‘Call Me Baby,’ a track concocted by Dear Kokum nearly five years ago, has now seen the light of day. Stripped down with just her vocals and backed by a slight touch of strings, ‘Call Me Baby’ is rich with romantic recollections that are augmented within its simplicity. “This is the song my 13-year-old self didn’t know how to write,” says Dear Kokum as she dips into a bygone feeling; the rush and ecstasy of a young love one fails to capture as it fosters, which settles as an evocative memory down the line.
Quelling the mental and technical hurdles that pushed back the release of ‘Call Me Baby,’ Dear Kokum simply described her decision to unshelve the single “because it’s a great song.” “I know that because, in 2018, I loved it and gave all of myself to it,” she explains.
“Listening to a version of myself from so many years ago made me appreciate the journey I’ve had, it made me remember that person who had all those doubts but still put all of myself into that song. When I listen to it today, I hear a sound that is so pure and innocent, from my voice to the songwriting style, I feel there is something very endearing and honest about what I made back then. I’m really happy to be putting out such an intimate part of my journey.”
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Amidst the journey of emotions ‘Call Me Baby’ takes you on, the lyrics embody the physical manifestations that are boldly sensory and descriptive. Upon further reflection, Kokum confesses that she wrote the track about her first same-sex crush. “I wasn’t quite comfortable identifying as queer back then (especially in India), so I was extra careful with how I used my words and what I let slip,” she confided. Although devoid of any pronouns indicating the target of the song, for Kokum, “this song is about queer love.”
“I didn’t imagine the typical boy-meet-girl fantasy, in fact, my queer dreams felt very unattainable and something that might only come true in my imagination.”
“My most vivid memories of those physical sensations were around a person who I was not supposed to feel those things around,” details Kokum about the extremities of her young crush. “It’s confusing, and you can’t quite wrap your mind around what’s going on, but there’s no beating down the butterflies in your belly! That’s why the lyrics are all about how just a little attention from that special someone makes you feel.”
The simple, raw, yet elegant composition of ‘Call Me Baby’ was a novice’s stubbornness that persisted. With little to no experience while penning the track, together with a friend who lent the guitar melodies, Kokum set the tone of her single back then. “A sonic experience of visceral, raw, physical feelings transfiguring into the hopes and dreams of future romance. In my case, I didn’t imagine the typical boy-meet-girl fantasy, in fact, my queer dreams felt very unattainable and something that might only come true in my imagination.”
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2020 to 2021 had Dear Kokum stay on the indie music radar with multiple solo and collaborative releases under her previous moniker, k o k u m. Her opportunity to partake in GateCrash and Amplify Music’s Artist Residency program last year upended the artist’s approach to music altogether, leading her to go from k o k u m to Dear Kokum. “I have been working on legitimising this project – moving beyond a simple drag and drop approach to something much more structured and professional,” she said, explaining her decision.
“That’s one of the catalysts for the name change from k o k u m to Dear Kokum, thinking of internet hygiene and reachability and all that stuff that I never really cared to consider before.” And while at it, the singer/songwriter had an interactive strategy to promote ‘Call Me Baby,’ by letting her followers select the single’s artwork. The interaction gained traction organically, much to the surprise of the singer herself!
After spending her time off traveling and becoming an aunt ‘to the cutest little boy’ (who was fortunate enough to have an original Dear Kokum composition be the very first song he ever heard), we were keen to know of her musical prospects. “The truth is,” she said, winding up the conversation, “I do have a lot of songs lined up, and I think I might stick to releasing a few more singles before I move on. I’d like to keep building this community of Dear Kokum listeners, taking it one single at a time.”
Listen to ‘Call Me Baby’ by Dear Kokum HERE
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