BIOGRAPHY


For the first time in 21 years, Babybird will be releasing a vinyl LP.
'Photosynthesis' is out on 19 July 2019. A UK tour will follow in November, with tickets on sale now.
 
It's dark and beautiful.
It's strange and melodic.
It's not what you expected.
 
Arriving just months after the critically acclaimed 'Happy Stupid Nothing' compilation, 'Photosynthesis' is something very different. Although many people weren't aware he was even still making music, throughout this decade Stephen Jones has been quietly building himself a reputation as one of the music world's most prolific artists. Here are ten tracks, all self-recorded in recent years.

The million-selling songwriter and cult hero Stephen Jones spent the first half of this decade reconnecting with his DIY roots, exploring new styles and approaches with various other projects, producing some intriguing albums, all self-recorded and self-released. Independence has allowed him to dig deeper creatively, taking more risks without having to worry about commercial expectations. These projects have breathed new life into Babybird, which was reborn once again in 2015 as a completely self-sufficient musical enterprise.

"One of our most subversive pop artists" - The Sunday Times

Along with the gold discs, millions of sales, a string of Top 40 hits, Brit Award nominations, critical acclaim, and a dedicated cult following, Babybird has also survived the curse and repercussions of a smash hit single, cringe-inducing endorsements from members of the royal family, issues with record labels, huge changes in the music industry, and even a heart attack. But Jones remains dedicated to his cause, and has recently been making some of the best music of his career, over 20 years after his commercial peak. Meanwhile, people are still listening to albums such as 'Ugly Beautiful' and the fan favourite 'There's Something Going On' decades later. Long-considered to be one of the most gifted and underrated songwriters in British music, his remarkable talents are underlined by this new collection of songs.

"A surreal, off-kilter wit and an endless supply of hooks" - Entertainment Weekly

The Babybird story begins in the late 1980s when Stephen Jones begins writing music for a Nottingham-based experimental theatre company. By 1994, he had written over 400 songs and landed himself a publishing deal, but was unable to get a recording contract. With great faith in his work, he used his own money to finance the release of some "lo-fi" albums under the name Baby Bird. Featuring his homemade demo tracks, the releases were met with critical acclaim and found their way into the UK indie charts. With guitar groups booming in the mid 90s, Jones got in on the action by forming his own band. So Baby Bird became Babybird, and built themselves a following, soon scoring a record deal.

"Graciously elevates above the merely ordinary"
 - Pitchfork

The first "proper" Babybird LP 'Ugly Beautiful' contained full-band versions of songs Jones had previously recorded as demos on the self-released albums. It went Gold and spawned four Top 40 hits, one of them being the omnipresent mega-smash 'You're Gorgeous', which went to number 3, staying in the charts for 19 weeks. The casual pop consumers were probably taken aback when they heard the rest of 'Ugly Beautiful', where the big hit was placed alongside frightening songs about death and religion, dark lo-fi moments, as well as some more melodic tracks. There was also the cacophonous, insane 'King Bing', Jones's nine minute "no thanks" to the music industry and pop stardom. Those who were paying attention soon learned that there was a lot more to Babybird. A few years later in 1998, they re-emerged with the darker 'There's Something Going On', an extraordinary record that delivered another three UK chart entries, including the startling 'Bad Old Man', 'If You'll Be Mine' and the wonderful 'Back Together'. The album was received well by critics and entered the UK Top 40. The follow-up 'Bugged' featured another Top 40 single, 'The F Word', which went on to be used as the theme tune to Gordon Ramsey's TV series of the same name. Babybird split in 2000 after departing from their record label, with Stephen Jones turning to making  sinister hip hop with Death Of The Neighbourhood, and crafting his own solo record 'Almost Cured Of Sadness' in 2003. However, a few years later in 2006, Babybird returned with the 2006 album 'Between My Ears There's Nothing But Music'.

