He may be best known as the man on psychedelic sticks duty with Kevin Parker and the rest of Tame Impala but Julien Barbagallo or simply Barbagallo may well be the most interesting solo project to come out of the Perth Collective to date.
He recently shared the video for ‘L’échappée’, the first track from his third solo album Danse Dans Les Ailleurs. After writing and recording his first two records on the road with his Tame Impala bandmates Barbagallo took to the rural south of his native France to find the solitude and creativity needed to record his latest album, while managing to work with some of his musical heroes along the way.
Currently on a short set of dates throughout the UK, Far Out managed to catch up with him to talk about the recording and inspiration of the new album and any upcoming news from the Tame Impala camp.
FO: Hi Julien thank you for taking the time to talk to us, how are you enjoying being on tour?
B: “I’m having a great time. Playing outside France is very exciting. Especially in the UK because that’s where most of my favorite bands are from. Me and my bandmates love hanging out with each other, we laugh all the time. It makes the tour even better.”
What does it mean to you to play solo work in the UK?
“It means a lot because British music played a big role in my musical education, my career. I’m very happy to be able to come here finally with my own music. I see it as a way of giving a little bit back to the culture that gave me so much.”
How does it feel transitioning to more intimate shows like you’re playing on this tour after a heavy touring schedule with Tame Impala?
“Before Tame Impala I used to play in small bands and small venues so I feel very comfortable with those kinds of intimate shows, it’s part of what I do. Actually, they’re more stressful than big ones because you can see the faces, the reactions of the crowd.”
It’s been nearly two years since your last solo record ‘Grand Chien’, when did work begin on ‘Danse Dans Les Ailleurs’?
“Almost as soon as Grand Chien was released. I never stop recording little bits on my phone, chords, melodies… Then one day I decided to finalise all those ideas and turn them into songs.”
Your new single ‘L’échappée’ has a more direct, less layered sound than your previous releases. Did you aim to strip back the string arrangements on this album in order to go in a purer indie and pop songwriting direction on ‘Danse Dans Les Ailleurs’?
“Yes that’s exactly what I wanted! Something purer musically, more direct where the voice and the words could be heard more clearly.”
You recorded the album in a remote area of Southern France, how did that affect your writing and the sound? Tell us about what it was like to record in Nino Ferrer’s studio and how would you describe his music for UK readers who might not know of him.
“Nino Ferrer was a real free spirit, a music fan who kept experimenting and took French music into some unexpected worlds. He got huge hits in the 60´s but got tired of being known only for them. That’s why he moved to the South. There he was free to do all the music he wanted, to escape the character people thought he was. He explored soul music, blues, prog rock…
“That place called La Taillade is really magical. It’s an isolated farm on top of a hill surrounded by a forest of oaks and pines. It was the perfect atmosphere to record my album. Very relaxing and also mystical.”
You collaborated with Kings of Convenience on some tracks on the album? How was it to work with Erlend and Eirik?
“It’s a dream come true. I’ve been a KOC fan since the beginning and I ended up meeting them at different festivals in the past few years. I also caught up a couple of times with Erlend in Sicily because he lives very close to where my family is from.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t meet for that collaboration so we did it through the internet. I’m very proud to have them singing on my album.”
Are there any major inspirations or influences that you feel come through on the record?
“I think that I unconsciously used a lot of my early references like all the British band from the 90’s, Belle and Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub or Super Furry Animals artists like that.”
Things have been quiet on the Tame Impala front in the last few months, is there any updates on a follow up to Currents or any other exciting news?
“We are going to play a few festivals around the world this summer. I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll be in London for the Citadel festival this summer.”
How about record number four for Barbagallo, when will you be starting out on that?
“I’m not sure. I’ve got a few ideas. I’d like to use recorders of all sizes for example. I’d like to compose on a keyboard instead of a guitar next time.”
Thanks Julien, enjoy the rest of the tour!
You can catch Barbagallo on the 15th of February at The Cluny in Newcastle and
Danse Dans Les Ailleurs is set for release on the 2nd March via Sony Music France