Few bands achieve true equality, true partnership. When strong-minded, creative individuals come together, though they may have much in common, often they find their differences pulling them apart. That’s not the case with BAE (Be All Equal). For Karl Wolf, Show Stephens and Brenda Mullen BAE is truly more than the sumof its parts.
That’s reflected in BAE’s singular blend of voices, the strengths each bring to the writing/recordingprocess, their collective chemistry and the underlying message of their unique blend of R&B, DeepHouse, soul and Hip hop.
‘No one is an island – Be All Equal’ is essentially BAE’s mission statement; a statement that underscores their shared belief that as much strength can be drawn from the things that set us apart as from those that we all have in common. “We’re all from very different cultures,” Wolf says. “I grew up in Lebanon and Dubai, Brenda’s from Barrie, Ontario and Show’s from Jamaica. We call ourselves Be All Equal because we are all one. Our main goal is to make beautiful music, but we believe in equality and being peaceful and tolerant of others, and we’re an example of that.” That’s a message that comes across loud and proud on tracks like ‘Rebels’ and ‘Party Emeriti’ – songs that display BAE’s passion for musical innovation, their diversity, and their shared creative vision in equal measure.
Wolf, Stephens and Mullen have extensive experience in the music industry. Wolf, as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, mixer and producer in
his own right; with 5 internationally successful solo records and a resume that includes a stint as writer/vocalist for 90’s pop act, Sky, as well as
work on Quebec’s hugely successful Star Académie and the show’s 2003 multi-platinum selling compilation
record. Additionally, his fresh take on Toto’s ‘Africa,’ which sold in excess of 700,000 copies and received over 10,000,000 hits on YouTube,
garnered him a 2008 MTV Europe Music Award and a truly global following.
Although Wolf has had substantial success as a solo artist, it’s clear from his enthusiasm for BAE thathe finds as much, if not more, satisfaction in
collaborating with others. “It’s really freeing. There are no rules, no blueprint for BAE,” he says. We can sing, rap, make Deep House records, Hip
hop records, soul records – anything goes.”
“It’s an equal partnership,” adds Toronto-based, singer/songwriter, Show Stephens, who’s written with Wolf for the past five years on albums
such as 2014’s Stereotype, and the chart topping single ‘Mash It Up’ ft. Juicy J. Growing up in a musical family, Stephens began writing songs at
age 13. Over time, he’s worked as a performer in his own right as part of the band, Selfish, and co-written with artists including Day 26 and Glen
When Stephens and Wolf initially started working on BAE in mid-2014, they intended it to be duo, but, after laying some creative groundwork for
the project, decided to bring singer/songwriter Brenda Mullen, formerly of Virginia To Vegas, into the mix. “We worked with Virginia To Vegas
a couple of years ago,” Wolf says, recalling the first time he and Mullen sang together. “The blend of harmonies between Brenda and I was just
amazing. Not only is she a great singer, she’s an incredibly adaptable singer. When the idea to ask her to join us hit me I called her up right away,
at 4 AM actually, and she said, ‘Let’s do it.’ “That’s 100 percent true,” Mullen says, laughing. “I’m a bit of a night owl, but when Karl called I just got this gut feeling, this excitement.”
Mullen, too, grew up in a musical family. Her grandfather has performed for decades as an Irish Singer and was part of the 1970’s Irish band, ParThree. At age 11 she began singing in talent shows and soon music became an overriding passion that led her to take every chance to perform andwrite that she could. By age 13, she’d made a number of contacts in Nashville and spent the next three years in Music City deepening herknowledge of the craft of songwriting.
Like Stephens and Wolf, Mullen’s enthusiasm for BAE is irrepressible. “BAE is truly fuelled by love and good vibes. Karl and Show and I just
click, and when we sing together we blend perfectly.” BAE also give props to another collaborator, DJ/Producer MasterTrak. “He’s really young –
only 18,” Wolf says, “but he’s a genius when it comes to technology. He adds a really vibrant, youthful touch and he’s been instrumental in shaping
our sound. ”With songs ranging from cuts like ‘I’m Lonely,’ which relies heavily on the spare grooves of underground 90’s Deep House, to the
Reggae infused ‘Appleton Rum’ – inspired by a night in Jamaica where Wolf let his long time friend Kardinal Offishall show him a good time,
island style – BAE cover a lot of ground stylistically. But regardless of what influences they channel, BAE’s sound is impossible to pigeonhole.
Nowhere is that more evident than ‘On Top Of The World,’ an unrelentingly positive blend of cutting edge pop and Hip hop with overtones of
vintage soul and straight up rock on which the three speak candidly about the paths they’ve taken to honing their craft over time. “But it’s not just
about us,” Stephens says. “Everyone has different dreams and aspirations. My mom used to say you can be
anything, but it takes perseverance, hard work and faith. And anyone can relate to that.”
What truly sets BAE apart is their unwillingness to be satisfied with the lowest common denominator musically. The result is a sound all their
own, one that’s as much a product of their individual musical sensibilities as it is of their mutual desire to stretch out. “It’s about keeping things
fresh and pushing the envelope,” Wolf says. “So what if it’s something people haven’t heard before, that might be exactly
what makes it special.”
BAE is a living, breathing representation of diversity, musically and culturally. “We want to share the diversity of who we are and where we’re
coming from. We want to get across that we’re all equal and it’s cool to express yourself in any way you can, and by expressing your culture and
yourself in your music,” Stephens says. “People shouldn’t be scared of celebrating their nationalities, we live in a multicultural city and world.
There are no colours anymore, so what are we afraid of? We’re all one people at the end of the day. That’s the definition of Be All Equal.”
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