Reflection: Barbara - Escape Artist
Album: Escape Artist
Release Date: Sep. 16, 2022
Link to Purchase: https://gobarbarago.bandcamp.com/album/escape-artist
It changes every day :')
Today marks 3 months since Barbara released our debut full-length album Escape Artist and celebrated with an in-store performance at Twist & Shout Records on Sep. 16. I want to take a moment to reflect on this project and the numerous positive ways it has impacted my life.
Barbara was born during the pandemic, when my roommates (Bridget Hartman & Anna Panella) and I started jamming in our basement. We were all looking for something new out of music, having become burnt out in our own ways from all that comes along with completing music degrees and navigating life as professional musicians. I was personally feeling boxed in by expectations, perfectionism, and a questioning of my musical identity. So, Bridget picked up the bass, Anna sat down at the drum set, I grabbed the cherry red Fender Strat that I got for my 10th birthday, and we just started playing. What we soon realized was that songwriting was incredibly natural between the three of us and the joy of playing new instruments meant we didn't have expectations or ideas about what the music should sound like. Writing with Barbara always feels like discovery and exploration - a safe space to try things out with no fear of judgement. Before too long, we realized we had enough songs to record an album, asked our good friends Kevin Cincotta and Ethan Michael to help us with recording and production, and set the dates.
Escape Artist was recorded over three days at my parents' cabin (thanks mom & dad) just outside of Fairplay, CO. On January 7th, we packed two cars to the brim with gear and drove to the mountains, and on the evening of January 9th we returned to Denver with the bulk of the album completely tracked (minus final vocal takes and some additional production elements).
I'm so proud of this album. I love the way that the songs came together to create a story, each one about escape in its own way. "Red Rover" is about the desperate desire to escape from the pandemic, "Brand New" is about the positive escape from a relationship that's no longer working, "Aquarium Suicide" is literally about our fish escaping from their tank by jumping out of it, and "Houdini" plays on the idea of the famous escape artist himself, and the feeling of seeking escape from deep anxiety. The final track on the album, "Green House," is our love song to each other, and a celebration of the sweet escape and safe haven we found living together. Reflecting now, it's really remarkable to me that we didn't put much thought into the order of the songs beyond what we thought would make sense musically, and it ended up telling a really beautiful story in the end.
What I've ultimately found through Barbara and through the creation of Escape Artist is healing. I've now chosen to only continue pursuing the projects that mean something to me, I've chosen not to hold myself to some kind of invisible standards about what kind of musician I "should" be, and by making these decisions, I have become a healthier, happier person overall. I won't ever be able thank Bridget, Anna, Kevin, and Ethan enough.
I'm super happy to report that Barbara just recorded a brand new single called "Currents" that will be coming out in early 2023. We are also a featured band with Indie 102.3 this month as part of their #Local303 and are playing at the Local 303 Meetup on Dec. 19 at the Mercury Cafe. This event starts at 6:30pm and is free and open to the public. We also have dates booked at the Skylark Lounge and Hi-Dive in the coming months, so stay tuned for those. And finally, album #2 is in the works - we hope to have a similar release timeline to this year.
If you've heard Escape Artist, thank you for listening. Just making the album was fulfilling, but to know that other people are enjoying it and finding meaning in it is really an honor. If you haven't heard it yet but would like to, you can hear it on Bandcamp (linked above), Spotify, or wherever you listen (except for AppleMusic, we are having issues 🙃).
Thank you thank you thank you <3