San Francisco native Criibaby is a self-proclaimed “Queer Fairy Godmother of Pop Soul.” Beyond this, she is a proud champion of the LGBTQ+ Community. Her signature color, purple, comes from the Bisexual pride flag and her songs are intentionally inclusive.
Criibaby’s upcoming EP, Love Songs For Everyone, follows a sweet personal journey of falling in love, without focusing on the gender. Her dreamy vintage pop is the perfect soundtrack to any love story.
Criibaby told me about the LGBTQ+ creators she worked with, 80s ball culture, and her mission to create more visibility for bisexuals ‒ just in time for Bi-Visibility Day today!
Miranda Roberts: Your new EP, Love Songs For Everyone, comes out in less than a month. What emotions have you been feeling up to the release?
Criibaby: With a name like Criibaby, you might assume (correctly!) that I’m no stranger to feeling my feels. But this is something else. Recording this entire project has been an act of radical self care from the beginning- though I studied music throughout my schooling, I only recently got back into writing and recording a few years ago. What began as a coping mechanism during a period of loss gave way to subsequent reflection and reprioritization of the things that make me happy in life. The top two things on that list were making more art and giving myself the space and time to love and accept my queer identity.
There have been a couple iterations of this EP, all with different concepts and visions, but when I made the decision to make this EP gender neutral and intentionally inclusive, the project began to really take shape; every track on Love Songs For Everyone is pronoun neutral. By intentionally avoiding “she” or “he” the music becomes more inclusive, and refrains from promoting a heteronormative, gender binary-focused viewpoint of relationships. I feel pretty strongly that this kind of intentional inclusivity is desperately needed in today’s media.
It’s equal parts empowering to release something as personal as these songs, as it is super challenging to try to let go of the painstaking perfectionism that is all tied up in being an artist. Each of these songs is like a little time capsule that shows where my heart and soul were at when I wrote them, so I’m excited to share that with the world.
MR: Do you have a favorite song on the EP? If so, what is it about?
C: My favorite song on the album is a dreamy ballad called “80S KWEEN” that’s about an enchanting lover who takes you to a fantasy world where anything is possible. When I wrote this song, I had been listening to a lot of Sateen, and I challenged myself to re-envision the sparkle of their queer 80’s disco vibe in my own mellow, popsoul aesthetic.
“80S KWEEN” is dedicated to Jennie Livingston, director of the documentary Paris Is Burning. Jennie quite literally “showed me a world that I had never seen.” The deep dive into the glitz and glamour of 80s ball culture- where anyone can be whoever and whatever they desire, throwing away any preconceived notions of gender roles or heteronormativity- inspired me to write this song. I would be remiss not to mention the controversy surrounding this film and its director taking advantage of the artists within the documentary- and that’s baggage that’s important to address: LGBTQ+ people must not be othered and exploited in order for queer culture to make its way into the mainstream.
MR: As someone who centers their art around creating visibility for bisexuals, what does Bi-Visibility Day (9/23) mean to you and will you be doing anything special?
C: As a straight-passing bisexual and femme-presenting woman, it’s critical for my queer identity to be made public- and with pride. Although I identify most strongly with the bisexual and pansexual communitites, I think it’s important to bring together all sides of the LGBTQ+ spectrum and celebrate each other.
With that in mind, I strive to create a queer ecosystem through my music by empowering and hiring LGBTQ+ creators to collaborate with whenever possible. For example, the graphic designers who created the cover art for my upcoming EP (@rocket9design) are a gay couple, the artist designing merch (@lilboyblueish) is trans, an artist designing limited edition Criibaby earrings to promote the record (@q.creationz) is non-binary, the CEO of the independent label I am signing with to release the EP (@clubqueenrecords) is lesbian, etc. I find that the mantra of queer artists supporting queer artists is so rewarding.
This Bi-Visibility Day, I’m celebrating by officially announcing the release date for my EP (October 11, don’t forget!) But on a more personal level, I’ll also be taking the day to reflect on how I can continue to use my voice to create more visibility for bisexuals and end bi-erasure.
MR: I know you run a BI-weekly Spotify playlist and take submissions from listeners. What is one of the best bands/artists you’ve discovered through that process?
C: I began curating and promoting my playlist of all-LGBTQ+ musicians because, like many aspects of how I view my identity and LGBTQ+ culture, I’m a strong believer that queerness doesn’t have any one look, sound, or genre. My BI-weekly playlist features rising stars like Pandaraps’ introspective lofi hip hop vibes to pop bangers from icons like King Princess– and everything in between.
One artist that submitted to my BI-weekly playlist via submithub and really caught my eye was Natalie London and her partner Taylor Plecity who go by the name Hey, King! Their lyric video for a tune called “Lucky” has all kinds of clips of the two of them as children with their families that must be from home videotapes- it’s a wonderful visual juxtaposition as the song builds and climaxes, and I’m really into aesthetics like that. They’ve just released their debut EP Be Still and I’m excited to give it a listen!
MR: The concept of The Third Space refers to a place outside of home and work that has also been a transformative space. Do you have any special places, whether it be a music venue or a particular room in your house, that helped shape who you are?
C: I’m not sure what I would do without my studio in San Francisco, a shared recording space that was built by my incredibly talented producer, engineer, and collaborator Big Soda. Nicknamed “Studio Q,” the room has been the sole location for tracking all my vocals across this EP and two upcoming projects, as well as collaborations with other Bay Area artists. It’s a wonderfully versatile space: Big Soda has recorded, mixed, and mastered everything from his own art-rock bossa nova folk songs to Casey Cope’s unique mix of neo-gospel inspired joints and more traditional boom-bap hip hop tracks.
It’s kinda weird to think how many hours I’ve spent there, and how much of my being I’ve poured out within its four walls. Learning to write and record at Studio Q was like starting a new notebook- once I’d gotten a couple pages deep and broken it in, the creativity began to flow. Most days, I’m able to open it up and pick up where I left off.
MR: I always end my interviews with a fun question, so do you believe in ghosts? If so, have you ever had an encounter with one?
C: The only experience I’ve ever had with a ghost is the one on the cover of Stranger in the Alps by Phoebe Bridgers. It’s kinda fitting though- I find her melodies and lyrics pretty otherworldly and her vocal performances totally haunting! As a fellow bisexual singer-songwriter, I really admire her, and although she’s only like a month older than me, I definitely look up to her.
She’s the kind of artist I simultaneously would be freaking honored to open for, and also the kind of person who I feel like would have hilarious stories to share over a casual beer. We need more badass bisexual women in this industry!
The full Love Songs For Everyone EP comes out on October 11th: National Coming Out Day. Connect with Criibaby on Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify.
Miranda Roberts is a recent graduate from the University of Kansas with a passion for writing, music obsession, and a serious crossword puzzle addiction.