Bathe Alone On Finding Power Through Vulnerability In “Falling With The Lights Down”
By: Zoe Blakeman – Photo by: Paula Harding
Bailey Crone, more commonly known as Bathe Alone, and her producer Damon Moon discuss the creative process behind the B side of her EP “Falling with the Lights Down,” set to be released in August. In this captivating discussion, Crone opens up about the personal experiences that served as inspiration for her synth-based dream pop tracks, while Moon sheds light on the intricate process of recording, mixing, and bringing the entire album to life.
Hailing from Atlanta, Crone showcases a mesmerizing blend of 80s shoegaze and pop influences, delivering relatable lyrics that resonate deeply with listeners. Adding a unique touch to her musical journey, she incorporates images of her great-grandmothers as album covers for her singles and forthcoming album, thus infusing each song with a personal touch while fostering a sense of community. Don’t miss out on this engaging Q&A session featuring Bailey Crone and Damon Moon below!
ZB: Hello and good morning to both of you! It’s nice to meet you. I just listened to your album and absolutely loved it!
BC: Aw, thanks!
ZB: It’s a very dream-pop Cocteau Twins vibe which is awesome. Anyways, let’s just jump into the questions.
BC: Let’s do it!
ZB: Why did you make the two sides of your album Louise and Velma?
BC: The two photos of the grandmas on a boat that I found on my dad’s FaceBook are just their names. They’re my great-grandmas, and I had to ask my mom, “What was your grandma’s name?” And she told me it was Velma, but I had no idea until I found the photos as I had never met them.
ZB: That’s super cool! I was wondering if it was like Thelma and Louise, like the movie, since it’s super close.
BC: No, but I thought about it. That would be such a great album name joke because it really sounds like that, but we had already picked the album name.
DM: Yeah, that was my first thought when she told me that those were the names. I was like, “Oh, like the movie! It’s perfect for a double EP.”
ZB: Why did you end up going with the title “Fall with the Lights Down?”
BC: It’s a lyric from the last song, “4u,” and I think Damon picked out that lyric. I was about to call the album “Decades and Dreams” because that was the lead single, but Damon thought “Fall with the Lights” would be sick instead.
DM: I felt that with the content of the record, the last song, and what that is about, it sort of felt bittersweet. It doesn’t exactly make sense but fall with the lights down, or I hope it doesn’t hurt, kind of thing. It felt like a cool name for the EP.
ZB: Through listening to the album and keeping that idea of “Fall with the Lights Down,” how did the concept of nostalgia inspire this album? How did it inspire the name of it as well?
BC: I feel like, at the time, I was just writing about what I was feeling. I wrote the song “Childhood” about my old dog. I wrote the song “4u” about my other old dog [laughs]. “Missionary Ridge” is about where my grandparents lived and where I grew up. All of the topics I was touching on seemed like they were reminiscing on memories. I felt that it was right, and it’s where I wanted to go with this album.
ZB: What’s the difference between the two sides of the EP, as one side is all Louise and one side is all Velma? Why did you decide to separate the two musically and personally?
BC: Originally, I wanted to keep it all as one album. I put all of the songs in the first half as happier songs and felt that the second half of the album was getting to the real morbid stuff. When I joined Nettwork [music company], we had to rethink, reorganize and rework this into two separate EPs. I also feel that the second half, Velma, is a lot darker. We added some new songs like “In Your Wake” and “Awfully Quiet,” which are some of the happiest songs on the record, which kind of threw my idea out the window. But, originally, the second half was the sad dead dog songs [laughs again].
ZB: [Also laughs] Very cool. I think that is a super awesome and unique idea.
DM: Honestly, it also had a lot to do with vinyl sequencing as well. Just the way that it all fits together on the record. The songs are long, and it stretches the capacity of the medium.
ZB: What is the significance of the photos of your great-grandmothers? Why did you choose certain images to go with certain singles and the album?
BC: So I have a huge Manila folder full of 100s of photos of mostly Velma. 90% of them are Velma. I guess they were just a photo-type of family. There are just some photos, like the cover for “Wasted,” which is just her in this brown fur coat posing with a tree. She looks so into it, and no one wears clothes like that anymore.
