Merging 70s disco, New Wave and a full aesthetic, get to know Aussie new boys, Barley Passable

Aussie duo Barley Passable have landed on the music scene with disco-infused banger All I Have. Departing from the formulaic classic indie band, the pair are experimenting with elements of 70s disco and 80s new wave with a modern perception of music that few others are doing at the moment. Merging music, fashion and art into a fully formed aesthetic, Barley Passable already have the look and presence of a seasoned band despite only recently releasing their debut. All I Have pulses with vitality in the combination of static electro-pop with progressing vocals – it’s definitely one for the summer playlist. Getting to know the new boys on the scene, we caught up with Davy and Kai…

First off, Barley Passable/Barely Passable? That’s a bit self-deprecating, why this choice of name?

Yeah, we can see how the name could seem a little self-deprecating! We met at university, both studying music and one class was exceptionally difficult for the two of us in particular. We had an exam that neither of us had studied for and so we thought the best course of action would be to forget the exam and start writing music together. We were hardly passing the course as is, so we thought Barley Passable was a good play on that. We want the name to become more than what each word means, so that when you hear it, you immediately think of us and what we represent.

Having made a new home for yourselves in the music scene, what do you think makes you stand out in the sea of newcomers?

We’ve been working over the last few years to have all aspects of our project planned out. We love the idea of a collective state of mind, so we mix our music with fashion, photography and art, and believe that by doing this, we can have a strong image to go with our music. I guess what makes us stand out is this idea of a creative collective, fronted by the music, but all coming together for a unified purpose.

All I Have is a brilliant blend of fresh music infused with 70s / 80s trademarks. Why have you opted for this style? Is there something about mixing together old and new that is better than creating something entirely new?

We didn’t necessarily choose to create music in this style, the two of us come from pretty different musical backgrounds so when we come together to write, those elements come through because that is the music we grew up with. We just want to write things that we think sound good, and if we can have our own take on that style, that is perfect for us. But yeah, to answer your question, being influenced by those older styles, but taking it in a brand new direction is what we are glad to do.

Just at face value, you’re more than just a musical duo, what parts of yourselves are you incorporating into your music and to what end?

The part of ourselves that we incorporate most in our music is the desire to do whatever makes you feel good, whatever that is. We both love aspects of fashion and film so we definitely weave that into our own image, but we want those who listen to our music to do exactly the same for themselves and find what they love. Becoming the essence of what you want to be is what we are all about! Whatever makes you feel good.

With electro-pop being your defining genre, I think there’s a lot more to be said. How would you describe your sound and what has influenced it?

As we mentioned before, it’s an extension of ourselves and our own tastes. We are influenced by elements of 70s and 80s dance music, but we grew up playing classical music and rock, met in a university jazz course and continue to listen to all that we can. As long as people are dancing, that is the sound we want.

All I Have was self-recorded and produced. Is this process something you want to stick to in future releases or is a matter of circumstance? COVID-19 certainly isn’t helping production.

Luckily for us, recording and producing ourselves wasn’t a matter of circumstance. We had finished the song before COVID really hit us. As for the future, we really enjoy being able to make all the decisions in regards to what our music sounds like, having said that, we don’t want to rule anything out, there are some producers who we would love to work with.

Speaking of, do you think the pandemic will negatively or positively impact the music industry? Any ideas of what the future of music will look like?

We think that obviously the industry and all those involved in it has taken a pretty big hit. We hope that because of this, people will come out of COVID craving what they couldn’t have, and see that art is a necessity in life. We hope that the future of the industry will be changed for the better, and we will see music being mixed in with more and more different creative mediums.

I’m entirely ignorant to this having lived in the U.K. my whole life, but how is it marketing yourselves and infiltrating your audience from Australia – where do you find your demographic reside mostly?

It’s probably not that different from the UK, we want to start locally in Sydney as currently, we are living here. In saying that, we believe our message has the ability to resonate all around the world and we see the power of social media in helping us to achieve this goal.

In light of everything happening in the world right now, do you think it’s necessary to be political in your art?

Yes! We believe that all art should always carry a message, whether explicitly political or not, it is important that you speak with purpose. Especially with everything going on.

And lastly, what are your plans for after lockdown – can we expect more disco bangers in the future?

It’s all by design! We have big plans for more releases throughout this year and next, and we are so excited to put these plans into action.