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  • Alice Bell

BAYLi: Brooklyn's Resident Cool Kid Keeps Getting Cooler

Photo by Matthew Calvis

“Mind your business. All I really want to do is blow smoke in the air or whatever,” rings the chorus of BAYLi's hip-hop and rock inspired single “MYOB: Or Whatever”.

The self-empowering lyrics encourage listeners to stop worrying about the judgment of others and celebrate their own lives instead. Set against the nitty gritty backdrop of New York, BAYLi and her girl gang eat ramen in a Chinatown restaurant, stroll across Lower East Side basketball courts, and rap under the Brooklyn Bridge. And although the song is a call for everyone to just be themselves, in many ways the catchy summer anthem is also a personal homage to the 24 year old, Bed Stuy born-and-raised BAYLi's own musical past and future as she steps out on her own for the first time.

No stranger to the music industry, BAYLi started the band The Skins when she was just 16 years old along with her siblings and friends from music school. Their initial jam sessions started in her mother’s basement, and the band took off from there - performing regularly, including at Austin’s SXSW and New York’s Afropunk festival. The young band quickly caught the eye of Rick Rubin who oversaw the release of their debut EP 'Still Sleep' (American/Republic Records). They also signed to Adrian Grenier's management group at Wreckroom Records, of which BAYLi s still a part of herself.

“I feel like a grandma right now,” she laughs about the past seven years spent in the music biz.

Photo by Matthew Calvis

When the band members amicably decided to part ways last year, BAYLi initially thought she would pursue a career as a songwriter for other artists. But as she began writing, it became clear her songs were deeply personal and needed to be presented by BAYLi as both writer and performer (if you've ever seen her live, it's a no-brainer that she has always been destined for the stage).

BAYLi shared her plans for the solo project in June announcing her 'SUMMER' mixtape - an eight song compilation produced by Alex Hope (Troye Sivan, Tove Lo) and co-written with Justin Tranter (Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez). Releasing the tracks one at a time throughout the summer months, she kicked things off with a video for "MYOB: Or Whatever," premiered via PAPER on June 27, alongside a performance opening for Snoog Dogg on the 4th of July.

“It was so random,” she stresses several times over the course of our conversation as she talks about the 'SUMMER' mixtape.“I don’t know, it just weirdly came to be.”

Photo by David Weiner

She's now released the second single from the mixtape "Underneath" with an accompanying visual, premiered via Billboard - a slightly more introspective song that explores the side of herself that the public can’t as easily see.

“Songs to me are like an accumulation of different feelings and emotions,” she explains.

Infused with a message of optimism and practicing self love, her lyrics are refreshingly honest and relatable for many of her listeners.

“I’m so nerdy sometimes when I write music, because I do try to have somewhat of a message,” she laughs. “I try to make light of the shittiness.”

Photo by David Weiner

For BAYLi, making music is also very much a collaborative process. For example, she worked closely with Justin Tranter on the lyrics for MYOB. “I like working with anyone who is really raw, doing something weird to stand out,” she says of Tranter, who has also written songs for the likes of Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber and is a frequent collaborator of Julia Michaels. BAYLi just so happened to have known him from growing up in New York, and they reconnected last year in Los Angeles. The majority of her industry connections have grown in a similarly organic way, and she still frequently collaborates with her brother and sister on live performances.

Photo by David Weiner

So having already attained success at such a young age, what does the future hold for BAYLi? The Brooklyn based singer remains confident of her place within the industry. “I just want to elevate my music and be happy you know?” she says. “I’m going with my instinct more than anything.”


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