Baby Dee is a Cleveland, OH, performer and songwriter who plays piano, harp, and accordion. Her latest album, Safe Inside The Day, was produced by Bonnie “Prince” Billy (aka Will Oldham) and Matt Sweeney; previously, she has collaborated with cult acts like Current 93 and Antony + the Johnsons. But for all her cool friends, Dee is ultimately one of those rare artists who stands alone. She can’t be pigeonholed. Which is why I’m so psyched to see her perform at the Triple Door this evening. Hell, if I didn’t have a radio show to do, I’d head down to Portland tomorrow and she her there, too.
I could gas on and on about why Baby Dee sparks my interest. But somebody else already paid me to do that — as you can read here — and I prefer not to repeat myself. But as we all know from upgrading to DVDs and purchasing Elvis Costello reissues, there is always something that was left on the cutting room floor. Maybe even something of merit. Like this reflection from Dee on what it was like growing up in with no role models upon which to pattern her path.
This is something Antony likes to discuss, but do you remember, as a youngster, ever seeing reflections of yourself in older, public figures, and thinking, “That’s what I’m going to be like”?
Baby Dee: No. I know, [Antony] saw Boy George, he saw Marc Almond… I did not have that.
Do you think not having that was something advantageous?
Baby Dee: Well, I wouldn’t have turned out the way I did. I have no idea what would have happened. I think part of what drove me towards such obscure musical fascinations — like Gregorian music — just the obscurity of the things I love. There wasn’t anything to connect me to contemporary pop music. Pop is a bad word — none of the words are any good — but the music of the time. When I was in high school, there was Jimi Hendrix and the Who and the Doors… and, obviously, they were great. But there was nobody, really.
Most people, the music they gravitate to in high school becomes the theme music of their life. And I did not have that. I couldn’t have made this music I make — whatever it is — if I had.
Baby Dee performs “Idumaea” at the Bistroteque in East London, June 25, 2006
DJ El Toro is the host of the overnight show In Between Sleep & Reason, Wednesday mornings from 1 AM to 6 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org.