In Conversation With Ches Barrow
Pop Riot Girl ‘Ches Barrow’ has released her stunning new EP 'Girl Who Rule The World' so we caught up with her talk all things new music!
Welcome to Flex and a massive congrats on the release of your debut EP ‘Girl Who Ruled The World’. How are you today?
Thank you so much! I’m wonderful, how are you?
You teamed up with notable guitarist and producer Bassel Hallak for this record. How was it working with him?
It felt serendipitous - at that point, teaming up with him was like coming home. As far back as when I wrote these songs, my intention was to have this beautiful and distinct melodic back-and-forth between vocal and guitar. So when Bassel and I were introduced it felt meant to be; him being a-helluva Guitarist who needs no introduction bringing that conceptually to production. I’ve always had a deep respect for the Guitar - I write on it despite being entirely unable to play it properly (I play piano) and so much of the music I grew up adoring is guitar-heavy and to get to work with Bassel was exciting. Beyond any of that, we vibe with the same vibes. He has this earthy calmness which balances my fierce perfectionism; but at the same time, such reverence for the compositions that it wasn’t so much us trusting the process as it was that: we just made it happen. His guitar solo in ‘The Dark Side’ inspired my vocals in that part of the song; I wrote those during recording - I think that’s a perfect depiction. He gave me space and encouraged me to be in control: it just worked.
Would you say that the global lockdown gave you the opportunity in writing and recording this EP?
I think almost the opposite; and it made it vastly more challenging and changed our approach entirely. When Mazen Murad and I started discussing the EP was before the onset of this pandemic. The plan was to produce in London and potentially record vocals in Doha…but versus reality, this EP travelled far more than any of us did that year. Bassel was in Germany, Haydn in London, myself in Doha at the time as was Mazen, Greg (my awesome mixing engineer) and Laura-Jane (my vocal coach) were in LA. When it comes to songwriting, it’s a lone-wolf process for me and almost has to be that way; the loneliness works. But when it came to production - and my first production, no less - I was so excited to be in the same room with everyone. When that couldn’t happen, I kind of felt it was ironic and wrote ‘Little Rock and Roll’ in about 5 minutes; it just flowed as that moment brought up so much stuff that had happened already in the year before. I guess maybe that was an opportunity in a funny way.
This is your debut EP. How does it feel to have a whole EP out in the wild?
It’s funny because I got to a stage where I thought I was finally letting the music thing go despite writing limitless songs - I was so embedded in Fashion. When this opportunity came and I knew the songs were going to meet an audience, there was this moment of ‘setting myself up’ because from my perspective as their writer, these songs had lived in my head and already had a direction, even down to arrangement. But production didn’t go as planned; it was a process near impossible to meet everyone’s expectations given the pandemic and that no one could even be in the same room as each other - and with that exhaustion, I let go of a lot of anticipation and excitement. By the time the first single was released, I was exhausted and now the EP is out there in the wild, almost detached. And that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned - I’ve let go and am just allowing the songs to find their way; as I had to do during production. Now, the audience gets to take over and interpret them in a way they personally find meaning in.
For viewers that don’t know Ches Barrow, how would you describe your sound?
Lyric-heavy, alternative-meets-pop/not afraid of synths but more in love with guitars, piano and climaxes.
Do you have a personal favorite track from the EP?
That’s really tough because these 5 were chosen out of a repertoire of around 50 of my songs so they are already some of my favourites. I guess ‘Little Rock and Roll’ because it’s very much where I am now; Indian Ink Girl because I think the production is so authentic to the way I wrote it.
What are some of those activities that you engage yourself in when you aren't writing or recording in the studio?
I still have my company Façonner; so art directing fashion editorial for one and I’m also really passionate about my newer company CHES Editions, which is a clean beauty brand. Formulating with essential oils is a passion and more so because I think natural beauty and sustainable luxury is the way forward.
What advice do you have for those that look up to you as their role model?
To be inspired and learn from others is beautiful; but to be your own role model is what I’d wish for anyone who looks up to me. When the chips are down, it’s only you out there.
Do you have any plans for performing these tracks live?
I know what a rush performing is and as much as I’d love to share these songs with an audience in that way, I am a little terrified of that exposure and really see myself as a songwriter solely. I’m already getting back to writing; songs are literally pouring out of me and I write way too much to be able to release all of them anyway so I hope one day I can share them with other artists who would perform them and make them their own.
Check out the full EP right here with Flex!