New Sounds: Barleaux balances collaboration and isolation on the ambient ‘syndication’



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The music of Barleaux is usually full of playful, and sometimes serious, dichotomies.

The New York musician and one-time Bostonian has a habit of creating parallel dimensions in her emotive electronic pop, in the sense of having competing elements and sounds rattling around a traditional pop music cage, while her lyrics give a glimpse into both the struggles and triumphs of modern living. Certain upbeat sounds have downturned storylines, and every now and then glimmers of positivity ring out in more desolate rhythms.

Today (July 21), Barleaux issues a 14-track b-sides compilation, titled simply B-Sides, and the lead track, “syndication,” is a metallic midnight number that takes her tale of loneliness and isolation and spins it around a sinister, almost Scandinavian dark-pop synth pattern.

It was recorded “in a closet” in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles — and that’s important on several levels. The closet is a metaphorical space of comfort and confinement, something Barleaux loses when she steps out into that vampiric city. But there’s another layer at play here as well, as the feeling of dread and detachment Los Angeles is known to inspire comes quickly at odds with the sense of community the track was embraced by — and fulfilled with — here in Boston.

“I flew to Boston in October and J. Saliba (Slothrust, The Wandas, etc.) took the demo into his board at his studio — which at the time was at Rugg Road in Allston,” Barleaux tells Vanyaland. “Then, Jesse Weiss of Palehound came in and layed down live drums in literally 30 minutes. That night we took some people back to the studio from The Model in live room and recorded a clap track. I rerecorded the demo vocals, and ‘syndication’ was born.”

What began as one voice in Los Angeles became many in Boston. Those two sides wrestle as the track barrels alongside Barleaux’s usual detached coolness.

“On a songwriting standpoint, it was one of those songs that came out really quickly,” Barleaux adds. “On one hand, it was an account of the ‘showiness’ that comes with living in LA — showing up to the right place with the ‘right’ people, being in the scene — it all feels very blasé. There is a real dichotomy in the social life and the amazing amount of art and music that is being created in LA. In a romantic sense, ‘syndication’ is also about how isolating LA can feel on a dating level. I wrote it about an experience I had the night I met someone I became involved with who was semi-well-known in the LA scene and in the public eye.”

Listen to “syndication,” as well as the entire B-Sides comp, below via Soundcloud. Featured Barleaux photo by Amber Hakim, used with permission.

Barleaux B Sides Art