Combining their contemporary subjects with folk influences, the foursome that make up The Bara Bara Band are gearing up for the release of their new album this September. We got the chance to put some questions to the group all about their influences, aims, ambitions and more. Read on to find out what they had to say…
For those who may be new to your music, how best would you describe your sound?
Folk with bits of folk rock in a nutshell! To elaborate, the album is heavily influenced by British traditional folk and you will also hear the influence of old time Appalachian banjo in Ruth's playing. But we put a modern twist on traditional songs, adding in bass guitar and drums for example.
What challenges have you faced in the music industry so far?
Getting heard by a wider audience is always difficult, but folk is quite niche so it does make things easier in some ways. It can be a slog trying to get festival bookings, but it's usually worth it.
How difficult would you say this career path is in terms of making a name for yourself?
Whilst it can be difficult, I see it as a long term lifestyle thing so that fact that it can take a while to get known is just par for the course. I want to enjoy making the music, finding traditional songs that we make into our own arrangements. I also enjoying writing songs, or rather, I aim to enjoy writing songs...! I often say I do music for myself as much as for listeners, which is the way it should be and means that what you are making is meaningful.
How important is it for you to have creative control over the work you produce?
It's really important. I tend to have a lot of control in the band given that i started it (back in 2009), and i write a lot of my original songs. Rupert also writes and co-writes, and also happens to be my husband! We met at a gig a few years ago and i was looking for a bass player for the band so he joined, and well, the rest is history as they say! At the same time, I'm a believer in letting things take their course, so for example I'll write a song and imagine the end product, but when I play it with the other band members and they start jamming along it might turn into something else, potentially something better...
Where do you draw influence and inspiration from for your work?
Well aside from tradition, I'd say political climate and current issues, including current things in my life or that are going on around me. For example, about being a woman in her 30s, a song on the album called ‘Before It's too Late’ reflects on the various pressures on women both from themselves and those around them. In terms of other musicians, there's lots of folk artists/bands such as Fairport Convention, Anne Briggs, Incredible String Band, and more contemporary acts including Rattle on The Stovepipe and Stick In The Wheel. I also love lots of other music, my biggest teenage/early 20s influences were PJ Harvey and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
If you could collaborate with anybody going forward, who would you choose and why?
Probably some local folk musicians who come to TOOTING FOLK and play floor spots. TOOTING FOLK is a monthly folk club that i run with Rupert, it's based on the classic style folk club - unplugged, floor spot performers who turn up on the night to play a song each, a booked guest act. The next one is 2nd September with Laura Smyth & Ted Kemp as guest act, the website is www.tootingfolk.com for more details. We've been running the club for around 5 years and it's become a firm favourite on the London folk scene.
Tell us a random, funny fact about you that not many people know.
The Bara Bara Band is called that because of someone mispronouncing the name Barbara which is my grandmother’s name. I also like to make up my own jokes and tell them on stage, much to the dismay of the band... e.g. What do you call a girl who looks like a chair? Cher... There's more where that came from...
Do you have definitive aims or goals for your career?
To write good songs, to continue finding interesting traditional songs and tunes.
Where do you hope to be this time next year?
To be recording a new album and playing festivals
What should we expect from you in the coming weeks and months?
Our new album, ‘The Seeds Inside (The Grapes Upon The Vine)’ is released on 15th September and we have an album launch show on Saturday 16 September at The Harrison, Kings Cross, London. We'll be booking in some dates around the UK in Spring 2018, then festivals next year.