Local Feature – Cry Babe
Cry Babe is two words and the story of three best friends making music and winning. After all, when life gives you lemons, you don’t have to settle for lemonade—you can make something much more powerful, beautiful, and surprising, just like the band’s debut EP—2019’s Be Cool.
ELEVEN was fortunate enough to have a germ-free discussion with the band—Anaïs Genevieve (vocals, guitar, omnichord), Rose Reinholz (drums for days), and Madaline Putney (bass)—about their music, friendship, history, and their recently released LP Further Away. We also talked about the quarantine because, how can you not?
ELEVEN: Are you guys local to Portland? How and when did you all end up here?
Madaline Putney: We are all from other places, but I think we’ve all lived here about the same amount of time—about four or five years? I moved here from North Carolina.
Anaïs Genevieve: I moved here from Champaign Illinois, but grew up around St. Louis. I was a military kid, so I moved around a lot.
Rose Reinholz: I moved here from Milwaukee, Wisconsin around five years ago.
11: How did your paths cross?
AG: Rose—when did we meet?
MP: Rose slapped a cigarette out of Rex’s hand in front of your face.
AG: Oh that?
RR: Don’t tell that story.
MP: It’s such a good story though.
RR: Okay, I was dating a shitty dude who was totally flirting with Anaïs at my birthday party.
AG: I didn’t know. I didn’t know him and I didn’t know Rose.
RR: We were almost broken up at that point anyways and I was kinda drunk and saw that my partner was smoking a cigarette with Anaïs—he never smoked cigarettes in the some-odd year-and-a-half we were dating. He—would—not—smoke. And he was smoking with her and I took the cigarette out of her hand and threw it on the ground and said, “You can’t smoke cigarettes, you play saxophone!” That is how we met. (laughs)
11: You two didn’t know each other?
AG: My friend was just like, “Come to this birthday party!” He made it sound like it was a rager, but then I showed up at this small semi-intimate birthday party of close friends where I didn’t know anybody.
RR: It was at a karaoke bar to be fair.
AG: It was at a karaoke bar. You couldn’t legally make me leave.
11: And the cigarette spiking didn’t ruin the evening?
MP: Anaïs was hella impressed.
AG: I was like, “Damn that’s a bad bitch.”
11: How did this showdown transform into Cry Babe?
RR: After me and this partner broke up, Anaïs and I started jamming together. This is my first band and that was my first time playing music with someone. Anaïs and I just clicked super hard and it was really, really fun. I don’t know, she gave me the courage to want to do it. And we started Cry Babe together.
11: Maddie, how did you get involved?
MP: I met Rose at a metal show, which I am now realizing [was] maybe even before you met Anaïs? We connected on social media. I remember at the time thinking, “This will probably be the last I hear of this.” That happens sometimes. I was in a band in North Carolina called Daddy Issues and had been really dying to play music again after moving to Portland. I was jamming with someone, but it wasn’t quite working and I think I saw a lo-fi video of ‘Glasses’ that Rose and Anaïs posted to Instagram. I didn’t even know Anaïs at the time but I was like, “Rose is cool,” so I messaged them and said “Please, please, let me be your bassist.”
11: All the songs on 2019’s EP Be Cool sound so tight, and polished, and fun. It sounds like you guys knew exactly what you were aiming for.
MP: We had a pretty full set by the time the EP came out.
RR: I think we had enough songs that we were able to cater the EP and figure out what songs were best together.
11: So the recording process was relatively easy?
AG: I would say the EP was done by the time we got into the studio. I think most of the time we ended up going with our first takes.
MP: The only change in the studio that ended up being something we took to our live shows is where at the end of “Soft Honk” they dropped our instrument mics and just used the room mic for a second so it has this lo-fi far away quality for like a measure.
11: Yeah, I made a note about that. It’s really cool.
AG: It was the bathroom mic.
RR: Yeah, the toilet mic!
11: I can tell you guys are having the time of your life. I just grin when the guitars come in on.
RR: I think that EP captured us laughing being silly. I just remember having such a fucking awesome time.
AG: I don’t want to say the EP came effortlessly as if we didn’t put in a lot of work for it, but I think the themes came together really effortlessly because we wanted to draw from our real lives.
11: You released the EP Valentine’s Day. Was that intentional? I’m assuming that didn’t escape your attention.
AG: I kinda pushed the Valentine’s day thing actually.
11: Now it’s part of the narrative.
AG: Yeah, it was totally part of the narrative. When I was writing most of those songs, I felt so confused and almost strangled—but addicted—to love, being loved, and all these societal expectations floating around the ideas of love and I think a lot of that came out in the first EP. What other giant corporate symbol of toxic love is there? Valentine’s Day is the biggest one we’ve got, so it seemed really fitting. You know we’re all trying to get at the same thing, the real love.
11: Anaïs, when you were originally writing some of these songs were you envisioning writing them for a band? Or were they more personal?
