Singer, songwriter, producer, engineer, and talented multi-instrumenatlist Erin Barra took the time out of her busy schedule to speak with A Music Blog, Yea?. Recently, Erin Barra started Beats By Girlz, a “non-traditional, creative and educational recording-arts campaign in cooperation with the Lower Eastside Girl’s Club of New York.” With her incredible passion for music and the project, we spoke with Erin about why she started the campaign, her favourite lyrics, and a forthcoming EP, Undefined.
AMBY: Hello Erin, how are you and what have you been up to lately?
Erin Barra: I’m doing pretty damn good lately, thanks for asking : ) I’m in the middle of an Inidiegogo campaign which is raising money to fund my Beats By Girlz program and attempting to finish a few projects before the year runs out. I think the real question is, ‘what haven’t I been up to lately’!!
AMBY: How would you classify your sound to all of your listeners?
Erin Barra: People have always had a hard time compartmentalizing my sound by genre, but I think the closest anyone has every come, including myself, was ‘Progressive Electronic Soul’.
AMBY: You release your new EP, Undefined, on February 11th. What is the significance behind the EP’s title?
Erin Barra: Well, to be honest I wanted to not title it at all, but that wasn’t exactly a good idea or option. This whole year for me has been about taking the labels and titles away, including all the expectations that come with them. So when it came time to give the project a name I wanted to go with something undefined, hence the title.
AMBY: Dear John off the Undefined EP is a lovely sounding song. What’s the story behind the track?
Erin Barra: Dear John is perhaps the most true to life and literal song I’ve ever written. I had a terrible boyfriend named John who I allowed to plague me for years. The song is about how much of an asshole he was/is and how stupid I was for letting him ruin a few good years of my life.
AMBY: In addition to releasing the EP, you recently kicked off the Beats by Girlz campaign. How did you get involved in wanting to create this program for empowering women in the arts?
Erin Barra: When it came time to release the album, I knew I wanted it to be a part of something larger than just a desire to be heard, it’s about what I’ve got to say. I’ve allowed my career to branch off into many different directions and one of the places I inadvertently found myself having a lot of traction was as a Women in Audio. The more of a platform I was given, the more I see and understand that it’s my responsibility to helo young women to empower themselves in a way that took me many years to fully manifest. Society says that women shouldn’t be Producers, Engineers, DJ’s etc… I say that yes they should. Obviously, I’ve got a lot to say besides bashing ex-boyfriends ; )
AMBY: Who inspires you creatively as a vocalist, instrumentalist, writer, remix artist, and producer?
Erin Barra: The person out there that resonates the most with me is has been and still is Stevie Wonder. He’s that quadruple threat as a writer, singer, instrumentalist and producer that I aspire to. I’m inspired by the fact that he crosses genres while maintaining his authenticity, that he can have a very organic piano ballad and a song which integrates the newest technology all on the same album and that he never let his physical limitations stop him from realizing his vision. Besides Stevie, my other top 3 influences are Raphael Saadiq, Leonard Bernstein, and Annie Lenox.
AMBY: Which Erin Barra lyric is your favourite?
Erin Barra: “I’ll lie with what lies ahead but never to it’s face
and I’m holding on to hope with a loving embrace.
Through this war of attrition or whatever happens next,
even though it won’t be easy, I would never object.
So here I lay my worn river stones at your broken banks”
AMBY: You are allowed to say one sentence, which will reach the whole world. What would you say?
Erin Barra: “You are not entitled, you are empowered!!!”
AMBY: What’s the best release of the year?
Erin Barra: In my humble opinion, this year was all about Iron & Wine’s, ‘Ghost on Ghost’. I wish more people had heard that album because it’s a thing of beauty.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Erin Barra that nobody knows yet?
Erin Barra: Singing is hands down the hardest thing I’ve every tried to master. It’s something that does not come naturally to me and requires a huge amount of work and discipline.
Thank you Erin Barra, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout