Brooklyn Duo Bathe Meditate on Black Masculinity and Paranoia with “Sure Shot”

Colette Pomerleau / December 10, 2018

Photo credit: Danielle Caño-Garraway

Brooklyn-based Bathe is made up of singer-songwriter Devin Hobdy and guitarist-producer Corey Smith-West. The two state they’ve “never intended to become a duo”, yet here we are left with their latest single: “Sure Shot” is a beautiful ease between r&b and surfpop, a “meditation on black masculinity and paranoia directly inspired by the lives of their respective father figures”.

The duo will release their debut EP, I’ll Miss You in Spring 2019 and have left us with quite the memorable sneak peek of what else is to come. Listen below and read on for our quick chat with the two.

Who is the duo behind Bathe?
Devin Hobdy: Your new favorite odd couple.

Corey Smith-West: Two best friends and ex-roommates who live in Brooklyn. We’ve been making music together for about 5 years in various bands, collectives, and projects.

How did you two meet and realize the sound/atmosphere you wanted to create?
Devin: Unofficial meeting. I saw Corey on campus back when he had dreads and I thought he was too cool to talk to so I just looked at him then went to class. Then officially, I was tripping balls with some friends, and Corey came in and played this Jonah Baseball song, and I knew that it was gonna be alright, and that I wanted to make music that made people feel alright… with Corey.

Corey: Dev was the president of the black acapella group on campus, which was by far the best acapella group on campus, and they tapped me to live mix a few of their events. At the time I had just gotten into producing for other people so I approached Dev about making a few tracks together, and we preceded to dodge each other for months after that. I think the Jonah Baseball thing was when we finally got comfortable enough with each other to make music for real.

We try to synthesize the R&B, Soul and Alternative Hip Hop our parents and siblings put us onto as kids, with the Indie Rock and Psychedelic music we discovered on our own. Production-wise, we’re both a lot more into guitars and vocal harmonies than synths – so that informs our “sound” a lot. In a nutshell we are as into Deerhunter as we are D’Angelo.

In your statement about the single, “Sure Shot”, you explain this was created via studios across the country from one another. How did this work out?
Corey: We were invited by the homie Jane Shin to play a show in Downtown LA. We got paid in studio time rather than with…like money, so we made the most of it. But all in all after watching Solange’s documentary behind A Seat at the Table we were inspired to take a more open source approach to making the record than we originally planned. We recorded in a ton of different bedroom and professional studios with a ton of really dope musicians. We ended up editing down hours of sessions from a bunch of different places. In the end it really felt like a brotherhood of the traveling hard drives.

Devin: How did it work out? I think it worked out pretty well – what do you think?

What’s the narrative behind the song “Sure Shot”?
Devin: Sure Shot is a case study of the urban black male’s struggle with trauma and the resulting paranoia. Under the weight of his past, everything – including the environment – becomes a threat.

Corey: I guess we grew up watching our father figures shadowbox with their past trauma’s. The song was inspired by and is dedicated to them. Also what Dev said.

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