All set to give us a second taste of his sumptuous production skills, young producer and DJ Matt Barri is surely looking to make it big in the Dance music world. Though still only 17, the California based producer has honed his skills to perfection – to such a degree that he was among the few selected for the Grammy Summer camp in LA. It was at this location that he met singer/songwriter Jenna Holiday, who has been described by Barri as ‘most incredible voices of our generation’. And now the two are combining their talents to deliver a stellar release in the shape of ‘Go’.
Last dished out when Matt Barri opened for Steve Aoki, ‘Go’ has worked wonders for both artist for a number of reasons. First, the track showcases the talents that the two of them have carved to perfection over the years – Jenna has been playing the piano since she was 10 whereas Matt was beginning the violin at the staggering age of 3. Second, the process of collaboration has also provided the two artists with ample time to learn and expand their views about what goes into producing a team-effort. Keeping in mind all of this, we sat down with Matt Barri and Jenna Holiday to learn more about their experience in the process of collaboration, playing the track live, their influences, Jenna’s success on Spotify and of course, their future.
Congratulations on your release ‘Go’. Could you tell us how the collaboration came to life? What was the inspiration behind this record? How did you two meet?
MB: Jenna and I met at Grammy camp this past summer when a fellow camper pointed out how we looked so similar we could be related. The track for me is very whimsical and is mostly inspired by space and astronomy as a lot of my music is. The melody, chords, and synths used give a feeling of a fantastical sci-fi scene in space.
JH: Matt and I, as he said, met at Grammy camp last summer and Matt pretty much nailed it with how we met. For the week he was my unofficial brother, although we didn’t really talk much until after camp when he sent me the track for Go. I instantly knew when I heard it that it had an unbelievable amount of potential and I had to write for it.
Following on from the last question – Could you describe the process of the collaboration? How did you know what direction you want to take with this record?
MB: The collaboration was done over Dropbox links and text messages mostly. I sent the demo to Jenna in late September and by early November she had already sent me back top line. I knew the direction of the track when I first wrote it out, but as far as the top line went I know that Jenna is an amazing lyricist from her work on ’21’ so I was happy to give her all the creative decision making there.
JH: As soon as I heard the initial track for Go, I heard something tangibly dreamy in it’s style and production, and I knew that I wanted to emulate that in the lyrics. I scavenged through my previously written notes to find the perfect stanzas and verses to test out over the song and it all came together very naturally within one night. I had always wanted to try my hand at writing a carelessly whimsical future bass song, and this was my chance to do so.
Matt: You’ve debuted ‘Go’ live during your show with Steve Aoki. Could you tell us about the experience of playing your original music in front of a crowd? What was the reaction?
MB: Playing original music in front of a crowd is a very exciting thing for me and it was such an incredible feeling seeing the crowed react to the track in such a positive way.
Matt: Although your productions are all under the same umbrella genre-wise, they’re still very different from each other. How do you keep being innovative whilst maintaining your signature sound?
MB: One of the challenges for me is forming my own identity as a new artist. My “sound” is still evolving and becoming more present with every new song I write. I’m very interested in many other genres of music and I’ve dabbled in producing everything from indie/lo-fi to rap music to even techno and look forward to creating an identity over multiple genres of music.
Jenna: Your debut single ‘21’ has seen great success with nearly 500k Spotify plays. What was the record about? Did it meet your expectations as a debut single?
JH: 21 was probably the most odd and enthralling thing that could happen to me as an artist just starting out. I had no idea it’d capture so many people and venture as far as it did. 21 is a narrative song about a young and irrational celebrity dealing with his own infamy and personal mistakes by putting the blame on an industry he’s become a pawn of. It’s just as much about him searching for solace and peace as it as about him projecting his personal regrets and guilt onto the lifestyle he once enjoyed. It’s not a coming of age but rather a cry for help. It’s about hating the circumstances without looking inwards at oneself.
Jenna: Could you tell us about your inspirations as an artist? Musical background? Other vocalists you look up to? What is the story you’re telling through your lyrics?
JH: My musical background is very basic, but with splashes of color. For example, Hold It Against Me by Britney Spears was the song that made me want to make music, but today I pull inspiration from smaller artists like Thomston and Broods, just as much as I’m inspired by groundbreaking popular musicians like Lorde and Declan Mckenna. The stories I tell through my lyrics are usually narrative and take on their own POV and speaker that’s strikingly independent from my own voice. Writing as a character or from another perspective allows me to explore different topics and feelings that I otherwise would have no business singing about. I do see myself as a storyteller, before I’d call myself a singer or even a songwriter.
Now that ‘Go’ is making big waves and already shaping up to be a promising release, can we expect another collaboration from you two in the near future?
MB: Ma(Y)b(E) (S)omeday.
JH: ‘Chill lowfi hiphop anime beats to study to’ coming soon.
Check out Matt Barri and Jenna Holiday’s latest release ‘Go‘.