BbyMutha released her second official LP sleep paralysis last Friday 19th April via True Panther Records. The album takes inspiration from a post-lockdown tour in the UK, influenced by the sounds of 90s garage and UK dance music. Following a low period in her personal life, sleep paralysis marks BbyMutha’s reconnecting to music away from the corporate side and playing with all the fun that made us fall in love with her sound in the first place.
Those UK inspirations come together on standout track lines, a true testament to her inimitable energy and distinctive attitude. Challenging and blending genre boundaries, the track is a unique blend of punk, electronic samples, and rap, making for a true thrill-ride of a song. The album’s title, sleep paralysis, is a literal invocation of the syndrome which BbyMutha experienced since childhood. On the album she wields the syndrome as a tool to dive back into those memories and nostalgia, taking inspiration from classics like Sailor Moon and other Toonami classics, as well as 90s video-game legend Tony Hawk, horror movie tropes and classics. This LP feels lively and fun alongside her lyrical storytelling; from deep modulated samples on gun kontrol, to the vivid images on mutha massacre, the album has all the hallmarks of the sound and energy that BbyMutha fans love her for.
BbyMutha has stood out for her colourful lyricism and genre-bending attitude since her SoundCloud days in 2017. From collaborations with Rico Nasty on track Lately, to working with Zelooperz, Baby Tate, Na-Kel, Kelela, and Fly Anakin on her critically-acclaimed debut album Muthaland in 2020, her sound, energy and attitude has become known far and wide. With BbyMutha’s 25-date tour underway following the release of sleep paralysis, we has the opportunity to speak to her about the release of the LP and going back on tour, the reality of signing to a label, and eclectic music and fashion inspiration.
You took a break from the Internet and social media recently to focus on music again, how are you feeling now?
How am I feeling now? Yeah, I'm feeling much better. I feel like I have a better grip on what my reality is versus what social media’s reality is. I know who I am. I don't have to wait on other people to tell me who I am. And for a minute I fell into letting other people tell me who I am. So now I don't do that anymore and I just delete, you know.
Have you been able to hear all the love from your fans for the new music at least?
Yeah. Of course, of course. My phone’s gonna die, it’s hectic. We're on tour right now.
A good reception so far, all went well?
Yes, yes. Last night was crazy. Last night’s show was really, really great.
With tour starting, how are you feeling about being back on the road?
Yeah that was the first day, so yesterday I was very nervous. I'm very anxious, you know, all of those vibes. I was freaking out for no reason - I was nervous for no reason. ‘Cause like once I got on stage it just feels familiar all over again. 
Are there any cities or venues you're especially looking forward to visiting? What audience has brought the best vibe so far?
Well, New York is always like; they always turn up so hard. So, I'm looking forward to seeing them, what tomorrow? Yeah, tomorrow. And then I'm actually looking forward to Minneapolis. I don't know, I like Minneapolis. I'm excited for that. I'm excited for that one because the girl that's opening up for me, her name is Riotgrrrldarko, and I'm really excited for that. But yeah, New York, San Francisco. I love playing in San Francisco. New York, San Francisco and Minneapolis. Those ones I'm looking forward to.
On your latest single release lines, the different genres and sounds on the track is a great blend, from punk to electronic to rap. How do you approach mixing these different styles together, is there a process or something that comes first, is built upon, or does the sounds blend in your head from the start?
Well, when I made that song, I went in the studio and I told the people that I was working with, that I wanted to try to do something like that. I originally wanted to try to scream a little bit, but I didn't know the people like that, so I didn't really feel comfortable letting loose like that. So that's just kind of like the subdued version of what I was comfortable doing versus what I wanted to do because I really wanted to scream but I couldn't do it in front of them, I didn’t know them like that, so yeah.
Does that mean now that you're more familiar, we can expect a little bit more of that screaming in the next one?
Yes, yes, of course.
Looking forward to hearing that! Speaking of your LP sleep paralysis, that is out Friday. How have things changed since signing with True Panther Records?
They haven’t.
They haven't? Everything's still the same, still you - the best of you?
Yeah. I just feel like maybe I expected more or something. I'm not sure like it's not necessarily bad, it’s just I expected a little something different maybe. Honestly, you know, I'm very anti labels and shit like this, so I just wanted to see if it could help, and I appreciate what they have done. But I also just feel like I didn't get what I thought I was gonna get out of this situation. I'm just happy to be back making music. Fuck a label, and fuck all that shit, I'm just here to make the music and be with my fans. Like that's what it's really about. I just be wanting to give them the best experience that I can give them. So going into this I'm thinking like OK if I have a budget I have more to offer them. But I also feel like a lot of the things that I got done as far as like the music videos and everything I could have done that shit on my own without a label. It wasn't a big up jump. I didn't get like a big production for music videos or set design or anything like that. I had to throw everything together myself. So, what was the point?
The title, sleep paralysis, you’ve said is also a reference to your own experience with the condition. Bringing up those memories to create this album and working through that, has it been a cathartic process for you?
It has been, this whole album was like a healing experience anyway, because I was trying to get away from some shit that I was dealing with at home, like I lost my house, I lost my business, I lost a lot of things. So, it was just an opportunity to just kind of play, you know what I'm saying? Like, everything was so serious and so hectic. Like mind you, this is like during the pandemic and shit too, so everything was just so serious and hectic and boring. This is my opportunity to kind of just go outside and play and just tap back into the fun parts of this music shit. You know what I'm saying? Like, music started getting too corporate for a minute. That's why I was like, I quit. It just felt like too much of a job, and it was never supposed to be all of that you know. It's definitely cathartic.
How have you found that? Are there any ways you went about reconnecting to music in that way? Obviously there was the break from social media. Is there anything else that you've done, or was it a case of just dive straight back in and the love was there again?
Well, you see the thing is like I've been doing it this whole time. Even after when I took the break from social media, I was still posting music plenty of, like, EP's and stuff on Bandcamp, so I never stopped doing it or whatever. The reason why it started being so heavy on me is because of like all of the comparisons and stuff. You know what I'm saying? Like just having to compare myself to so many other artists and it didn't used to be like that for me. And that's another reason why I took myself back because like I said, you're not supposed to be subjected to so many opinions about yourself every day. So now I feel like I'm more free. With how I move and how I can navigate this thing because I have to kind of like block out what people are saying good or bad. Like it shouldn't matter whether it's received well, it's a matter how I receive it. If I fuck with it, it's to go up. If not, if I don't like it then nothing else matters, you know.
Yeah, exactly.
Like, no matter who loves it, if I don't like it, I feel like that's the definition of selling out. If you just putting out shit just to put it out there, you don't even love it yourself, I can't stand behind something that I wouldn't listen to myself, you know.
Coming on to that point of what you would listen to yourself, the inspirations on this LP, how would you describe them, what or who inspired you?
Well, going out into like the clubs in London, whenever I'm on tour, it would be like this type of music being played. And then also video games from when I was younger like Sonic the Hedgehog and like SSX Tricky and stuff. It's crazy because I just realised, I was listening to like the LP and I realised there is a lot of stuff that was taken out was the final thing. But it was like a lot of like Duke Nukem samples, there was a lot of stuff sprinkled in that was supposed to kind of like, tie that shit back to, like, what the point I was making but they took ‘em out for some reason.
On the next one, then might see more of that?
Maybe. Yeah, maybe it's like we could have got sued or something. Maybe that's why they took it out. But I didn't even realise that it was taken out until like the other day. So, I'm a little hurt by that.
That brings me on to the album cover, actually, and obviously the Sailor Moon inspiration there. Could you talk a little bit about that, and any other favourite animes?
I mean, I grew up with Sailor Moon, Bleach, and Dragon Ball. Those are the animes that my dad used to watch. So, I grew up on those animes because my dad used to watch them and they used to come on Toonami. So yeah, I would be up late watching Toonami, that’s where I got my like Sailor Moon thing from. Also, Sailor Moon is just, of course, I feel like any girl who watched Sailor Moon is gonna grow up and be inspired by them. Like, how can you not be inspired by Sailor Moon? That song - the best shit ever. Like what magical girls? Hell yeah. But yeah, like with the album cover. It was again, just another call back to my childhood. You know, with the whole set up to match the matching baby picture and stuff.
Both performing and in your music videos, you have such a distinct sense of style that I absolutely love, who do you consider to be your fashion icons or inspirations?
OK, so Erykah Badu. Jimi Hendrix. I'm a big fan of Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. I am also a big fan of Mugler and Jean Paul Gaultier. And then the purple Teletubbies - the purple and the green Teletubbies. I don't know, there’s something about them.
No definitely! Dressing like Polly Pocket and Bratz Dolls has come back too, nostalgia is in.
