Soulful electronic R&B artist Barbarossa, aka London based James Mathé, has had a busy 2013. Earlier in the year Mathé signed with Memphis Industries, who released dashing new single “The Load” and then the addicting new record Bloodlines. Oftentimes singles are not indicative of the rest of the record, but not so with “The Load”. The hauntingly gorgeous ballad showcases Mathé’s enchanting vocals and serves as a great snippet of the excellent craftsmanship the entire album exhibits. Barbarossa will be performing at Summit Music Hall in Denver on Monday, October 14. I got the change to chat with the gifted Mathé, who filled me in on the new music, where he writes his best songs, and being inspired by “Friends”.
How do you like performing in Colorado?
This will actually be my first time performing as Barbarossa in Colorado. I performed in Denver a few years ago with Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit. It was a great show and the crowd was amazing. Colorado is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, I remember driving through Colorado on that tour and being blown away by the scenery.
Your second album is fantastic, but is wildly different than your first. What was your goal with Bloodlines and did you achieve it?
My goal with Bloodlines was to incorporate my love of vintage casios/drum machines etc. and see if I could still retain the heart and emotion of when I just played the song on piano or guitar. I wanted to explore this new instrumentation and electronic sound. It took a while but I feel I achieved this.
Are there any songs on the record that you were initially unsure about releasing?
Not really, there were other songs for this record that did not make the cut. These ten songs were the ones that I was connecting to at the time of making the record.
What do you miss most about home when you're out on tour?
My wife, my own bed and home comforts. The usual stuff really.
What's the strangest thing to inspire a song?
I am not sure I should admit this but there was an episode of "Friends" that influenced one song from the record. We borrowed the box set from my mother-in-law and watched the whole thing over the course of one winter. It was something Phoebe said in one episode. Nothing too profound but it did spark an idea for a song.
What is the ideal setting for you to write the perfect song?
Usually it is at home or at my parent's, somewhere I feel relaxed. Often songs come first thing in the morning or late at night. I wrote a few of the songs from this record in the morning after a night out, hungover. I think those altered states when you are not focusing or thinking too hard are often when good idea come through.
What is on tap for the rest of 2013?
I am currently on the US on tour with Junip. I have more shows planned for France and some possible tours in November and December. I am also enjoying working on some new songs for the next record.
If you could have anyone in the world as the #1 fan of your music, who would it be and why?