Photo: Eli Raskin
“My mom raised me to deeply respect Whitney Houston as the most important diva…”
“I wanted my name to be the resume, the cover letter,” Kelsie Hogue says of her creative alias Sir Babygirl, and it certainly does that, conveying the playful pop vitality and subversion of gender that Hogue’s music, and identity, embody.
Throughout her debut Crush On Me there’s an immediately tangible theatricality and high-octane charisma. “Sir Babygirl is just like a blown up, exaggerated version of certain aspects of me,” Hogue expresses. “I think of Sir Babygirl as like a gay clown”, a caricature that aptly sums up the innate fusion of astute humour and melodrama within her music. “Clowns are incredible because they’re so, so broken and sad and are constantly working through that to find resilience and that’s a huge thing for me,” she muses, “using humour as a form of healing and resilience as opposed to deprecation.”
Channelling the spirit of influential pop and punk icons, from Kathleen Hanna to Britney Spears, the album offers narratives of queer experience, alighting on social anxieties, with an overarching air of enthusiasm and absurdity. “My mom raised me to deeply respect Whitney Houston as the most important diva,” Hogue details. Having studied musical theatre, spent time as a stand-up comedian, as well as going through a wide-ranging spectrum of musical phases – “I wanted to be a jazz saxophonist in third grade ‘cause I discovered Lisa Simpson,” Hogue anecdotally recounts – she states “discovering PC Music made me go back to all of the pop music that I formatively grew up with.”
“I think pop music, ’cause it’s so image based, it’s a world-building type of music… it’s all there, I feel like it’s the perfect container for everything.”
And through this rediscovery she reached the distinctive bubblegum pop fused with hardcore punk energy that comprises Sir Babygirl’s kaleidoscopic sonic cosmos. “It had that harder edge that I felt I could access emotionally and then it was like ‘holy shit’, all of that music that I thought, because of my internalised misogyny in college, was stupid – it’s the best shit I’ve ever heard.” Not only did this offer the perfect sound but also the scope to explore and adopt personas and identities within that space: “I’d done all this work and was a total theatre kid so I loved playing all these characters but none of them fit perfectly. And then I was like everything else can go into pop music and to me, I don’t think it’s true for everyone, but for me it helped. I think pop music, ’cause it’s so image based, it’s a world-building type of music,” she enthuses. “It’s all there, I feel like it’s the perfect container for everything.”
As we discuss the significant rise in prominence of queer pop artists in recent years Hogue reflects “I think it’s in conversation with the Internet, I think it’s hugely fuelled by stan Twitter and Instagram. With the Internet, more queer people, and more marginalised voices in general, are allowed to have more of a platform and there are more communities online that help nurture that. I think when people ask me what does it feel like to be a queer musician it’s like well, we’ve always been here,” she pertinently articulates. “I think it’s funny ‘cause we always place whiteness and heteronormativity and cis-normativity as the default, but it’s not the default, it’s just the most privileged. It’s funny because every campaign has an angle and a sexuality or an explicit non-sexuality so now we’re actually getting a wider range of that.”
Alighting on the intersection between comedy and pop, something undeniably essential in the lyrical narratives and delivery of Sir Babygirl, Hogue emphasises “Comedy’s always been inherent in whatever I do,” adding “for me, sense of humour is so imperative in pop because I both take pop music deadly seriously and it’s a joke. It’s both things constantly. I think the best pop artists always have a tongue in their cheek”. And Sir Babygirl is absolutely one such artist.
Crush on Me is released February 15th via Father/Daughter Records.
See the video for ‘Haunted House’ here: