Bartees Strange reflects on important moments during his musical development, including:
- Learning to sing alongside his opera and gospel singer mother, who brought him to most of her performances as a child, until eventually he was singing alongside her. “There’s something magical being a child in an opera Hall, hearing sound without microphones, bouncing off of the wood, bouncing off of the space, and then looking up on stage and seeing like a 5’2” black woman who’s your mom just fill it. And it’s like, ‘I know not everybody’s moms do this.’”
- Seeing the hardcore band Norma Jean in a church basement when he was in middle school, and realizing that music — especially live music — has the power to make an entire room full of people feel an energetic connection. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is just a music thing. Like, this is just what happens when music works, regardless of a classical space, hardcore space, or like a gospel space, like music can just do this. And I was just like, ‘how do I wield this magical power?’”
- Moving to New York after a stint working in politics in Washington, D.C., and finding inspiration in the music scene he plugged into there. “I grew up in a very rural area of Oklahoma and dealt with a lot of racism and questions about who I was and who I was allowed to be, and I don’t think I was fully comfortable in my body until I moved to New York City and I started meeting all these artists — like are you familiar with the band L’Rain, Taja Cheek’s band, and Kia and Melanie Charles? These black artists in Brooklyn who I honestly fell in love with and was so inspired by, because I always felt so alone and singular. My whole life, I was the only black kid. And in my musical space, I was often the only black person. And when I was making records, I was often the only black person in the studio, and people didn’t listen to me, they didn’t think I knew what I was talking about. I was struggling with even trusting my gut on knowing if I knew what I was talking about. I had listened to the gaslighting so much that I don’t think I even knew who I was until I saw those artists and I was able to connect with them on a level where I was like, ‘Oh I’m like you. I’m not weird. Actually this is what *we* do.’ And being around them it kind of created the space for me to spread my wings and try some stuff and feel comfortable sharing music with people who understood my experience and where I was coming from, and then once that happened, I was kind of able to lay it all out.”
- How his goals have evolved between his 2020 debut album, Live Forever, and his recently released sophomore LP, Farm To Table. “Honestly, I wanted to kind of show people it wasn’t a fluke, like, I could do it again. And that was also why I put it out so fast. I was like, ‘I’m not letting three years pass before I drop another one. Because I don’t want people to think ‘Oh, like, that was cute,’ I want them to be like, ‘Oh, Bartees, this dude is a pretty serious cat. He’s gonna stick around.’”
- What he has planned for his first major headlining tour in North America, and why you have to see openers Pom Pom Squad, They Hate Change and Spring Silver. The tour is on the road until 12/19/22. Get tickets HERE.