Bush, Kreayshawn, Led Zeppelin, Lynchian, Maddie Zeigler, Mandy Coco, Meanwhile... with Bebe Huxley, Myles Cooper, Poison Arena, San Cha, Saturn Jones, Semitic Spice, Sometimes (I Run), Spice Girls, Ssion, Suspended in Gaffa, Tenderloin, Thom Yorke, Tyler Holmes, Vain Hein, YouTube
Bebe Huxley is a singer, songwriter and filmmaker based in San Francisco CA. She lives for emotional peaks and valleys, romances and tragedies, wielding an emotional intelligence evident here in her debut collection, Hypnotik. She wrote it herself with production by Poison Arena (Kreayshawn). This EP floats effortlessly between nostalgic 90’s dance pop, Kate Bush angst and Britney Spears infection, all cruising on a voice imbued with steam, range and effable sensuality.
Learn more about Bebe Huxley in the following All Access interview:
Can you remember the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a performer and make music for a living?
I knew I wanted to perform as a career at an uber young age because I did competition dance. Dance Mom’s style. I was the studio’s little Maddie Zeigler! Our studio wasn’t (as) abusive or insane…but yes, I was given big solo stages at age 4, given little trophies, so naturally I thought pirouetting was my career path. It was later in High School when I cried on stage for the first time, doing freakin’ Our town that I felt the catharsis, spontaneity, and freedom of the stage, and knew this was my dream. Secret’s out, I am a big theater nerd.
Let’s talk about your EP, Hypnotik. Can you explain how you got together with Poison Arena to produce it?
I met Poison Arena at the weekly drag/dance/avante performance night High Fantasy in San Francisco, at the world famous Aunt Charlie’s Lounge. It’s pretty much the last gay bar in the Tenderloin. This party has been my underground life in the Bay—it’s the freakiest, sweetest, strangest night of avante performance and house music—and I met Poison Arena when he was DJing there. He liked my voice and we decided to make some 90’s inspired tracks together, cause he loves Ace of Base, Britney Spears, and I guess I reminded him of that when I covered Britney’s “Sometimes (I Run)” while wearing jogging gear and eating Luna bars.
You made music videos for each track on the EP. Why is that? I have read that many of the videos will feature Bay Area performer cameos. Can you reveal who a few of them are? How did you choose which ones to include in your videos?
We decided to make videos for everything because I am a video queen! I love making lo-fi videos in my Oakland studio just me and the green screen—you can watch my series “Meanwhile…with Bebe Huxley” on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uNfGiQuKlE) . The songs are so cinematic, and I think of all of my music with narrative arcs—like the actress I was trained to be—and thus everything is so well suited for visual storytelling. I love music videos as a medium. Some performers to be featured in the vids are Vogue Genius/Singer Saturn Jones, electronic artist/freak show Vain Hein of viral sensation Daddie’s Plastik, and San Cha, the gothic- xolita pop star. These are my best friends in the bay, so obviously we wanted them in the videos. And of course, one video features me and my mother Barbara A—who has performed many times at Club High Fantasy, and is my Lynchian/Cocteau Twin in the video for “Daughter Adonis” out this Spring.
What was it like having your mom in a video? She must be really supportive of your career.
She’s the best Jewish stage-mom/ Barbra Streisand/ Barbie Girl incarnation in the world. She is a real class-act. It’s in our family tradition to wear fake eyelashes daily, bleach the fuck out of our hair, and tease the world with high femme humor, so I pretty much learned everything I need to know from her. It’s amazing the turn the cycle around and showcase this 61-year old dynamo who used to drive me to dance competitions. She is a natural, and a Ham, and extremely loving. By the end of shooting though, she stopped taking my direction on set while I barked orders at her. God, I said things to her I would never say to any other performer like, “Fucking do it again, you idiot!” –something terrible came over me while shooting her! I don’t know how Judy and Liza worked together that much. But yes, I was eventually deemed “the Nazi” by my mother, which was fine because we’re tight like that and we always seem to come back together to do more shows. I make her work now every time she comes to visit—she’s the ideal stage mate—but really when we’re together we wish we were just getting brunch and playing boggle instead of putting on face for the club.
I have the read the following about you- “she is the artistic daughter of Kate Bush and Thom Yorke; she’s the youngest of five sisters called The Spice Girls.” Can you explain this exactly? How significant are these artists in your current career?
