We recently featured the beautiful DIY video from folk rock singer/songwriter Lesley Barth for her infectious track, Oh Andy! We hope you get to know this amazing artist and would like to bring to you our Interview with Lesley Barth here:
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MJP: Thank you very much for taking the time out to talk with us here at Music Junkie Press.
Lesley: Of course – thanks so much for having me, Mari!
MJP: You did a wonderful job on your video for Oh Andy! Can you tell us more about the making of the video and what inspired you for it?
Lesley: Thank you – so glad to hear you liked it. A very close friend of mine, Harish Pathak, and I shot the video in my home city of Philadelphia (I’ve been in NYC for 5 years) during Winter Storm Juno in January. I’m typically a big-time planner and had absolutely zero plan for this shoot, which I think ended up making it really fun and loose. All that we had done in terms of planning ahead was to block off a day to shoot a video for one of the songs off the EP – I don’t think we had even fully decided which song.
We came up with the story line over Thai food the night before, inspired by the song’s lyrics about a love-that-almost-was. We knew the snow was coming, and I had a grand vision of tons of colored snow, but since stores were closing all over the city, all I could scrounge up was some food coloring and travel-size spray bottles from a nearby CVS. Also, a lot of DIY blogs about colored snow are written by liars. It was a bit of a “Regretsy” situation in terms of my vision vs. execution, but we laughed it off.
Since we had zero plan, we also had zero actors, so the camera itself became “Andy.” We couldn’t even find a marker, but we scrounged up a Bic pen and highlighter that, to be honest, probably gave its life for the shoot, and I wrote out some of the bridge lyrics in a small notebook I was traveling with. I wanted the video to feel really genuine and earnest, but not take itself too seriously, and I think we got there.
MJP: What is the next project you are working on?
Lesley: I’m heading back into the studio next week for my first full-length album! I crowdfunded a huge part of the budget for this project last fall, which was a really demanding, challenging, and, ultimately, wonderful process. I hadn’t really considered crowdfunding before, but it was suggested to me by the right person at the right time, and we had great success with it. It’s been really game-changing for me seeing how many people support my music and want me to succeed. And now, of course, I have the pressure of giving folks a good return on their investment! So we’ve just been rehearsing like mad lately getting ready for the studio. I cannot wait to get back into Mission Sound in Brooklyn, where I recorded Oh, Andy!, and start playing with all the toys. I always feel like a kid in a candy store in a studio.
MJP: You bring a great level of emotion into your music through a folk style yet more bubbly which we love! Can you tell us which artists inspired you?
Lesley: Thanks! I’m definitely a human with a lot of feelings and my hope is that my music can help other people feel their feelings. Because that’s my single favorite thing about music: its ability to help you externalize all of the jumbled mess of emotions that we all experience every day. It is therapy 100%.
The biggest influence in terms of songwriting is probably Carole King – listening to Tapestry as an adolescent pianist and songwriter was huge for me. Linda Ronstadt is definitely the big influence in terms of vocal interpretation – her evocative abilities are second to none in my book. Other artists whose songwriting and style really influenced me: The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Jenny Lewis, Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen. It’s the artists who manage to ring my emotions like a bell that just stick with me. I’m big on lyrics and my favorite thing is when a phrase or a couple phrases just sucker punch your emotions. I’m a bit of a feelings junkie, so we have something in common.
MJP: Do you have a particular songwriting process? Have you ever come up with an idea for a song at an odd time or place?
Lesley: I generate most of my ideas while walking, which means I’m usually recording the first nugget of a song into my phone. Usually a line or two of melody and lyrics. I then play these melodies at the piano or guitar, adding the underlying chords that I hear, and see which ones feel strongest or just intrigue me in terms of the emotions or story they suggest. Then I start to develop the missing pieces – so a verse if I’ve got the chorus down, etc. I’ve come up with them on the subway, in airplane bathrooms, at bodegas. I’m really disciplined about recording or writing things down so they don’t float away!
MJP: If we could peek into your Ipod, what artist or song might be most surprising for us to find in there?
Lesley: The Bad Touch by The Bloodhound Gang – I can do that one by heart, no backing track necessary.
MJP: If you could go back to your 14 year old self, what advice would you give to yourself?
Lesley: Trust yourself.
MJP: Many schools have done away with their music programs, did you have a strong music education or was that something you took into your own hands?
Lesley: My father is an opera singer and my mother sang and danced in musicals. So I grew up with it all around me, but you also could not get me off of the piano for hours, so I was very much taking it into my own hands, too. I learned a lot about music and music theory as a child through playing through a Lennon/McCartney songbook and reading the chords above the notation. I took lessons growing up and even spent a few years teaching piano and voice in the Philly area after college.
MJP: Do you plan on coming out to the West Coast for some shows? If so, what are you most looking forward to when you come out West?
Lesley: I hope so! Definitely want to tour the album and have not played West Coast yet. I love hiking in the mountains and having access to so much more fresh, local, vegetables – so certainly looking forward to that. Buying liquor in grocery stores and pharmacies is also novel and fun, even though I’m not a huge drinker.
MJP: Lastly, what would you like to share with our audience and your fans?
Lesley: For East Coast fans – we will be playing this Wednesday, March 16th at 7pm at NYC’s Rockwood Music Hall – free show, 21+. Keep an eye out for the album release this summer – I’m really excited about the collection of songs we have on this one and cannot wait to share with everyone. In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook for behind-the-scenes videos and content during the recording process!
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It is so refreshing to hear an artist who is so passionate about their music and truly brings that message through their songs as well. Lesley’s vocals are rich in harmony and honest emotion. You can’t help but embrace her style and eagerly await to hear more. If you are on the East Coast, I hope you make it out to her upcoming show on March 16th at Rockwood Music Hall in New York, NY.
We look forward to her new full length album and will make sure to bring you more updates. Make sure to visit her social media sites so you can stay up to date on her latest news.
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