By Sinem Saniye for 6/8 Music. Photos by Rob Howard.
Every now and then, we love our women in music who present us with a collaborative project that delights our listening palette and enriches our lives. Who are we kidding? We love lots of them! We’re talking especially about duo groups that, combined, create a special chemistry: Us The Duo, The Bird and The Bee, She and Him, The White Stripes, Tegan and Sara, Indigo Girls, Heart… The list goes on. But we’re here to talk about a very special, and creative Brooklyn band making waves right here in our NYC backyard. The lovely woman behind that music, one half of the band Babetown, is our #WCW Woman Crush Wednesday Feature Interview this month. Quite simply, we’re swooning for Miss Jessica Leibowitz.
“Swoon” is the first single off of Babetown’s highly anticipated EP, and has us hooked. It played on WFUV’s Alternate Side, and is the opening song to a delicious series of indie pop confections on their brand new EP, “Babetown,” which was released January 19, 2018. Prior to this album, the band released a fantastic set of covers entitled “1989 is Hell,” which was a fun (and highly clever) twist-of-an-album that included Ryan Adams songs performed in the style of Taylor Swift. The album received much critical acclaim, garnering press from Newsday, Consequence of Sound, Brooklyn Paper, all the way to even Forbes magazine.
Visit their official website for more on Babetown. For more on our #WCW Jessica, read our interview below.
FEATURE INTERVIEW – Jessica Leibowitz
6/8 Music: I love the story of how you and your other half, Danny Ross, met, which I read in his newsletter a time ago. I’d love to hear your side of it. How did you meet your bandmate and hubby, Danny?
Jess: I had just come back home to Brooklyn after a few days in New Orleans, where people smile and make eye contact with each other on a regular basis. So I was in a friendlier state of mind when I walked down to the subway and saw Danny looking my way. A few minutes later, a train came and he walked next to me – but the train said “Not in Service.” Danny turned to me and opened with, “So I guess the next train isn’t coming for 20 minutes.” I replied, “Um, what?!” and we struck up a conversation until I had to get out just 3 stops later. Towards the end of that 5 minute period, he asked for my number. I gave him my business card and left. That interaction alone would have made my week, but he got in touch later that night. I was celebrating my birthday with some friends and he ended up stopping by. A few friends stayed to make sure he wasn’t a serial killer, and the rest is history 🙂
6/8 Music: What is the biggest challenge AND joy in working with your real life partner? A pro and a con basically…
Jess: The best thing about working with my partner is that it’s a new avenue for us to share our successes and adds another layer to our relationship. The worst thing is that we both like to be in control, so we have to find the balance of who is in control of which part of the project. So far that’s writing lyrics for me and production for him.
Jessica Leibowitz + her hubby, Danny Ross.
6/8 Music: What’s your favorite song you ever wrote, and why? Favorite song you covered?
Jess: My favorite song is “Met A Boy On The Subway” because it’s the first song I ever wrote, and it captures the pure happiness of a new relationship. Favorite cover is “Wonderwall,” of course! Our version is special because it’s the original crossed with Ryan Adams’ cover crossed with Taylor Swift production.
6/8 Music: Tell me about “Swoon!” It’s such a beautiful song, cleverly produced with a modern feel and simultaneous 1980s throwback.
Jess: I love “Swoon.” Danny came up with the melody during a weekend away at a friend’s house with high ceilings, and we knew immediately that it was going to be something great. I am blown away with how he produced it every time I hear it. It started out with him just singing “Oooh” for the chorus, which I changed to “Swooooooon.” It just gets me every time.
6/8 Music: Name a few of your favorite artists, books, and movies.
Jess: Artists: The Temptations, First Aid Kit, Lorde. Authors: Lydia Davis, Erika Sanchez, John Irving. Movies: Classic black and white films like Some Like It Hot always have a special place in my heart. I also have a guilty pleasure for heist movies like Ocean’s Eleven.
6/8 Music: Any thoughts on the #MeToo movement in Hollywood? Do you feel it applies to women in music as well?
Jess: I think #MeToo applies to everyone, everywhere. I am glad that the movement is happening and hope it will inspire real change.
6/8 Music: Was “1989 is Hell” the first project you made as Babetown? What was the making of the album like, and the response?
Jess: “1989 is HELL” is the first project we released. We wrote a bunch of original songs before coming up with that idea. It was a very tricky project to make since it was covers, but with brand new melodies. It was well-received but I also learned a lot of people weren’t familiar with the original material. But of course the day that Ryan Adams tweeted at us was so surreal!
6/8 Music: Do you have any solo projects? What’s next on the horizon for Babetown? (and anything else you’d like to add)
Jess: I don’t have any solo projects but I am recording vocals on some of Danny’s upcoming demos. Up on the horizon for Babetown: a new music video I have to edit for “Brooklyn Bridge”! And soon we’ll be writing new songs.