Origins is a recurring new music feature which offers an artist or band the chance to dig into some of the influences behind their latest track.
Not long after the election of nightmare Donald Trump, CoSigned indie pop songwriter Dre Babinski recorded an EP under her Steady Holiday moniker. It was aptly called Terror and saw her wrestling with the new White House and the “objective misuse of power in America.”
A little over a year has passed since then, but sadly not much has changed in the US — almost to the point to that it’s all been normalized. The Los Angeles-based Babinski, however, won’t be silenced. Her forthcoming Steady Holiday, Nobody’s Watching, is something of an extension of her Terror EP, as it continues to explore themes “like greed, fear and self-interest; the ugly and troubling edges of human nature,” she notes in a press statement.
On the forthcoming LP, Babinski also makes it a point to emphasize that the evilness of human nature is not just confined to our current state — like history, it repeats itself over time. “There are so many horrible examples of manipulation and impunity in the news right now that feel unprecedentedly dramatic, but it’s important to remember that these figures have been around forever,” Babinski explains to Consequence of Sound. “Every culture, every generation.”
That’s the main takeaway from her latest Nobody’s Watching single, “Who’s Gonna Stop Us”. A slinky cut surrounded by an air of mystery, it finds Babinski describing characters known for their scheming and manipulation. “It’s so easy that I can’t believe they don’t see the plan/ You put the beauty in the front
and you control from the back,” she sings early on, later adding, “Let’s teach them how to build a pyramid/ Tell them if they keep it up, they can reach the top.”
Check it out below through its official music video. Directed by Isaac Ravishankara, it touches more on the art of controlling and exploitation.
Babinski broke down a number of the inspirations behind “Who’s Gonna Stop Us”, including Howard Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States, Charles Manson, and the musical film The Music Man.
There’s a line in the song: you made me nervous when you sat on the floor / you blocked the exit, no one noticed at all. It was one of the first lyrical ideas I had for this record, and that image was very evocative to me. I pictured a room with a congregation facing one direction toward some charlatan who had just walked in and blocked the door, while the previous crooked leader looks on and immediately recognizes his racket. I sketched the image (really well..) and built the song from there.
My original concept for the album was based entirely in this world, and told from the perspective of this narrator. I decided not to hold myself to that because there were a lot of characters I wanted to portray from the first-person and it became limiting.
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn:
There are so many horrible examples of manipulation and impunity in the news right now that feel unprecedentedly dramatic, but it’s important to remember that these figures have been around forever. Every culture, every generation. This book is a gentle reminder of that. It made me want to be deliberate with the details in this song and create a place that could have existed at almost any point in history.
Too easy. He’s endlessly interesting but for this song specifically, the antagonist here uses his charm to strip everyone of their free will in a way that was inspired by Charles.
The Music Man:
The narrator in this song is also partially inspired by The Music Man’s main character Harold Hill, a traveling salesman who cons entire towns into giving them their money before he skips to the next. He manufactures fear and then preys on it, which felt timely to write about.
Otherwise, I just love this movie and wanted to bring it up while I gotcha here! It’s really flamboyant and technical and nothing like the song aesthetically, just a crazy thing that was made.
Nobody’s Watching, the follow-up to 2016’s Under the Influence, is due out August 24th through Barsuk Records. Catch Babinski’s Steady Holiday project live this fall.
Steady Holiday 2018 Tour Dates:
11/07 – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd
11/08 – Philadelphia, PA @ Ortlieb’s
11/10 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
11/12 – Boston, MA @ Middle East
11/14 – Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern
11/15 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
11/17 – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe du Nord
11/18 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg
11/19 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah