Caity Baser talks BRIT Awards, growing up, and her debut mixtape 'Still Learning'

Interview Caity Baser: Life Lessons

Putting sassiness and self-worth firmly back on the pop menu, Caity Baser might still be a student in the school of life, but on new mixtape ‘Still Learning’, she’s thriving.

Caity Baser doesn’t like to do things by halves. Take the fact that she recently returned from an extended trip to Los Angeles and, despite her lack of sleep, then proceeded to move into her brand new flat in London and release storming new single ‘I’m A Problem’ within the space of a few hours.

Even today, as she sits down in the bar of a central London hotel, Caity’s in the midst of another hectic 24 hours. Fresh from attending a London Fashion Week show in the morning, she’s got plans to sit down with her label - an imprint of major label EMI - later today, before heading for another LFW peek this evening. “I’ve always been like this,” she grins. “I live at a million miles an hour. Even if I have time to stop and think, I don’t. I’m just like, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!’

It’s this infectious lust for life that’s helped the 21-year-old to stand out so brightly from the crowd so far. After first breaking through on TikTok with her reflective track ‘Average Student’, which racked up over a million views back in August 2020, the star has barely looked back. Since sharing her debut mixtape ‘Lil CB’ back in 2021, she’s gone on to sign her record deal, feature on tracks by Sigala and Joel Corry, and release last year’s cheeky, whipsmart EP ‘Thanks For Nothing, See You Never’, alongside a packed year of festival slots and headline shows.

Has she even really had a chance to take it all in yet? “I think at New Year’s,” she nods. “You know when you have a sit down reflection, when you’re getting ready to go out? I was just thinking about everything and I was like, ‘Fuck!’,” she half-yells. “I’ve really done a lot! Festival season was mental, I did my first ever tour, I got nominated for a BRIT! Just mental.”

Drawing comparison to the likes of Lily Allen and Kate Nash, Caity’s frank, observational lyricism and knack for sassy put-downs (recent track ‘I Love Making Bad Boys Cry’ packs the zinger: “You're so fucking dumb for thinking I'm the one / Last night was just some fun”) has won her legions of fans - and gotten her into trouble all at the same time. But despite some of her tracks ruffling a few feathers with exes early on, she’s now firmly in her IDGAF era. “I make silly songs, and then people are like, ‘What the fuck?!’” she giggles, before fluttering her eyelashes innocently. "I’m just speaking about what happened! Sorr-eeee!

“I’m at this point in my life right now…” she continues, pondering. “I don’t know if it’s my age or anything, but I just really don’t care. If things go wrong - relationships, for example - I genuinely am like, ‘If it’s meant to happen, it’s gonna happen in that way and I don’t care’.” It’s a sentiment that’s embodied best in that aforementioned new track ‘I’m A Problem’, a larger-than-life song that pulls no punches in its unapologetic message of embracing fun and loudness.

“I’ve grown up with all of that shit: ‘You’re too loud’, ‘Caity, you’re so annoying’, ‘You’re so in people’s faces’,” she explains, “and now I’m like, ‘Yeah! I’m too loud but you’re too quiet, babe! You are for-get-ta-ble!’ That’s what I was trying to channel in the song; two of these to the world,” she raises her middle fingers, nodding to the song’s infectiously catchy bridge (“Put your middle fingers up / Say that we don’t give a fuck”). “When I sing it, I honestly see the whole crowd go literally feral. That’s what I went for when I was making it: I just wanted to empower people.”

Caity Baser talks BRIT Awards, growing up, and her debut mixtape 'Still Learning' Caity Baser talks BRIT Awards, growing up, and her debut mixtape 'Still Learning'

“I live at a million miles an hour. Even if I have time to stop and think, I don’t.”

It’s with this same defiant spirit that Caity is marching forward into her next chapter. Aptly-titled ‘Still Learning’, her new mixtape sees the singer simultaneously harnessing her brazenness and offering up a vulnerable look inside her world. She explains that the release came as a response to a year where she felt like she was on autopilot; “I’d go into sessions and make songs and think, ‘Cool, it’s a song’,” she says, with an unspoken ‘that’ll do’ hanging in the air.

“I was almost on autopilot that whole time,” she remembers of a turbo-charged summer that saw her play a festival basically every weekend, “and I felt drained creatively in a way. Normally I’m so sure of what the message is and what I’m trying to get across, but then I realised I had no idea. I was making myself upset; I was confused and I was sad. Then I realised, no, I don’t [have to] have it all figured out. I’m literally 21-years-old. Just because I’m going out and doing all of this mad shit does not mean that I know all the answers because I definitely do not.

“I was going through a lot of stuff with relationships and friends,” she continues. “I was a bit of a dick, they were a bit of a dick. I was just all over the place. Then I sat down and was like, ‘Well, maybe that’s the whole point of what I’m trying to say’. I still don’t know what I’m doing - I’m still learning. Ha ha ha!” she winks. And so, ‘Still Learning’ became a project about exactly these ideas - development and growth, and figuring things out as you go along - all presented in Caity’s customarily bright and inviting style, with artwork and promo photos that see the singer donning a dress made of stitched-together L-plates.

In keeping with the mixtape’s transitional period MO, the tracks traverse ideas including breaking habits (‘Pretty Boys’), relationship fails (‘Grow Up’), and embracing the big old ride of life (‘The Plot’). Then, there’s the project’s more unguarded highlight, ‘Oh Well’. “I’m literally getting goosebumps even thinking about it, what is wrong with me?” she enthuses at its mention. “I literally love that song so much. I made ‘Oh Well’’s chorus in the last five minutes of a session, and I went back in the next day and wrote the whole thing. It all just sort of went ‘BLARAAGH’,” she splurges, sticking out her tongue.

A track that sees her turn her trademark honesty inward, it’s a song that gets to the heart of so many young people’s fears. “This was when I was going through my falling out with everybody, everybody hating me, me hating the world thing,” she says. “And you know what? I needed it. I felt angry and sad, and all the stuff I don’t feel very often - and when I feel it, it’s fucking shit - but then I went in and wrote ‘Oh Well’ and it felt like I was back again; it really pulled me back.”

“I’ve grown up with all of that shit: ‘You’re too loud’. And now I’m like, ‘You’re too quiet, babe!”

Along with ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ - a track not at all connected to the 2022 movie, but one about “when you fall in love with the wrong person and it feels like the most awful, terrifying thing ever” - it’s this more open side of ‘Still Learning’ that puts the release’s manifesto front and centre.

“Since I announced it I’ve had loads of messages from people of all ages going, ‘That never changes, you will always learn as you grow up’,” she muses. “I think that’s a really important message to tell everybody: no matter how old you get or what you have, it doesn’t mean that you have all the answers. And if you don’t have the answers, don’t be mean to yourself because why would you want to?! It’d be so boring if you knew what was going to happen next!”

One thing that’s locked in her diary’s near future, though, is Caity’s next run of headline shows. “Talking about it is giving me heart palpitations, I’m so excited!” she squees. “When I get on stage I’m just like a little kid again. I can’t contain it. I can’t try and be cool or swaggy, I’m just like, ‘Wow, this is fucking class and I’m buzzing!’”

Taking in the biggest rooms of her career so far - with a night at Hammersmith’s iconic Apollo capping the tour off - it’s set to be an all-singing, all-dancing affair which she already can’t wait to share with her fans. “My best friends!” she lights up at the mention of them. “L-O-V-E. I went my whole life pretty much, until I was about 18, feeling like everybody hated me. I had a horrible time in school and in college. I wasn’t badly bullied or anything but I just hated school, I didn’t fit in, it wasn’t for me. All I wanted to do was go to the music rooms and sing, and college was the same; I didn’t get along with people. Then lockdown happened, I posted one video, and I was opened up to this beautiful community of people who are just like me too.”

Turns out, if you open yourself up to life and let yourself learn along the way, some pretty great things can clearly happen.

‘Still Learning’ is out 15th March via EMI / Chosen Music.

Tags: Caity Baser, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the March 2024 issue of DIY, out now.

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