Q + A with Jef Barbara by Sick of the Radio
Our friends at Sick Of The Radio recently caught up with Jef Barbara right before kicking off his European tour, to talk to him about his newest release Cocaine Love w/DannielRadall, and also his plans post-tour.
s.o.t.r.: You just released the EP Cocaine Love with producer DannielRadall. The song “Cocaine Love” originally appeared on your debut Contamination. How did this new EP with Radall come about?
Jef: I became aware of DannielRadall because we’ve both released on AMDISCS. I remember him being quite excited about Larmes de crocodile, off my Contamination tape. A few weeks after the record came out, Rado (label head) asked if I could send Danniel the stems for Cocaine Love and I said yes. I was told that it was going to be a Tears For Fears-type remix but that didn’t pan out.
Still I wanted to push Cocaine Love with a video, which I had already shot scenes for. And because I felt Contamination had run its course, I needed to find a way to get the song the attention it deserved. So I asked Radall if he was down with making more than one remix and the rest is history.
s.o.t.r.: Your music, especially with “Cocaine Love”, seems to have a heavy 80’s feel. what about the 80’s culture attracts you the most and what artists would you say influence your work the most?
Jef: I was born in the 80’s. The 80’s have impacted my musical identity like no other decade, although at times, I’m more of a 70’s guy. I’ve always loved how 80’s pop stars projected larger-than-life personalities, in line with that decade’s glitzy excess, which can be assessed when watching MTV staples like Beat It and Express Yourself. With time though, I’ve ventured beyond the obvious, and started listening to things that weren’t as easily accessible when I was younger. Namely Francophone New Wave like Elli & Jacno and West Coast P-Funk like Cameo. But these are just examples of how varied my tastes are. Furthermore, the 80’s seemed to be infused with that sort of fantasy that died as we entered the 90’s. Even masculine androgyny was seen as cutting-edge because homosexuals had not yet fully impregnated collective consciousness, via reference points like Will & Grace. Hence why such looks were perceived as daring and artistic, rather than just gay. Gender-bending singers now tend to be constantly affected by acceptable ideas of how to look gay. It’s just not as freeform as it used to be.
s.o.t.r.: What are some current artists that you find favorable and that our readers should check out?
Jef: There are so many. I could tell you about labelmates like Pears, whose next album I’m really looking forward to. And then there’s Montreal acts that I dig, mostly friends. Bernardino Femminielli, who co-wrote both Cocaine Love and Wild Boys, has got a few recordings under his belt. He put out his last tape on his own record label, called Los Discos Enfantasmes, which has some releases worth checking out. Most of the other acts on the label venture into noisier pastures though. I also dig the shoegazey noise of the Rape Faction. One of my favourite songs from the past year is called Où sont les fleurs? by a talented young woman named Xarah, who plays in a band called Léopard et Moi. It’s got the the weirdest Oriental-type time signature that I can’t follow when I hear it yet it’s so damn dancey!
s.o.t.r.: The release party for Cocaine Love is on July 27th in Lodz, Poland. How was that location chosen and what are the plans for the event?
Jef: I picked Lodz out of all the other dates on the tour because the organizers have been staunch supporters thus far. They hosted a one-hour radio special on Radio Zak a few weeks ago and they turned out being total nerds, referencing things I did years ago, which I don’t really want people to know about. Hence why I decided to have the release party there. I don’t know what I’m gonna do, in addition to introducing the DannielRadall remix. I’d rather be spontaneous.
s.o.t.r.: You are undergoing a European tour right now, what are some of your favorite places to play in Europe? How would you say European audiences differ from Americans? Often times Europe is seen as more welcoming to innovative and new artists, would you agree?
Jef: Europeans are known to be more open to eccentricity, whether it’s in music, film, or even politics. I must say people’s reaction to me has been more intense in Europe than in America thus far. But I guess it’s something I will have to confirm once I’m done touring both continents. In answer to your other question, I can’t say what my favorite places are, as this is my first time playing Europe and I have yet to play my first gig, which is tonight. I’m kinda bummed out because I missed my flight to Prague. So I’m at the Paris airport, making the most of my time by writing well thought out answers.
s.o.t.r.: What are you plans post-tour? Are there hopes for a full-length release with Radall?
Jef: I would be open to collaborating with Radall in the future. I believe he’s very talented, like all the wonderful people I surround myself with. However for now, my main priority is a follow-up to Contamination, which I’m planning to wrap by this fall. So studio time is definitely in the cards and I can’t fucking wait!
Buy Contamination HERE.