North London’s Neo Soulstress, BaggE Sits Down With Us Ahead Of Her New EP Release!
23 Feb 2023
We sat down with soulstress BaggE, to discuss her sound ahead of her new EP release. Her contemporary Neo-soul sound is maintained through her own self-management and independent production, taking influence from her environment growing up in a musical family, and her Congolese heritage.
Firstly, who is BaggE, how did you come up with your name?
I don’t know how old I was, I think I was like seventeen, and I used to always wear really baggy clothes. I still do kind; in day-to-day life, I always wear baggy clothes. My real name is Ellie, and I didn’t want my artist name to just be Ellie, that is so boring. Then I thought of Baggy, but then I thought I can do BaggE with an E, because my first name starts with an E. I said it to my friend, and she said why don’t you do it with a capital E. And then BaggE was born.
When did you start making music?
I started when I was about eighteen. At seventeen I started hitting up producers, and working with producers, but eighteen was my first release on SoundCloud. At nineteen I started going onto streaming platforms. Music was always the plan. I did well in music at secondary school, and I always thought it was really fun. I went to college, but I never really enjoyed school and college, so I dropped out because I thought it wasn’t for me. Mainstream education wasn’t for me, because it seemed way more about theory than the creativity aspect.
Has being a singer always been on your radar from a young age?
I have always wanted to be a singer. I come from a musical family; my brother is a drummer. He’s always drummed from a young age, and I was the exact same, but with singing. Do you remember those little grey keyboards that you used to have when you were younger, it would have one and I used to play music in my room. I used to always be in my room with it, making little love songs. I had a recorder, so I’ve saved them, I used to be about ten, making these heart-breaking love songs. Looking back on them now, they are actually quite accurate. I don’t know where that came from, I was so young to be singing about such big heartbreak.
Why do you choose to be self-managed rather than represented? Do you think this helps to maintain your authenticity, and gives you more freedom? How does this work?
I never really chose to be self-managed; I think it kind of just happened. I’m very independent with myself as a human being, and I like to be able to do what I want as an artist. I have a very clear vision of what I want to look like and what I want to sound like. I think I’ve never really met someone who I want to manage me. It’s getting to the point now where I have done everything, and it would be helpful to have someone to get advice from, and that I can learn from. I want someone to help me out, not to tell me what to do, but to help me navigate the music industry. There’s a lot of weird people in the industry.
Where do you take influence from? Does your Congolese heritage play a role in your music?
I think everything influences me, of course my roots are a big thing. Growing up I listened to a lot of Congolese music, a lot of Afrobeats, and I still do. I guess everything I listen to I take aspects from. I am very heavy into bass and drums in music, and I think percussion is a big thing. Every time I go to a producer, I make sure they know that I have good percussion, and a good bassline, which I think is very evident in Congolese music.
I don’t know where exactly I take my influence from, I wouldn’t say I look up to a specific person and say that I want to look like them or sound like them. A lot of artists that I enjoy listening to are Jill Scott, Etta James, Ray Charles, and Charlotte DeSantos. If I was to look up to someone, it would be them.
What do you think about the BRIT Award nominations?
I think (the fact that there were no female nominees for Best Artist at the BRIT Awards) is a lot like racism in the UK. I think we put a band-aid on it, and we pretend like it’s not a thing. We pretend the music industry is so diverse, but it isn’t. I always put on my story that I want to work with more female producers, and I think only about two people actually replied.
As a female in the industry, I have sometimes found it hard to be respected by older men, which I think is clear in the music industry. Even though you’re doing as much as they’re doing, it’s just because you’re a female, and you’re young they think you’re not as worthy of their respect.
Is that why you choose to be self-managed?
I think that’s definitely a part of it. I don’t see the point in having a manager just to have a manager, I’ve done so much already myself. If you’re not bringing anything to the table, why would I have you at the table?
What did your Spotify Wrapped look like this year?
I was so gassed; this is the first year that I’ve had one because normally I use my brothers’ account. Ray Charles, my brothers’ band, and I was in my top five. I have to be my own number-one supporter. I got adventurer for my type of listener as well.
What do you think of the UK’s music scene?
The issue with the UK, is that we haven’t established soul yet, its’ not that big here. I think in America it’s been established for a while. So, I think soul musicians here, is more neo-soul. We have like pop-soul, but its quite commercialised. I would love to go abroad; I would love to do everything. That’s’ the aim, to do anything and everything.
What’s up next for BaggE?
I think getting my name out there more. That’s the hardest thing about being independent and a fairly new artist, is people not hearing your stuff. Being able to widen my audience, people knowing about me more is important. I want to work with more producers, hopefully more female producers, I want to level up from my past releases.
Ultimately, I want to be respected in the industry, and have the space and budget to do things without limitations. With the cost-of-living crisis, and with me funding myself as an artist I have found there are quite a few limitations. I want to be able to do whatever I want within my creative vision.