the first RokScout featured artist: BabySnakes

If you somehow fell into an abandoned well or inadvertently slipped into a coma yesterday, you may have missed an announcement between RokRiot and Scout Music Promotion that detailed a new addition to the blog: profiles of amazing unsigned musicians. Dubbed “RokScout” until we can come up something wittier, these posts will profile one artist per month from Scout Music’s daily recommendations.

For our very first artist profile and interview, RokRiot has selected singer / songwriter, BabySnakes, a 17 year-old solo artist (and high school senior) from New Milford, Connecticut who’s been performing for the past 3 years and is completely dedicated to becoming a fulltime musician. Her list of influences belie her generation, and include an impressive and varied list of musicians/bands who pretty much defined their genre: Frank Zappa, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Nirvana—just to name a few. BabySnakes caught our attention with her mature approach to songwriting, her unconventional vocals, and recordings that reflect honest, unfiltered performances—characterizing the type of artist who plays out of a pure love for music.

How did you come up with the name BabySnakes?
B: My brother and I had been listening to a lot of Frank Zappa in his car…. when I heard the song “Baby Snakes,” I thought it would be a good name for a solo act. Minus the space.

How would you categorize your writing and singing style?
B: I definitely don’t have the most generic voice, people have told me it’s very unique. I never took voice lessons or anything so my voice comes out the way I’ve taught my own self to do it. Kind of speaky at times, and kind of screamy at times. It depends on what I’m singing. My writing is always very spur of the moment. I have an idea, and I write it down. Some of my lyrics never made it to songs, and some I like more as poems than in song form.

How did you develop a passion for music?
B: Growing up, I was surrounded by good music. My father was in a band when he was younger, my mother played piano, and my brother has been playing music pretty much his whole life. It was a very natural thing, I always loved the guitar, and when I was in 4th or 5th grade my dad taught me a couple chords. I thought I was the coolest kid. I didn’t really start playing guitar until 8th grade.

What inspires your lyrics and songwriting?
B: Photos, weather, people, my own thoughts, other songs, something I hear someone say. Anything really.

What’s your songwriting process?
B: It differs. Sometimes, I’ll have an idea for a line so I write it down, and then it evolves into a whole page of words. If that happens, I usually just grab my guitar and start playing around with chords and melodies. Other times, if I’m stuck in the writing process, I’ll grab my guitar and sing, play, and write at the same time. I’ll think of a line and sing it, and if it sounds good I’ll write it down.

To date, what’s been your most difficult song to write? Why?
B: Probably “I hope the sun” or “Ashes in the Kitchen.” “I hope the sun” has some interesting chord progressions, and the lyrics are quite interesting too. I really like that song. “Ashes in the Kitchen” was hard because it’s about my grandmother passing away. It seems short and simple but I get choked up whenever I play it.

How do you respond to someone who asks, “What do you want to do with your life?”
B: I tell them I want to be a musician, more than anything.

In your opinion, what makes a band worth listening to?
B: If they sound like they’re having a good time, or you can hear the emotion in each word and note they play. If they’re tight when they play live, like everyone is so in-sync. That’s the best.

How do you gauge a successful live performance?
B: For me, if someone introduces themselves to me afterwards and tell me I did well. If someone stands in the same place the whole set, and just watches what I’m doing with such focus that I can tell I’m really impressing them. If I mess up, my friends are there to support me.

Any groupies yet?
B: Not that I know of…. but my best friends call themselves my groupies sometimes. That’s always cool.

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Check out BabySnakes’ “Ashes in the Kitchen” below. She also has a number of other songs available on her Facebook and Bandcamp pages. BabySnakes was recently selected to perform as part of this year’s Greenfest Danbury festival, which you can find out more about at Greenfest.ws.

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