This was just such a moment in time, and [laughs] I showed some of those photos to my friend Jasmine, and she said, “This lady has power!” I thought they were kind of crazy looking. We picked out the top 5 and picked out which ones we thought would go with each single. I only really cared about if they were epic looking.
ZB: That sounds like such a fun way to choose an album cover. What inspired you to write the song “Decades and Dreams,” and how it reflects on youthful memories and the passage of time? It’s also very synth-based, so what went into the recording and writing process for that?
BC: This is kind of a long story, but I surprised my friend Jasmine with tickets to a Beach House concert. She had no idea what we were doing until she finally saw on the billboard that we were in line to see Beach House. She started crying, and it’s just one of my favorite memories of her.
I thought it was a male singer, but when we got in, I spent the entire concert saying, “That’s a woman?!?!” I was so mesmerized by this live show and all of the synths, and I just fell in love. I then went home and went to a pawn shop to buy a keyboard that I thought was similar to the one they [Beach House] used. I then wrote a Beach House esq song about my trip to see them with my best friend. It’s kind of full circle for me. The three of us then delve into our own synths and the details of what we play on them, etc..…
ZB: In “Awfully Quiet,” you mention finding freedom in people not really understanding what you’re singing. What do you mean by this? Why is this freeing?
BC: I learned this after being around people making music, like Damon and all of the people in the band, saying they had no idea what I was saying. I can always understand what I’m saying, but I guess no one else can. When I send him [Damon Moon] demos, I can understand the words, so it makes sense to me, but the audience has no idea of what I’m saying. With that, I saw the ability to say whatever I want, and it feels like a safety net.
When I’m writing, I feel like I can just go for it, almost like how you talk to a therapist in secret. I feel like the song “Awfully Quiet” is the flip side of that. What if I want people to know what I’m saying? What if I want to get this message out? I wrote this section in the song [Awfully Quiet] where I’m just mumbling on purpose. It’s just me saying a bunch of sad stuff, and I felt like that is a representation of how people think I sing and how that kind of sucks too.
ZB: Interesting, that’s very cool. I like that. I think it would be kind of freeing in a way.
DM: It’s what we’ve talked about before if you have this barrier that it’s hard to understand words, then you can kind of say whatever you want. It’s just kind of empowering, and I feel like that almost pokes fun at that idea. Specifically the mumbling.
ZB: The song “In Your Wake” has been described as a reflection on personal destiny and having faith in yourself. Can you share more about the internal struggle you faced within that song and what message you wanted to convey?
BC: I think it was more about making decisions in life. We are all making decisions, and we all think we’re the ones driving “the boat,” and sometimes shit happens, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s just what got put on your plate. I was kind of making fun of the fact that destiny if you believe in that, or fate does what it wants.
No matter how much you try, you’re just stuck with whatever happens. I talked about that in the first verse, and in the second verse, I tried to talk about someone trying to be the dominant one in choosing their fate, being like, “No fuck that. I’m going to make that shit happen no matter what.” To me, it was as if someone’s wake is like their power and their motivation to change what’s happening and to overcome their obstacles.
ZB: So, how did you break fate? How did you take control of what would be considered fate? How did you go about that?
BC: I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. I want to do what I want to do, and to me, I’ve realized that it comes from a place of spite and a place of passion, and anger. It’s just a feeling. A feeling to be or a feeling to do, and it’s an angry feeling to me; gaining your own freedom.
ZB: I can understand that, but I bet it makes more sense to listen to your music with this line in mind. Aside from the lyrics, how did the recording process for “4u” differ from the other tracks on the album? I saw you decided to use a singular vocal performance instead of many vocal layers. Why did you choose to just have one layer?
BC: In my heart, this is the best song I’ve ever written. I’ve always felt that I’ll never write a better song as far as the seriousness of the song. I think I’m really good at writing pop verses, and this is not that. This is a super serious song. When we went into the studio, it was pretty much the same type of process, but I had to rethink the baseline I wanted to use. The song is so long, and it needed something aside from the copy-and-paste chord progression. It needed an emotional pull or change. I came into the studio the next day and tracked a new baseline.
