– featured image courtesy of the alexa viscius –
after releasing a handful of sharp one-off singles last year, the brooklyn quintet barrie has their sights set on 2019. the band is slated to release their debut full-length, happy to be here, later this spring and recently shared “clovers,” the album’s lead single, an encapsulation of the harmonically-rich collaborative nature barrie’s music tacks towards.
we recently caught up with four of the five members of barrie via e-mail to talk collaborative creative direction, the significance of “clovers” as a lead single, and how individual members’ experiences have shaped happy to be here. check out the transcript, which has been lightly edited for clarity, below.
there’s a bit of ambiguity as to whether barrie is a band or a solo project, which i think is by design. how do you approach integrating your own creative direction with the input and contributions of the other band members?
barrie: we’re figuring it out as we go. everyone in the band is a talented writer and producer in their own right, and has other outlets outside the band. the best way i can think to describe it is we’re running my songs through the filter of this really interesting group of people who have experiences and talents that i don’t. sometimes that plays out through the music (and very much in the live production), and sometimes it’s in ways beyond music, like in the aesthetics or big picture decisions, or who we collaborate with.
although the band now operates out of new york city, each member originally hails from a different part of the globe. can you speak to any individual experiences, musical or otherwise, that were particularly valuable and/or informative to the band as a whole while making this record?
dom: that is a heck of a question. i would say a great thing we did was to play the first set of songs together many times, as for the first few months we were maybe listening to barrie’s demos remotely and coming together was more about meeting and getting a feel for each other. i think that allowed us to imagine what we could each bring to the table.
spurge: almost all of us are on the other side of twenty-five, so we’ve each had our own experiences, in and outside of the music industry, before coming together to start this project. that’s allowed us to have a patience and self-awareness about our band growth and group dynamic that i don’t think is common for new bands. for example, i’ve worked and interned at a few music studios in new york. that experience has taught me about the prevalence of ego in the creative process, sometimes more so than the actual music making. so, we all make sure to always be empathetic and communicative to each other with this in mind.
noah: yeah, everyone in the band is a bit of an old soul type/has been around it all for a while so longevity and sustainability is something that is a constant consideration, both logistically, musically, and emotionally. we want/plan to be around for a long time and make decisions accordingly.
“clovers” is the lead single from happy to be here, and i’m particularly struck by how the synthesizers in its second half juxtapose the piano in its first, how it encapsulates your aesthetic well while leaving other avenues open for exploration. is there anything in particular you’d like to share about the track, its origins, and/or its significance to you collectively as an ensemble?
barrie: i’m happy this is the lead single because it’s one of the songs that was most shaped by others in the band. i made the demo in boston with the original piano and synth sounds, and it was the first song spurge and noah and i worked on together when i moved to new york. spurge and noah added textures and beefed up the synth sounds, and then once we were in studio, noah beefed and polished them even more.
it captures the “fucked up classic” aesthetic that we’re after. and of course, like most of the songs on the album, dom’s drumming on it, and that takes it to another level.
dom: “clovers” for me is a great indication of how we wanted to push the record beyond basic “pop songwriter” territory – a lot of that is down to (co-producer) jake aron giving a lot of space while keeping control of what was at the core of each track. the middle eight is mega hard to play though, scary.
polish that beef brisket!
noah: one of the major guiding principles behind this project is timelessness. we wanted to fill the record with a ton of easter eggs so there’d be something new to discover with each listen and listeners can consume it on whatever level they prefer. in this song, we mostly achieved that through running the MIDI that barrie had written into a bunch of analog synths, and playing with filters and stuff in real-time to introduce some human variation and create some happy accidents.
happy to be here is out may 3rd via winspear. pre-order the album here.