'I wanted to create a clean slate for my new music just to allow for greater freedom of expression and to not have any pretense hanging over it'
We were originally planning on introducing Baby FuzZ, but after speaking with him, we felt it best to simply let him introduce himself:
'I guess if I were to introduce myself, it would be to some sort of disturbingly happy tv sitcom music from the 90s. I would walk into frame, the comic sans serif font would spell out "Baby FuzZ", and then it would freeze on a pic of me smiling with my eyes closed before doing a helicopter shot over Tampa Bay or some cheap stock footage skyline. I think probably the viewer would change the channel at that point. It was always just an intro anyways...
Baby FuzZ is a new project I've started recently which is kind of a band, kind of an alter ego, lowkey possibly even a cult (idk yet). I see it as a lowbrow digital cartoon Liberace with a kickass glam rock band.'
RNGLDR: With only two tracks populating the Baby FuzZ canon, it’s obviously still such a young project. Though not common, it’s also not unheard of for an artist to rename and rebrand, but the reasons why are always different. For you, what was behind the shift away from Sterling Fox and towards Baby FuzZ? Is it a completely new direction for the entirety of your art or is it simply a new parallel project?
Baby FuzZ: A lot of people knew me as Sterling Fox, but only in the context of a songwriter and producer for other people. Ultimately, that kind of casts a weird shadow over everything I did for myself. I wanted to create a clean slate for my new music just to allow for greater freedom of expression and to not have any pretense hanging over it. I honestly wanted to start a band that is on the same level as every other indie artist coming up hustling their stuff. And if people still respond to it, then I know that there is something there worth running with. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive...so I think Baby FuzZ is going to be my primary focus for the time being.
RNGLDR: Understandably, Baby FuzZ definitely boasts a very different auditory aesthetic than that of your other solo work. And through just two tracks, that range, though underlined by a set of commonalities, also extends itself over a massive sonic area. What are some of your influences for the project, and how do they differ from those of Sterling Fox?
Baby FuzZ: Yeah the sonic range of the project is going to be wide. Each single will be a completely different flavor. My influences are quite diverse, so it makes sense. I think mostly I've been referencing quirky glam rock or indie pop. I really like The Lemon Twigs, Sparks, Superorganism, The Pixies, Blink 182, Mitski, Mac Demarco, Queen, and a litany of others. I think I'm mostly sticking to bratty alt rock/punk/glam stuff as that's what I know best. I'm attempting to merge a bit of that with classic songwriting à la Springsteen, Cohen, etc.
RNGLDR: As far as launching the project from your current home, Montreal, what has the process been like? Is it particularly inspired by the Montreal music scene or is it less rooted in geographical boundaries?
Baby FuzZ: Well, I'm saying I'm based in Montreal because that's the last place I spent more than 6 months. I'm actually based nowhere right now. I've been moving around to different cities for the past few years with my gear. My upcoming album was made partially in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Montreal, Norway, Oregon, and California. I get bored after being somewhere a few months, so inevitably find myself exploring somewhere else. So to answer the question, the project isn't rooted in geography at all. I don't really believe in the idea of countries and borders in general, so no...my life is a really C minus Pitbull song right now where instead of yelling out Rio/Miami/Tokyo he's yelling out Pittsburgh/Portland/Montreal.
RNGLDR: Like most cities with such an art and music scene, Montreal – home most notably musical to Osheaga – is sure to have a lot of interesting things happening beneath the surface. Other than Baby FuzZ, who are some Montreal-based artists that the world should be on the lookout for?
Baby FuzZ: So yeah my time in Montreal was awesome. I was there for a year and finished my first Baby FuzZ song there. I actually want to move back there for real (I had to leave because my passport ran out basically). But yeah, it's basically more socialist than the States, so it definitely aligns with my personal approach to life more. The people there are generally fun too and super intelligent. My French is still shit, but I think they gave me a pass because I drank enough Tim Horton's or something. The music scene is also outstanding and decidedly anti-corporate. The winters are brutal, so going to warehouse shows and having weird non-archetypal sexual experiences is a fun pastime for Montreal folk. So that's always fun. Also, Arcade Fire, Grimes, Leonard Cohen, Godspeed, Kaytranada...etc. and that's only the Anglo bands that came from this city. Great music scene.
