Erin Barra is undeniably “An artist with intangible star quality,” as The Washington Post recently put it. Combining elements of pop, electronica, rock and blue-eyed soul into a sophisticated original blend that is all her own, Barra has mastered the art of defying genre limitations, resulting in a sonic cocktail with essences of Alicia Keys, Nelly Furtado, Daft Punk and Esthero.
Barra stands out as a rare tech-savvy female artist in the male dominated digital audio game. She jokingly says that her abilities as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist combined with her digital production skills make her a “semi-unicorn.” Her live show backs this up, as she deftly plays keys with her right hand, synth bass lines with her left, runs a software program and sings, while making it all look easy.
Even growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, Barra’s eclectic musical tendencies were already evident as she hungered over her parents’ dusty record collection ranging from James Taylor and Simon & Garfunkel to Led Zeppelin and The Doors while studying classical piano and absorbing her father’s audiophile nature. Inspired by her father’s creation of audio solutions for mixing engineers and inheriting his demand for high end audio standards, Barra began exploring the boundaries of music and technology as a student at Berklee College of Music. While there, she quickly established herself as a force to be reckoned with, winning a songwriting competition which earned her a collaboration with George Massenburg, Elliot Schiener and Kathy Mattea. She then went on to co-write with John Oates (Hall & Oates), who calls Barra “an ‘old soul’ musician with a very modern songwriting sensibility.”
That sensibility and raw talent continued to evolve as Barra relocated to New York City and refined her live performances through a monthly residency at The Bitter End. Looking for a way to consolidate her shows, Barra began experimenting with the performance software Ableton in tandem with a host of synthesizers and midi-control devices. “I’m bringing the studio to the stage,” Barra explains, “I’m taking these different ideas and components of a DJ set, sampling, and live performance, and putting them together.” Her recently released sophomore album, Illusions, exemplifies the diversity that is Erin Barra while never losing her essential lyrical depth and tightly crafted soundscapes.
Constantly wanting to explore new directions for her creativity and love of technology, Barra is now releasing Illusions Remixed, which is – as the title suggests – an EP of selections from Illusions, remixed. The first offering is “Magician,” which turns the tune from a soulful mid tempo ballad to a epically grooving jam, complete with a rap verse by Queens based MC Kon Boogie, and samples ranging from Carl Orff to Timbaland running under Barra’s sultry vocals.
Barra’s love of Ableton is clearly mutual, as the technology company has partnered with her to present a competition for fans and fellow technology buffs to remix the first single from Illusions, “Good Man.” In addition to a plethora of prizes valued at over $1,000, one winner will see their remix released alongside “Satisfied,” remixed by Barra and the final song on the Illusions Remixed EP.
Editor’s note (via Erin Barra at http://www.sonicscoop.com/2012/09/04/op-ed-by-erin-barra-sample-this-blog-why-its-time-for-a-sampling-revolution/):
In the spirit of continuing the cycle: Ableton, ProAudioStar and I have teamed up for a remix contest running the entire month of September. You’ll be given the stems to ‘Good Man’, the single off my last album, Illusions.
Then it’s up to YOU to “put your thing down, flip it and reverse it”.
Three finalists will be chosen and voted on by the community and one winner will have their remix released along side several other remixes from the same album. Also included in the prize pack will be a $500 gift certificate to ProAudioStar, and an amazing pair of studio in ear monitors from Bowers & Wilkins.
For further details visit http://contest.proaudiostar.com