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Melbourne based-singer, songwriter Ali Barter has just released her third recording, AB-EP.  Co-written and produced by Holy Holy’s Oscar Dawson, the EP was recorded at The Aviary in Abbotsford and is a natural yet considered progression from her 2014 recording Community. On AB-EP, the song construction seems to follow a loosely based pattern. Intro with plucky or jangling guitars set over a simple rock/pop beat. On top sits a sweet, reverb-laden ethereal voice. Ultimately the sparseness gives way to a rich flow of sound, as the choruses cascade into a haze of dream-like distortion and multi-layered vocals. A plan of sorts but by no means formulaic. There’s ample fluctuation in tempo, vocal dynamics and variance in the mix to give each of the 6 tracks a personality of their own. There’s an assortment of lyrical themes too, “Anger, love, obsession and there never being enough,” Ali tells us. AB-EP is the sound of an artist in close collaboration with her producer, striving for and achieving musical integrity and honesty. Ali recently had some down-time available to dedicate to a Q&A for Australian Musician ahead of her performance tonight at Howler in Melbourne and Saturday night’s show at Brighton Up Bar in Sydney

ALI BARTER Q&A for Australian Musician

Did you have a sonic picture of how you wanted the EP to sound as a whole or were you just dealing with it song by song?
I wanted it to be raw and loud and rocky. That’s all really. Lots of guitars and drums – band in a room vibes with some extra sparkles.

In general, did these songs come together quickly or did you live with some for a longer time?
Some, I started writing in 2012. I guess these songs came together over a year or so – I had a lots of songs backed up from when wasn’t allowed to sing due to a vocal issue so they are from that time.

Are you the kind of songwriter who has an archive of songs, bits and pieces of songs, lyric lines which you come back to or do you prefer to see a song through to completion once it inspiration hits?
Yeah, I got songs and half finished songs all over the shop. I sometimes drop songs and them come back to them. At the moment all the songs I’m putting together for my album next year are new and I really like that. They were easy to write and I’m trying to keep it simple this time around. If it is taking forever to make a song work, it’s not the right song.

How would you describe Oscar’s production style and what kind of things did you learn during the recording process?
He is super encouraging and open. Willing to try anything. He has a million ideas. He’s amazing and everything he touches turns to gold. I learned to follow an idea through to the end and not edit my thoughts. I know a thing or two about pro tools now as well after watching him for hours editing and tracking sessions.

Would you say there’s an overall theme lyrically with the EP?
Anger, love, obsession and there never being enough.

Where and when are you most likely to write a song?
When I feel like shit or guilty that I haven’t written a song for ages! I have been doing a lot of co-writing lately too so I find I’m really productive under pressure. Like, here’s a room, a stranger, a guitar and 6 hours – now write a song!

Tell me about the gear you played on the album, guitars, amps, pedals and anything else.
I play a 1962 Silvertone electric guitar and a Music Man amp from the 70’s. I guess they are my sound. The guitar has a jangly bright sound and the amp is dirty and loud. I use a distortion pedal called MI audio ‘Tube Zone’ which I love.

This is your third EP. Are you considering a full length album next?
Yes! I have almost finished writing it and we are playing new songs that will be on the album at the shows this Thursday and Saturday. I have been wanting to play the songs as a band before getting into the studio to see what works and feels good live so that it translates like that in recording.

If budget wasn’t an issue, what would be your ideal band set up on stage to play your music?
I like the setup I have now. Me on guitar and voacls, Oz Dawson on guitar, Tyler Millot on bass, Andrew Braidner on drums and now we have Yuko Nishiama playing keys and tambo and backing vocals. I love these guys, I just wish I could pay them more!

Which artist has been the most influential on the kind of music you’re producing now?
I love Juliana Hatfield. She is a super honest chick playing guitar and singing about how she feels. Simple stuff but so so good.

What was the first album you bought?
Moods 2 – It was a compilation album I got from Brashes. It had Deep Forest ‘Lullaby’ on it and Ennino Morricone ‘The theme from The Mission’. Classic listening.

What’s an album you never tire of hearing?
Fleetwood Mac – Greatest Hits

What would you consider to be your most memorable gig to date?
Opening for The War On Drugs at the Metro in Sydney 2014, and playing an open mic night in NYC in 2011. I was the only one with an instrument, everyone else was rapping to backing tracks, and I was one of 3 girls out of 40 dudes. I was so scared but it was so fun.

Who are some artists you would love to collaborate with?
Father John Misty and Ryan Adams. I really enjoy writing and singing with songwriters.

What’s on for the rest of the year?
I’m playing shows this week with Ben Wright Smith in Melbourne and Sydney and then that’s it as far as I know. I’m just going to keep writing in prep for recording my album next year!

AB-EP’ is available through Ronnie Records/MGM.

AB-EP Launch Shows
Thursday 08 Oct   Howler  Melbourne  VIC

Co-headline show with Ben Wright Smith
7-11 Dawson St, Brunswick

Saturday 10 Oct Brighton Up Bar Sydney NSW
Co-headline show with Ben Wright Smith
1/77 Oxford St, Darlinghurst

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