Origins is our recurring series that gives artists a space to break down everything that went into their latest release. Today, Canadian duo Babygirl breaks down what inspired their new single, “Sore Eyes.”
There’s a comforting sweetness to Babygirl’s music, even in the most fraught phrases.
The Toronto duo, comprised of Kiki Frances and Cameron Bright and one of our Rising Artists to Watch for 2023, have a knack for wistful, dreamy indie pop. While their nostalgic sound recalls the warm malaise of ’90s alternative rock, the band’s lyrics strike a contemporary chord, blending sad, solitary images with moments of crystalline clarity and emotional weight.
Now, after their terrific 2021 EP Losers Weepers, Babygirl are back with “Sore Eyes,” the first single off their upcoming EP Be Still My Heart, out April 14th. The track feels apt for the transition from winter to spring, and the sweet relief of seeing someone who is “a sight for sore eyes” is portrayed with a solemn kind of bliss. Babygirl echoes these ideas, explaining “It’s such a lovely way to say that you’ve been in pain, but just seeing this person has helped alleviate it. It’s a simple truth — loving someone can make everything feel better, even the parts of you that are sore and broken.”
Though there’s some anguish depicted in “Sore Eyes'” first lines — Frances immediately compares herself to “a pool, drained/ on the last day of summer” — there’s a luxurious warmth coming from the jangly guitars. “We wanted the guitars to be bright and earnest and doused in sweetness,” the band tells Consequence. “It’s the sugariest song on the project for sure, and that was by design.”
Check out “Sore Eyes” below, and read on for Babygirl’s breakdown for both the track and the video.
The production on this record is first and foremost inspired by our love of jangle pop. Bands like Alvvays, the sunnier side of The Cure’s catalogue, or songs like “He Gets Me So High” by beabadoobee were influential on this record — earnest, sweet, bright sounds, perfect arpeggiated guitars layers, combined with pretty yet melancholic sentiments in the lyric.
Teenage Dream was the inspiration for the plucky rhythm guitar part in this song. We really wanted to pay homage to it, partially because the sentiment of the songs feel somehow connected to one another. The spirit of that song and Katy Perry’s music, in general, was brought up a lot while we were working on it — the melodic shapes and song forms, the unabashed playfulness & joy, and aspects of the vocal arrangement. Katy Perry stuff tends to have really cool little rubs present in the background vocals, or colorful voicings of standard pop chords that give the songs this extra depth beyond the surface.
Sped-Up Versions of Songs
We try to stay open to being influenced by our surroundings; a lot of great music was both timely and timeless. Obviously right now there’s this landscape where chipmunk’d remixes are popular, and when we’re working on stuff we regularly tamper with varispeed to see how stuff sounds in different keys/tempos. It’s a technique that’s been used by Radiohead on”No Surprises” and The Beatles on “Strawberry Fields Forever,” but in those cases, they tracked faster and slowed the tape down. The guitars in this song were all tracked at a slower tempo and in a lower key, then sped up. It gives them this extra glisten, top end, and tightness that makes them feel full of sugar and sunshine — it really sonically represents that excitement and joy of having new love.
Le Ballon Rouge
We knew the feeling and tone we wanted the video for “Sore Eyes” to have, but we weren’t quite sure what the main thrust of it should be. While brainstorming with our director, boy wonder, we mentioned that we liked the idea of balloons somehow being a part of the visual, and he sent over the short film “Le ballon rouge” and suggested we allude to it, which we loved, and so we did! It was really fun doing the sequence at the end where Cam takes flight, we had to build these janky wooden legs with duct tape and dress them up in his clothes.
Coldplay’s Music Video for “Yellow”
The music video for that song is just like, Chris Martin walking down a beach on an overcast day. So we were like, let’s just do one of those. Kiki can just walk down the beach on an overcast day. That’s a perfectly good music video idea right there. Everything else is icing on that cake. Turns out, it was freezing cold that day. Brutally windy, too. We seem to always end up shooting outdoor music videos in the wintertime, and never learning our lesson from it.