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Toronto Band Babygirl on Songwriting, Industry Success

Pop rock band Babygirl.
Pop rock band Babygirl. By Courtesy of Babygirl
By Ryan S. Kim, Crimson Staff Writer

Toronto pop rock band Babygirl was born out of a lifelong friendship.

Debuting in 2016, the group is made up of Kiki Frances and Cameron Breithaupt, who met while studying music at Humber College in Toronto. The pair bonded in school over their similar music tastes and shared dream of working as a songwriter for major pop artists.

“We both took the catalogue of Top 40 hits from the 2000s that we grew up on really seriously, as almost a field of study, so to speak,” Breithaupt said in an interview with The Harvard Crimson. “So as we bonded over that, we were like, ‘Oh, let's start writing pop songs for other artists,’ sort of like a pitch writing team.”

In the process of composing music for others, the pair discovered a creative chemistry between the two of them that informed the founding of Babygirl, according to Breithaupt.

“Very quickly, we started writing stuff that was not exactly built to that Top 40 format and that's the material that we started Babygirl around,” Breithaupt said. “We had these great songs that didn't really sound like Ariana Grande, but we still wanted the world to hear them one way or another.”

“We made a lot of bad songs, and then when we started making good ones and were like, ‘Let's start a band about it.’” Frances added.

Babygirl released its first single “Overboard” in June 2016, followed by their debut EP “As You Wish” a month later.

Despite gravitating towards a career in songwriting while at Humber, Frances said that she and Breithaupt had always, deep down, wanted to perform their own work.

“When we were kids we didn’t know each other, but we both individually wanted to make our own music and be singers and performers,” Frances said. “So when we started writing together thinking we would be writing songs for other artists, we always both had that internal thing of wanting to be artists ourselves.”

After its release, “Overboard” found its way onto the “Fresh Finds” Spotify playlist, earning the duo almost fifty thousand streams from one day of placement and a reason to keep Babygirl going.

“That was kind of our first little moment of validation where we realized this project has legs outside of just being a hobby, local thing,” Breithaupt said. “I think that really like everything has kind of snowballed from there to an extent.”

Since their 2016 debut, Babygirl has been hard at work, dropping a pair of EPs along with a plethora of singles. According to the duo, a key to the Babygirl release schedule and songwriting process has been quality control.

Breithaupt said that Frances is the perfectionist of the pair, and she always strives for the highest possible quality.

“It's not just sitting there and singing the song,” Frances said. “If you're thinking about it as a recording that is going to last forever, it has to be the best performance I'm capable of giving, which sometimes causes me to want to re record a vocal three times before I am okay with it.”

“There's no amount of labor that we can put into something that we consider to justify it being released,” Breithaupt said. “It's always judged on its merits of what the end product is, not how hard it was to get there.”

Frances and Breithaupt’s dedication and attention to detail has clearly born fruit. The duo’s 2018 EP “Lovers Fevers” drew the attention of Grammy-nominated producer J Kash, who signed the duo to a deal with his label Sandlot Records at the beginning of 2020.

Platinum pop singer Jeremy Zucker is also among the duo’s admirers, and invited Frances and Breithaupt to open for the East Coast leg of his 2021 nationwide tour, giving the pair their first touring experience. Zucker became aware of Babygirl through their mutual acquaintance with pop artist Lauv.

image id=1353589 align=center size=large caption=true

“We were gonna go on tour with Lauv at the beginning of 2020 and then it got canceled, obviously,” Frances said.

“But luckily that relationship led to Jeremy hearing about our music,” Breithaupt added. “And then, Jeremy just kind of slid in the DMs and was like, ‘Hey, big fan of your stuff,’ which was very nice and that’s how it happened.”

Last month, the band finished the tour with Zucker after playing eight cities, including their biggest hometown show to date at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. Yet despite Babygirl’s success in the past year, Frances said that the duo still feels like they are earning their keep in the city of Toronto and the music industry at large.

“I think we're still building momentum [in Toronto],” Frances said. “But that show was really fun to play a full room and get to show a bunch of people our music and have people come up to us after.” Despite the challenges of the past few years, she added, those were the moments that kept the group going.

— Staff writer Ryan S. Kim can be reached at ryan.kim@thecrimson.com.

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