Bayli Mckeithan is bold, brash, and aggressively millennial. From her head full of purple hair splaying out in every direction and frequent f-bombs to the encyclopedic pop culture references she drops without warning, the Brooklyn-bred musician is a product of the internet-savvy generation that has overtaken, well, everything.
It’s no wonder then that Bayli’s sound matches the breakneck, kaleidoscopic culture we’re living in. From track to track on her latest release, Bayli Summer Mixtape, hints of trap, rock, R&B, and pop bubble up to the surface. “I see music as a mood or different moods,” she explains of this blend of genres. “Certain rhythmic elements or sounds will reflect that mood so it’s hard to pick one.” It’s no surprise that this strategy of not staying in a lane works so well given that, before Bayli began to release solo tracks, the singer earned her stripes as the frontwoman for the Brooklyn music crew The Skins. Not to be confused with the U.K. series that charted the hard-partying antics of disillusioned British youth, her band shares much of the same DNA as Bayli’s own solo tracks and forgoes a single genre in favor of bringing a little bit of everything to the mix.
If juggling the lead singer role in a band while also releasing three music videos in a three-week span sounds like a lot, it’s just a day in the life for the singer. We caught up with Bayli as she found a break in her busy schedule to talk her Summer Mixtape, the brilliance of Love Don’t Cost a Thing, and why she’s the high femme weirdo of our dreams.
OUT: Your music is a big blend of sounds. Do you have a favorite genre to work with?
Bayli: I’m very indecisive as a person and that’s why it’s this blend of sounds. I see music as a mood or different moods. Certain rhythmic elements or sounds will reflect that mood so it’s hard to pick one genre. I’ll be listening to folk music and then be so inspired by trap and rock.
With the Summer Mixtape, how would you describe it in one sentence?
It’s anthemic and empowering… hopefully. It’s a journey.
Do you have a favorite song from it?
There are so many good ones, dude. There’s a song called “Problem” and it has more of a trap feeling. It’s so good.
You said you’re very indecisive. Do you pay attention to your horoscope?
(Laughs) I do. I’m one of those people who’ll be talking to you and then mid-conversation, I ask you what your sign is. I’m definitely that person but I’m not reading my horoscope every day — I definitely should be because I’m a Pisces. We’re super crazy and sensitive and need reassurance.
Do you ever blame something you did on being a Pisces?
Oh my god, all the time. I will literally give people the disclaimer that I’m a Pisces.
Growing up, what was the first album that shaped you?
Lauren Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is such a huge one. Every single one of those songs I remember all the words too. I can break down every modulation and every lyric. It’s so weird.
How old were you when you first heard it?
I don’t know. It came out in 1998 so I must’ve been seven or eight-years-old. My dad lived in Long Island in the suburbs and my mom lived in Brooklyn so they’d always drive us back and forth or take us to school and that would always be on repeat. They had Bob Marley’s Kaya album and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Did The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill inspire you to pursue music?
That definitely got us singing all the time. I have three other siblings and all of us are musical and creative.
I’m sure your parents loved that.
(Laughs) Yeah, we were extremely annoying because we’d all be singing and they were like, “Shut the fuck up.” It was constant. We’d always watch musicals and Disney movies. The Little Mermaid was my shit, bro. Oh my god. That was on repeat.
Your “Out For Love” video came out two weeks ago and the mood of it is “2000’s teen romantic comedy.” What is your favorite teen romcom?
Dude! Anything with Freddie Prinze Jr. This is a really funny one and only real ass bitches will remember this movie: Love Don’t Cost a Thing.
With Christina Milian?!
(Laughs) Yes, and Nick Cannon!
Yes! I used to be obsessed with that movie!
That’s so funny I love that you know that movie. That’s one of my favorites for sure. I was obsessed with all of those movies. I was a basic ass bitch when I was a little girl.
Have you watched the new Netflix romcom To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before?
What? No! I need to!
It’s so good. It feels like a Disney Channel movie it’s amazing. With the videos for “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” why’d you decide to make a Yin and Yang version?
I’m always just hanging out with the most amazingly creative people. I was in California and wanted to shoot with my friend who is a videographer named Annie Kane. The song wasn’t even done yet it was in demo form and there was no second verse. We were just shooting two completely different versions of the song than the one that’s out now. I got back to New York and had this other idea now that the song was finished. I wanted to go a little darker and deeper with it.
I was talking to my team about whether I should put both versions out or if that was too weird or too much. I wanted to do it because first of all, who the fuck does that? Nobody does that. I like to play and interact with people via the internet so I thought it could be this cool and innovative thing to just go, okay you choose. Watch these visuals and tell me what you fuck with. Do you like this concept or that concept? I love it a lot because it’s also a reflection of just yin and yang — the dark and the light of life.
Yeah, and you played with the masculine and feminine energies in the visuals, too.
Totally. I was initially calling one video His and one video Hers but I was like, okay that’s way too heteronormative and limiting. Who the fuck is to say a field of poppies isn’t masculine or smashing a television in an industrial space isn’t high femme? That’s so me. I’m high femme I guess but I see myself on both sides in terms of the heteronormative meaning.
Is releasing all of these music videos part of a bigger strategy?
Yeah, it’s part of a bigger thing. I was with my band for so long who I love so much, but this is my first solo project. I’m totally revamping this shit and want to put visuals out as much as possible because that’s such an important element to me. I want people to get to know me and how weird I am and how weird my brain works. It makes it easier for them to understand the songs and what I’m trying to say in my music. With the visuals, people can put a face to the music and know that I’m weird and artsy and all over the place. It’s so important to have visuals — I don’t know if it’s just a weird, fucked up millennial culture thing.
We also grew up with MTV and TRL so we love a good music video.
Exactly. It’s so fun to shoot and conceptualize and all of that.
A good music video goes a long way.
It really does. That’s the shit. That’s how we have fucking iconic images for Tumblr. (Laughs) All of it comes from The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
Photography: Jasper Soloff
Styling: Jennifer George