Originally acting as an online advocate for autism and an educator for neurotypicals, Kaye Baugher has transitioned her online presence from producing this sort of content to promoting herself as a musician. Kaye is still passionate about advocating for autism and neurodiversity, even including her own experience as an autistic person in the songs she writes. Today, the Global Spotlight talks to Kaye about online transitions, music, autism, and what is yet to come.
You started off online mainly as an advocate for autism but have recently transitioned over to making and publishing your own music. Can you tell me more about this transition?
I am very passionate about advocating for autism - I’ve been making content on Instagram in hopes to destigmatize autism as well as educate others since March 2021. However, along the process, I did get a little burnt out, and it started feeling more like an assignment or obligation than voicing what I am passionate about.
On social media, I’m trying to get more at my own pace; I want to be a voice for autistic rights but also show more layers to myself without feeling like I owe people content. I am really happy with the balance I am making, because I am no longer worrying about making as much autism content as possible. Furthermore, I feel like I was partially making content only to prove myself worthy or useful to the neurotypical audience. With music, I am fully able to unmask. It’s a space where I don’t need to explain myself, and just be.
How would you describe the music you make?
My music is definitely very experimental and abstract. Music is often extremely criticized, and I spent so much time, energy, money, and emotion trying to piece together songs other people might like, and that’s just not how I want to spend my career. My music isn’t meant to always be pretty, or catchy, or even meaningful. It’s all about, “this is how I’m feeling, right here, right now.” I describe it as anti-music, something that defies expectations and standards and also having funky chords, structures, and sounds.
You currently have two songs out on Spotify. Should we expect an album here anytime soon? If so, what can you tell me about the album so far?
I actually have 3 unreleased albums at the moment that I plan to share. The first one is called Amphitheatre, which I wrote in summer 2020. It heavily involves autistic masking, but the underlying theme is who you really are versus how you present yourself to the world. My second one is 5PM Sunrise, which I wrote in winter 2020. It’s inspired by a dream I had involving two suns in the sky, and I thought it was a cool idea for a song, so I wrote kind of an ethereal album about symbolism in dreams or visions. Finally, in summer 2021, I wrote my third album, We Should Romanticize Wasted Potential, about how I was an overachiever as a child and now feeling like a burnout in my 20s. I am still in the process of finishing them up, but I can’t wait to share these pieces with the world.
Tell me a bit about your songwriting and recording process.
My songwriting and recording process is super spontaneous. Sometimes ideas or concepts will just come to me, and from there it’s just experimenting with background music until it matches the energy I want for the song. In short, I don’t really plan my music in advance, even though I have a lot of it written. Again, I will record, mix, and edit it the way I am feeling at that moment, because it feels like a timestamp highlighting that point in my life.
Are you going to continue advocating for autism acceptance through your music?
I do have a couple unreleased songs about my experiences being autistic. One of them, currently untitled, is about driving in the car, playing the same song on loop for the entire drive because it’s the only song I will ever relate to (this doesn’t refer to any specific song - more-so the tendency). One of my other unreleased songs, called “Banquet,” opens up about how I take a lot of things literally. I do believe a major theme in a lot of the music I write is about finding my own journey and veering off from the crowd, and I think being autistic does intersect with that.
My music isn’t explicitly about autism, so people who aren’t autistic could find my music relatable, but autism is intertwined in everything I say, do, think, and feel, so I think it is inevitable to write my experiences in lyrics without autism being involved.
What inspires the music you create?
There are so many things that drive me to create. Sometimes it’s small musicians on TikTok on my for you page, reminding me of how much talent is really out there. Sometimes it’s customers at the music retail store I work at, who play there as if nobody's watching. Sometimes it’s just a random song on the radio. I just think it’s fascinating that there are so many ideas out there and so much passion to show them to the world without a care in the world what people think; that really inspires me.
How do you hope to break the glass ceiling in the industry as a non-binary autistic musician?
For now, I don’t really know how to label myself, but usually in mainstream media, conversations about being autistic and being queer have a negative connotation, like it’s a burden. I want to be able to express autistic and queer joy and openness about what I’ve struggled with simultaneously. I hope to be the representation someone is looking for, and maybe someday the drive for someone to pursue their dreams.
Where are you hoping to end up on your journey as a musician?
I am hoping to be happy and patient with myself for my creations. I understand that because my music is kind of niche, that I might have less opportunities for my songs to blow up or get gigs. However, the freedom to express myself in a judgmental and competitive field is worth it for me. The fact that I released music in the first place after I’ve wanted to release it for years is a highlight of my life. I hope people appreciate what I put into the world, even if they don’t understand it.
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