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November 22, 2021

A Chat with Ali Barter

Ali Barter

Melbourne-born Ali Barter is a classically-trained singer and critically-acclaimed songwriter with two celebrated albums and four excellent EPs to her name. Her debut LP, A Suitable Girl, was stacked with grungey rock anthems and incisive ballads; Pitchfork described its 2019 follow-up, Hello, I’m Doing My Best as “an emotionally nuanced album that never takes itself too seriously.” A brilliant, raw performer who has supported the likes of The War On Drugs and Vance Joy, this pop-rock artist has been praised for her vulnerable, confession-style lyrics and compelling stage presence. Ali Barter’s interpretation of ‘Une Jeune Homme Bien’ (‘A Good Young Man’) by Petula Clark (a song best known to most as ‘A Well-Respected Man’ by The Kinks) is an understated delight and we can’t wait to have her perform it live at So Frenchy So Chic in February.

How did you find the experience of singing in a language other than English?

I loved it! It was definitely a challenge as I haven’t attempted to speak French since high school but I loved the experience and am keen to learn more [French]!

Were you familiar with the work of Petula Clark?

I know of Petula Clark and I had heard the version of “Un Jeune Homme Bien” by The Kinks, but not much more than that. I love French artists from the ‘60s, particularly Françoise Hardy, and although Petula Clark was British, she had that French coolness about her. So yeah, I’m a fan!

Do you speak French? Or have any kind of personal affinity with France and French music, style and food?

I love all things France. I listen to a lot of French music like Francoise Hardy, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Camille. I travelled to Paris when I was 21 and had the most incredible week, so France has been very inspirational to me for quite some time. My favourite restaurant in Melbourne is France-Soir too! I long to be able to travel again and get over there.

How hard was it to feign a French accent and get the French pronunciation right?

Pronunciation was definitely the hardest part of learning this song, but Nadeah was super patient with me and I think I did an ok job - even with a bit of an Aussie twang!

What else have you been working on recently?

I have been studying psychology during COVID as music has kinda stopped for the most part. I’m actually learning Hindi too, so I was in a language frame of mind when this project came up!

How do you feel like you've grown as an artist and person over the past 18 months?

I feel like I’ve taken some time to look around and get clear about what was making me happy and what wasn’t. There have been some dark times but I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m very content at the moment, with my dog (French Bulldog) and uni and taking whatever interesting projects that come my way – like this one.

Once we are able to travel again, what is the first place you’d like to visit and why?

I will go to India first, it is my most favourite place in the world, but I definitely also dream of doing a big trip through France. I’ve watched a lot of Anthony Bourdain during lockdown and he has inspired me to go to Marseille and Lyon. I’m ready to travel!

Yé-Yé 2.0
At the end of 2021, festival founder Jean-Francois Ponthieux launched a new musical project. Yé-Yé 2.0 sees Australia’s finest female-identifying artists interpreting the songs of the Yé-Yé — a musical movement that emerged in France in the 1960s, drawing from British and American rock, French chanson, and a host of other influences to create a fresh and distinctively French sound. Yé-Yé 2.0 is being released as a series of EPs and at SFSC, two of the project’s stars, Ali Barter and Nadeah, will perform these enchanting songs live.