Valentine’s Day is more than just the seminal masterpiece starring Bradley Cooper, Jessica Alba, and Ashton Kutcher (I kid, I kid). It’s a day of flowers, candy, and hiding away in your apartment listening to sad songs on repeat.
If Adele’s 21 has invaded too many of your Spotify playlists, Taleen Kali’s latest single “Baby Love” will fill your I-bought-myself-chocolate disposition. Originally recorded by The Supremes in 1964, “Baby Love” has that classic Diana Ross cool to it – a detached sadness that pairs perfectly with a shoulder length bob and a glittering pantsuit. Kali’s cover combines a modern beat with a ’60s surfer vibe vocal; it’s a definitively West Coast rendition, the kind of tune Don Draper would spin in his California bungalow. If you’re looking for a gimmick, look elsewhere *cough Weezer*; Kali retains much of the original song’s melancholy, while adding in a style that is all her own.
Read about the song’s production process – with help from former Dum Dum Girl Kristin Kontrol – and listen to “Baby Love” below:
AF: Why did you choose to cover this song?
Taleen Kali: “Baby Love” is the first song I remember singing along to as a kid… I’d sing it to my parents all the time, so this one’s dedicated to them. I’ve always wanted to do a noisy space-rock take on a classic Motown love song, and nobody does girl groups quite like Diana Ross.
AF: What is the experimentation phase like for a song like this?
TK: This one was a total studio experiment during our Sunset Sound album sessions. I wanted to keep the lyrics old school and subvert the classic love song by shaking up the instrumentation, so we went through a few different vibes with the band. First we tried a grungy take that didn’t land, and then a sleepy shoegaze version that was too saccharine – there was no bite. Once my producer Kristin Kontrol helped us find the right beat, Miles Marsico’s fuzzy bass line was able to take front and center, and then everything else fell into place from there.
AF: Did you have the phrasing down when you went into record or were there a few variations at first?
TK: I always knew I wanted to sing certain parts with that classic girl group affectation of feminine yearning, and then at some point to disrupt it, updating it with an active drive. The phrasing was all done on the spot, line-by-line… it begins with a question and ends with a demand. It feels so empowering.
Taleen Kali’s latest record Soul Songs is out now Lolipop Records. Looking for the perfect date night? Catch her LIVE:
2/13 Valentine’s Single Release @ Alphaville, New York
2/15 Live on the air @ KUCI 88.9FM Radio, Irvine
3/01 DUM DUM Zine Fest @ The Smell, Los Angeles
5/18 L.A. Zine Week Kickoff @ The Echo, Los Angeles