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Interview: Ali Barter

How can one resist a charm of Melbourne’s girl Ali Barter? After releasing latest EP ‘AB-EP’, the third one after ‘Trip’ (2012) and 'Community' (2014), Ali is not planning to stop. She has an album in making, shows with Ben Wraith Smith coming up next month and one more solo show for BIGSOUND closing night at Woolly Mammoth. Her music is always a rad mixture of feelings, and I have to say, she is the same in person. We chatted with Ali about her album-in-making, people, relationships, BIGSOUND and lots of other very exciting things.

Yesterday was your BIGSOUND gig! How was it, what do you feel about it?

It was awesome!

It must have been super buzzy around!

Yeah, yeah! Well, everyone in the band just says: “Have fun”, - as as long as it’s fun, it doesn’t matter, you know. So I have like two boys rushing straight from another gig they finished at 9:30 and ours was at 9:50! So they just ran straight, the bass guitarist and the drummer, they plugged all in and we played!

What was the most enjoyable part about yesterday?

Hm, yeah, just playing…I guess, it’s becoming more fun to play live, I feel like the band and I are getting into something, it’s not like we’re trying, now it’s more like we are doing. We can be more expressive, I reckon, we mocked around a little bit more yesterday and jumped around.

It’s so good just to feel it and fool around, isn’t it?

Yeah, definitely! I tried so hard to be a better guitarist, you know, be perfect, but I think this is never gonna happen to me, I just don’t think I have discipline for that! Maybe it’s gonna be my thing, being a bit rough, a bit rawer. I like that, means I can concentrate on the songwriting.

By the way, talking of songwriting. Your last single, ‘Blood’, where did it some from? What’s its story?

Well, it’s all like…I was just sitting in the house and, literally, all these thoughts just came to my head. It was the end of a really shit year, and it was New Year’s Eve…

So did you write it recently?

No, no, I wrote it in the end of 2013, and I guess it’s sort of…I was thinking about this song the other day, and it’s like about never being enough, stuff never being enough…And I think ‘Blood’, as I say, blood don’t get me high, like even blood won’t do it for me, I need more! And I don’t know who am I singing it to, sometimes I’m singing it to myself, sometimes I’m singing it to my partner, sometimes to the world…

In your video on ‘Hypercolour’, you are in a Chinese restaurant! Why Chinese?

I kno-ow! Well, you know, it was all my friend, the director, Rhys Mitchell, he came up with a whole idea. We kinds got the idea that women are like a piece of meat in entertaining industry, so that’s why we have all the dudes in there, eating and not really paying attention.

You actually did open-mics yourself too, right?

Yeah, I did open-mics for years and years, it gives you a really thick skin. I think it’s a good foundation to not take it personally, if someone’s not listening to you.

So in a month you’ll be doing shows with Ben Wright Smith, how excited are you?

So-o-o excited, he’s my best friend, it’s great.

Did you planned it long time ago or the idea just popped up?

Hm, we always played together, and now, we both have stuff happening at the moment, so it’s like “lets do it together!”. We basically share a band! So, my drummer and bass player, they also play in his band! It’s kinda fun, we gonna drive to Sydney in a big trailer, with a bunch of people…It’s amazing, yeah! I’ll get up and sing songs with him and he’ll get up and sing songs with me and then we’ll sing together, it’s gonna be super fun!

Well, what about your great duo with Oscar Dawson? You seem to be doing heaps of things together.

Yeah, so we met couple years ago and he just came around to my house, I was playing, and got a a Laneway spot, so needed a guitarist for my band. My guitarist ditched me for for Vance Joy, so I was like ‘oh, I don’t have a guitarist!!’, and I already knew Oscar very well, I rang him and sort of asked him “Do you wanna play this gig?” and he came around, he came around like midday and didn’t leave until three in the morning, cause we just sat there, played music and talked. It basically was like that ever since, and we’ve been playing music and writing music ever since. It’s just amazing.

Getting back to where we actually started, it is your first time at BIGSOUND, isn’t it?

Yeah, yeah, my first. It’s really fun! Well, I got last night and I’m playing a solo show at Woolly Mammoth on Friday. That’s it, yeah, just really great!

