Interview: Sarah Jaffe On Her New Album ‘Bad Baby’

With ten years of writing and performing on her side, Texas native Sarah Jaffe dishes out a new full-length titled Bad Baby. With poppy but edgy undertones, and a lyrically rich collection, the album touches upon themes of discrimination and empowerment with instrumentation bold enough to match it. Compared to Jaffe’s previous work, Bad Baby was a truly collaborative effort, with her bandmates there every step of the way. 

We were able to catch up with Jaffe and get a glimpse into the creative process behind the album as well as the political and personal themes that are woven throughout. Bad Baby is out today. 

CC: You’re new album Bad Baby comes out next month, how do you plan on celebrating?
Sarah: I’ll probably celebrate like I did the last record which was with friends and family, just a small get together.

CC: Was there any approach or process of Bad Baby’s creation that you did differently than in previous albums?
Sarah: Yeah, I think with this record in particular I’ve been playing with the same bandmates for a while now and the way that I usually went about recording records was I would just kind of take it on with whoever was producing it. But, this was more of a communal approach as far as the studio. We all stayed next door to the studio, we left, ate in the house next door, and we woke up every morning together. We took it on more as a band opposed to just me and a producer. It was cool and it’s going to be really great for the live aspect as well because we were all in it together making each song, so there’s a familiarity there. It was more of a collaboration this time.

CC: I read somewhere that the first song you wrote for the album Bad Baby, was in part, loosely formed from a political perspective, is that something that motivates your writing often?
Sarah: You know, shit hit the fan politically after I wrote the song, actually. I could see how people would think it would be related to Trump, and to me I could see how based on the title alone how people could gather that, but if you look at the lyrics it’s much more of a relational topic. It’s about a situation but it’s also leering into my own personal dilemma. Politics was never something I wrote about, but I did find that with this record, it was almost impossible for politics not to infiltrate my writing because, how could the state of the world at this point not affect me? So I found that with this record more than ever, politics definitely played a part. Not in a way that feels like new territory but in a way where it just leaked into my being and affected me. But as far as Bad Baby goes, it doesn’t have much to do with my songwriting.

CC: Looking back on each individual song of the new album now, is there any particular recurring theme or issue you think continued to pop up in your songwriting?
Sarah: Most definitely. I think a good portion of the record has to do with me just being fed up as a woman, as a human being. I talk a lot about discrimination in general, and I’m just tired of being quiet about it and really trying to find my voice within being fed up with it. I’m figuring out how to word certain things and how to feel confident in writing. There’s a song in particular called “This/That” on the record that kind of summates most of what I’m talking about as far as discrimination and finding my groove in speaking up.

CC: All of Bad Baby’s tracks don’t seem to identify with the same style, which gives it a dynamic element. Is there any one or two songs that signify the style you felt most connected to, or came out most naturally for you?
Sarah: I feel like I create music the way that I listen to music. I listen to EVERYTHING. I listen to everything from top 40’s on the radio now to classic 70’s rock. So I find that I identify with different songs at different times, as far as style goes. But lyrically, to me that’s the biggest common thread. I can’t really get behind a song that I feel is lyrically weak or not my strongest. And even though I am very moved and influenced by melody, lyrics are the ultimate factor. This record is no exception because lyrically, this one was one of my more personal creations. It’s really hard for me to hear the different stylings of instrumentation in my own music too, I guess I am just too involved with it to hear it exactly how you might hear it. The only thing that I could think of that would relate is just how I kind of regurgitate what I listen to and what I am inspired by. I am inspired by a lot of electronic music, a lot of classic folk, classic rock, top 40’s. And then when I get into the studio I feel like that’s the one place I shouldn’t have limits, so I kind of just do what feels right and the same things goes for my band members.

Listen to Sarah Jaffe’s new track “Bad Baby” below.

photo by: Lindsey Byrnes