UTG INTERVIEW: Bitter’s Kiss Talks Self-Titled Debut, Creating With Family

bitter's kiss

Chloe Baker–maybe better known as Bitter’s Kiss when associated with the music world–is a young singer-songwriter based out of New Jersey who released her stunning, self-titled debut earlier this year. Baker’s father lends a hand or two as well, collaborating with instrumentation and production for the effort; bond and blood put to tape with impressive results and plenty of interest-piquing potential.

We had the chance to speak with Chloe about her musical background leading up to these first works, what it’s like working with her dad, and much more regarding her still-budding musical career. Read through below to check out our full conversation and stream some songs from Bitter’s Kiss.

Hi, Chloe. How long has it been since your initial stages of actually getting serious with writing and recording? And up until that point, what was your experience with music since childhood?

Growing up we always had instruments scattered everywhere and a studio set-up, so music was always playing, and making up songs with my dad and my older sister was pretty common, often joking around about things that were happening. Late last August I came to my dad with a song I had written and asked if we could record it. That was “Already Gone” and the people we shared it with encouraged me to write more, which led to the eight songs on the CD and the others that I have written since. I grew up performing in musical theater, am in a musical theater academic program and can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to sing.

Writing songs was always something we’ve done at home, just spontaneously making things up to a chord pattern. One thing I do a lot of is free writing; every time I think of something or have a strong emotional experience I pretty much write it down in some way. Writing songs is a way for me to take those writings and turn them into an experience that I can share with others. It’s an emotional diary.

What’s it been like working with your father on all of this? What’s the extent of his involvement in the project?

Working with my dad is really easy. If I want to record something, we just have to go downstairs and start working. He lets me control how I want things to sound and doesn’t get frustrated if he makes suggestions that I don’t agree with. My dad helps take my melodies and lyrics and work them into arrangements; sometimes he’ll suggest using a different chord or moving a part or extending a chorus, but leaves the final decision to me. He’s done a lot of the playing on the recordings and is better at running the recording software than I am.

Where do you think you’ve drawn influence from that may have led to the sound you’ve taken on, both musically and vocally? Are there any artists in particular who you feel inspired your style or is it something that just developed naturally?

I grew up listening to all kinds of music–everything from old country to the Beatles to new wave to jam bands. I am really influenced most by female singer-songwriters. Carole King, Janis Ian, Sarah McLachlan, Regina Spektor, among so many others, and, as an artist, I really love the way Björk incorporates performance art into her music. I am inspired by singers and songs that leave me feeling full or enriched after listening to them. My dad was also a big influence. Vocally, I really just sound the way I sound; I don’t really try to emulate anyone.

Across the 8 tracks on this new album, would you say there are any connecting themes in the lyrics? How personal are these songs for you?

They are very personal, either because I had a direct experience or because of my reaction to something I observed. I want to sing about parts of life that we all have to deal with, some of which are not that pleasant, but I want to convey that there is still something valuable in those experiences. When I struggle to understand something or how something could be true or have happened, I find that writing about it and exploring it in lyrics and music is very powerful. I am so happy that so many people have been able to relate. I got some warnings about “The Rope” being too dark of a song, for example, but I just felt like it’s the right thing for someone my age to be the one singing about these things, hoping someone is listening and feeling like they’re being heard.

I wasn’t able to hear the original version of “The Rope” but based on comments on YouTube I get the feeling maybe it was pretty different from the radio edit. Can you tell me about that situation and why the other version was removed in lieu of the one that’s available now?

The original is still available on YouTube (also iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc.), but I did confuse people when I unlisted it from my YouTube channel. The song is the same base tracks, but the radio mix has additional layers meant to add additional color and hopefully open the song to a broader audience. If you watch the video with both versions, you may or may not agree that the new mix brings more emotional depth to the video.

And as far as that video, what do the visuals represent for you?

The song is about how damaging it can be to your self-worth to judge yourself based on what other people think you should be or tell you you need to be, if those things aren’t consistent with how you honestly feel. So the story is pretty simple in that the little boy plays with his mother’s makeup and then is punished for it by his father because somehow what he did was wrong in his father’s eyes. What the boy did innocently out of curiosity is something he is being told is shameful. The ball at the end and the character I play in the video are intended as lifelines calling the boy to be true to himself.

Was the video shot all in one take or is there some editing magic involved there?

It was filmed in one shot; we did twenty-two takes and picked the best one.

As far as social media goes, it looks like you’re doing very well on sites like Twitter and Facebook. What kind of work have you put into gaining followers and fanbases that way?

The best help I’ve had is through the support on SoundCloud which has been amazing as well as really positive support in the blogosphere. I’ve tried some targeted social media outreach based on similar music interests, places, etc. but really want to be careful to make sure I’m building a real fan base. I love that my song “Love Won’t Make You Cry” has received really broad interest; I think that’s really helped, as well as “The Rope.”

You mentioned being in an academic program. What’s your current school situation and how do you balance that with your musical endeavors?

I am in a musical theater program in high school and also play competitive soccer. I’m fortunate to have a home studio for recording and generally like to stay busy. At some point I will need to make choices, but music will be my main priority.

Do you have any upcoming shows where those interested can see you perform?

I hope to schedule shows in Manhattan in the next couple of months. I just performed at the Troubadour in London, which was an amazing experience.

In the long run, where do you hope to take your musical career?

I hope to build my music career into something big, both through writing and performance. I hope to use it as a way to connect with people. I do plan to finish college, have a family and have other meaningful experiences, but music is my main priority for the foreseeable future.

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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