push baby wanted to push themselves to the limit of their creativity
The duo make pop music like you've never heard before.June 14, 2021
push baby were born out of a desire for freedom, the same sonic escape they now offer listeners. Shedding themselves from their mainstream past as Rixton, the now self-described “chaotic pop” duo—composed of vocalist Jake Roche and guitarist Charley Bagnall—have found their new home in Roche’s mom’s garage.
With the launch of their indie label Wow, Big Legend, seemingly never-ending track rollouts and green-screened-to-the-max visuals, the U.K. duo are doing it on their own terms, delivering refreshing and rambunctious garage-bred alt-pop. And, as their name suggests, they don’t plan to stop pushing it out.
It’s wild to be interviewing you as a “new act” after seeing such tremendous growth since your work as Rixton. Over a year in, does push baby still feel like a new band?
JAKE ROCHE: Yes, it really does. We had to unlearn things and [have] a clean-slate start again: No label, no funding, nothing really, very limited resources. And so it really was like pressing the reset button. Now it’s just me and Charley. So it really does feel new And I hope it always stays that way for us, where we always want to—pardon the pun—push ourselves to the limit of our creativity, if you will.
How would you describe push baby to a stranger?
ROCHE: It’s pop. There’s no denying it’s pop. And at times, we can really lean into how commercial it is and almost be like, “We know what this is.” We’re called push baby for God’s sake. The most overused word in pop is “baby.” I actually was thinking about it the other day, and I was listening to our album, which we’re adding the final touches to now. And at times, it’s just so chaotic. And I was just like, “chaotic pop.” That’s cool.
When I listen to these recent singles, there’s an obvious theme about moving on and not letting the weight of things hold you down. How important are these themes in your day-to-day lives?
ROCHE: After Rixton, I was going through a really rough one, and I went and got therapy, and I got treated. I laugh now because I don’t want to take away from real sufferers of this thing, but we suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, and I had to get treated for it. I had to have intense therapy for it, and I couldn’t figure out why. And I was like, “I haven’t been on the frontline. Why am I feeling this?” And it was just a big change in your reality. And then all of a sudden, thinking no one cares about you and battling with this ego. So definitely like “Holding On Is Holding You Back” and all of those tracks, I feel like we’re in a place right now to just really let go and own it.
Who do you see as push baby’s biggest influences?
CHARLEY BAGNALL: We have a thing where every week, every day even, we send [each other links to] new artists, and we will find artists that you’ve never heard of that have 1,000 streams on Spotify. I think [there] is a real need for us to just keep making sure we listen to any music. It’s making sure that I take in and listen to as much music as possible, whether that covers all genres, just so you can keep yourself creative.
In the past few months, you’ve consistently shared singles and heaps of visuals. Did you always aim to dish out content at the rate you have been?
BAGNALL: Why let it just sit on your laptops and try [to] get into these little strategic algorithms when we can just put it out and keep doing stuff to see what happens? And I think it was never a conscious thing. It’s just built up and built up, and it seems to be working.
What developments can fans expect from push baby’s full-length on the way?
ROCHE: We’ve got so much music ready to go. I already feel like what people are witnessing now, we’ve already evolved past that point. So it feels nice to be evolving in real time, almost to our fans. But what they can expect from the album is just really well-crafted pop songs. I fucking love it. Finally, we’re not making things for people anymore. The worst thing you can do for your audience when creating is think about them. That’s a Rick Rubin quote, so don’t quote me on that.
What do you hope push baby can mean to fans out there who may feel like they have a greater purpose, are in pursuit of freedom or want to make music in the garage with their friends?
ROCHE: Be careful what you wish for because it might just come true. That’s not a Rick Rubin quote. When we were starting out as Rixton, I always envisioned getting signed by a major label. And I knew that somewhere along the line, Scooter Braun, the biggest manager in the world, is going to come and start this up. And it all happened so quickly and manifested itself into this giant thing. And I think now, it sounds really cliche, but just give up and relinquish control. It’s about just doing it because you fucking love it. Now I wake up every morning, and my stomach hurts [because] of how much I love my job. Everything that I thought I wanted this for had just been completely obliterated. And it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.
You can read the full interview with push baby in AltPress issue 388.