Last week, I swung by Baby Yaga’s practice space in North Charleston to listen in and interview the band. They were working on a setlist for their upcoming show at The Royal American on December 26th, where they’ll open the night for Heyrocco along with The Dumbest Kids in School and Dead Swells.
Among the tracks being practiced were their debut single, “Not Even!”, which is premiering today on Extra Chill. The single sounds like Diet Cig and Bully had a punk rock baby. Presley’s voice has the rasp of Bully’s Alicia Bognanno, while the band itself brings the carefree, upbeat feel that Diet Cig has become known for. Couple that with some stellar production from Matt Tuton, and you’ve got yourself a Baby Yaga song.
“Not Even!” was recorded at Tuton’s new John’s Island studio called The Lab, and then sent off to Matthew Garber at For The Record for mastering. Listen below, and keep reading to learn more about Baby Yaga.
According to Baby Yaga frontwoman Presley Randall, she started coming up with some melodies in her head about a year ago. Since she had never played music before, though, she didn’t know how to bring them to life. One day, she picked up her roommate’s guitar and started fiddling with it, and eventually taught herself how to play well enough to write some of the songs she had imagined.
The Baby Yaga story continues with a tie to Beach Sex, a now-defunct Charleston band that featured DJ Edwards (of Real South Records) on drums and Avery Greeson (of Whitehall) on bass. Presley was at their show one night, and since she was one of only a handful of people in the crowd, she decided to introduce herself to DJ after the set to see if he’d be interested in jamming on some of the stuff she had been writing.
At first, DJ told Presley that he didn’t have time to take on a new project, especially with somebody who was brand new at playing guitar. A few months later, though, DJ came around to the idea and linked up with Presley at the North Charleston practice space to hear some of Presley’s songs. Presley played a Baby Yaga song on guitar, and DJ hopped on board. Later they added Avery on bass, and Baby Yaga was born.
According to Presley, the name Baby Yaga is a combination of two things. For one, it’s a play on Baba Yaga, the Slavic witch who is known as a terrifying figure in mythology, but it goes deeper than that. Presley briefly mentioned her sociopathic alter ego named Baby, but she wasn’t quite ready to spill the beans on that yet. I’ll keep pressing to find out more on that in the future, so stay tuned.
Over time and working with Avery, Presley improved her skills on guitar enough to feel comfortable in a studio environment, so the band linked up with Matt Tuton to record “Not Even!” at The Lab. Shortly after that, they played their first show at The Royal American, opening for Niecy Blues at Beware of Dog Productions’ event “Babes Can Be Brave”. The show had a great turnout, and they ended up landing another Royal American show, this time opening for Heyrocco’s first hometown show in over a year.
Presley’s mindset with Baby Yaga started out as, “If I could get just play in a garage with some friends, that’s all I really give a fuck about.” Now that she’s grown as a musician, she wants to continue bringing her vision to life both in the studio and in a live environment. Still, Baby Yaga says that they just want to play music that they like, and they want to have fun doing it. And maybe bring back the 90s, just a little bit.