Hailing from New York’s ever bubbling Brooklyn borough, Bailey Hoffman alias Beta Librae (for the brightest star in our constellation, known as Libra) quickly found her place in the sun as one of the US underground scene’s finest exports, as introduced by her handful releases for 1080p, Anthony Naples and Jenny Slattery’s Incienso, as well as a pair of EPs for Dan Fisher’s Allergy Season.
Expert trader of vaporous house textures, lo-lidded dubs and carefully engineered tech wares, BL’s forged a solid reputation as a much dextrous producer and shape-shifting groove manipulator. Swinging the pendulum between hazed-out nocturnal atmospheres, lush coastal sensations and beaming floor cosmonautics, her sets tell fascinatingly rich tales of emancipation and cross-border freedom of spirit.
Reeling out with such essential notions and concepts in mind, Bailey’s mix delivery for Inverted Audio blazes with the same blend of propulsive energy and machinic sensuality that made her regular performances at Bossa Nova Civic Club and Queens’ Nowadays key cogs of NYC’s ever busy nightlife machine. In addition to dishing out an hour-and-a-half of her bewitching floor-destroying skills, Bailey took the time to answer a few questions. Lock in and boogie down, you’re in for a chirpy treat.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"All my favourite artists delight and confuse me"
Hey Bailey, first things first thanks for that killer, all-round pumping mix! Let’s get back to the roots of it all; how did you come to electronic music in the first place?
My parents had a diverse rotation of music throughout my whole childhood. I’m grateful for their fun knowledge of all music. Daft Punk, The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim were some early family favs. I loved disco and eurodance but that was rare to find in the mid-west.
The mid 2000’s were my electro synth-pop band days, then I started meeting friends in college with similar interests and we’d share files on music forums. That’s how I found house and techno, the forever staple of joy in my life.
What prompted you to start producing music yourself?
I’d say from a curiosity to connect deeper or differently with an audience. I know DJing gives you that connection, but I wanted to push the boundaries of my comfort. I had the opportunity to play some small DIY venues and that was a place to begin without feeling overwhelmed.
I wasn’t thinking about individual tracks at first, or releasing music, but how I could break down the elements of a song in real time, while keeping the flow and energy in sync. Maybe I was a bit naive agreeing to play live before having a set finished, but that’s what sparked fire in me to learn quickly.
You’re operating out of Brooklyn, NYC – which is known to shelter quite a vibrant underground scene. How inspiring is it to live there, as a musician and well, human being in general?
Everyone I know is doing something they love and feel passionate about, so for me, feeling inspired depends of who I’m around. I must go out twice a week or more to see friends playing gigs, it can be really hard for me to slow down or say I can’t make it.
I think in a big city if you’re feeling energetic and positive infinite friends and limitless opportunities take shape. If you’re lonely and negative it can become isolating. It’s great to be inspired but if you don’t channel that energy in a healthy way it will turn to stress. I try to always remember that “stress assassinates creativity.”
My favourite thing about the music scene right now is that I can see someone’s first DJ gig one night and the next see someone that’s been an influence on me creatively for years. And even if I can’t make it, there’s always another opportunity in the future.
"I try to always remember that stress assassinates creativity”
Where do you like to hang out in town? Any special spots we should visit next time we’re around?
I go to Nowadays often. Weekends go until 5 or 6 am. They have a huge backyard and the staff are wonderful. Feels like dancing in an insane person’s living room, enhanced with great sound, fog, maybe a thousand plants and stunning tunes.
Also Mood Ring that’s been open for a little over a year. All events hold space for q.t.p.o.c so you can expect a diverse crowd. You may feel as if you’re inside a lava lamp. Bossa Nova is right across the street, it’s a win-win of a night.
What’s the number one piece of equipment you switch on when you enter the studio and why?
Almost always Ableton, but I like to come prepared with all my own field recordings and samples. Sometimes drums coming from a different source. I don’t always find it to be enjoyable, but feels like sorcery to me since I don’t often buy gear.
I’m lucky to have generous friends who let me borrow things. If your friends won’t let you try out their gear, are they really your friends?
What’s the last technical acquisition you made, and was it a good move?
I’ve got an MPC to learn. Would be nice to get the hands in motion. Craving a full upfront punchy sound. I don’t think there’s a way this won’t be fun, some people love these little guys. I guess it comes down to patience and persistence.
Where do you usually draw your inspiration for a record?
I truly don’t know. I always want to make something I don’t quite understand but still find enjoyable. Sometimes I’ll pick a distinguishable genre of music as the base for inspiration. I try to have a few elements that take the song away from any familiarity to that genre. I want the mood to be difficult to categorise. All my favourite artists delight and confuse me.
"If your friends won’t let you try out their gear, are they really your friends?"
Your most recent EP, ‘Subspecies’, was released through Dan Fisher’s Allergy Season imprint a few months ago. What’s lined up for you in 2019? Any release(s) you can tell us about yet?
I’m doing a remix for Tristan Arp this month. His music can be described as pointillist micro-percussion, asymmetrical rhythms shining with the sprightly whimsy of science fiction. I love his approach and sound design so this is special for me.
What makes you happy?
Too many things but this one is in my top 5: dancing about in socks on slick hard wood is one of the simplest pleasures in life. Get all your friends in on that.
What pisses you off?
When I see someone put their heart and talent into something and not be paid properly or met with respect and acknowledgment. Myself, when I let inner trauma from past failures or unhealthy relationships effect my self worth. Feels like an evil force, and must be destroyed.
What’s the last record store you visited and what did you bag there?
The Vinyl Underground in Kansas City where I’m from. My brother works there and he’ll show me some of the strange unclassified records they have come in.
It’s hard for me to get serious in a record store. I’d want to work on that. I get excited about tape and CD compilations made by friends. I have a CD/cassette boombox in my kitchen, it really brings out the magic of collecting tapes and mixes.
How’s your schedule looking at the moment? Any gigs planned in EU this year?
I’ll head over to Europe for most of July to play for the first time over there. Looking forward to seeing new spaces and making new friends!
Discover more about Beta Librae on Inverted Audio.Beta Librae1080pAllergy SeasonInciensoDubElectronicHouseTechno