When trying to identify the music made by Baby Alpaca, it’s perhaps easier to try and figure out what the music is NOT. Judging by the music on the band’s first proper EP, it’s easy to say that this is definitely not your standard indie rock fare: an autoharp is involved, as well as both live and programmed beats and a smattering of guitars. The music eschews any musical tropes typically assigned to wispy bedroom electronica, beardy folk music, or the new wave of alternative R&B, but it could perhaps exist as a distant cousin to all of those things. Buoyed aloft by the winsome vocals of front man Chris Kittrell and shaped by the guitar styling of Zach McMillan, Baby Alpaca make music that is both romantic, vaguely tropical, and sufficiently futuristic—music that seems born of a million dramatic road trips that might provide a suitable soundtrack for a million more.
“I’ve been making music for about five years now,” says Kittrell, “It just takes a while to really hone in on your sound and figure out what you’re doing. I think this music really does that. This is really what we mean to say, what we mean to be as a band. I do love rock and roll and the freedom that it stands for. Musicians are forced to worry so much about genres—about trying to figure out how they are gonna sell their music—that they get distracted sometimes from the real soul of it. I just wanted to make music that people could really connect with in a genuinely human, emotional way.”
The four songs on the Baby Alpaca EP—which is a precursor to a full-length Baby Alpaca record slated for release later this year—make for a striking, remarkably blissed-out statement of intent. The EP’s first single, “Sea of Dreams” (whose Dada-esque video premiered earlier this year via NPR.org) is as fitting an introduction as any band could hope to have: all echo-chamber vocals that seem to be haunted by reverby guitar lines and gently-played piano notes that drift through the song like ghosts. Tracks like “Wild Child” and “On The Roam” evoke a palpable sense of modern restlessness, something that permeates all of Baby Alpaca’s music. It’s a feeling that Kittrell attributes to his own meandering youth—a time spent experimenting, studying, travelling, and trying to locate his own creative voice.
The gentle, humane quality of Baby Alpaca’s music is deeply indebted to Kittrell’s adventurous youth. “I’ve always been torn between tradition and total wildness,” he says, which explains the rather circuitous path he took before settling on music. Having studied a variety of subjects in college—everything from psychology to art to economics—to dipping his toes into the world of fashion working with Marc Jacobs and at The Row with the Olsen twins, Kittrell picked up a support system and a family of creative souls that help support him on the journey. “I’ve lived on rooftops in Bushwick and brownstones in Chelsea. I’ve traveled around the world. At some point I just threw caution to the wind. It was rough at times and it lead me to experience a variety of hardships, but it also brought to the place I was meant to be—which is playing music.”
“A lot of this music is about running way,” explains Kittrell, “I don’t mean that in a escapist kind of way, but more in terms of exploration. So much of my life has been about running away from tradition and traditional ways of thinking, which seeps into the music we make together. It’s about discovery. It’s not so much about running away from something bad, but rather running towards something really beautiful.”
Baby Alpaca’s tracks