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Looking Deeper with Bathe

Bathe is a Brooklyn-based duo made up of Corey Smith-West and Devin Hobdy. Sonically, the band creates sun-drenched R&B. Lyrically, the duo deals with topics concerning internal fears and the ostracization of black youth.

Ahead of the release of their debut EP ‘I’ll Miss You’ this summer, the band plays a show in Zone One at Elsewhere on 2/14 with Starchild & The New Romantic.

You’ve proclaimed yourselves purveyors of “surf R&B”. What kind of sound and image is this personal genre meant to conjure up? What other artists dwell within or around this sound/what has inspired it?

Corey: As far as the Surf R&B label goes I’m excited for our EP to come out so that the music can speak for itself. But simply put we make R&B music for the beach. Most of our songs are guitar based, have a ton of harmonies, and are drenched in spring reverb.

We just want people to feel warm and relaxed when they put our records on. At the same time, we try to weave heavier ideas into our lyrics. I’m sure that with each song we drop our vision for the project will come into better focus.

We’re both huge Indie Pop and R&B fans. We listen to everyone from Beach House and Yuno to D’Angelo and Nick Hakim

In your interview with noisey, you guys talk about Bathe as your brief, beachy respite from the realities of a racially segregated America. Has this sort of explicit colour consciousness influenced the way you create or find inspiration for you music?

Devin: For sure. It does so necessarily. Being a person of color in America often requires you to live in two worlds. So we can’t help but make music that reflects that dual nature – that desire to honor childhoods filled with Teddy Pendergrass and Anita Baker while making room for Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Tame Impala.

On first listen, “Sure Shot” sounds like a pretty breezy R&B burner, but there are a lot of weighty themes lurking beneath the surface. Could you bridge your lyrics with the imagery portrayed in your music video?

Devin: Yeah some folks really insist that it’s a love song hahaha. But the lyrics are really describing a man battling his paranoia while walking home. He’s seen some shit, and now the world terrifies him. But he buries his fear in machismo.

The video suggests that this mode of thinking is a script that men of color learn very early in life. It’s a script that forces the innocent games of our childhood to be very quickly displaced by the traumas of growing up Black.

Exploring “accounts of blackness” is a theme that’s been heavily emphasized in recent writing about your music, but what other issues are you interested in addressing with your music?

Corey: In college, I had a writing teacher named Anthony DeCurtis. He completely expanded the way I see my role as “an artist.” In class, he said something along the lines of “Good art catches your attention, Great art challenges your view of the world.” By that definition, we’re trying to make great art that reflects our experiences.

Our next single “Kimmi,” is about the cognitive dissonance of getting ghosted by someone you were invested in. And, Our EP I’ll Miss You is a collection of songs that explores how even brief relationships can leave a lasting impression on us.

To sum up I’m interested in addressing whatever life throws at us as honestly as we can.

Devin: I’m trying to remind myself that the mundane can still be important. “Sure Shot” is really about a guy walking down the street, contending with his past. “Kimmi”, our next single, is about wrestling with the disappointment of being ghosted. Both of these stories seem outwardly unimportant but are massively important to the people who have experienced them.

What can we expect from your upcoming EP I’ll Miss You’?

Devin: You can expect to feel disoriented, comfortable, then disoriented again, but slightly more chill about it the second time around.

Corey: To enjoy it best when you listen to it in one sitting.

Interview by Xin-Rui Lee

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