Interview Podcast with Baby J. (Stoned At Heart, Can Of Beans): Interview by Todd Taylor, Simon Sotelo, and Bianca
It was 2000—somewhere around there. San Pedro was on fire musically. There were uncountable numbers of shows on 4th Street. They weren’t venues. Punk houses. Sometimes the houses were the pre- and post- parties. Sometimes they were the whole shebang. I remember children being there. I remember a neighborhood kid with a knife, cackling, on a trampoline. I remember this girl—fourteen or fifteen—and she lived in the back of one of the houses. She played acoustic guitar, and it wasn’t like, “How darling, a little girl’s playing; I wonder if she travels by canoe and draws raccoons.” Fuck that safe, patronizing, quirky bullshit. She was really good. Fearless. Funny. She made the folks on the porch stomp and dance and shake their heads. Loss and celebrations were in the same wrapper. Talent’s not something bestowed only on certain ages.
She was at ease amongst the freaks and weirdos and dirthead artists and wastoids and the punk underground that rivuleted and squirmed down that street. Encouragement from a diverse set of outcast peers is like spores. It’s uncomfortable to give and receive compliments. Still, the fungus spreads. It’s just hard to see in real time, almost invisible.
Several years passed. Ebbs and flows. The girl disappeared. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was hard drugs and a broken window that made her scarce.
More years. I saw her in a Pedro backyard, playing. Can Of Beans. Acoustic punk with backup. Small pills of overwhelming sadness, but the type of sadness that has sunshine when it dissolves into a form of unexpected medicine. Baby J sang songs of heartbreak. We talked a bit as the yard filled with BBQ smoke. She surprised me when I asked what she’d been up to. She’d joined the Air Force reserves and was working on a collaboration with Todd Congelliere, Jimmy Felix, and Chachi Ferrara (three quarters of a then-on-hiatus Toys That Kill) called Stoned At Heart.
More years passed.
Now, in 2015, she’s twenty-eight, with a deep catalog. I knew her rough sketch, the bullet points. It was high time to catch up and have a long talk. -Todd Taylor
Interview by Todd Taylor, Simon Sotelo, and Bianca Barragan
Photos by Shanty Cheryl
Songs: Stoned At Heart “9th Fret” and “I’m Not Using My Brain / Desperate” off of Party Tracks Vol. 1 (Recess / It’s Alive)
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