New York City is filled with quite the set up, from movies, TV programs down to music, in the case of music though, singer/song writer Lesley Barth, has taken her musical approach with a 70's throwback feel. Using elements of folk, pop, rock, and even country into her music. How do these genres work out? Well she went on to release an EP and has been writing and recording for her newest and latest album "Green Hearts". She took time to discuss this album plus much more.
1. Why did you want to go and get involved with music, what was it about music that drew you in and had that light bulb go off?
I grew up in a very musical household – my father was an opera singer who met my mother while she was choreographing an opera of his. So there was also music around and I was just drawn to it – to singing, to the piano, to writing songs – from as early as I could talk, I remember singing and writing songs. I like the range of color available in expressing things through music. I’ve always loved poetry and playing around with words and imagery, and adding that layer of melody and rhythm just excites me as a creative person. There are so many feelings and emotions you can express through music that I wouldn’t really know how to express any other way.
2. Why did you think that naming this project after yourself Lesley Barth, was the right thing to do, what is it about artists as opposed to bands, with naming said group after themselves or as something else?
I’ve toyed around with the idea of having a band name, but for now, the music I write feels very connected to me and very personal. I also don’t think music will ever not be a part of my life, so having my real name also be my artist name felt like a very organic choice. I have all sorts of fun side project ideas, but haven’t gotten to that yet. I want to establish myself as a singer and a songwriter first. In terms of other people, I feel like it’s a very individual choice so there is no wrong or right generally speaking. This was right for me, though. For now!
3. Where are you based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local acts you could recommend?
I’m based in Astoria, Queens in New York City. There are definitely some great local acts, many of whom I collaborate on occasion – check out Charles Ramsey (full disclosure, my husband), Single Girl Married Girl, Shannon Soderlund, William Gruff. Incidentally, artists from each of these projects will be joining me onstage as my band at the NYC release show at Rockwood Music Hall, Jan 26th at 7pm. You can still get tickets here!
4. How would you describe your style? Why did you want to take the 70's era and infuse that into your style of music, what was it about that time period, that caught your attention the most.
My “style” is something I’ve only thought about recently doing some music promotion (not a lot of artists get into music to do marketing, though it’s been really interesting and fun to learn). My music definitely has a retro feel, and I think that’s just because I listened to a lot of bands and singer/songwriters from the 70s growing up. I like it because it’s melodic, a little confessional and poetic, and probably tied a lot of that music into my emotional maturing process, so it comes out in my writing.
5. If you had to pick one song off "Green Hearts" to introduce someone who has never heard your music, which would you pick and why?
I think I’d choose either “Song Without a Name,” or “Green Hearts,” the title track. I think both, while very different in that “Song Without a Name” is upbeat and joyful, and “Green Hearts” is dramatic and wistful, take a very relatable feeling but put my unique spin and sensibility on it. I think if you’re sold on either of those songs, you will probably like a lot of what I write!
6. What other songs off "Green Hearts", do you think we will see, be made into singles and or videos, or you would like to see?
I’ll be sharing a video for the title track very shortly – it’s a bit of a different take on a popular fairytale. I’ll leave the rest to the imagination…
7. Who produced "Green Hearts" and what was it like working with them?
I recorded all but the opening track at Brooklyn’s Mission Sound, working with Oliver Straus, who engineered and co-produced with me. It’s great working with him and at Mission – the studio is like a big play pen for musicians, and he’s an incredibly knowledgeable guy who helped me translate my vision into a sonic realty. I learned a lot about production and pulling together a great album during this process, and so much was from working with Oli. Mike Abiuso of SwitchBitch Records, a friend I met through friends, tracked the opening number and it was a joy working him as well.
8. Who did the cover art for "Green Hearts" and how much input did you have on it?
Chris Owyoung, a fantastic photographer who does a lot of concert photography as well, took the photo, and Alice Teeple designed it. We worked on it together mostly in my apartment, so I had fair bit of input. Alice is a friend, and I’ve worked with her on two music videos and a few photo shoots, so it’s very comfortable and fun to collaborate. I think we can balance out each other’s artistic sensibilities in a good way, too.
9. Is there any story or concept behind the "Green Hearts" title?
The track “Green Hearts” is about the young loves that never were and how powerfully they can linger in our memory. I love performing this song, because there is something about it that still feels so real and powerful for me (and for most people), and the outro is just so much damn fun to sing and play.
10. When can we expect to see "Green Hearts" be released, and what can people hear off it?
It’s coming out January 27th – I have three singles off it that you can stream now: Just Like Summer, Best Thing, and Song Without a Name. Can’t wait to share the rest of this 11-track album with you!
11. How about playing shows and touring, have anything planned out?
I want to pull together a few mini-tours this year, no dates firm yet but be sure to follow me on the usual socials for the latest! (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Soundcloud).
12. What plans do you have for the future?
I want to put out a quick and dirty live-tracked EP this fall. I’ve been doing a ton of writing, and feel like I’ve just learned so much about making a project through this album, that I’m hungry to keep getting things out there and just keep getting better as a songwriter, performer, and business-person.
13. Where can we listen to your music and where can we buy your stuff?
You can pre-order “Green Hearts” on iTunes and Amazon, and listen to earlier tunes on Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, Soundcloud, Bandcamp – all the digital spots!
14. What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most when hearing your music for the first time?
The story a particular song is trying to tell or a feeling it’s trying to evoke. I love lyrics and poetry, and have a passion for song craft, so there’s nothing that I enjoy more than someone remembering lyrics that really meant something to them from one of my songs.