AG: It’s an idea that I’ve been thinking about a lot more recently as a performer. The idea between art therapy vs. actually producing something that’s centered towards the audience and their experience, and also art that I actually want to create. For most of the earlier songs I was writing, it was more about healing for me. Getting it out there and being heard wasn’t so much about creating a band but feeling valid.
11: You guys had an earlier release this year on Drunk Dial Records. Can you talk a little bit about that?
AG: Yeah, so you have to learn a cover in the studio that you’ve never rehearsed before and you have to write a new song in the studio.
11: And I know just enough to be misinformed, but you have to be drunk?
MP: On drugs.
AG: It’s: “Intoxicated in any way.”
11: I was surprised with the contrast from Be Cool. Especially on “A Romance In Many Dimensions.” The laughter that opens and closes the track kinda reminds me of a dreamy Greek chorus.
AG: That was part of the magic of those sounds. We were just loose enough to just let it happen and I think we were able to produce something that was really different. The real magic for :A Romance of Many Dimensions” was that we were actually really pressed for time when we were making that song—we would have probably changed it and tried to make it into something a little more formed if we had more time but I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
11: Did that track have any influence on the new album Further Away? It feels sonically similar.
AG: It’s kinda the natural culmination of where our music had been going.
11: In that case the album really is quite an evolution in sound. Was there a particular idea you wanted to capture on the new album?
MP: We wanted to make something a little darker and more mature. I think we were intentional that we wanted these songs to be kind of emotional struggles.
RR: This album has—I don’t want to say the word “feelings”—but it has a lot of feelings. We all had things we were working on with ourselves. I was working to better myself in ways, and each of us was kinda on our own mission. That’s how I relate to it.
11: It’s really interesting to hear what everything brings to the table this time around because it’s all new. There are some really interesting tempo changes in the rhythm section and the songwriting feels different. As if you all entered into some sort of chrysalis and became something new.
AG: I’m glad that you said that, because for me writing this album was kind of the culmination of healing and working through our traumas individually but also collectively by making this music together. Each of us have our songs but it’s not all just my story, and that’s never what I wanted it to be.
11: What other art or activities do you guys do to get the juices to flow?
MP: I have a lot of intertwined hobbies, but I feel like bass sort of sits separately from all of them. I make a lot of things, but I don’t think they relate to music.
AG: I would say my other hobbies include fashion and doodles.
RR: Oh my god, same.
11: Are you both agreeing on “doodles” as a hobby?
AG: No, I that was an agreement on fashion. Rose and I thrift together, or we used to back in the old days.
RR: I like fashion because it’s a way to be a different character. I find it to be very inspiring.
MP: I actually think fashion relates to the band directly.
AG: Yeah, I mean who doesn’t want a cool look right off the bat? But I think we kinda had this idea of what our aesthetic was going to be as a band. This queerness and freedom and feminism stuff.
11: How is everyone doing with the quarantine?
MP: I’m essential, so I still work full time. The structure of my life hasn’t changed that much. I miss my friends though.
AG: I would say that as a Cancer, being at home and cuddling a lot with my partner isn’t all that bad. I also miss my friends a lot, but I am out in beautiful nature so I can’t complain.
RR: I’m lucky I have a music space in the basement here that my roommates and I share, so I’ve been able to drum and I’ve been writing my own music which is pretty cool and has been super lucky. I don’t ever really want to have to go back to work.
11: What type of music are you writing?
RR: I’d call it Noise Pop
MP: The song you’ve posted is very twee.
RR: What?! You felt it was twee?
AG: So twee.
RR: Well, that’s because the vocals was me whispering in the closet.
MP: That’s like the twee-est thing you can do.
11: Is the band sort of on hiatus then?
AG: We’re definitely in contact a lot, but as far as playing together—we’re kinda on hiatus. I mean we are definitely open to sending our tracks to others, but it just hasn’t happened yet.
RR: It’s hard because I don’t know how to make music virtually with other people. I’m sure that there are definitely ways. I’ve been seeing people locally making cool videos and covers.
11: That makes sense. Was there a tour in the works for Further Away before COVID-19? Or do you think the album will be toured properly at any point?
AG: It’s a hard question.
MP: Unfortunately, before all of this clears up our lovely drummer Rose will have left Portland for good.
RR: I’ll fly back for it! We should talk about this after.
11: Do you guys feel like reinventing the wheel? Like becoming a digital hologram band? Holographic band? Or… could this potentially be the end of Cry Babe?
MP: I mean anything is possible. But I fucking hope not.
11: Any quarantine shoutouts? Or shoutouts in general?
AG: Can we give a shoutout to Nich? What’s his last name?
RR: Wilbur. He spells his name differently, too. It’s N-I-C-H. Oh, and Cathy his dog.
AG: Nich, our lovely recording engineer—the most patient recording engineer. And all our friends and fans obviously: we love you, we’ll be here all week.