Following the success of 2016’s Gentle Kind Of Lies and last year’s Optimus Prime, Dublin band BARQ are back with double A-side ‘Sassy Mouth’ / ‘Earthquakes’. We spoke to them about their history and plans for 2018.
Imagine Erykah Badu meets Rage Against The Machine with a hint of hip hop.
First up, tell us bit about yourselves - what led you all to forming BARQ?
We initially started playing together as a foursome when we formed a hip hop covers band! After a couple of years of replicating DJ/synth/sample sounds using just guitar, bass, drums, and voice, we realised we’d come up with a sound of our own, and that we should definitely be writing our own music!
Who did your take inspiration from?
Loads of inspiration from the music we grew up listening to; 90s r&b, Rage Against The Machine, Hip Hop, Lauryn Hill, as well as more modern artists like Kendrick Lamar, The Internet, Anderson .Paak, Hiatus Kaiyote. Those couple of years covering hip hop had a huge influence too!
Why the name BARQ?
Well BARQ means lightning in Arabic, and one of the first songs we ever wrote had a lot of lightning based metaphors so we thought we’d pay homage to it in our name.
How would you describe your musical style?
Agrosoul! Imagine Erykah Badu meets Rage Against The Machine with a hint of hip hop.
Your first single was 2016’s ‘Gentle Kind Of Lies’. What kind of response did that get?
We were completely overwhelmed by the positivity of the response! A couple days after it was released it was added to the Spotify New Music Friday playlists in the UK and Brazil, as well as getting quite a lot of airplay on Irish radio. After spending a year writing and rehearsing without anybody hearing the songs it was nervewracking sending our musical children out into the world so to have them met with such positivity was fantastic.
You followed up ‘Gentle Kind Of Lies’ with three further singles ‘Optimus Prime’, ‘That Thing You Love’ and ‘Bear’. How did you build on the success of your debut?
We followed up the initial burst of interest with a lot of gigs. We were pretty much gigging at festivals every weekend that first summer, as well as putting on a few of our own shows. After building that initial base we travelled further afield and played at Canadian Music Week and Mondo NYC, as well as completing an Ireland and UK tour. We also toured Ireland as part of the Smithwicks Soundtrack Series, recreating the musci of Pulp Fiction in our own style. It’s been a busy two years!
Since these releases, you’ve been featured on the front cover of Hot Press, and were included in The Irish Times’ “50 People To Watch In 2017”. How do accolades such as this impact on the way you approach your music?
It’s amazing and really gives us the confidence to keep doing what we are doing. The music scene in Ireland is really burgeoning and it’s great that our national publications are taking notice as well as independent blogs, etc. Our sound comes from a place were we wish to push boundaries and experiment with our sound. To know even within the first months that it has been lauded by our community is really heartening.
Your latest release is double A-side ‘Sassy Mouth’ / ‘Earthquakes’. What are they about?
‘Sassy Mouth’ is an homage to the emerging social movements happening in ireland and the world. I have found in my life I have come up against a behaviour that ridicules opposing opinions by reducing views to “silly”, “bossy” or “sassy”. The objective of the song is to hold up a torch for self-belief and the desire for change. It’s an energetic and fun song, that also has a message.
The lyrics for ‘Earthquakes’ were written during an angry time. I felt isolated after a big bust up with some pals. I was angry and decided to pour my heart out into the song. I thought to myself “why do we not have enough songs about friendship splits in the world?”, so I wrote some lyrics to articulate my feelings. The idea behind a natural disaster reflecting a friendship dissolving is that, in the moment it feels chaotic and scary, but the aftermath allows a space for renewal.
When did you write them and where did you record them?
We wrote them about 18 months ago and recorded them at Westland Studios, Dublin. The session was engineered by Alwyn Walker, Mixed by Scott Halliday, and mastered by Dan Smith. (iamamiwhoami, Moby, Noel Gallagher)
How do they build on your style?
We think that they give a broad representation of what our agrosoul genre is about. ‘Sassy Mouth’ is very aggressive and ‘Earthquakes’ leans more towards the soulful side of our music. Despite their differences we feel they still have a consistent sound of BARQ running through them, as well as showing our listeners a deeper edge to the “agro” and “soul” sides of previous releases.
What are your hopes for the release?
Like many musicians it’s hard to focus on the recent releases when your head is in the next project! Ha! But we hope that people stand up and take notice of what’s going on in Ireland, musically and socially. Our culture is changing and its reflected in the music and art being released out of Ireland. We also hope that is helps us get some gigs in the UK and we can blow the head off some punters in London or Bristol!
What do fans get at your live shows?
Its energetic and emotional. It’s sexy and infectious. In a good way. Like being licked in the face by someone attractive. Confusing but intriguing.
Where can we see you live in 2018?
Well we’re in Whelan’s, Dublin on 24/03/18 to celebrate our double single launch! Next up is a charity concert for Aware in the Olympia Theatre on April 6th and after that it’s straight into the festival season… so you’ll most likely see us in afield around Ireland somewhere, carrying guitars and drums!
Finally, if you could wish for one thing to happen to the band this year, what would it be?
To have multiple moments of creative satisfaction. When you write something with three other humans and it comes out all moist and delish. A musical high five. It’s the best feeling.
Listen to ‘Sassy Mouth’ / ‘Earthquakes’ on SoundCloud below. For news and tour dates go to barqmusic.com.