Meet BAUM, The Fiery Pop Heroine Telling Coming-Of-Age Stories For 2018

Shervin Lainez


When BAUM answers the phone, she's holed up in Austin for its annual SXSW music conference -- or, as she likes to call it, "adult spring break." "It's like college for grown-ups," she quips, "with a bunch of partying." But jokes aside, the scene she describes feels like just the right place to perform her whip-smart, introspective brand of pop, which puts the line between carefree youth and the weight of adulthood under a microscope.

It's a line she knows well. At 20, the artist born Sabrina Teitelbaum only recently graduated from high school in her native New York City. In an apartment here on the Upper West Side, she spent her childhood "lip-synching in the mirror" to Madonna and Janis Joplin, and had enrolled in singing lessons by age 7. She describes her high school experience as "kind of catty, intense," and in a city like New York, one grows up fast: "You don’t have that element of having to have your parents drive you places," she recalls. "There was a lot of independence, and a million things going on at any given moment."

At 18, she headed west to study at the University of Southern California, then called it quits after two years to focus on her music full-time. But she remained in Los Angeles, and was inspired to mold her experiences bridging adulthood -- for better or for worse -- into debut EP Ungodly, out today (March 16).

The five-track, punchy pop project touches on everything from sexuality and body image to first love and heartbreak, fusing the youthful, nostalgic spirit of Lorde with the badass, take-me-as-I-am attitude of Lady Gaga. And while her subjects get gritty ("do I look like I own a fucking thing in pink?" one lyric jeers; another describes a group of leering men as howling wolves), the point is to empower the younger generation.

"The whole thing is about empowering yourself in coming-of-age situations where you wouldn't think you have all the power, where it gets taken away from you," she explains. "I want people in high school or early college to hear it and think, 'I went through that,' and that there can be a happy ending to these things."

Many of these themes pertain specifically to womanhood, and the sexism BAUM has experienced both as a recording artist and a regular teenager. While BAUM wrote the self-love anthem "This Body" after being relentlessly catcalled on USC's campus (and countless times before), "Dream Girl Takeover" is a dark pop slow-burner that exposes the "cool girl" persona women often put on to please others: "if you were loving me for me," BAUM sings, "then you wouldn't love me."

A supporter of the Time's Up and #MeToo movements, BAUM says she's learned to take certain precautions in the male-dominated industry: "I don't want to go into a studio with three men that I don't know." And her all-female team -- from management to publicity to marketing and distribution -- is a direct attempt to correct the imbalance. "If you go to a record label, the difference in the number of men you see versus the number of women you see is just depressing ... But it’s also inspiring because you see those women Michelle Jubelirer at Capitol, or Julie Greenwald who’s at Atlantic, and you’re like, 'Wow, you guys must’ve faced some serious shit.'"

More than anything, she identifies with the social movement's central notion that there is power in telling your story. She opens up further on previously released singles "Hot Water," an '80s-tinged vibe about BAUM's coming out as queer and a disastrous house party that followed ("I drank a bottle of wine and my brother had to pick me up") and "Effortless," a ruthless takedown of a friend's cheating boyfriend ("I wanted to say my two cents").

But the title track -- a last-minute addition written from BAUM's bedroom -- is her favorite. "It's about being a young person and doing crazy, reckless things to feel alive and to feel loved," she says of the ballad. "I want to use my voice as a way to help people feel like they’re not going through it all alone."

Stream BAUM's debut EP Ungodly in full, below.


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