Ali Barter has a brand new video out today, is on tour, dreaming up a brand new album between shows, writing a book, and wants us to know who Delia Derbyshire is. What a woman.
Ali Barter - where to start? Some might say this remarkable artist from Collingwood first came into national consciousness when her song Girlie Bits made triple j's Hottest 100. But Ali has actually been recording and performing music since 2012, and before that, she sang in the Australian Girls' Choir for a decade. Her latest album A Suitable Girl - released in March this year after a couple of EPs and singles - is making waves for its musical sensibilities (The Age says "Barter's voice may pitch and soar with classical confidence, but its backdrop is a decidedly indie-rock conglomeration of gnarly guitars and snappy syncopated beats," and The Daily Telegraph says, "Brilliantly raises the bar of Australian female rock"), its impressive debut (number 17 on the ARIA charts), but also for its underlying message of womens' strength. It would seem if there is one thing Ali is passionate about it is women in music. In an interview with The Right Note TV show, Ali tells Rolling Stone editor Rod Yates that she remembers sitting in a music history class and studying many men in music, and became increasinly exasperated by the omission of women from music history. In December last year, her frustration led to a passionate Facebook post, which was removed at the request of university staff. Ali deleted the social media post, but not long afterwards, her sentiments remained in a now widely shared opinion piece published on Junkee, the popular arts and culture website. In the op-ed, Ali references the many women who have been under represented and not celebrated enough when it comes to reciting music history. The article, entitled It's About ****ing Time We Gave Female Musicians The Credit They Deserve, mentions Taylor Swift and Yoko Ono, the latter of whom retweeted Ali's piece on her own Twitter account. The feminist rocker brand is not one that Ali appears to be chasing, but her passion for women - past, present and future - in music, and more broadly art, is impossible to deny because it is something that is very deep rooted in who she is as a person. But that shouldn't distract from the fact that Ali Barter is an incredibly gifted, trained and dedicated musician, songwriter, performer, and creator of music full stop. On A Suitable Girl Ali Barter's clean, feminine voice is backed by super cool indie-rock licks and vibes, but her important underlying message to celebrate and speak up for women is a brilliant, and necessary for our times, bonus. Ali Barter took some much appreciated time from her very busy career to give Music Love this interview where she talks about Australian women in music, looking after her voice, and the last thing she saw that blew her mind.
What does music mean to you?
Music for me is expression and release. I listen to music all day while I work, mostly instrumental. I listen to pop and rock music when I’m in the songwriting process. I listen to music to relax and to escape, and I write music to understand myself and express what I’m feeling.
Producer Catherine Marks said you were one of her favourite Australian women in music. Who are your favourite Australian women in music?
I work with some incredible women. Firstly my manager Bonnie Dalton and my booking agent Rebecca Young. Super powerful, no bs women who are great at what they do. I also have some wonderful ladies at my label, Meg Williams and Bree Wilkinson who work tirelessly to promote and support their artists. I love musicians like Alex Lahey and Bec Sandridge and Jack River who all write great songs, shred their guitars, and support their fellow musicians. All these women are making music in Australia a great community to be a part of.
Did you use to sing in a choir?
Yes I sang in the Australian Girls' Choir for about ten years. It gave me a great grounding and discipline in singing and professionalism.
How do you look after your gorgeous voice?
I don’t smoke (anymore) I don't drink (anymore) and I warm up before I play a gig. Thats about it. I used to avoid tea and coffee and dairy and all the other stuff that is bad for your vocal chords but I was miserable so I am not so strict anymore.
What has your musical pathway been like so far?
It’s been a pretty gradual process for me. I sang in a choir and did singing exams at school. I went to uni to study music then began writing and playing my original songs at open mic nights. Then I was approached by a producer in 2012 to record an EP and I have just been writing and recording and releasing music since then. I began touring in 2013 which has had some exciting moments like supporting The War On Drugs and playing big venues like The Hordern Pavilion and The Forum.
Your new album has been very well received – how are you feeling about the response?
I’m feeling great. People have been so supportive and I’m really excited to get out on the road to play these song to all the people who have bought and supported the record.
What can someone expect at an Ali Barter show?
A big, randy rock show.
What is your favourite song?
Mailbu by Hole.
What was the last thing you saw that blew your mind?
I watched a documentary about a musician called Deliah Derbyshire who wrote the theme song for Doctor Who in the 60s. She is considered one of the pioneers in electronic music - yet most people have never heard of her. Watch the documentary The Delian Mode
What is your favourite place in Australia?
I love my home in Collingwood. Every time I travel overseas I always come home thinking how great Melbourne is.
Favourite non-musical Australian artist?
At the moment I am obsessed with Julie Delpy. She is an actor but also a writer, film maker and musician. I find her so inspiring because she bravely explores her own life through her art. Her films are explorations of relationships, getting older, family and navigating uncomfortable feelings.
Ali Barter on The Right Note with Rolling Stone Editor Rod Yates. Check out our podcast with co-presenter of The Right Note Danielle McGrane here
I’m going on tour in May and then I’ll be doing lots of writing in between shows. I will be writing album number two and I have just started writing a book, so we’ll see where that goes.
Ali Barter is on tour now. Tickets here. Plus she has just announced an intimate In Conversations with Michael Dwyer on Thursday 11 May at Readings, Carlton which is Free w/ RSVP. You can listen to A Suitable Girl here. Follow Ali on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and her History Grrrls Spotify playlist is here
Wednesday May 3 | Karova Lounge, Ballarat, VIC
w/ IV League & The Attics
Thursday May 4 | Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC *SOLD OUT*
w/ IV League & The Attics
Friday May 5 | Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC *SOLD OUT*
w/ IV League & Hollie Joyce
Saturday May 6 | Jive Bar, Adelaide, SA
w/ IV League
Friday May 12 | Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth
w/ Dream Rimmy
Thursday May 18 | The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD
w/ IV League & Eliza & the Delusionals
Thursday May 25 | Hudson Ballroom, Sydney, NSW
w/ IV League & Allan Smithy
Friday May 26 | Rad Bar, Wollongong, NSW *SOLD OUT*
w/ IV League & Sam Hughes
Saturday May 27 | Live On The Lawn, Newcastle, NSW
Also appearing at:
Electric Lady 2017
Friday June 30 | Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW
Saturday July 1| The Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC