He is our BOTW and we’ve already introduced you to some of his tracks – including the very amazing Battles, which we featured yesterday as our BOTW Download. He’s made us dream and rave about him on end with his immersive style and groove. Now, the incredibly talented London-based singer and songwriter Barbarossa himself (aka James Mathé) is ready to let us in on the things that inspire him and his creativity as an alternative musician – things which include anything from Stevie Wonder to LCD Soundsystem. Enter Barbarossa’s captivating world with the very latest of PlanetNotion’s moodboards…
When I heard the band ‘The Band’ for the first time it changed my world. It is so rare to get have one band filled with so much talent. They play amazing, they sing amazing (except Robbie) and they look amazing. After hearing this record I checked out the documentary Martin Scorsese directed about them called ‘The Last Waltz’, it is so inspiring and full of incredible performances from the likes of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Dr John. From watching it you get such a sense of what they are about and what they have been through together. They are like my musical bible, they have been with me for longer than I can remember and I know I can always go back to them and get inspired and reminded of why I do what I do.
Stevie Wonder ‘Evil’
Stevie Wonder was one of the first artists that I really got into when I was growing up. Around the time of ‘Music in my mind’, ‘Talking Book’ and ‘Innervisions ‘ he was just phenomenal. His melodies, effortless vocal ability and grooves blew me away. Like The Band these records are like my musical home, they are in my blood now and I know I can always come back to them and still hear new things that inspire and excite me.
The Staple Singers
I have always loved gospel music, I even sang in a gospel choir for a bit. I got into The Staple Singers from seeing them perform with The Band in ‘The Last Waltz’ and was so moved by their harmonies. They have so much soul and heart and their vocals blend so well as they are all family and have this intuition that comes from singing together for so long.
I got into Dirty Projectors around the time Rise Above was released, they sounded like nothing I had heard before, so freely creative, inventive and fresh. His voice is so on the edge, you don’t know if he will hit the notes and sometimes he doesn’t. That is what is so great about artists like them, they ride this line where things could fall apart (or sound like it) like Neil Young and Crazy Horse. So many artists smooth things out so much to try to reach perfection but I think it’s often those imperfections that can make a performance perfect. The harmonies the girls do are spine tingling.
For their last record they built a studio in a mansion in LA with all this amazing analogue kit. I am a bit of geek when it comes to vintage synths, drum machines and keyboards so when they released these clips of them making the record I was inspired to go analogue for my record. It wasn’t quite as glamorous but I did go off to the countryside just outside Manchester to a totally analogue studio to record it with my band and Adem (silver Columns, Fridge) producing. If I could choose to be in any live band it would be this one. It must be so much fun playing these songs live. Shame they have split now, but I guess they left on a high.
Sufjan Stevens ‘Djohariah’
I love the simplicity of this track it’s so hypnotic you don’t realize you have been listening to it for 17 minutes! Just great melodies and ideas. I don’t like all of Sufjan’s stuff, some of it goes a bit overblown and twee for me but the stripped down stuff like ‘Seven Swans’ and the EP that this track comes off are amazing.
Searching for the wrong eyed Jesus
This documentary follows the artist Jim White on a road trip back to his home in the Deep South. There is something about this part of the world that fascinates me. I love the scenery, the people, the accent etc. It has live performances from bands and interviews with the people from the area. It is shot so beautifully, one of the most visually incredible films I have ever seen.
I am a massive fan of American indie films and this film has always been one of my favourites, I love the style and humour. Also the way the music is used is great. This final scene blew me away when I first saw it.
The sea has been a constant source of inspiration for me. I love it in all weather and times of the day. Living in the city I often pine for the sea, fortunately my family live on the south coast so I get to escape there every now and then.
Pure Evil Street Artist
I have a friend who is a street artist called Pure Evil who also owns a gallery. He has educated me about street artists and introduced me to some amazing stuff from around the world. As well as Pure Evil art I really love ROA who does the black and white animals you see on buildings around East London, I also love Pablo Delgado who does tiny paste ups of prostitutes on street corners amongst other weird and wonderful things. There is also a French crew called ‘The DMV’ crew who I really love, especially a guy called Dran.
Look out for Barbarossa’s second album Bloodlines, to be released later this year.
-Abbie Cohen @Abbiewrites