Barbarian is a melting pot of an artist, of african descent and european ubringing, he refreshes his african-american and british influences with a contemporary rigor and an ear for what made the best of past FM glories.
Obsessed with achieving class and style with a straightforward and catchy vibe, his writing is a testimony of how music is an ever changing and freedom hungry territory.
I’m a writer, composer, producer and director. So there you go, very hand on. I’m a bad instrumentalist, but a good producer and honest singer with an ear for all kinds of swing. And I’m obsessed with melodies.
Do you have a mission as you set yourself on this path ?
Make good music with an emphasis on melody and energy. The vibe is usually melancholic and I’m looking for some kind of equilibrium between pouring my heart out and not be self-indulgent.
I’m often told that my music is “visual”. I like that. I guess it means that it conjures up images, some kind of setting, which is satisfying because that’s how I write it - even though now, I’m finding myself in an ever increasing state of emotional tension in my writing process. Now the words connect more with my initial intent.
What’s your definition of good music ?
Music that does not pretend to be more than what it is. The day I start caring more about how I’m perceived as a cultural product than delivering a catchy and well crafted tune, I hope someone is there to slap me.
What’s unique in your sound ?
No music is truly unique. I’m perfectly aware of everything that I’ve heard and channel in my writing. So maybe what’s unique is how broad the spectrum of artists I invoque is. It’s really an orgy of influences. But in the end, if there is something that I feel is lacking and hope I can bring, it’s that 80s craftsmanship. There’s somewhat of a fun, honest, no holds barred approach I dig.
Who Are You ?
I’m first and foremost an independent artist. I may have dabbled in corporate collaborations earlier in my life but I never enjoyed it. Maybe it works for some people, not for me. I am very uncomfortable with the industry aspect of the industry because of how it makes people behave. Money is really like fuel, it gets the engine going but can set fire to the whole damn thing. If it’s a labor of love, I want people I love to labor with me.
Where are you from and what role music played in your life ?
I’m from Algeria, raised in France, one in a million. I was born in Algiers and grew up near Paris, mostly in a suburb where I still live. Music, and singing in particular, has always been a critical aspect of my life from a very early age. Like since I’m five or six years old. Above all it has been my white cane. Growing up, and today still, I’ve always been more comfortable with emotions put to a rhythm than emotions expressed. I’ve been called many things because of that. Music to me is deeply a matter of emotion - I can find myself moved by songs that are made to dance. Quite often actually.
What musicians played a role in this upbringing ?
There is literally no kind of music that I haven’t listened to. I went through an extensive fetishist, almost obsessive phase where I had to experience sound to the fullest and in a sometimes awkward way. Most of my youth was devoted to hip hop but I’ve explored metal, rnb, electro, folk, pop… So today, all of my past music experiences surge when I write, that can be a Chopin harmony, indian music, DJ Premier, the Beatles or the cringiest dance music. What matters is that a good song comes out of it. If I absolutely have to give names though… No, I can’t. I love the singer songwriter profile of artists such as Brandon Flowers, Aimee Mann or Daniel Balavoine.
Why Barbarian ?
I believe that’s what I am as an eternal foreigner to this mess of a world... and because that’s how as an individual I’m seen by a portion of the population. Historically it applies to me, so I embrace it. I like how it evoques things that don’t seem to be in my music. That’s because I look different to you, but once you listen to what I do, my hope is you realize how much we’re the same.
What’s your past experience in music ?
I’ve been in the background, working on artists image, producing music and maturing. Nothing too fancy or write the family about. The making of Barbarian is in no way a sexy tale.
Why so late when you’ve been a creative for so long ?
Because I was not ready to be a recording artist. I was not satisfied with the state of what I was producing. And I never felt the need to exist “no matter what” in the public space. If I can’t be the artist I want to be, the way I see it, I’d rather stay anonymous, I’m completely cool with that.
So what about Insider ?
The single and the video are what I feel to be a good introduction to my universe. It’s really a perfect mix of everything that makes me. It’s an homage to the power of music, to all the wonders it can fill a mind with. I wanted to stick to that, just the “magic” and not the “social tool” aspect of it. Even though I try to be articulate, I hate to intellectualize and fall in a loop of endless references. People are bright enough, or creative enough to make sense of it.
What can we expect in the near future ?
Increasingly better sounding songs I hope. A slew of “singles” if we can still call them that. I have an extensive amount of songs, I have sorted out which one will inaugurate the channels and in what order. At the rate of one release per month, I want to give each song a visual platform, whether it’s a performance or a proper music video. I really look forward to giving as much as I can to whoever connects to my music.