Emily Barker: ‘I like hearing the realness of it’


Having been fans of Emily Barker for some time (since 2007 to be precise), Shire Folk was pleased to finally catch up with her, quite literally on the eve of her latest release – a collaborative effort with US musicians Amy Speace and Amber Rubarth called Applewood Road. First we asked how the whole thing came into being …


SF: The coming together of yourself, Amber and Amy as Applewood Road, was that serendipity or good planning?


Emily Barker

EB: It was serendipity actually. I was reaching out to various friends that I knew had spent some time in Nashville. I was heading out there for the first time with Bob Harris’s BBC Introducing – they were doing this stage at a festival called Americana Music Association festival. Various people kept on mentioning Amy Speace, so I thought, OK, I better meet with this Amy Speace. We met and got along really well and I asked her about other people I could write with and she called up her friend Amber Rubarth, who lived just around the corner from this café where we were. Amber popped down and the three of us had coffee together and we got along really well, so I said ‘Why don’t the three of us do a writing session together?’ and the girls both agreed. So we went back to Amy’s house and we wrote the ‘Applewood Road’ song in a couple of hours.

We decided while I was in Nashville we should record the song, so that we could all take it home and release it to our fanbases – online or whatever. We went to this studio called Welcome to 1979 and recorded it all live to tape around one microphone and we loved the whole experience. Everybody that we showed that track to said you can’t just do one song and that’s it, you have to do more. So we listened to our friends and we decided to write some more and make a record together.

SF: And it’s really paid off. The songs are roughly split between the three of you; how did you decide what to include and what leave out?

EB:We hadn’t decided until we met up. We did that one song together in September and then we got together in March to record the album and between us we’d written about 24 or 25 songs. The day that I’d arrived in Nashville … we basically had eight days to choose the songs, arrange the songs and make the album! So we had four days of choosing, arranging and rehearsing and then we had four days of making the album. Very quick, but because we already had the ‘Applewood Road’ song as a bit of a blueprint we chose songs that seemed to fit in that vein.

SF: You’ve increasingly chosen that sort of recording method with the Toerag Sessions, and the last EP that you did with the Red Clay Halo was all recorded live and direct to tape wasn’t it?

EB:Yeah. Prior to the EP I hadn’t done any website, but I’d always been interested in doing it and I think it’s something that once you begin it’s quite hard to come back from. I wouldn’t use it for everything. For instance, the Hector film score that I wrote, that wouldn’t have worked doing it analogue. Well it would potentially, but it was a lot easier and more budget efficient to do it digitally. In terms of making an album or an EP there’s something about recording live to tape that you can’t capture digitally. You can edit tape, but I like the philosophy of trying to get a great live recording, whether that’s on your own or with other people because it’s really like a photograph then – unique and of that moment. It’s a documentary of that place in time and people and combination of what was happening and I think there’s so many ways that you can perfect that if you’re working digitally. I like hearing the realness of it, I guess.

SF: It’s quite a contrast to your approach on Dear River, which was very glossy.

EB:Yes it is very glossy, you’re right. That felt like what I should be doing at that time. The first experience I had with tape was just after that and it will be hard to go back from, but I’m not saying that I’ll never make a major record that’s been recorded digitally, because I think my next one might be a bit of a combination potentially.

SF: Have you got loads of songs left over for an Applewood Road II album?

EB:Oh yes, there’s plenty of songs. The three of us are all writers, so since then we’ve all written loads more songs anyway. But let’s release this one first!

SF: Personally you switch from solo stuff to collaborative stuff. Is that taking opportunities when they arise or do you need both elements of it for yourself?

EB:I think it’s a bit of both. For me I love having lots of opportunities for being creative, also with the film and television stuff it’s another outlet for creativity and expressing yourself in different ways and exploring different sides of yourself musically. I really like doing that. Of course, collaborating with other people, you can discover a new sound together and you learn a lot about yourself as well. So it’s a really fun thing to do – I really enjoy that. It’s been really good to do in between doing my own records as well. To have something else going on.

SF: Will you work with the Red Clay Halo again?

EB:Well, I’m still working with Gill website – a few shows here and there together. I think at some point maybe we’ll, I’m sure, either do something new or a reunion. I’m not sure, but certainly for film and television stuff, if I needed the two girls I would get them involved.

SF: Is there a plan to release the Hector soundtrack songs?

EB:The three songs that I wrote for it, they’ve been released on an EP called Anywhere Away. After reading the script I wrote three songs straightaway before seeing anything and then from those three songs I took a lot of the motifs from them and did instrumental versions of them or slowed them down and put them in different keys, played them on different instruments and things like that. I do plan to release all the incidental music at some point this year.

Applewood Road’s self-titled debut is out now on Gearbox Records and you can order Emily Barker’s Anywhere Away from http://emilybarker.bandcamp.com

Jonathan Roscoe

FEATUTRE HEADING: blah blah balh


Feature Intro:After having won the Musician of the Year award at this year’s Folk Awards and playing with almost everyone from Jon Boden and Eliza Carthy to Hannah Ja


Feature Interviewer SF: Question

Feature Interviwee BH: answer



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