B is for Baroness
Molly's first CD of lyric driven torch songs!
B is for Baroness, BABE "...maybe it’s idealistic, but people have different strengths and should collaborate more toward a group creative goal. We can inspire each other, support each other, and in all cases have quite a following..."
Molly White, your solo music project B is for Baroness is inspired by German-born Dadaist Elsa Von Frietag Loringhoven. How did you get introduced to the Baroness who you call the Quintessential Outcast?
I learned about the Baroness from my sister. She had read the book Holy Skirts, a fictional story based on the life of the Baroness, her relationships with Dadaists such as Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. Her daring behavior, art and poetry certainly challenged norms of her time. It was love at first read. Had she been a musician she would have written some daring numbers. She would have had a cult following in the punk rock world for sure! (think Pussy Riot)
What struck me the most about her work was her willingness to express her frustration and life experience in her poems and in her letters, directly and without shame. Reading about her and reading her work felt like comforting a friend. I felt encouraged to express my ideas and feelings in my music, perhaps as she might have.
Taking on the persona of the Baroness allowed me to step on stage and step into a character. I might not have had the courage to do it otherwise.
As far as being an outcast, I think she felt that way. She felt deserted by the men in her life. Creating art was a way for her to respond and act on her emotions. Today it might be more difficult to stand out in a crowd such as she did with her dresses made from dolls and garbage. But her experience and frustrations are timeless and still relevant.
What is the story behind Peach & Knife a music duo made up of you and Elena Degl' Innocenti?
Peach & Knife grew out of mutual love for songwriting, expressing longing and hope through lyrics and music.
Elena and I have been friends since 2005 when we met in a song writing class at UCLA. Elena played with me in B is for Baroness. When I moved to NY, she was already working on her solo project.
Elena and I often come up with ideas we want to develop on our own but we help each other with the finishing touches. Peach & Knife became an excuse for us to work together and make time for each other’s ideas, thoughts, dreams and frustrations.
Elena is a mastermind on the guitar. She comes up with wonderfully free chord progressions and isn’t afraid to break form. My style is a little more 80s and folky and my process is to carve lyrics from poems I write. I love being able to play music with someone who is as close as a sister to me.
What are some of the coolest performances either as B is for Baroness or with Peach & Knife? On the other spectrum, what is a loathsome aspect of a musician’s life?
B is for Baroness played at the Eagle Rock Music Festival in 2007 opening for Leslie and the Badgers and Mia Doi Todd, at the Women’s 20th Century Building on Colorado Blvd. Both women continue to write and play so it’s nice to have been in their company. Playing with that band was a dream come true: I was playing with the people who were my very close friends at the time… and who still are my closest friends despite not playing together as much anymore.
A highlight was that we got to record with Tom Brechtlein of Al de Meola, Robben Ford and Chick Corea fame, and he brought life to the B is for Baroness songs that felt like magic to me.
One of the hardest things? It’s difficult if you feel like you should be getting some kind of recognition for your efforts. Everybody wants that but if it’s your only motivation, then you’re not making music from the love of the process. It’s easier to dedicate yourself to the music when you don’t worry about the business side of things. Unfortunately, we have to do both. It’s loathsome!
You also teach violin using the Suzuki method in the LA area. Can you share a music moment highlighting that role in your life?
Most recently I have been working with very young people, introducing them to free play, conducting, listening, singing and recognizing pitch. We have a small studio of sound filled with all kinds of instruments including a violin, guitar, cello and uke.
One young girl was playing violin while another girl conducted and another played a slit drum, and this girl who is about 4 years old was playing that violin very earnestly and responded to being conducted, and then stopped and said something like “don’t make the play sections so short”. She wanted to play longer between the breaks the conductor was initiating so she could feel her groove. It felt like I was in the room with a future band leader, someone who had a vision of how it should be, someone who was deeply experiencing her own music, and there is nothing more rewarding than that!
I started learning violin in the Suzuki method when I was six so I am familiar with the repertoire and am still in touch with my violin teacher from high school (Idel Low). When I moved back to LA it felt like a natural next step in dedicating myself to music, and it was something I fell in love with immediately and am so glad that I did the training and am a part of that community now. I sincerely love working individually with children and adults to nurture the musician is everyone.
Peach & Spoon is your most recent CD featuring music for all kids tall & small. People should pay attention and support it for the simple fact that …
It’s a fun set of silly songs, inspired by, and written for the children that I work with. I’m also collaborating with Elena on this one, and with Ted Kamp, a great Americana bass player and songwriter who often performs with Peach & Knife. Naomi (White) and Elena both helped me record the video for the Indie Gogo campaign. It’s just been a fun project to work on for everyone. Also, you will receive very cool percussion instruments along with your CDs if you contribute ;-)
Finally, you have a great collaborator in your sister, Naomi White an amazing artist with photography, video, and visual work. Naomi said ‘sisterhood is one of the best gifts.’ What is your comeback line?
Full disclosure: we are big fans of Naomi White’s work and we’re especially grateful to her for introducing us to you and your fun, whimsical music.
I am so lucky to have been turned onto the visual world through my sister. Learning to see images as complete pieces of art and not just documentation tools, was a big aha for me, especially when I started to make recordings and needed artwork to represent the music.
Naomi always made efforts to include me in her work and growing up she always had a plan for something we should be making, a play to produce, a collage to create, a photo album to curate…to a big extent sisterhood has been about learning about creativity, and not giving up on expressing my voice when challenges present themselves. I’m so glad to be close with my sister and to collaborate together on videos and photos, well, that’s just a huge bonus!