Were you planning to go see anyone tonight?

Yeah, so…Well, tomorrow night I’m really excited to see Pearls, cause I’m playing that show with them. I really like their music. I didn’t actually plan to see anyone tonight… I know my drummer is playing with Stonefield tonight and I’ve never seen them live, so I’ll maybe go see them. I was kinda planning to take it a bit easy tonight! My mom’s in town, we don’t live in the same city, she lives in Adelaide and I live in Melbourne. She happened to be randomly in Brisbane, so I might hang out with my mom. I’ll make sure tomorrow is more a music day!

So you got onto the music scene about three years ago, if I’m not mistaken? What did it feel like?

Oh, it’d be 2012, I think, yeah…Yeah. So three years ago, yep. I don’t think there’s a feeling…I think from the outside it looks a bit more exciting then it is. I don’t know, I just keep doing what I do, things just come in my way and I just keep saying “Yes”. So I did this EP and put it on Soundcloud and Triple J liked it, they’ve been so great, so supportive. It feels so great, I’ve got a really good team, they are always here for me. Yeah, they see me grow and help me grow! I’ve done three EPs, so yeah, they are really supportive. I’ve got an album coming next year, I’ve almost finished writing!

That’s amazing, can we get a sneak-peek into it??

Umm, I think I got 10 songs on it, 10 minimum. It’s gonna be simple and grungy, and up-beat, and angry, and fun! All my songs are angry! Sometimes I just listen and like “God I’m angry!”, I think it’s good and lucky I have an outlet. If I didn’t have it, I would probably have a lot less friends, you know!

Definitely, I feel you here! Music is just such a good stress relief.

Yeah! It’s a socially acceptable place to scream in public, you know, and scream some really horrible things, like, the deepest, darkest things you don’t want anyone really to know. Everyone goes “Oh cool!” and you’re just like “Yeah, it’s not actually cool”, you know what I’m saying!

And like, personal stuff does affect creative life a lot, yeah?

Definitely! When you get really into the song, you may start thinking about how you wrote it, why you wrote it, or think about a specific person that you really fucking hate. I figured that when you write, songs always start about someone or something, but then eventually, you know, it’s just about myself or a lot of the time it’s just about how I’m feeling about myself. I think, in life, when you’re like hating someone or angry about someone, it’s just a reflection on how you feel about yourself, you know. So, yeah…

 Bit more personal stuff, so you’re going out with a musician, how’s it like?

It’s just amazing, it’s so good. It’s hard, like any relationship is hard and you do same things and stuff. I think, it’s all about to get right people together, like I dated other musicians in the past and it’s been…hell. But in a good relationship, it’s like two slightly different people work together, live together, do stuff and fulfil each other.

Yeah well, being creative does affect everything, I believe…

Totally! Sometimes, actually, I wish I wasn’t creative, it’s just gets annoying from time to time.

So coming back to actual music stuff, are you planning to do an Australian tour, this or next year? Or what’s the plan?

Yeah, so, I have this Melbourne and Sydney show, and then maybe some regional shows. Maybe I’ll do some touring next year. Uhmm, yeah, just bits and pieces for now.

Well, sure, you’re busy with an album! Have you thought about the title yet?

Um, I haven’t titled it yet! I never title anything until the very last minute…At the moment it’s called “Angry Girl”, but I don’t think that’ll stay…Potential name is “Angry Girl”, well, that’s how I’m feeling today. Or “Bish”, but yeah, it’s edgy…Bitch music. Yeah.

To, like, sum up, what about inspiration, where do you get it from? Just something that makes you feel right, creates the mood and stuff?

Um, probably, I’d go with movies, most of my favourite albums are soundtracks. So, um… I have few movies that I watch, like “Stealing Beauty”, it has my all time favourite soundtrack. I love the innocent vibe it has! I really like movies, if I have nothing to write or think about, I’ll definitely watch a movie. I usually watch the same movies, you know!

Ali is doing shows with Ben Wright Smith next month in Melbourne (October 8th) and Sydney (October 10th), so if you happen to be there at this time, don't forget to come catch them both rocking!


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