Top Pleats Please by Issey Miyake, Scrunchie Nancy’s own
Words Shana Chandra
Photographer Mafalda Silva
Stylist Cassie Walker
Hair Chloe Frieda
Make Up Elaine Lynskey
There’s a moment in this interview, that Nancy Andersen, the lead singer of London based indie-pop five piece Babeheaven tries to convince me, that she’s uptight. But I’m not having a bar of it. She’s had me in fits of giggles throughout our conversation, so much so, that sometimes I can’t even hear her answers to my questions, her molten voice disguised by my high pitched cackle. Andersen’s charm lies in knowing how to tell a good story, whether it’s how she used to use her bass guitar as armour to help combat her stage fright, how her grandmother sent her newspaper clippings on why ‘those rock n roll people’ take so many drugs, or fan-girling over seeing Helena Bonham Carter and her floor length braids at the Simone Rocha x H&M shoot.
Alongside her oh so smooth voice, Andersen’s talent is that she makes you feel at ease, as soon as she starts to speak. It’s something that extends to her lyrics too, often excavated from her real life experiences, making it’s lived through intimacy so recognisable, you can’t help but bob your head in agreement, that is when you’re not bobbing your head to the beat. The intimacy in the songs becomes deeper, with band member Jamie Travis’s layers of familiar audio snapshots, atmospheric sounds of children laughing or the sea seething, as heard on their debut album, Home For Now, released last year. But it is also this familiar warmth that is how Andersen and Travis describe the music that they make, “Me and Jamie came up with a concept which is ‘post-rave’ which is when you’re in a taxi coming home from a club and it’s six in the morning and you haven’t slept and you’re feeling kind of tired but nice. And it’s that kind of music that you want to listen to [that we make]; it doesn’t upset you or hurt you. You just kind of want to feel good and warm.”
Hat Emma Brewin, Top and Skirt Pleats Please by Issey Miyake, Tights stylists own, Shoes Molly Goddard
Blankets Tekla Dress Roksanda
SC / You and Jaime have been friends for a long time, and kind of waivered in and out of each other’s lives, but what is it about you guys creatively, that makes it work so well together?
NA / He’s not strict, but he’s got a certain set of rules that he goes by. I’m not fluid, I’m really uptight – I don’t want to sound like I’m so chill, but I find it hard to know what sounds right. I can sing a thousand melodies for an hour right now, but I can’t choose the one, that’s the one. Or I just find it harder. He’s really good at refining those things, and putting them into an order that’s understandable.
We also critique each other in a good way. I think we both can take each other’s critiquing. I can say, ‘I don’t like that’ and he can be bummed out, or I can be bummed out for fifteen minutes, but we can both just come back around and say, ‘What’s next?’.
SC / How did you come up with the name Babeheaven?
NA / We wrote a song called ‘Friday Sky’ and it was a novelty love song for Valentine’s day. It was the first song we put out on SoundCloud, just so our friends could listen to it. We were going to call ourselves Nancy and Jaime but then we just started putting lots of random words that sounded good together. For that song, it just seemed like the right name for us. It was a love song, so we [eventually] called ourselves Babeheaven. Sometimes it’s a bit weird, because you choose a name, and then you’re stuck with it forever. You can’t really rebrand. [laughs].
SC / When you first started, you had intense stage fright, and I was wondering how you’ve coped with it and come out of it?
NA / When we first started, it’s important to say that the majority of our first gigs for the first year or so was just in front of our friends, in basements or living rooms of houses. That was the ethos of our band, to do a show every couple of months in someone’s living room. I think playing to your friends first of all, is more terrifying than playing for strangers. They’re the ones who critique you. Even though at the beginning everyone’s positive and everyone comes to the shows, and then six years later it’s hard to get your friends to come to the shows. [laughs].
