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Erin Barra

Erin Barra 1 Photo

Erin Barra's sound draws from a diverse range of musical influences that creates a distinctive mix of Pop, Rock and Soul with splashes of Reggae. Using Ableton Live she creates a beautiful collision of the digital playground the organic breath of Live Music. Singer/Songwriter, Multi-Instrumentalist, Producer, Arranger and Performer... this is the future of music. If Alicia Keys and Nelly Furtado collided with Daft Punk and Esthero in the vast circuitry of an Akai APC 40, you’d probably end up with an experience as rich and soulful as Erin Barra. Joining the likes of MNDR and Tokimonsta, Erin is part of a brave new digital audio live performance armada of female artists riding a tech savvy wave of musical and electronic innovation. Her incomparable style has been praised by Grammy award-winning legends. She has graced the stages of the most sought after venues in New York City. Her musical skill and versatility is virtually second to none. Yet and still, it’s hare to believe the world came pretty close to missing out on the full range of such an explosive talent. “I never really thought I was going to be an artist,” she concedes. “I always knew I had a passion for writing music and creating content. But I guess I always envisioned someone else singing the songs.” ERIN BARRA AT SOB'S ERIN BARRA AT SOB'S Hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah, Erin was reared on her parents’ dusty record collection of AM radio singer/ songwriters James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel as well as the headier Led Zeppelin and The Doors. And while her parents also fortified this with early piano lessons, the most integral aspect of her musical education was of a more technical nature. “My father comes from a high end audio background and created audio solutions for mixing engineers and audiophiles. So I came up listening to music very critically and having a high sonic standard for music.” It was this insatiable penchant for the sonic fidelity that would later compel Erin to explore and push the boundaries of music and technology. Erin entered the Berklee College of Music at the tender age of 18, an experience she likens to Alice being let loose in wonderland. “I decided that it was cool to just experiment with everything. I found my voice and felt encouraged to experiment with different genres. It was a very fertile beginning. Then I was put into a place that was like a musical playground.” While creating and romping around in wonderland, Erin’s spectacular talent caught the golden ear of John Oates, half of soul/ pop duo Hall & Oates. Erin was paired up with the legendary musician after winning a fiercely competitive songwriting competition. “The next thing I know, I’m flying off to his amazing ranch in Aspen to write music with him,” she says. “But even at that point, I wasn’t really confident that I was an artist. He pushed me and told me, ‘You’ve got it! Go for it! Your voice is great; I love your material.’ It was inspiring to have someone of his level of accomplishment to tell me that. It was a huge push for me. He’s been very supportive.” With the advice of Oates in tow, Erin made her move to New York City after graduation with the goal of developing her craft as an artist and live performer. Shortly after, Erin released her impressive debut album Soul Revolutions in 2007. “All of the songs are about achieving your dreams and growing as an individual,” she explains. “At that time, I was disheartened by the industry and pop music in general. I felt like it needed to be injected with a dose of positive energy and a breath of fresh air.” Though her effervescent optimism fueled her sunny disposition, New York City proved to be a difficult beast to tame. Undaunted by the rigors of New York City’s new artist gauntlet, she managed to make an impact on the city’s community of independent artists. “For the first three years, I felt like I was screaming into the abyss waiting for someone to listen. I found that if you scream hard and long enough, someone’s going to hear you.” Her unique and mellifluous vocal style eventually landed her a monthly residency at the famed Greenwich Village venue Bitter End. Bookings at the lauded S.O.B.’s as well as Joe’s Pub soon followed. It turns out her screams weren’t falling on deaf ears after all. Erin soon began to expand on the art of live performance by putting a 21st century twist on her dad’s ethos of sonic and technological altruism. “My goal is to keep reinventing myself, technologically and musically. The reason I started messing around with Ableton was to consolidate my live set. What I’m doing on stage is really difficult to verbalize.” Utilizing the ground breaking live performance software Ableton in tandem with a host of synthesizers and midi-control surfaces, Erin successfully sets in motion in concert what words could never describe. “I’m taking these different ideas and components of a DJ set, sampling, and live performance, and putting them together to create a live remix. I’m bringing the studio to the stage. It becomes more than just an audible experience. It’s also very visual.” Eager audiences were immersed in the full experience of Erin’s revamped live show this past fall during her successful showcase at the annual CMJ festival in Manhattan. This spring, Erin will finally unveil her anticipated sophomore release Illusions. A powerful collection of intense piano balladry (“Another Way”), R&B (“Good Man”), and moody soulscapes (“I’m Out”), Illusions is a stellar example of Erin’s profound knack for meshing introspection and lyrical cleverness. “The album takes you on the journey of a relationship between two people from beginning to end. You'll get to experience all the delusion and disillusion that goes along with young love,” she says. “But the underlying theme brought to light at the end is that the most important relationship is actually the one you have with yourself.” Illusions features an intoxicating reggae-infused collaboration with underground Hip-Hop mainstays Louis Logic & J.J. Brown entitled “Satisfied,” highlighted by an equally amazing music video shot on location in New York City. “It’s a lustful song. It’s that middle part of the relationship where you’re absolutely obsessed with somebody. It’s definitely a very sexy song.” Erin also pays tribute to the great songwriting genius of Phil Collins here with a stirring reinterpretation of Genesis’ top 10 Billboard classic “That’s All” While Erin has definitely paid her share of dues and experienced a wealth of accomplishment over the past four years, she’s intensely focused on the infinite possibilities the future holds. With Illusions ready for take off, it’s only a matter of time before this songbird takes flight. “When I moved to New York, I was a girl,” she reflects. “Now, I’m truly a woman. I’ve learned a lot about myself. My sound is constantly evolving. Yeah, you can hear reggae, pop, or R&B, but it’s my distinct voice. It has my niche stamp on it.”

 

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