[Interview] Bae Worldwide is Elevating to the Top
Bae Worldwide is an all female group from Atlanta rising to the top of the DJ scene across the country. Four of their members are set to perform at the Elevate Block Party on Friday. We got a chance to sit down with their founder, DeCoteau, to talk about Bae and where the organization is going.
For people who don't know about Bae, tell us how it started and what it's all about.
Originally it started off as a one-off party. We have a friend, Jada, who lives in Tokyo and she reached out to me and Mikkoh, another DJ in Bae to see if we would be interested in collaborating and doing a party back in August of 2015. Mikkoh and I had a residency offered to us at the Soundtable and thought it would be tight to do a monthly party where it was an all female lineup. The first party we threw had a really good turnout and we decided maybe we should continue with the idea. Jada went back to Tokyo, because she was only visiting for the month and decided that she wanted to bring the concept out there as well. She continued to do the party out there and Mikkoh and I continued to do the parties here in Atlanta and as it started growing, and people started becoming so receptive, we thought there were so many elements we could add to Bae.
Bae is about women collaborating with each other so we introduced more people into it, as far as it being a curated experience. We brought on two set designers, Paula and Arielle, who build the stages, so it's kind of art infused with music. From there we were looking to define what our mission was and what the purpose of Bae was and it's really grown from doing showcases, and workshops and getting more involved in the community and taking this concept to other cities. We are doing our next party at Coyo in Wynwood on Oct. 20, we want to take this concept global.
Tell us more about Bae's involvement within the community.
Working with nonprofits, we've been working with this nonprofit called Just Us Girls, Jackie Martin the owner, mentors 25 girls between the ages of 13-18. A lot of them are aspiring musicians. Her idea is for them to get the real, raw deal because it's not all glitz and glam, there's a lot of hard work that's put into it. We had a workshop last week where we partnered with Pipeline Project and Girls Make Beats during the A3C Festival, it was a free workshop teaching young girls music production between the ages of 13-17. It's because women in general feel inferior learning music production when you come into an arena and it's just a boys' game it can get very intimidating. So why not start teaching them young?
What is your role in the group?
I am the founder so I wear many hats including booking talent and making sure everything is organized. My duties have become less and less as we've been building our team. There are eight of us total. Honestly Bae is about building relationships, it's been 90% relationship building and connecting with people. I'm the dot connector. A lot of the ideas I come up with I'm able to see happen because of my team brings them to fruition.
What does the process of booking talent look like for you?
I really like to build a relationship with the artists. A lot of the women we've brought out to Atlanta kind of starts off on social media, you know, a friend on Instagram or Twitter or word of mouth. Sometimes when we're in other cities we'll connect with women who are DJs as well. There are a few we've booked that I didn't know personally but I really do go off just the vibrations of it all. It's very interesting. The women that we have connected with and have brought out it just makes sense. Like they are awesome and it's continually having a rapport with them too. It's about us building a foundation and supporting each other. One show we brought an artist here to Atlanta, Kitty Cash, a really amazing DJ, who also works in fashion PR for G-Star and the next week she was like I'm bringing you guys out to New York, so she brought us out to New York.
How did Bae get involved with the Elevate Block Party?
They just hit us up. That's usually how it's been lately, people reaching out through email. I'm excited about the block party. Our set is around an hour and a half and it's going to be four of us girls playing back to back. We're going to let the music speak, make sure everyone has great sets and focus on the music.
How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?
Fostering is definitely a collaborative effort with all of us, everybody on our team is so creative. We have team meetings where we sit, and plan and prep. Arielle and Paula do blueprints for the stage designing. There are usually about two months preparation for each Bae party we have with a concept and a theme. Last Bae was our one year anniversary at Aisle 5 and brought in two artists, Speakerfoxxx and Bosco, as a duo they are called Girls in the Yard. We were like oh, okay let's put a spin on it and make it Baes in the Yard. Paula and Arielle came up with this stage design where it looked like a backyard with these huge blow up balls. We all kind of feed off of each other, everyone has creative input on our team and everyone kind of has the same level of taste.
What do you think is lacking within the DJ world today?
Definitely more of a female presence, that's why we started Bae. The women who are in this field, they've been doing it for years and it can be very territorial. Coming in the filed as newbies we had to jump through hurdles because people are not as accepting when you are coming in straight out the gate. So we were like, you know what, we're going to create our own lane and build something for ourselves. Our whole mentality is an abundance for us all. All of us as women, nobody has to be territorial, no one is stepping on anyone's toes, nothing of that nature.
Does your team have a certain studio where they work on music?
Paula builds her staging out at Ambient Studio, she has a studio there and we'll do photo shoots and use her space sometimes. Everyone kind of comes over here and we'll work on ideas, or go to Honey Bubble and rent out the conference room to have meetings. A major goal for us is to have our own office space where we can work out of but we just use what we have for right now.
How do feel that the typical "pretty girl DJ," think Paris Hilton, who is branded as a sex symbol, rather than an artist, affects the market for women like yourself?
We definitely bring up these conversations all the time as a group. With women in the music industry, your age and beauty are always a factor and the thing is at the end of the day what is going to have longevity? Your talent, your skill, you know? We always put an emphasis on how important it is to practice, how important it is to continually be learning, building and mastering your craft. You can have millions of followers on Instagram, but all of that stuff is not going to matter especially if you're going from city to city, playing gigs because your perception precedes you. If the promoter is like, 'oh my god, her set was crappy,' then that is going to trickle down to the next gig. We've dealt with our own insecurities, but we don't oversexualize ourselves. There are times when Mikkoh will dress down, she won't wear makeup because she wants people to focus more on her craft versus her being a cute girl behind a DJ booth. We produce music as well and really work our asses off.
Who is your mentor?
I have two mentors. Omar Ferrer, he's a producer and part of this duo called Never. He originally came in and taught Mikkoh and I music production. He's been so supportive, he's one of my best friends, like my brother. We recently went to Puerto Rico to DJ his wedding. I would also say my boyfriend, he's been mentoring me as well. Music has been his entire life, he grew up in music. He has so much knowledge about the business, I learn so much from him. Both of them have been instrumental parts of my growth.
How do you feel about the possibility of the United States having it's first female president?
I would rather Hillary win, that's my personal take on it. We need a woman to lead this country. We as women are emotionally intelligent, you know? We have a better understanding as a leader, we can multi-task. I would rather see her in office than anyone else at this moment. I'm kind of excited about it.
What are some upcoming projects or shows you want your fans to know about?
There is the Elevate's Block Party on Oct. 14. Hourglass, OHSO and myself be performing at Afropunk's Festival. We're really excited about that because of the lack of female presence in festivals. It's awesome to be a part of that. Then we have the Miami show on Oct. 20 at Coyo, and the next Bae Atlanta will be sometime next month. Stay tuned for dates in 2017!
Ladies of Bae
Not pictured Ashley**