Jacket, Shirt and Skirt all Simone Rocha, Accessories Nancy’s own
I think our music is generally quite personal, generally for me anyway, it’s quite exposing. I also was playing base when we first started. Singing and playing base is quite difficult, I don’t know how people do it. Over time, you just kind of have to get over [the stage fright] , because touring and playing live is an intrinsic part of being in a band, and I think maybe one of the most important things when you write music, is knowing that you can play it live, without a backing track. I really was forced into getting over it.
On the first day of tour, I’ll generally get a migraine because I’m really nervous, and then by the second day, I know what I’m doing. But it’s such an adrenalin rush, you have to be ready to expect a crash afterwards. You’re doing a peak and a dip and it’s just controlling that peak and a dip enough to feel calm, which is everything that I’ve been trying to work out.
When we first started, I worked with my grandmother in her antique shop, and she sent me this newspaper clipping. She said, ‘I’ve read about this thing called post-tour depression. It’s why all the rock n’ roll people take drugs. It’s because they have to get the high of being on stage. I do hope you don’t start taking drugs.’ And I was like, I’m not going to start taking drugs. The poor thing.
SC / You’ve mentioned that your lyrics are quite personal, and when you do write personal lyrics, it captures a moment of time in your life. But then once you’ve been through that moment, and yet you have to sing about it all the time, does it change how you feel about it, because you are constantly reflecting on it?
NA / I guess there’s some songs I sing, and I’m about to get my period and I know that I’m going to be so close to crying. I’m like, ‘The crowd is going to get a really good show tonight!’ [laughs]. With the song I wrote about my ex-boyfriend, it doesn’t mean the same thing it did, when I first wrote it. When I first wrote it, I hoped he was in the crowd. But now, we’re friends. Other people hear that song, and they think it’s a love song, they didn’t realise it’s a f&*k you song, so it’s nice at the end of the day; I’ll feel however I feel about it, but you or the listener, will turn it into your own narrative. I think that’s the most exciting thing.
- Dress Roksanda
Dress Roksanda, Shoes Molly Goddard
SC / What’s been a highlight for you in the band’s career?
NA / I don’t know, there’s been so many. Headline shows in London are always a highlight, because we’re at home and we can play to our friends and families. The last music video for ‘Cassette Beat’ was a really big highlight, because I felt that was the like the first video that we made that looked epic. Seeing that for the first time, I felt, ‘this is kind of a big thing.’
It’s difficult to think about a highlight when writing the album is such a big process. When it got released, suddenly I did feel really empty. It’s difficult to be happy in the moment sometimes, especially when you’re creating a work that is so part of your life. We put it out, and I felt quite deflated, I didn’t feel elated. I thought, ‘That was exhausting, and now it’s done.’
Even now, I’ll listen to the album again after six months and think, ‘This is really good.’ You can’t really appreciate it in the moment, because there’s so many other things that take your mind away from it.
SC / Tell me about how you being cast in the Simone Rocha for H&M campaign?
NA /For the Cassette Beat music video, I got a couple of Simone Rocha dresses, and I was wearing them in the video. And it was just a lucky moment. I got a message from someone asking, ‘Do you want a part in this?’ I got to the day of the shoot, and ‘I was like, whoa, Helena Bonham Carter’s over there.’ They asked me what kind of hair I wanted, and I said, whatever they wanted to give me, and [then I saw] Helena Bonham Carter had braids to the floor, and I was like, ‘I could’ve asked for that?”
[Before I knew] she was shooting the same day I was shooting, I saw my call sheet, and it said, HBC. I thought, ‘What is an HBC?’ Then I got there, and I saw her picture on the wall and I realised it was her. [laughs]
SC / I know you loved going to gigs as a kid, now that you perform gigs, is there anything from when you were younger, that you try to harness from what you saw or what you felt?
NA / Nothing at all. No. I don’t think about anything in that way, which is quite bad but also quite good, because I go into most things feeling quite naive. Sometimes that’s actually better, because if you know too much, it kind of ruins it. I go into most situations, and I have no idea what’s about to happen, and hopefully it’ll be good. It tends to work out. Sometimes I wish I was a little more prepared, but most of the time, it’s nice to walk in and be surprised by things.