Lauren Babic, renowned singer and screamer of bands such as Red Handed Denial and CrazyEightyEight, is everywhere around these days, as a voice coach, a successful live streamer and YouTuber. Halocene’s Addie talks to her about her musical upbringing and new outlets for her creative output during the pandemic.
Addie: I would like to know a bit more about little Lauren. When did you first start singing?
Lauren: It’s an interesting story. I grew up with a lot of music around me. And I was more so an instrumentalist growing up. I didn’t start singing til later.
What did you play then?
I played piano since I was four until like fourteen, so ten years. It was very formal, it was very rigid, and cold. And I really hated it. Honestly, I lost most of it. I think I was really resentful. I always wanted to be creative with it and not in a really formal setting with teachers who’d tell you, no, you have to play this exactly as it’s been written. I just shut that out of my head for a really long time. I didn’t start singing until I was sixteen, seventeen. I had never sung in front of people before, just in the shower, home alone, favorite bands I was listening to. When I was in freshman year at university I found this classified ad at MySpace “Band seeking female vocalist” and I was like “You know what, I’ll give it a go, I’ll do it.” I just jumped in and the day I started singing in front of other people was at the Red Handed Denial audition.
And the screaming, too?
I learned just by listening to the bands I liked and then, well, mimicking… and really failing a lot! And boring my voice out a lot. Basically, all my singing “career” until recently was completely self-taught. Only in the last year and a half have I really sought professional lessions and insights to my voice.
Singing is something, well, everybody does – I’m not saying everyone’s great in it, however – but it’s part of our lives, it’s something we all naturally do. It just never occurred to me listening to these bands that have all the screaming in their music that as a female that is something I could I possibly do. So seeing somebody like you who’s able to do that is inspiring and so cool to see, like “yeah, I can do that.” Singing to me is intimidating – but screaming is even more so.
Sure, because it’s mainly a dude thing. As much as we as women don’t want to admit that. And it’s a dude dominated area. It is really intimidating.
It’s just cool that you took the initiative on it! I’ve seen you jamming on a couple of other instruments, so what else do you play?
I messed around with the guitar just very casually. Some chords, just for writing. Bass as well. I love bass, it’s just the coolest instrument ever.
I actually have a hard time hearing bass in songs. There’s always this joke that bassists are failed guitarists, of course I don’t believe that – so what drew bass to your attention?
It indeed is one of these instruments that you don’t really recognize but it’s always there. If you take it away it’s not the song anymore. You’re like the backbone. It’s like the unsung hero of the band, y’know. And I love that.
Watch the full-length interview on our new channel "The Pulse".
You have experience with your three bands doing it the classic way with touring but also with your YouTube channel – How has it been during the pandemic? I assume you missed touring. How has that changed your life?
I think the pandemic is bittersweet. When I started doing YouTube videos back in 2012, I wasn’t doing it for any reason – it was more about, well, I’m practicing singing because I wasn’t so good at it at that time. The band has really been hindered because we couldn’t play shows, go finish our album in the states, we literally couldn’t cross the border. So, we had to make decisions in a way that can keep us moving forward. We were so used to the conventional methods, but at the same time I was able to grow independently this year which has had a lot of spill-over to the band. I think at the end it will be all positive.
What do all these 3 projects you’re constantly working on mean to you? As you said you didn’t expect your personal channel to grow as much as it did… I mean, I love your … pop album … is it okay to call it a pop album…?
Sure, because it is.
I’m in love with it. So, back to the three different projects… Do they have their places or do they all intertwine into each other… What’s the deal there?
I think I just want to have as many creative outlets as I can. Red Handed Denial is kind of very specific, it’s very heavy, very progressive… very technical. Not for everybody. And it does have its own style. I know that some things I want to do don’t fit into that kind of narrative. CrazyEightyEight is more Jared’s baby, and he can do more of the administrative things, whereas Red Handed Denial takes a lot of my time. And then I have this whole YouTube side and solo stuff – that’s like anything I have left over of things I want to do, including a freaking pop EP. I’m just like “You know what? I’m gonna do it.”
I’m so glad you did because it’s good. Y’know my roots are kind of in pop, so when I hear someone having such a variety of music, be able not just to scream but also maybe be able to do a song I would like to dance to (okay, different kind of dancing), but …
… Yeah, and it’s all about my music taste. I mean, I listen to a wide variety of music and I’m inspired by so many different kinds of artists. Sometimes I’m like “I wanna do a Bruno Mars song”, but it’s not gonna fit.
Let’s talk about Twitch because you recently started livestreaming. What inspired you to do that and what does livestreaming do for you that maybe you weren’t experiencing before?
I think with YouTube and the landscape of Social Media, Twitch is a standard platform that enables you to have that real-time connection that you won’t get on any other platform. I was at that point on other platforms where I realized it can be pretty toxic, and I didn’t have that personal connection. I kind of used Twitch for me, I wanted to talk to people and I don’t want to feel alone. We all do feel so connected on Social Media, but at the end we’re still alone. Twitch is so real-time. You’re literally sitting with people in that very moment. And there’s something about it that makes me just feel better. I started with absolutely zero expectations.
It seems like a lot of things you did started with zero expectations and then turned out pretty well.
I think that’s kind of been my mantra all my life. I did go to university, got my undergrad, have my teacher degree as well… Me growing up, my parents were just like “Music is no option for you. You have to be a professional with benefits. A salary." So, it was kind of always grained in my head that music will always be a hobby. I never had the expectation that I would do this. Until very recently, where I said: “I can do this, and I will do this.” I made that choice and I’m completely happy today.
I hope this isn’t too personal, but what do your parents think now?
They’ve come a long way. I think that’s because they care for me and they want to see me succeed. They just don’t understand what this all is. They’re like “This is a job? You make money with this?” It’s just so far-fetched and unconventional that they don’t understand. And I don’t expect them to understand fully. They’re now starting to realize “oh, this is a thing.” I think I always had to combat. I’m at a good place in my life now to do exactly what I want. I’ve never had expectations – I just truly enjoy the ride!
When somebody on the street comes to you and asks you “What do you do for a living?” What do you say?
I just say “I’m a musician”, that’s what immediately comes to my head. But I feel like I have to have a notebook with a list, like: “I do this, and this… and I sometimes do this…” That’s a loaded question.
It’s hard to explain, especially if you have to say what livestreaming is… that’s so difficult. I can imagine with as many bands as you have and all that you do all over the internet it’s quite a conversation.