by Katie Burke
Sir Babygirl’s version of pop music feels like shedding a single tear while popping your pussy in a handstand and your ex is on speakerphone (not talking, just static) and all of this is going on inside your childhood best friend’s bedroom while she writes in her password encrypted diary and somewhere, a knife is being sharpened. Which is to say, it slaps. Kelsie’s voice reigns over DIY pop beats layered with Kelsie’s own distorted and beautiful yelps.
Sir Babygirl has seemingly burst onto the scene out of nowhere, as most artists do. When in reality, this has been in the making since she was a kindergartener. Recounting a childhood memory she tells me, “I was five years old having a conversation with my friend saying, ‘When we grow up and we’re movie stars,’ And she cut me off and was like, ‘I don’t want to be a movie star, I want to be a doctor.’ I was totally taken back, I thought everyone wanted to be a movie star. I was like, ‘NO YOU WANT TO BE A MOVIE STAR EVERYONE DOES.’ Absolutely born with delusion.”
Anyone who has listened to her music knows this is no delusion.
Something that I find even myself having to unlearn is that music, especially music made by women, is not just a diary -- you’re working really hard on this.
I think calculated is one of the funniest insults. Because it’s like, yeah, bitch. We’re smart. Calculated means that you did your fucking homework. I would have to pull these beats out of my own c*nt for people to give me credit.
I feel like when I first met you we were talking about Carly Rae Jepsen and you had such a good answer for why women and queer people love pop music so much...
In the time we’re in right now where everything is overtly political and overtly aware, I think pop music is the best thing to bring you to the immediate. It’s a worthwhile thing to just get to be dumb sometimes. The political can exist there -- or it doesn’t. Marginalized people deserve to have spaces to find catharsis. I can intellectualize pop music all day, but the most I’ll ever get out of it is going to a fucking show and dancing like an idiot.
How do you think that you are queering the music scene, other the obvious of being queer yourself?
This question trips me up more than anything. First off, queer has become monetized, which it never had been before. But the question is, are queer people profiting from that money? I want people to like my music because they like my music. The queerness is just there and it exists. It’s not a gimmick. We’re having this overflow where people are like, “Oh, there are so many queer artists now,” and it’s like no, we’re just allowed to exist more visibly now. I sit atop a heavy pile of privilege. I can be visible, so why not open some doors? I have no interest in being the only dyke in the room. People will ask me, “Oh, what does it feel like to be a queer artist?” and it’s like well what does it feel like to be a fucking straight artist?
There was a large portion of my life where I denied that I loved pop music and only wanted to listen to like, Bright Eyes. Did you ever have that moment?
Oh my god, yes. My mom got me hooked on pop music when I was a kid. We listened to Christina, Mariah, and Britney. She was like, ‘these are divas and we show them respect.” That’s where I started but I totally strayed from that. Postgrad, I ended up in the Boston DIY scene and just did not fit in. I really had to assimilate. I would be writing music and hearing it as bubble gum pop in my head, but I was in this punk hardcore scene and it just wasn’t acceptable. I tried punk music, but then I was like, “Um, that hurts.” I’m way too much of a diva to be angry all the time. I just want to be mildly upset always. Dictated “hip music” just did not sustain me. Pop music keeps me alive.
A theory I have for why men hate pop music is because it evokes joy. Because something makes you want to dance suddenly it's not artistic or taken seriously.
“Flirting with her”. I just want a fucking head-on gay song that doesn’t end in tragedy. I just wanted something so blatant that you could not mistake it for anything other than girls liking girls. When that song came out every review was like, “It’s a song about flirting with someone,” We can dig in and enjoy these labels and it’s not exclusionary. We can’t engage with queer women in pop culture.
Is it ridiculous to ask you what your favorite thing about yourself is?
No, I love that. The first thing that pops into my head is my resiliency and my intuition. They’re my favorite things because I lost them for a while. The whole process of writing this album was having the determination to find my intuition and ask myself “what do I like?” because even if no one likes this at least I would still have it to dance alone in my room to. In your twenties, you have to figure out how to actually listen to yourself. I had vocal nodes when I got out of college. When I was in Chicago, I was in my deepest depression. I completely gave up. I started to genuinely believe I was delusional like maybe I can’t make music. But then I wrote “Heels” and it sparked me to start rehabilitating my own voice.
You went home to your parent's house after Chicago, was that isolation helpful?
I felt so alone in Chicago and I thought well, I’m not going to feel any worse if I’m actually alone. My parents live in the woods. People would visit me and be like, “You live in the middle of nowhere, aren’t you going insane?” And like of course, I was going insane. It was me, my mom, and my dead dog RIP. She was the reason I didn’t go off the deep end. But there was something in me that wanted me to be isolated, so I listened to that.
Most powerful sign?
I truly in my core think that Aries is the most powerful sign. Vulnerability to them is like a weapon. Like they don’t care that they just told you they’re in love with you because they just moved on to someone else. Unlike me who is like, “I’ll never reveal that I’ve been in love with you for 25 years.”
Do you feel hot today?
I do. I went to the gym and rage sprinted. I do generally feel pretty hot, I just reached a point where I was like well, it's not going to benefit you to not think you’re hot so why don’t you just start thinking you’re hot? I forced myself into a positive thought spiral.
Do you have any questions for me?
Do you think Sir Babygirl is a top or a bottom - there’s no wrong answer.
I would say a lot of top energy but surprisingly, a bottom.
Yeah, I guess only a bottom could pull all of this off.
Okay, that’s the title of the article.
It’s 9 pm on a Friday night in Chicago and Kelsie Hogue of Sir Babygirl has food poisoning. Although you wouldn’t know it except before starting “Everyone is a Bad Friend” she shouts, “I’m on an anti-diarrheal!” The crowd is studded with Kelsie’s friends from when she lived here, who she spots and yells out to. There are fans holding signs of Kelsie’s dead dog (RIP), Baby Diva, which eventually gets gently crowd surfed up to them. Between each song, there are nostalgic interludes featuring early ‘2000s culture, like a sound bit of Hilary Duff saying, “I’m Lizzie McGuire and you’re watching Disney channel” and suddenly I'm in the basement of my parent's house, in my childhood bedroom or my cousins living room choreographing a dance to songs from NOW 15. I want to play the game where you spin until you fall down.
Before her last song,“Heels”, everyone is invited to the stage to dance. Obviously, I go up. Holding my purse in one hand, while using the other to point maniacally around (dancing?), I am reminded again of the sanctity of pop music. It spans beyond the bubble of a proposed safe space, which we all know is relative. But in my chest, I feel something unwind. The simplicity of it is this - I want to shake my ass on stage next to someone I see myself in. Maybe I don’t know how to write about music. But I do know this -- a man’s opinion on pop? You can’t dance to that.
Stream Crush on Me below
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