We did the beginning in a higher octave, and then you just drop the base when the verse comes in. It just wretches my stomach. The take that was in the actual song was the first take I did, and Damon didn’t know I was going to do that. I remember thinking, “Oh shit, this take is so good, let me not fuck it up.” It was differently structured than the rest of my songs. It’s so long, and it’s not like a pop structure, so each moment makes you feel something different.
Since the song is about six minutes, how do we keep people’s attention for that long? I’ve always felt like if the song had a video, it would be either skydiving or someone walking down the street in a hurricane. Just walking and being oblivious to the destruction around them. I really like the fact that that person maybe wasn’t tuned in to anything going on around them, and it makes them seem so much smaller than the music.
DM: We rationalize this choice by it by making it intensely personal to Bailey. It’s the end of the record. This whole record, we’ve been focused on these huge arrangements, beautiful vocal harmonies, and stacks that if we pull all of that out, it could be a singular vocal happening within this huge thing. Maybe that feels even more solitary and helpless.
Kind of how the lyrics feel. I will say mixing that song was a real challenge because it needed to be the biggest thing on the record. We tried a ton of stuff in the mix, and it was always important to make the vocals have a lot of personality and character even though we’re using just a singular vocal. So we did all of these specific things on a Leslie, which is a spinning speaker, just for one line to try to make these vocals feel very alone.
ZB: That is my favorite song on the album. I absolutely loved it. When I got to the end of the album, I was like, “Woah…This is the end of the album, and it went out with a bang of emotions.” What a great new song! Going off of that, what would you say is the evolution of your last album, “Last Looks,” to “Fall with the Lights Down?” How did you push creative boundaries by experimenting with new techniques, production, and different styles of writing?
BC: I’ve always done demos at my house, and it’s really hard to write a bunch of parts that multiple people are supposed to be playing. A lot of it was just copy-paste chord progressions, and the difference between chorus’ is just dynamics. These songs were just more straightforward to me.
When we got to the second record, “Fall with the Lights Down,” I felt like I was not experimenting enough with bringing new chords. I’ve always been super analytical and wanted to learn how to grow as a songwriter, and my demos were getting a lot more experimental. I did a bunch of studying of other artists I liked. What are the chords that they use, and what emotions do they make me feel? I decided I wanted to use that too.
DM: For the first record we did it song by song right when I met Bailey. I worked with Bailey and the band she was in. After one of those sessions, she asked if she could show me some of her solo work. When she played me a song I said, “What are you doing in this band? You need to be doing your own stuff.
This is really, really good.” She had like 50 songs she had recorded as demos, so we sort of cherry-picked songs for the first record. When she started bringing songs in for the second record, it was so clear that these songs were on another level, and I felt like the process of recording the first one was starting to form more of how she was writing other songs.
Sonically, the songs were on a different level, and I felt like we needed to take our time and get to the heart of what this music is. There was a lot of experimentation. We recorded the sound of metal scraping against metal and threw that into a vocal tuning software, and made a synthesizer sound out of that. We took strange sounds and played around with them. It was just a natural progression of what was happening, and it was like, “Oh, we know how to make dream pop now,” but the heart of what she was writing was experimental.
ZB: I have one last question. What do you want your audience to take away from this album? What emotions do you want them to feel? What do you want people to think about when listening to this album?
DM: When we’re mixing a lot, Bailey will say things like, “I’m looking at the mix, and I don’t want to look at it. I want to feel like I’m in the mix.” That idea started, and it became an actual working goal on this record. I think lyrically, people are going to take what they can and apply that to their circumstances. That part is always there, but I feel like sonically immersion is what I’d want people to take away from this.
BC: I want them to feel immersed, and like the music is around them. That’s always been important to me. I want people to feel like they’re watching the music and they’re in the music. Not just someone outside of it, but part of the music too.
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