Have you ever walked down the street of a new city, freezing cold, and run into the first storefront you see—only for it to be the most perfect, cozy, tucked-in bar you were hoping for? Have you ever, amongst wild plants and moss and tall trees, sat next to a roaring campfire, for which someone else is chopping the wood? If either of these experiences elicit a feeling of warmth and comfort, or quiet safety, you may be able to understand how Babehoven’s latest record LIGHT MOVING TIME feels.
Babehoven is made up of singer-songwriter Maya Bon and producer (and friend-to-lover) Ryan Albert. The pair are on their way to Toronto with just six hours before their next show (opening for Skullcrusher). They answer my phone call while driving down a quiet Canadian highway, past small towns and giant oak trees, the sun shines softly through the pines in their wake—the kind of picturesque drive that fittingly works so well for their music.
By the band’s own admission, sensitive rock is an appropriate genre categorization for LIGHT MOVING TIME—“indie, lofi, sensitive rock with folky and increasingly country influences,” to be exact. They’ve got a body of work to back that up: they’ve been prolific over the last few years, with releases including a seven-track album, an EP, and their latest and greatest, LIGHT MOVING TIME, a 10-track record that shows their most self-actualized sound to date. When asked if they were tapped out for now, Bon only laughs and says “big emphatic YES.”
“The writing is me, Ryan produces and adds a lot of layering,” Bon says—“Orchestration” Albert calls out in the background. For Bon, “Writing is a really personal journey. It’s kind of more and more evident to me that it’s how I process my day to day life… and then Ryan and I come together and work on them from a recording stand point, and that’s how it’s been since 2019 when he joined the project. We flesh them out together.”
When it comes to new music, there’s never a shortage. “We’re in the process of parsing through 30 new songs to try and narrow it down a bit.” Bon laughs, self-deprecatingly. I picture her rolling her eyes over to Albert, amused at the amount of work they’ve given themselves in their well-meaning musical pursuits. They’re excited to start writing “hooks,” as they say. “I don’t usually write choruses into my songs,” says Bon abashedly, “so we’re going to start trying choruses.” It’s then that I realized why “folk” is such a common descriptor for the pair despite their obvious indie rock veneer. There’s a stream-of-consciousness present in Bon’s songs, and Albert plays to that in pitch-perfect harmony. The structure of Babehoven’s songs, both lyrically and musically, drifts far from pop or indie rock simplicity. In fact, that structure is not linear at all. Rather, there’s a circular, repetitive nature to each track. Like an obsessive thought loop, or an addictive daydream. As the idea spins round and round, the energy grows and culminates until it becomes physical. You can sense a decision made, or feel an idea come to life.
Bon is quick to downplay any grandiose motives in her lyrics. For her, “It’s just life… I experience life, and then write it down, revisit it later and then think about putting it out there.” She owns up to the circularity of her songwriting. Almost as a basis of cause, she tells me her favorite Big Thief song is “Sparrow.” What else can we expect? “For people who don’t love repetition, that song must be grating. But to me, that song was on repeat for days and days and days and days. That’s exactly what I’m looking for in a song.”
“But anyway,” she quickly amends, “We’re in the process of figuring out what this next album is going to be. We got an old school church organ from the ‘70s, from a yard sale, so this next album will have some more of that, likely!”
When asked how tour is going (“Good, bad, boring or ugly?”), the response was a good-natured, “All of the above.” Without a backing band for the first time, Babehoven have been on the road as a duo traversing across North America. “We’re a couple, so it’s really nice to spend time together. It’s basically being on a road trip with your best friend and lover. But also, we’re really tired. We just had a weird 24 hours…” She hesitates, then just laughs, as Albert’s warm tenor fills the phone. “There wouldn’t be a tour,” he says, “without awkwardness and uncomfortable nights. We just had that, and that’s ok. We’re on to the next city.” Bon then mentions some brutal cramps she’s been experiencing on the road, her body’s response to the exhaustion of constant traveling. I can’t help but sympathize—it’s not something I would have thought of, but being on tour while also on your period must truly fucking suck. We both sigh. “We’re just tired,” she confirms. After a moment’s consideration, she continues.
“In terms of the actual tour experience, it’s been wonderful. But it’s hard to be a duo when we’re used to this epic full band. We’ve only just started to really dig our teeth into it. We’re grieving our other bandmates who aren’t able to be here with us, and missing that additional sonic component.” And the conversation lifts from there.
Bon praises her tour mates, warmly filling the time by speaking to her admiration of Skullcrusher’s music and performances. “It’s also just fun to be with them. We all hang out after the shows, after watching each other. That’s been really sweet.” I can hear her speaking to Albert, sharing a laugh over the crowds they’re playing to. “The crowds have been absolutely amazing,” she says, describing them as “quiet”—a sense of mutual respect from audience to performer and back
When I ask about their music industry goal post, there is a long pause. I can’t immediately tell if it was the wrong question to ask or one that they don’t have an answer to, but sure enough Bon responds: “Honestly… I try to not think about it that way. Truthfully, I am so grateful to be where we are at now, and never expected it to be at this level. And it may be small, but it’s doing good for us. We are making some money, we are able to tour, people do know us, we meet really interesting people on the way. We love our community, people really show up for each other. Lately, every show we play, we meet new people where we know we’ll keep seeing them, new people we like and learn from. And we get to travel, and we get to play with people that we love.”
Bon’s cheery laugh fills the phone again. “If I die right now,” she says, “I’ll be at peace. I’m not thirsting for anything else.” As any independent music fan likely understands, touring is not easy, and promoting records is a full-time job. “Obviously it would be nice if we didn’t have to worry about jobs on the side, or struggling on the road, “she laments. “But I have faith that what we want will come to us. If we keep going. I really believe in us, in my songwriting, in Ryan’s epic skill set.”
“I want to do it at this current level. I’m super thrilled to be here, to be ‘us’ right now.”
I ask if they can describe the time of their life when the album was written and recorded.
“We record out of our bedroom. It’s beautiful and snowy and cold out. Our room is cozy and warm and delighting and cute. We hunker down, and Ryan spends a disgusting amount of time editing and adding and looking at his screen, trying things… and then I say ‘no,’ and he deletes them or pushes back… most times I’ll write the song and then leave it in Ryan’s lap, which is a testament to his skills… The cool part about this collaborative experience is that Ryan really appreciates someone to say yes or no to him—and I really appreciate someone with enough ideas where I can say yes or no, and funnel through all of the options together. But making an album, for us, is just cold, cozy—go for a hike in the snow, come home and record.”
Moving through life as light moves through time, Babehoven captures emotion in their music with gentle intimacy, despite the often cruel or confusing things life holds. For Bon and Albert, it seems, cold is only a reason to create more warmth. They can’t help but offer more of it.
“We’re going to record the next album soon,” they promise. “We always record in the winter.”