RNGLDR: Cig, the first Baby FuzZ track, has gained a firm following in the folk-acoustic circuit and been a successful introduction for the project. For the part of your audience first attracted to and perhaps expecting its follow-up single to be built on a similarly wholesome, Shins-inspired, Right Away Great Captain-esque texture, what does the delivery of Shadowland signify? Is there a definite direction for the project yet that is only difficult to see because of the lack of tracks, or are you altogether still discovering it?
Baby FuzZ: Ha, there is definitely a direction to the project, but it hasn't been revealed yet. There are uptempo pop songs, strange pitch shifted jazz ballads, indie surf tunes, etc. I wanted to ease people into my world a bit instead of hitting them over the head with my weirdness. Cig was a fun song to play with folk stereotypes...messing with a Simon and Garfunkel type vocal approach while weaving in lyrics about Bud Light. I thought it would be accessible and amusing. Conveniently it was the first song I finished too, so the strategy was pretty basic lol. Shadowland was more of a choice to release next. It's political (obviously), but I thought timely. Musically it's hinting at something bigger that is yet to come.
RNGLDR: We’re probably in the minority of your fan base who first heard of Baby FuzZ through Shadowland. To us, it’s one of the most explosive and unique tracks we’ve heard in years. Forgive us if the comparisons are misguided, but it feels like what Elton John would be making if he were born into the modern scene. Something about the violent, powerful vocals, the self-backed oohing, the subtle piano keys, and the theatrics of it all make it unmistakable. What was the creative process like for the track? What were your inspirations?
Baby FuzZ: I wrote Shadowland with this producer/writer named Robin Grubert who has a studio in Santa Monica. I was out in LA last fall of 2017 for a writing trip for other people's projects and bands. The two of us didn't really have an agenda that day, so I kind of decided we would write about America. Robin's German, and I had just gotten back from Canada, so we had a little perspective in the moment. The song came out in a few hours and was kind of like a water pot finally boiling over after being on the stove for years. All the feelings I had when I left the country and came back spilled all over the place and kind of resulted in this primal little half song called Shadowland. We did everything that day in a few hours and kept all the original takes and stuff. The Elton refs are really just the way I write sometimes. I'm into old school songwriters, so those are just my natural melodic tendencies. The lyrics were given some thought, but generally the session was pretty feel-based and primal. Because of that, i think it comes off as honest, and I hope it does, because it is.
RNGLDR: Shadowland is also a track whose lyrics give way to a lot of room for interpretation. From the perspective of the writer, what is the meaning?
Baby FuzZ: It's definitely a protest song, but less so about the government or administration or the man or whatever, but more about myself and how I relate to all that stuff. It's protesting my own hypocrisies and trying to take some individual responsibility for the problems I see in the world. I think blaming other people is certainly fun, but not necessarily the most constructive approach to solving issues. Hopefully, some people can get something out of this tune, too. I'm definitely challenging myself to take personal responsibility for the world around me.
RNGLDR: From the album artwork alone, Baby FuzZ seems dedicated to take on confrontational subject matter, and per the lyrics and delivery of Shadowland especially, the direction seems confirmed. Is there a particular undertone you’re aiming for? Particular occurrences inspiring its direction?
Bay FuzZ: The artwork on Shadowland and also the upcoming video could be scene as confrontational. There is a lot of upside down American flag imagery. In olden times, sailors would turn flags upside down on ships as a signal for help, or an SOS sign. That's the context of the flag in my artwork for this song and on the video. It's a signal for help, both personally (in the realm of self improvement and how it relates to the world around me), and as a wake up call to others that people need help. There are thousands of homeless people on the streets of LA that people walk by every day and ignore. Then they go in a Starbucks and order a 6 dollar coffee in a plastic cup with a plastic straw and don't recycle it, then they drive their car in the most polluted city in the country, then they go home and tweet about how somebody should do something about the world's problems. Wake the fuck up. WE are the world's problems. So yeah...i'm a little confrontational....but in a fun way.
