After being crowned 2013’s Triple J Unearthed winner, earning her a spot on the line up for the annual St Jerome’s Laneway Festival of that year, Ali Barter became a favourite on the popular youth station with her two singles ‘Far Away’ and ‘Girlie Bits’ swiftly gaining full rotation. Frustrated with the content in her Uni degree and the things she saw in the industry, Ali penned an op-ed piece for Junkee about the importance of including women in music history. This piece gained a massive attention and saw Yoko Ono personally retweet the article. Ali’s career has seen her support and tour with The Rubens, Vance Joy, Cloud Control, City Calm Down and The Jezabels. Last year she played sold-out launches for her single in Sydney and Brisbane and saw her anthemic single ‘Girlie Bits’ land on the Triple J’s Hottest 100 for 2016. Ali began the year with a bang, dropping her brilliant LP ‘A Suitable Girl’ which was Triple J’s feature album of the week in March this year. Produced by Holy Holy’s Oscar Dawson, Ali’s LP is sonically nostalgic 90’s Grunge Rock paired with her beautiful ability to capture frank and sometimes messy emotions and convert them into memorable melodic gems. Ali is currently in the middle of a national tour that began earlier this month and will be keeping her out on the road for all of May. In the midst of all she has going on, we managed to sneak in a chat with Ali on all things business and tour related.
1) Who was your first musical inspiration? Why?
I was into music very early on so my first musical inspiration must have been something like the old Disney songs. I remember I have a Disney Jazz Collection that my dad gave me. It had Louis Armstrong singing songs like ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and ‘The Bare Necessities’. I love the words and melodies of these songs. Such wonderful songwriting.
2) What advice do you have for someone who is about to set off on their first tour?
Don’t break the McDonalds seal. Once you’ve done it, it’s post-show cheeseburgers every night. No good.
3) What has been one of your most defining moments in your career?
Having a song in the Triple J Hottest 100 was pretty amazing. It was a moment I realised that people were actually hearing my music. That was a great feeling. Also, releasing an album has been awesome. I feel like a grown up, like I’ve made a commitment and seen it through. Now for album number 2!
4) How has your music practice changed over time?
I guess I know what I want to do now so I spend less time experimenting. I used to spend lots of time learning to make beats, trying to play synth and do it all. Now I’ve worked out that I want to make rock music, I can just focus with my guitar and write simple songs on my iPhone. I have a system now. Also, I understand my process better. I know what inspires me and how I like to work. Incubating myself with music and films and books and my guitar. Filling my head up with words and ideas and them letting them come out naturally. I used to force songs out. Now I let them come, if they wanna come.
5) My top business tip for new artists is…
Learn how to use MYOB and make a budget. I wish I’d been across that in the beginning. Music is very expensive and you can shoot yourself in the foot getting into debt if you don’t have a plan.
6) My biggest career mistake has been…
I don’t believe in mistakes. I think mistakes are valuable learning tools and an opportunity for growth. Try to see the benefit of every situation and take responsibility for your actions to be better next time around. I have done that a million times, and I’ll keep doing it.
7) In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is…
How to financially support artists so that they can do their thing. Grants and government support are crucial as are streaming revenue. Hopefully soon there will be new ways for artists to support themselves through music.
Purchase your tickets to A Suitable Girl Tour HERE.
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