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Baby Jey: UFOs and really catchy songs


The first line of a recent Edmonton Journal article makes it clear that Crop Circles is not your everyday record.

“If you only listen to one album consisting of cosmic dance beats overlayed with pedal steel and interspersed with old UFO-related radio clips, make it the new Baby Jey release,” it says.

The brainchild of Jeremy Witten with close collaborator Aladean Kheroufi, Baby Jey began in Edmonton in 2015. The group has bounced between Alberta’s capital and New York City ever since. The band’s currently in Edmonton. Crop Circles came out in November.

Witten says he’s always loved music, right from the beginning.

“My parents have a video where my younger brother’s in the crib with a guitar and I’m playing the piano. We must be so young; just making noise.”

Fun fact: from day one, Witten has played entirely by ear.

As he grew up in Edmonton, his family was always supportive of his interest in music. “Creativity was always encouraged in our house. I’m really lucky to have grown up with that.”

That interest led to a Bachelor of Music from the University of Alberta and then a Fulbright Scholarship for a Masters in Music History from The New School in New York.

Witten studied music from 1880-1920 in the US and Canada, focusing on minstrelsy and vaudeville. “I’m just fascinated with music in general. Reading about music in any time period is interesting to me.”

Crop Circles was recorded in Edmonton during the pandemic, after a retreat home from New York. “We were able to take our time with it. We knew we couldn’t tour right away so there was no need to rush the process,” Witten says. “I can go back on my laptop and find early versions of songs and they don’t sound anything like they do on the record now. It’s cool.”

Witten says he tends to take an analytical approach to song-writing.

“I’ll listen to a pop song and really break it down. ‘Okay, what’s happening here? Is the verse major and the chorus minor? Or vice versa? Is the chorus instrumental the first time around and then the second time it has lyrics?’ Sometimes I let my emotions guide me and other times it’s very mathematical, really studying the mechanics of a catchy pop song.”

It’s an approach that shows in the unique nature of the Crop Circles songs.

Next up for the group: a Crop Circles remix album. That’s in the works with help from Edmonton and Calgary DJs. After that, more touring. And then, possibly one day, a PhD for Witten. Dr. Baby Jey?

Baby Jey plays at the Common in Edmonton, Dec. 14, with the Forties. Details here.

Baby Jey’s new music video, “Crop Circle”, launched Dec. 6.