Rebel with a cause: Ali Barter
"Give us a smile princess, it's better for business, None of this angriness, show us your girly bits." Poignant. Astute. Wry. These are the lyrics to Melbourne-based, classical-trained choir-girl-cum-rising-indie-star, Ali Barter's "Girlie Bits", a feminist-pop track from last year that resonated with all of us. It made our ears prick up and our heads nod. Trailing introspection, observation and a dry sense of telling-it-like-it-is, Barter's brand of songwriting is at once delicate and tough, possessing a vulnerable twinge of "its ok to be a mess sometimes." With a garnish of "f*ck you". Barter is all of us.
What are you interested in exploring through your music?
"Uncomfortable feelings. I went through some yucky shit the last couple of years; that stuff that happens in your late 20s when you realise you aren't as 'together' or 'mature' as you think you should be. I love when a song describes a feeling you have that maybe you wouldn't say out loud....Music is meant to make us feel less alone, that's what interests me."
What drove you to or start expressing yourself in this way?
"I realised I was the source of all my misery...So I chose to write it out... It's also a way of accepting myself. Somedays I am a very immature and irrational person, and that's OKAY. My favourite songwriters are Liz Phair and Loudon Wainwright III - writers that explore their failings as a human and desire to be alone or desperation for validation. These artists inspired me to write the songs on my album."
When did you last put up a fight for what you believe in?
"Last year at my uni, I noticed the lack of female representation in my history class. I spoke up and received quite a hostile response from the school. I felt unwelcome in class, the teacher clearly wasn't happy to see me each week and they were harassing me via email. But their reaction made me want to turn up to class and to speak up louder about the unbalanced view of history we were given... Women have done and continue to do incredible things. It made me want to work harder!"
What do you aim to wake in your audience?
"I hope that by being honest about the things that I feel, people who listen will feel ok about their own shit. It's ok to be angry or afraid, it's human. I hope by setting these ideas to pop music will make it fun and liberating too. I imagine people driving down the freeway screaming the lyrics in their car. The safest place to admit all your secrets!"
Ali Barter is touring Nationally between August 25 - October. A Suitable Girl is out now. alibartermusic.com
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