Sound Source: Baby and the Brain’s latest brain baby

Onyekaorise Chigbogwu, Senior Staffer



Communication sophomore Dia Jane and her hometown friend Jo MacKenzie are Baby and the Brain, an indie-rock band that just released its debut album, “BrainBaby.”

DIA JANE: So she has like a million Apple Notes-things, and I was going through them, and I saw one called “PT Cruiser” and was like, “What the f–k is that?” And I was like, “Are you writing a song about a PT Cruiser? Because I have lots of opinions about PT Cruisers. I think they look like what a horse would look like if a horse was a car.


ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Onyekaorise Chigbogwu and this is Sound Source, a podcast tuning into the music scene on and around Northwestern’s campus. Communication sophomore Dia Jane and her hometown friend Jo Mackenzie first collaborated to create indie rock and pop at the beginning of the pandemic. Their duo is called Baby and the Brain. And now, their debut album is running numbers all over streaming platforms. As a heads up, this podcast contains explicit language.

DIA JANE: I’m Dia Jane, I sing and write for Baby and the Brain and play minimal guitar.

JO MACKENZIE: My name is Jo MacKenzie and I produce, write and occasionally sing and shout in Baby and the Brain. 

DIA JANE: And mix.

JO MACKENZIE: Oh yeah, and I mix our stuff and record it.


DIA JANE: We met like five years ago now at an open mic at the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City, Mo. We bonded over a Declan McKenna sticker because I saw a Declan McKenna sticker on her guitar case or something.


DIA JANE: Backpack … right, right, right!

ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: Jo said they played an open mic together the next day, but then fell out of contact for about five years. When they reconnected in 2020, they bonded again through a songwriting group in Kansas City. They totally didn’t plan on becoming a band, though.

JO MACKENZIE: This is how much we didn’t think we were actually going to be a band: I submitted that to a songwriting competition just for fun and our band name was Teen Pregnancy.

ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: How they decided on Teen Pregnancy and eventually on a new name, is a bit of a disputed topic.

JO MACKENZIE: See that’s not it at all —

ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: But now they are Baby and the Brain.

JO MACKENZIE: ​​The idea of having a brain baby and the songs are like our babies and they came from our brains.

ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: Dia and Jo’s latest brain baby is, well, “BrainBaby,” their debut album. The product of their creativity is a 25-minute album — comprised of nine original songs. 


ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: Was there a point where y’all were like, “Let’s make an album!” Or did you have so much music you were…

JO MACKENZIE: That one. 

DIA JANE: Yeah. The second one.

ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: So what’s the process of making a song look like?

DIA JANE: It’s different for every song because there’s some songs that she would start entirely on her own that were the more pop songs. Others we created entirely in the same room. 


DIA JANE: Well, yeah, “PT Cruiser” is also its own thing. I’m thinking, like, “Do You Want That?” Like I brought in, like, a chord progression, and I had words and melody, but we kind of scrapped all of it and kept the intention of the song — the meaning of the song. And then we just wrote the whole thing in one night just on guitar and piano.


JO MACKENZIE: We have a concept. We spend usually one day doing a lot of the work, and then we spend maybe another day recording the vocals — sometimes, more than a week, like “On the Run.” And so then after recording it, I’ll take a long time producing it and getting the right sounds and then mixing it.

DIA JANE: I just want to say for the record, “On the Run,” the chorus is so hard to sing because you have to sing it all in one breath. And it’s four times, no breath. 


ONYEKAORISE CHIGBOGWU: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Onyekaorise Chigbogwu. Thanks for listening to another episode of Sound Source. This episode was reported and produced by me. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is Jordan Mangi, the digital managing editors are Alex Chun and Sammi Boas, and the editor in chief is Isabelle Sarraf. You can find Baby and the Brain’s music on Spotify, Apple Music or any major streaming service. And follow them on Instagram and Twitter @babybrainband. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud.

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