The newest iteration of Baby Cages—a collective of musicians under leadership of frontwoman Halloway Jones—is back with a new single.
Dubbed Toronto’s ruminative, guitar-pop juggernauts, Baby Cages has released the first single “Gold” off their forthcoming LP Bitter Melon. The song is a sultry, dark dream pop confection of layered melancholy vocals over a minimalist drum loop. Sublime lo-fi vocals with deeply intimate lyrics offer fans the first glimpse into the elaborate world of Bitter Melon.
Directed by Kate Young and shot by Heather Rappard, the music video features female dancers improvising group movements that seem to mesh their bodies into a singular shape. Highlighted in iridescent light with a retro aesthetic, Jones croons on, “And everything you do / Another version of the truth / So how could I believe in you? / I couldn’t even if I wanted to.” The lyrics of the song “warning against unhealthy interpersonal power dynamics, urging the listener to protect themselves from false idols.”
The dancers suggest a solution to the destructive dynamics of Jones’ lyrics by relying on the support of one’s community to protect him or her from being taken advantage of. Jones said the video was “inspired by expressionist dance and Paul Himmel photography” of the 1900s-1920s.
“Gold”—as well as all of the videos behind Bitter Melon—were created by casts and crews exclusively comprised of women, non-binary people, and members of the LGBTQ communities. Jones also said she didn’t approach any professional artists and instead intentionally sourced emerging artists and first-time directors to give them opportunities to show what they can do.
“Giving underrepresented people artistic agency not only ensures artworks from a fresh perspective, but also strengthens communities in Toronto,” said Jones. “A non-inclusive scene is not interesting, just alienating.”
Baby Cages, (comprised of lead singer Halloway Jones, Katie Jensen on keys, Dorothea Paas as backup vocals, Chris Worden on bass, Hugh Mater on drums, and Tom Hobson on guitar) first started as a solo act when Jones was living in Halifax where she strummed moody, low tempo songs on “a billion-year-old guitar” at whatever venue would have her. In 2015, Jones returned to her hometown of Toronto where Baby Cages grew into a six-member band and immersed itself in Toronto’s DIY art and music scenes.
During this time, Baby Cages also embraced a shift in both sound and philosophy. The early era of the band’s music was heavily influenced by goth aesthetic and dirge-skirting roots while Bitter Melon sees the group go for something surprisingly sweeter, contrary to the album’s name. The band transitions from “down tempo doom to textured, ruminative guitar pop” that’s almost celebratory in comparison to its predecessors. Dreamlike synths contrast Jones’ formidable voice and include subtle nods to krautrock and new wave.
“As a group we were more inspired by pop music this time around. My moodiness is still there but now we’ve got a lot of high energy, positive personalities involved and I think you can feel that too,” said Jones. She continued, “The sound is always evolving because the band is always growing and changing…I owe everything I know about making music to past and present Cages.”
Bitter Melon is the band’s sophomore LP following 2013’s debut EP I’m So Sorry and subsequent LP Indelicate in 2014—both of which were recorded by Jones and her then-producer, psychedelic multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Costello (Special Costello). The new LP is a visual album featuring a six-track collection of lush, textured pop songs about the complexity and beauty of friendship and community.
But the creation of Bitter Melon was a long time coming for the group.
“My hairdresser asked me why so much of my hair had fallen out a couple months ago… and the answer is: six songs and videos was plenty of work for an independent operation,” said Jones. “We practised obsessively for a month until the day we recorded everything live off the floor last summer. We could have released those recordings as is, but Katie Jensen, Dorothea Paas, and I went back in and added some dubs…I really wanted everything to be perfect.”
Bitter Melon drops June 29 and Baby Cages will follow the release with a cross-country Canadian tour in support of the record. See their full list of tour dates below.
if u live in any of these cities and want to offer us a place to sleep on these dates, we can cook breakfast for you !!! 😴😇😋 pic.twitter.com/d1eYVtEtie
— baby cages (@baby_cages) April 23, 2018