RNGLDR: We run a series called Dream Venue - a narrative series aiming to take the reader on a hypothetical journey culminating in the perfect live event. If you could have the perfect day unfold and end with the perfect concert, what would happen, where would you go, and who would you see perform?
Baby FuzZ: I think I would go to a theoretical music festival that doesn't exist yet, most likely setup by performance artists, that would fuck with the idea of corporate sponsors. Every stage would be sponsored by a fake company that doesn't exist. All the products would be designed specifically for the festival in order to lampoon the idea of products in general. I just don't want to be sold anything real at this concert. I just want to be sold on art. And it would be completely free also. The government would divest all money spent on the military and just throw the most kickass festival every summer. Bands could be like Jonas Brothers or S Club 7... anyone really.
RNGLDR: How about in the opposite direction - what would be your Dream Venue as the artist performing?
Baby FuzZ: I would love to play Wembley Stadium, but then i would probably just go into a complete Freddie Mercury ripoff the whole show. Would like start taking the microphone stand apart and would grow a moustache etc. It would get too weird.
RNGLDR: We also run a series called Collab Elation, discussing hypothetical collaborations that we want to see in the music industry. If you could have any two artists collaborate, who would you choose and why?
Baby FuzZ: Probably Bjork and Reba Mcentire. It would just be the most random collab in history, yet would still probably be dank somehow
RNGLDR: And for you, if you could collaborate with any artist dead or alive, who would it be? Why?
Baby FuzZ: Tough one, but most likely 90s Garth Brooks. As you can see I'm really into absurdities, so it would be an incredible male/male duet with enormous fashion potential.
RNGLDR: Obviously, as Sterling Fox you’ve established yourself in the industry, have plenty of friends and connections, and have a dedicated following. Is there something to be said about taking a step away from that and creating freeform of your pre-established artistry as Baby FuzZ?
Baby FuzZ: Yeah it's funny, I don't really have that many friends in the industry. People and come and go from music so much that it's hard to keep track of them. A lot of the big artists I've written for in the past have never even met me and have no idea who I am. So there really isn't a big following or large group of friends from my writer days per se. It's a pretty lonely existence and you're living in a recording studio most of the year in isolation or with forced collabs with people you don't know. Baby FuzZ is a way for me to actually have real connections with real people who can respond to my music, not vicariously through other artists.
RNGLDR: As far as the future of Baby FuzZ is concerned, what is your aim? What are your hopes? And what, if you could control its interpretation and impact, would be the ultimate outcome of the Baby FuzZ construct?
Baby FuzZ: I don't have any expectations for the project, although I am giving it my best effort. It's mostly for fun. I would love to be able to tour the album when it comes out...go all old school and just have a traveling party rock n roll rave that hops from city to city. People can join the band or jump on the tour bus and come with if they want. I'm not really selling anything...just ideas. So the ideal outcome is, of course, worldwide adulation and reception, but that's completely impractical, so I'd settle for like a few thousand Spotify plays probz. ;)
RNGLDR: What’s next?
Baby FuzZ: Whole album. It's done already. It's kind of janky but definitely interesting. Just rolling out more singles and videos this fall until I get bored with that and drop the album. Then I'll probably gift it to my family on vinyl as a Christmas presentand play some shows to like 10 people. I'll be thoroughly enjoying every second of it, though.
With the release of his visuals for Shadowland, it's even more obvious that Baby FuzZ's vision for his bold socio-creative project is deeper, more artistic, and much more daring and sure-spoken than we ever could have imagined. The unsettling and simultaneously humorous video is simply the latest delivery from Baby FuzZ, but there is so much more to come. Watch it here and stay tuned for more.