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Live From The Current Studio

26 BATS! bend genre in The Current studio

Bailey Cogan, of 26 BATS!, at The Current.
Bailey Cogan, of 26 BATS!, at The Current.Nate Ryan/MPR
  Play Now [25:18]

by Andrea Swensson and Colleen Cowie

May 02, 2019

26 Bats! - I'm OK
by MPR
26 Bats! - Do What You Do
by MPR
26 Bats! - Call Me Daddy
by MPR

26 BATS! released their latest album, Onyx, on December 26, 2018, a date that carries significance for bandleader Bailey Cogan. The number 26 is Cogan's birth date, and has become an important motif for the musician. "This number, I've always connected with," Cogan said. "It grounds me, because it feels like me; it feels like this really good omen in my life that has always been recurring. I want it as my band name because I've been obsessed with it forever and it feels authentic."

Bailey Cogan (keyboards/vocals), Karl Remus (guitar), Warren Thomas Fenzi (drums), Daniel Chavez (trumpet), and Christian Wheeler (bass) have been releasing music as 26 BATS! since 2017. The Minneapolis quintet stopped by The Current studio to perform three songs from Onyx and talk with the Local Show's Andrea Swensson.

In addition to making music as 26 BATS!, the band's members are also part of a collective called Kremblems, which stands for "kriyative emblems of a blue soul Renaissance." Kremblems includes the projects 26 BATS!, Lucid Vanguard, Warren Thomas Fenzi, and Christian Wheeler, which are each led by a different member.

"It feels really wonderful to support my best friends and make music in their vision, and then have the space to do that with my vision as well," said Cogan. "People are always like, 'How do you have time for it?' But music is really the thing I care about most in the world. So the fact that I do get to play — we practice four times a week — the fact that I get to play with my best friends four times a week, and making different styles of music, it's very refreshing and it keeps me grounded, and in a really good place in all of my friendships. It's very wholesome."

26 BATS! performed three songs in The Current studio, including "Call Me Daddy," which Cogan explained was inspired by a healing experience. "This song I wrote after experiencing a really healing sexual experience that was also validating in my gender identity. I identify as trans, non-binary, and gender-fluid. It's not as deep as my other songs, but truly I think it was a very healing experience, and that's why I felt the need to write a song about it."

Over years of playing music together, 26 BATS! have created their own distinct sound. While their music may blend elements of different genres, the band takes inspiration from imagery more than any specific style.

Cogan says that the band's music is "very fluid; it is very me. I use jazz chords, but it's not really jazz. It has elements of jazz, R&B, alternative rock. I feel like when I'm writing for 26 BATS!, I know it's 26 BATS! because it's a scene in my head — it's the color purple, or it's a night sky with stars and moons. It's going to emulate a vision."

In addition to cultivating a unique blend of influences, 26 BATS! prioritize connecting with their audiences at live performances. Cogan says that they want listeners to feel "inspired" and experience "self-love" at a 26 BATS! show.

"That's a theme I focus on in most of my songs, just trying to love myself. That's why I write them, that's my constant thing that keeps me going. So I want to share that — because that's the purpose of my songs — I want to share that in the live experience, and cultivate a safe space where people feel comfortable being themselves and shining and experiencing joy. Because there is a lot of darkness in the world, and I want to create spaces where really magical experiences can exist, and people can feel really moved and connected to themselves."

Songs performed

"Do What You Do"
"Call Me Daddy"

All songs from Onyx

Hosted by Andrea Swensson
Produced by Jesse Wiza and Sanni Brown
Engineered by Michael DeMark
Videos by Mary Mathis
Web feature by Colleen Cowie