Even recently I’ve found, it’s crazy but, my kids like Five Nights at Freddy's, and so they've been putting me on to like all these different iterations of the animatronics, so like Rockstar Freddy and stuff like that and that's some of the best character design ever. So, I'm like, I wanna dress like that! You know what I'm saying? There's like, a little Five Nights at Freddy’s character, her name is Ballora, she's a ballerina, and she has, like, all these little mini ballerinas that hang off her and I'm like that is so cute! I want to make an outfit that is referencing this animatronic ballerina. I find fashion inspiration in real weird places. But Badu and Jimmy like, yeah, those are two of my biggest fashion icons.
It's definitely something that's coming back, though that nostalgia. There’s a TikTok trend of this filter for your photos that turns them into the PS2 style and then people were talking about these ways of personalising your character in a way. It's really fun.
Yeah! Customising your avatar basically, yeah. I like that. I like that as a concept.
You’ve said the album was also inspired by the post-lockdown UK tour you did, which is where the UK dance and garage influences come from. Do you have any highlights or horror stories from that tour you can share with us?
Man! So, I was travelling from Paris to London. I had a show in Paris, and I had to come back to London on the train and the bitch at the border was being such a bitch! Like she asked me why I was coming to London, and I told her that I was coming to work on music. And she was like, I don't understand what that means. And I was like, I'm a musician and I'm coming here to work to make music. And she was like, you're gonna have to explain more like. But she asked what kind of music I made, and I told her I made rap music, and from there she just kind of started not trying to help me much. And so, I'm like, freaking out like I'm panicking because she's talking about she’s not gonna let me through. She was like, you're not coming into my country with that. And she was just being so rude about it. I thought I was gonna get detained at the border. I don't want to be stuck in Paris, for sure, I like Paris, but I don't wanna stay there. Like, what the fuck? That bitch was being so rude, and she kept trying to say that I was like yelling at her and I wasn't yelling. I talked loud, but at the same time, bitch you’re putting me in a stressful situation so I'm not gonna be nice about it. It was so weird. They had to call my manager and like, it was just so freaking weird. Like they made it sound like I was lying. Over London, like London's not that fab, like sorry.
But I got through. Fuck that lady. I don’t know if she was trying to traumatise me, but it was like she was trying to make an example out of me or something. It was so weird. Yeah, but that was the worst thing that happened. Otherwise, I had a great time. You can walk around, and people are just getting with it in the street, like with the nitrous cans and shit, yeah, London is fun. I like Europe.
Have you got any favourite places in London?
My favourite place in London is Peckham. I love South London. Yeah, it reminds me of New York so much like I really just love it.
Your collaborations have always been great, with Baby Tate, Rico Nasty, and Fly Anakin. How do you approach collaborations?
I like for them to happen organically. I don't think the Baby Tate collab happened organically, but I like her so much that it doesn't feel like work when I work with her. She's so cool, it doesn't feel like she's trying to use me or get over on me. I liked collaborating with Tate. Rico was a one off that just kind of happened. She just DM’d me and we ended up doing this song together. But that probably will never happen again just because, I don't know, I prefer to work with my friends, you know? Like I prefer to work with people that I can call the next day. I prefer to keep relationships in my music, so it makes more sense, sometimes I see a lot of people make songs together and it don't make sense. You just made a song with this person because somebody told y'all too. What's that song that fucking song? Peaches & Eggplants remix with Latto and Sexyy Red. That shit made no goddamn sense, and it seemed like they just made it to hurry up and do it, like hurry up and get this shit done so we can put it out. Even the video don't make sense. I hate shit like that. I hate it. It just be giving cash grab. If I don't fuck with you, we probably won't make music together. If I don't know you like that, it's a chance we probably won't make music, unless I actually just really, genuinely like the song or I respect you as an artist like Kelela, I did a song with Kelela recently because I just respect her. I'm not really close with Kelela or anything, but I respect her so much, I would do a million songs with Kelela, you know.
Are there any artists that would be a dream collab for you?
Yeah, she was one of your early fans, I'm sure!
Yeah. Björk and Young Thug. Maybe Megan Thee Stallion too though I would do a song with Megan Thee Stallion, for sure. And Sexyy Red! I would work with Megan Thee Stallion, Sexyy Red, and Young Thug and Björk. That’s my big four!
And is there anything else that you can tell us about the LP that is out tomorrow or further down the line?
The LP that comes out, the album that comes out tomorrow, it's great. I hope everybody loves it as much as I do. I hope everybody is ready to have fun and dance and shed some skin and let go of the past and just vibe out. That's it.