Kate Bush is the sum total ideal for what I’d love to bring to my work—total physical, cinematic, narrative, musical synthesis—it’s very gestalt. I am very particular about things, and relate to wanting the final stamp on all elements of the work, so she’s a true role model for me. Plus our vocal registers are similar—I love that freaky high thing. My favorite Kate song is “Suspended in Gaffa.” She’s a nuanced feminist which is holy in my book. The Spice Girls were explicit feminists and fashion icons—I consider them my peers lol, we’re all locked away in the attic of some French orphanage sharing break and butter. I’m the missing member, Semitic Spice. Thom Yorke is the boy side of my brain—this angelic, androgynous voice, and emotional depth brought me to my knees in high school and college. I appreciate the intelligence and subliminal messages he brings to his audiences—something I admire, you never know how you’re going to illuminate a listener’s mind. He’s so hot too, especially young Thom, he’s my ideal boy self, boyfriend, father—god bless these daddy issues.
Tell me about your weekly residency at the gay bar, Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, in SF? What was that experience like and what did it teach you?
Aunties is the best party on the planet. Playing there was one of my early experiences of playing a party I would actually want to be at—so naturally it made sense to play there every week. It has so much energy, authenticity, queerness, intergenerational representation. It’s a family experience. I’m so inspired by my drag mother Mandy Coco, and our host Myles Cooper —they are so dedicated and talented, they’ve taught me so much. This party brought drag into my life—boy characters, girl characters—it taught me that gender is a performance is a performance is a performance! Switching between these roles in my music shows, or doing drag has brought depth to my daily life, getting to choose when to use my feminine or masculine powers to work the moment.
What do you think it is that sets you apart of other performers making electronic-pop music now?
I’m Jewish! Lol, well, yes, I’m Jewish. Jews tend to have a message. Which is definitely my case, and I haven’t been plucked up by industry yet to dilute my anti-racist, anti-sexist principles. I’m white and privileged, and will undoubtedly make mistakes in the work I make—but I’m not trying to pull some Miley shit, no exploitation for my own benefit. I want to end that shit, it makes me sick really.
More times than not, influences tend to bleed through. What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
Currently I’m obsessed with my friend’s work in the bay. Vain Hein is a huge musical inspiration for me, Tyler Holmes. They are insane electronic artists, and bring a valuable performance/visual element to everything they do. I am really into poetic emotional ladies on piano—so obviously Fiona Apple, Joanna Newsome, David Bowie (he’s my lady) are really inspiring the new music I’m writing.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with you (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
I guess every drag show is a little quirky! That’s the fun. I have been whipping out my “Bruce” character lately—he’s a Gordon Gecko-esk Wall Street guy, ehhh! He likes nice suits, cigars, fat stacks, and thinks the world is out to get him. When I do Bruce, he usually does a Led Zeppelin, classic rock kind of number, and may accidently sexually harass audience members. Which has actually been a bit of a problem for Bebe when the show is over…
Living or dead, who would you love to work with and why?
Dead, man, I’d wanna wrangle Debussy out of the grave. We’d make some heavy shit. Can you imagine Debussy with a woman lounging on the piano singing about her broken soul and daddy issues? Maybe that would be too much, I guess I’m really excited to find an amazing piano player to collab with. I would also really love to work with some producers that are insane like Lil” Internet lol—I love how hard and ravey he made Azealia Banks. Jesus—I just want to make piano ballads or rave music. Also, definitely would want to collab with Ssion and Hunx. These queer pop underground icons, I die for them. Hunx was in the early days of High Fantasy! It’s all connected.
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
I want people to have an emotional experience, whatever that is. I love catharsis. I want to people to laugh, cry, dance, freak out, chill, be authentic to themselves. I definitely strive to entertain—I don’t want people to be bored. That’s the only thing I fear.
Can you think of anything else you would like new fans to know about you and your music?
I guess I’d like people to know this era of my work is very much about facade and fantasy, and creating worlds and narratives and persona. I am excited for new incarnations of my work that are more raw, more “real”—less makeup—more masculine. These things are developing in my work as I am discovering more about myself. I guess I want people to know that I’m the bitch behind my image and I, as a woman, have the power to decide what I want to say and how I want to say it. And that it will morph and change, depending on my own exploration. The late twenties are exciting! I am caring less about pleasing people, and less about being liked—my balls have dropped so to speak—I’m looking forward to showing more of my unpolished self.
Hypnotik video: http://youtu.be/Fk2Ce_rS3Ok. to
For more music videos and a download of her EP Hypnotik: www.bebehuxley.com
All photos by Raynie Alexandria Vratari.