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INTERVIEW: Bridget Barkan

INTERVIEW: Bridget Barkan

By: Morgan Y. Evans
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Bridget Barkan's “Danger Heart” is one of the truly great pop singles of 2015, a strong song with an accompanying video that's undeniably valid, timely and just bad ass.


Bridget has toured the world with Scissor Sisters and opening for Lady Gaga, but this is more than just a lucky backup singer with a big break. She's done neo-soul and numerous other scene collabs, and is a rising star you should know more about.


Barkan has a mesmerizing voice, infectious and validating confidence amidst the soulful emotional depth in her songs and more than capably rocks on her own two feet.


Spacelab: How does it feel to have "Danger Heart" finished for the public to see? It's a great pop song and message.

Bridget Barkan: Thank you so much for feeling this art, this music. This song could have easily stayed in the chest with the other musical jewels I've been collecting. But I knew it was special and it wasn't about me to release it. I wanted my friends to have a song that reflected their journey. In particular the beautiful soul I wrote it about. My dear friend and collaborator Dusty Childers. When you are always striving creatively, for epic or unique greatness, or success, you can sometimes forget why you are even making music to begin with. Releasing this song has reminded me of the truth. It's for us all to heal and build unity.


Spacelab: I am so upset I missed your video premiere event on the Bowery. It seemed like so much fun. How did it go? Was it fun to have the event at a sort of unorthodox location? It was an actual boxing ring?


Bridget Barkan: It was absolutely insane. I came out in my signature laundry basket, from underneath the mess, then past and into the literal boxing ring where I sang a full 10 rounds of songs from different albums and releases I've done. Each one, it's own battle with other performers involved. One in which I literally fought, actor Kyle Supley dressed in drag as me. The ring is Inside the incredible Overthrow Gym which is actually the old yippie museum, home to the activists/artists of a New York that is fading. The guys that run the gym are doing their best to keep the spirit alive. Being a native City kid, it spoke to my roots and the message of my art. Inner and outer battles.


Spacelab: It's a relatable song to me because ... I was closeted for almost thirty years. And I felt like since I prefer women I couldn't sort of announce my full range of feelings because I wasn't like "bi" enough. It's so funny that even in more marginalized situations you can still wrestle with shades like that, but I think your song is evidence that other people struggle with different roles as well.

Bridget Barkan: I very much relate to this. I don't feel bi enough either. I love men but I have loved women. I feel attraction to energy. I've often felt that a young boy lives inside me and identify as more queer than totally straight. It's interesting to me that sometimes no matter how much make up or sexy dresses I rock, in certain moments, I just feel like a dude, or whatever that title means, I can feel very masculine. Maybe it's a past life thing or the anima and duality in us all that Carl Jung speaks of. On being closeted, whenever I've had attractions to women, I've been scared, like what if I fall in love? That's scary no matter what the gender. But I thought about my family, who are liberated and radically open but I definitely have experienced fear around being accepted.


Spacelab: How did you first become involved with the Scissor Sisters crew? What were some of the most inspiring moments from working with such a colorful and creative collective that have changed your life or world view, perhaps?

Bridget Barkan: I auditioned for them thanks to a friend/producer Michael Moog who knew their tour manager. I had never sung background for anyone before. I was a music teacher to little kids,  a working actress and doing my solo music stuff. They took me on tour with them in 2010 and it blew my mind. We went all over the globe and myself and the other background singer Chrissi, were treated like absolute gold. They were these huge stars but so humble and kind, to everyone that they encountered. I learned lessons about what true success is from them and how to do it with class. Not to mention absurdity. We had so many adventures together, from staying in a haunted castle to late night skinny dipping in some country I forget.  But ultimately, they were just themselves, always. The music was explosive and people were so moved by their freedom on stage. Pushing them to be free. They showed me how I could all of me, In art and life. Like how they flip from a country vibe song to an intensely deep dark house track. I could be a folky girl playing her guitar but I could also dance like an empowered sex pot to an 80s glam track.

Spacelab: Is it more important how you present as far as imagery or making sure the song is exactly how you want it? Not to sound insulting. Both are important and your voice and music are great. I think sometimes people negate fashion or image as secondary but if the whole is unified it can make an even bigger statement than a scruffy person playing a great song on a guitar. I mean, Gaga who you toured with is case in point.


Bridget Barkan: It's definitely not more important than the song to me but I do love a costume, turning a look, a wig, a mask, a symbolic patterned garb. It just needs to be connected to the essence of what I feel and what I want to invoke. It can't just be regurgitated or fabricated for effect. In performance, I most definitely love to explore theatrical glamour layers. I think of it like a ritual. I enjoy creating visual metaphors. I think sometimes you can pay more attention to something when it's shocking and stimulating and maybe the song wouldn't have been given the same amount of love. But I think gimmicks fade and scruffy, Nirvana style can reign supreme if the Music is unique and powerful on its own. We are in a the most visual era ever and everyone has ADD so you need to find ways to be relevant and catch the eye but stay real and hopefully catch their heart too.

Spacelab: Is there a particular album that pulled you through harder times? I have been really struggling with depression again lately and it is almost maddening because I know better. Life is precious.

Bridget Barkan: This will be a funny response but the first album that comes to mind for me was the Soundtrack to The Wiz. I was 12 and my parents got divorced and I experienced a real big disappointment as a kid actor and I would sing Be a Lion over and over again. More recently, I listen to a lot of Indian meditation hymns to quiet the crazy or I disappear into Flying Lotus' latest masterpiece. But when in doubt, run to the Bush, Kate that is...for any feeling haha


Spacelab: The Wiz! I love that. So, You have done other recordings before but do you feel like this is , perhaps, your biggest statement yet? From hearing the song and reading your words on the diffuser premiere or from talking to your publicist, it seems this is such a powerful cry of intent for you. Respect!

Bridget Barkan: I've gone on many musical journeys since I have a very eclectic background from acoustic folk to neo-soul, house, retro throwback style, many different collaborations including my last years release Bruise Easy with the amazing Bright Light Bright Light. I knew I wanted to go back to some of my pop roots and create something melodious, meaningful and that could reach more people. Danger hearts message is everything I want to be as an artist. I can write about my own personal struggles and I do. But I feel the most connected to my humanity when I am being a voice for those that feel voiceless or who are struggling to find their own somehow. Personal expression is vital to me from my own darkness and visions but speaking the universal language of love and light through my art is the goal.


Spacelab: What do you have coming up that you are looking forward to? Let's get scones in NYC sometime! You seem like such an interesting person!

Bridget Barkan: I'm getting ready to release my full album "Divine Fire" next year with a full theatrical and multimedia experience. I've been developing one woman shows at Joes Pub as an artist in residence, I actually have a show there on Nov. 5th please come as my guest! I will be experimenting with songs from the album as well as with my own expression of gender. And I'm down for a scone too :)
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