Sophie Barker Chats with CultureMob on her Seagull Tour

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Sophie Barker image credit: Jane Hodson

Sophie Barker, who you may know as the vocalist on from Zero 7’s Simple Things, is coming to Seattle to perform at the Tractor with Seattle’s Tiny Messengers on May 6th. Tickets are $10 + Fees, and are available here.

Tom Mohrman: Your new album seems like a marked departure from the music you were making with Zero 7. Is the acoustic thing more of what you are into?

Sophie Barker: To be honest with you, it’s funny you say that. When I was working with Zero 7 they came into the folk acoustic thing a lot more later after we joined them. The way that Zero 7 worked is that we wrote a lot of the songs and they produced around with their particular sound. But we’re all of the same generation.

I think Seagull has a lot of seventies vibe, a lot of Motown, and it’s got a bit of country. I still think there are links in Zero 7, but of course in Zero 7 you had different writers doing different songs. In this one you’ve just got me doing them. It’s still quite down tempo and seventies influenced.

TM: What are those major influences from the seventies?

SB: I was brought up with Fleetwood Mac and Motown. Well… Motown is sort of sixties, then of course you got Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye- all of those influences started quite early. Essentially live music, and when you get to hip hop or trip hop it’s more electronic… it’s a real combination of all these different things. Sometimes instinctively you don’t even know what they are, but you listen to it and the essence of it is soulful. Whether it’s black or white or whatever it is.

TM: How did the tour come together?

SB: Like everything, most of my musical career has been serendipitous. It’s almost like each place has chosen us. I feel very privileged to be playing at every venue we’re playing around the states. I’m really excited about playing the Tractor Tavern. I’ve been really blown away by the hospitality of everyone in America so far. It’s been a very interesting journey, because Zero 7 hit a chord a while ago in America, and it’s like a second coming ten years later coming here on my own. This is a magical time for us. It’s really exciting.

TM: What are your thoughts on the music industry these days?

SB: It’s changed so much. I think that it’s very important that people have as much opportunity to listen to music as possible without having to pay the ridiculous prices they used to have to pay. Now what happens is that everything is open and free to the point where now when I released my album in England, a lot of my albums were downloaded for free in Russia. Which is fine to a degree, but the problem is if you are independant- and most artists are unless you are with a very big label (and there’s no guarantee there anyway) you still have to support yourself financially to do these gigs and get your music out there.

It’s a dichotomous situation, because on one level you want your music to get out there to as many people as possible, but I do also think that people need to realize that this is a basic living…it has to be a give and take situation. Which I think will happen. There needs to be some pledge support. There are now amazing systems like we had with Kickstarter to help us come to America. This is the positive thing about the internet. That you can do viral positivity- you’re going to cure everything in the world.

 

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