“The best revenge is to just go out and smash it,” grins Caity Baser. She’s sat backstage with whynow at Standon Calling, trying hard not to get too distracted by some questionable karaoke that’s taking place on the Main Stage.
Last summer, Baser only performed at one festival – the iconic Reading & Leeds bank holiday bash. Before she took to the BBC Introducing Stage, she was worried no one would come and watch her set, especially because she was an up-and-coming artist, on at the same time as indie champions Circa Waves and forward-facing dance icon Nia Archives. She easily pulled a crowd of several thousand, though. “I’m not going to lie, I shut it down,” she smiles today. “It was amazing, and now I get to do that every weekend this year.”
Caity Baser makes euphoric, joyful pop music delivered with a constant tongue-in-cheek smirk that feels ready-made for huge stages. She takes inspiration from Queen’s Freddy Mercury, Elton John, The Streets, Lily Allen, and Kate Nash. She sits alongside a new wave of poppy drum & bass artists, including Venbee, that regularly crash the charts with their vulnerable, rave-inducing bangers. “I just love it all,” says Baser.
Despite being unable to perform live for the first chunk of her career due to Covid-enforced lockdowns, the gig’s energy has quickly become Baser’s favourite thing in the world. “I can’t explain it, but there’s simply no other feeling like it. I don’t stress about it. I don’t get nervous. There are all these people that you don’t know, but it feels like you know them. Every show is like a reunion or a live group chat. I adore it.”
If her sets at Standon Calling and Reading are anything to go by, Caity Baser’s audience is having just as much fun as she is. “It’s because when I used to go to gigs, I used to feel a proper disconnect with the people on stage,” says Baser, who was very aware she was watching a performance back then. “I know that people are obviously watching me on stage but I want it to still feel like we’re all here together. It’s our show. I want my gigs to feel like a warehouse party, that I just got up and started singing at.” There are a few niggling worries about maintaining that communal spirit as she takes on bigger and bigger stages, but “I’ll just have to make it work,” she promises.
It’s that determination that’s carried Baser this far. “I feel like people are on this journey with me. The fans and I, we’re aligned.”
Baser is a confident, charismatic performer; while her songs are elastic, they’re driven by her personality. Still, she’s the first to admit that she never had a plan. “I always knew I was going to make music,” but beyond that, she didn’t know how to make it happen. At first, she started making the same “cheeky British pop” that she’s celebrated for today but growing up surrounded by Southampton’s punk, techno and garage scenes, it wasn’t long before she strayed off course. “I was trying to do what everyone else was doing,” she admits.
A grungy rock phase turned into a drum & bass phase, with neither taking off, making her miserable. “I was easily influenced back then, and I was trying to be something I’m not.” After a string of disappointments, she returned to pop and hasn’t looked back since. “I’m happy I stuck to my shit because what I enjoy best is being cheeky over a joyful beat.”
Her breakout moment came when she uploaded ‘Average Student’ to TikTok in 2020. Written in her bedroom, the track sees her question her career, her spending habits and how hopeless everything can feel. It quickly blew up, and Baser’s current manager reached out. “I answered the phone saying ‘who are you and what do you want’,” grins Baser. Despite the blunt introduction, she was invited up to London to record the track in a proper studio. She returned the following week for more of the same, and she’s not stopped since. “It felt like a dream.”
@caitybaser THIS IS SO EXCITING! Thanku so much for ur love I LOVE U GUYS XX music soon 💖💖 #fyp #singer #original #foryou ♬ Average Student – Caity Baser
A string of singles followed, with Baser taking on self-belief (‘Haters’), misogyny (‘Slut Shaming’) and break-ups (‘STD’) via giddy pop. Her Debut EP, Lil CB, came in 2021, but her follow-up record, Thanks For Nothing, See You Later, properly established Baser as a star.
“I had a group of great songs but no reason to put them together. Then I went through a thing with a boy, and rather than cry about it, I poured all that emotion into that record,” she explains, with the EP a cocksure kiss off. Many tracks on the record come from a place of anger, but Baser channels that fury into something more useful. “Anger is such a negative emotion and it gets you nowhere,” says Baser. “I’d rather create something positive that people can dance to.”
She uses songwriting as a release. “It’s like therapy. If I’m happy, upset or having an argument, I find it hard to express myself. I can put it all into a song, though.” As well as the snarling ‘X&Y’ and the swagger of ‘2020s’, the EP featured the radio smash ‘Pretty Boys’, which is still blowing up six months later. “It’s just a banger,” says Baser. “It’s a fun song.”
When she was making it in the studio, she knew it’d be a hit. “I’ve got a sixth sense. Any song that has done really well for me, I’ve always known it would happen. It just gives me the shivers.” She says the track was created in ten minutes, inspired by real-life events.
“The trick is not to overthink things. There are so many ways you can overcomplicate things nowadays but if you listen to the most amazing songs in the world, they’re all so simple. Just have fun with it,” she continues. “Whenever I make a song, I just think about what I would say to my friends.”
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When she first started out, Caity Baser questioned if she belonged in the music industry and held back with her lyrics. “It’s been a case of finding my feet and becoming confident enough to say exactly what I want.” Despite her rapidly growing platform, she has no worries about being super honest with her music. “Something happens and I just want to tell everyone about it. I can’t keep my mouth shut,” she grins.
She believes that directness is why her music is racking up millions of streams and making her such a festival draw. “It seems that everyone sees me as their best friend, which I’m here for. Whenever I meet people at gigs, we get straight to catching up. It’s cute to be a complete open book because there’s so many artists nowadays who just aren’t.”
At the start of the summer, Baser released ‘Leave Me Alone’, an ode to telling that annoying ex to fuck off, and today she’s dropped ‘Why Can’t I Have Two (2468)’ and b-side ‘DILF’. The former is about liking two people at once and wanting them both while picking apart the double standards women are typically presented with. The latter was written about her mate’s hot dad.
“They feel like a step up,” says Baser, her sixth sense telling her she’s onto another hit. ”There is a lot of new music to come and I am so excited for it.” She describes the new music as an “elevated version” of what’s come before. “It’s just more of everything.”
“I know what my sound is, but I don’t want to stay in the same place. The new music is more ambitious,” she continues, with one eye on creating a debut album. “I’m starting to think about it,” says Baser. “I’ve got a few songs in the bag, but I want a big, fat album with 20 great tracks. I don’t know when, what, how or why but I want it to have that big sister energy,” she continues, wanting to champion “inclusivity, confidence and empowerment.”
“I want people to feel happiness when they listen to my music. I want to help them get through things,” she says, hoping her songs inspire “only good feelings”.
Baser believes she’s been able to turn a viral TikTok moment into a proper career because of a lot of hard work. “It’s so easy to let something like 2million views go to your head, but there’s so many people in the world doing the exact same thing. I’m determined to make the most of this opportunity so, I’m just going to work until I’m there,” she says. “I want to take this everywhere. Shoot for the stars, or you might as well stay home, that’s what I say.”