"One of the most criminally underrated bands in the UK" - MusicOMH

Not every band has Hollywood superstars desperate to play with them, but movie legend Johnny Depp got his wish granted when he contributed guitar to 'Unloveable', a single taken from the 2010 album 'Ex Maniac'. Depp also directed the music video for the song, and appeared again on the 2011 LP 'The Pleasures Of Self Destruction'. Babybird was put to rest again shortly afterwards, with Jones keen to rediscover the essence of his early work with new projects. Recorded at home, the largely instrumental albums he released as Black Reindeer saw a departure into more spacious, atmospheric mood pieces. He also spent some time providing soundtracks to various films and TV shows, as well as self-releasing a massive amount of work under different aliases via his Bandcamp page. With no label, Jones now had complete creative freedom, and was able to explore ideas deeper. He released some weird dance music as Trucker, as well as more of those cinematic Black Reindeer albums, and some efforts under his own name, including the mesmerising 2014 album 'Ambition Expired'.

"So satisfying, a perfect match of style and content"
 - NME

Babybird was revived in 2015, initially to release some old unearthed demos and a "final" album. But then came more material, occasionally absorbing aspects of his other projects like Trucker, Black Reindeer, Arthritis Kid, and Deluder, but combining it with a rediscovered Babybird essence. Albums arrived in quick succession: there was 'Back To The Womb', 2016's 'Life After Death' and 'A Bad Joke'. 'The Wrong Words', 'I Miss Myself' parts 1 and 2, and double album 'People Do Stupid Things', were all released in 2017. Then came the news that Stephen Jones had suffered a heart attack. With his health in mind, fans expected him to at least slow down with his seemingly non-stop recording sessions. Instead, Jones was already planning his next project, and soon resumed work on 'The King Of Nothing', which was released as three albums. While still bringing out stuff under other pseudonyms, 2018 delivered more LPs: 'Selfies Inside The Coffin', 'You And Me Is Wrong', and the strange Halloween concept record 'Pretending To Be Dead'. This year has already produced double album 'Happyface/Sadface', 'Black Ghost', 'NOTPOP/Toothpaste For The Soul' and 'Cigarette Candle'.

"Strong and tuneful" - Louder Than War

Released earlier this year, the acclaimed 'Happy Stupid Nothing' compilation collected together some of the best Babybird recordings from the last few years. It gained praise from BBC Radio 6Music, Virgin Radio and many other radio stations worldwide. Uncut hailed it as "surreal, heartfelt" and dramatically poignant", while Classic Pop Magazine welcomed its range of "eccentric curios and anthems in the making". Elsewhere, it received 10/10 reviews from music sites such as God Is In The TV, and The Grey Lantern, who rated the album "as hungry, unique and intelligent as anything Babybird has done previously. Releasing a masterpiece 25 years in is such a Stephen Jones move...". But while there was plenty on that collection to please the indie rock fans who gravitated towards Babybird in the 90s, Stephen Jones has never really been an indie rock musician. 'Photosynthesis' is definitely not an indie rock album.
 
While 'Happy Stupid Nothing' offered up a sprawling mixed bag, 'Photosynthesis' is a fluid yet more focused record. It's a more cohesive collection of songs, yet it draws on an advanced range of sounds. Spellbinding melancholy flows through the blue moods and blissful musical flourishes of the single 'No Cameras', which comes with a suitably tranquil music video. Chords and beats fall on the surface like rain. Earworm hooks emerge from scruffy lo-fi blues. Love, death, religion are linked upto big crashing drums. Cosmic colours explode into mesmerising musical rainbows. Shadowy bass gathers around dusty loops as Jones invades trip hop territory and makes it his own. Euphoric, otherworldly sounds elevate and serve up bedazzling revelations. Smooth, resonantly introspective tones mix with smoky funk and soul flavours, ringing out ominously into the night. Celestial electronics buzz around transcendental soundscapes, creating a rapturous, serene beauty. Mellifluous notes and understated elegance drift through the darkness, taking the listener on an alluring journey.
 
'Photosynthesis' will be available as a limited edition gatefold vinyl LP, and will be released on the RW/FF Recordings label.  Get it HERE.
  
In addition to the release of the LP, there will also be a number of other Babybird releases over the coming months, including the new 'Cigarette Candle' album. Find it HERE. 'BB​/​AA​/​LOFI Future Taste' is a sampler containing several brand new songs, which can be downloaded FREE at https://thestephenjones.bandcamp.com/album/bb-aa-lofi-future-taster