There's something magical about Steady Holiday - the project and brainchild of fascinating LA-based artist Dre Babinski - and her time is now.
Steady Holiday's newest offering "Love and Pressure" comes in the lead up to the Babinski's second body of work and once again proves that she is on the verge of something very special. The track opens with creeping synths that lure you into a false sense of what to expect next, but then a groove-driven base harks in and Babinski's heavenly hypnotic vocals enter the frame.
The power of Steady Holiday comes in the way that Babinski is able to utilise sweeping strings, synths and prominent basslines to create something that sounds as saccharine as it does unnerving. On the surface, it feels welcoming and undeniably sweet, but stratch beneath the surface and you're pulled into the underlying anxiety and pressure that embodies Babinski's lyrics. She is able to tell her stories honestly and zooms right into the more uncomfortable parts of life's experiences, yet somehow turns them into a body of work that sounds beautifully epic and unlike anything else.
The new song is accompanied by a brilliantly simple video that only enhances the idea of being overwhelmed and out of control as a dancer bounces around Babinski, controlling her limbs and pushing her around at whim.
With her previous record, 2016's Under The Influence, Babinski made a significant impact and opened for the likes of Mitski and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Yet, with her new album, Nobody's Watching, we see the artist grow into her form and develop the enchanting complexity of her sound. We caught up with Steady Holiday to find out more about the making of the album, her compelling visuals and what we can expect from her in the coming months.
BEST FIT: Can you tell us more about the making of “Love and Pressure”?
DRE BABINSKI: "The first two videos for this record are pretty dark in nature, so I wanted to make something playful for balance. My director (Isaac Ravishankara) and I thought it’d be fun to take the lyrics literally, have someone pushing me around and urging to loosen up. We knew we wanted to work with choreographer/unicorn Megan Lawson, so we gave her that general direction and let her run with it."
You’ve said it is in part about over-simplified advice and how that can be isolating rather than helpful - was there a particular moment that sparked the writing of this track?
"The lyrics for this song were the very last thing written and recorded for the album. I felt so much pressure to get it done and get it right on our last day that I had an anxiety attack. My producer Gus helped me assemble all my fragmented ideas, so maybe it reads more like him consoling me."
The visual aspect of your work is always stunning and extremely well put together. How much input do you have in the making of your videos?
"Thanks! I’m very involved, I love adding this other dimension to the music. All the videos for this album were made with director Isaac Ravishankara, who is particularly great at telling stories through movement. We worked with my dream choreographers on each video, including Megan Lawson, Jilly Meyers, and Dana Wilson."
Is retaining creative control over your work important to you?
"I love collaborating and being a part of something bigger in other capacities, but Steady Holiday is my place for creative control. That doesn’t mean playing every instrument or dialling in the perfect bass tone (that’s all Gus), but it does mean carefully curating the people around me who I make creative decisions with. This is a strange and unstable path, so if I didn’t intend to make something authentic, I really don’t see the point."
Are there any artists whose videos are an inspiration to you or artists who you think are doing it particularly well right now?
"Francis and the Lights always surprises and inspires me. He is so charismatic and free, the videos capture his performances so well."
You’re working towards the release of your second album, did you approach it differently to the way you approached your first album?
"Yeah this one is quite different than the first, way less introspection. I was battling a lot of personal things at the time, and that group of songs helped me work through it. I was in a much more stable place while writing this album, more able to zoom way out and look at ideas much bigger than myself."
What can people expect from the new album? How did you start writing it and what was the main idea behind it?
"I spend a lot of time observing people and thinking about our bizarre human ecosystem, and I wanted to write about how complicated and fascinating we are. Watching someone hold a door open for a stranger, or litter, or give up a seat on the subway, or check out a girl while holding their girlfriend’s hand- all this stuff makes me think about compassion and morality and what motivates people to do what they do."
What was it like working with Gus Seyffert and how did that collaboration come about?
"Gus is the man.. if you know, you know. When he signed on to produce the first record by my not-yet-existant project, I was sorta bewildered. This is our third project together though, so we have a trust and workflow established now that allows space for me to relax (a little) and have a clear head when it matters most."
You’ve obviously played in a number of bands in the past, do you find it more satisfying to work as a solo artist?
"It's satisfying in other ways. I really enjoy the camaraderie of a band and sharing the ups and downs together, and plan to do it again at some point down the road. But I have a different kind of investment and responsibility as a solo artist, which is something I wanted to experience. There's a satisfaction in taking a much longer view of my career and making decisions from that place. Small victories mean more than they ever had."
Is there anyone that you would really like to collaborate with, and if so, why?
"I've always admired Danger Mouse and Damon Albarn, would love to work with them. They've made some of my favorite records and both have incredibly diverse and adventurous bodies of work, which is something I plan to share."
What did you grow up listening to and is there any particular song or artist that really inspired you to become a musician?
"I grew up listening to oldies radio, a lot of Motown, Beach Boys, Beatles. I also started playing violin when I was young and became interested in classical music, which also had a big impact. To point to one artist that inspired me to pursue songwriting though, I’d say Harry Nilsson, and in my mid 20s when I first started writing. His songs are so fragile and vulnerable, as was he. I identified with him and felt permission for the first time to give it a try despite myself, like he did."
What does success look like to you and is there anything that you hope to achieve with this album?
"I wrote this album to work through my own ideas of what community, accountability and survival looks like. The beautiful and the ugly parts, both of which I identify with. I do hope this album makes listeners take inventory on their own ideologies and decisions, then go on from there. I wanted to pose questions without a clear answer in mind or my own personal agenda, and certainly do it without pessimism. There's enough of that.
"As far as success, to me that means feeling settled, wherever I'm at in my personal life and career. I struggle with this a lot. I expect that goal to change but for now, I'm really just trying to enjoy things and be grateful and soften a little. Also tryna be a bajillionaire."