Ali Barter has been making some incredible music over the last few years, with songs like Hypercolour, Girlie Bits and Cigarette making waves. Now with her album, A Suitable Girl having been out for a while, she is embarking on her One Foot In Tour. KIERRA POLLOCK chatted to Ali last week about the tour, being a woman, zines and the album. Ali Barter plays the Brighton Bar, Mandurah this Friday, September 15 and the Rosemount Hotel this Saturday, September 16.
So you’re in the middle of the One Foot In tour at the moment, how has it been going so far?
It’s been great! Its been so exciting because we’ve gotten to play some places we haven’t played before like Tasmania! We played at Hobart and Castlemaine last weekend which was so nice because we have been meaning to go down to Tassie for a while, and it was a lovely time. We’ve got Melbourne and Adelaide this weekend and they’re always a good crowd. Yeah its been really nice.
And this will be your third time coming to Perth?
Yeah second time as a headline act, but yeah third time overall I think. I’m so excited to come back to Perth they always have such a crowd. We played Jack Rabbit Slims last time and it sold out and the crowd was so much fun, so really excited to come back.
Girlie Bits is such an amazing song! What is it about in particular… An experience you’ve had in the industry? A comment on magazine culture?
Well, its sort of about how, I as a women, experience a lot of self criticism and shame about my appearance and I think that the images we get, show that everybody looks a certain way, like on instagram or the internet and in magazines, there’s a really specific look, and if you don’t fit it, it causes a lot of self criticism. I spend a lot of time on diet and exercise to look pretty, and its a general dissatisfaction I have, and a lot of my female peers have about the way we look and it drives me insane. I look at my friends and I think they are perfect, yet they are trying to fix themselves! They probably think the same thing about me.
One day I was reading an article written by Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast and she was talking about how when she gets reviewed, often the reviewers comment on the fact that she’s not smiling, or the way she looked, if she looks grumpy, and it doesn’t really happen that way for guys, no one comments on what they are wearing, or if their hair looks nice, or if they look serious or beautiful or whatever and its just fucking annoying. So I wrote that song and it was a combination of my feelings towards my own struggles of fitting into the perfect idea of what a women should look like and frustration at how its constantly commented on in the media. What a women looks like, how she should be and yeah its tiring, so that’s why I wrote Girlie Bits.
I love the History Grrrls posts that you’ve been doing on Instagram and Facebook. Are these all artists that have inspired you? And who is your favourite History Grrrl so far?
Yeah they all inspire me. I think they are super powerful and flawed and creative and incredible women. They are just human beings and that’s the best thing about finding out about women and their stories because in most industries women have to fight harder to get ahead, so knowing the stories behind some of these women’s successes is the best part! There’s a couple who are my favourite, I love Sister Rosetta Tharpe, she’s kind of the reason I started History Grrrls, and she was an African American blues guitarist back in the days when women didn’t play electric guitar, and if you look up videos of her, there’s this black and white footage of her in a sparkly dress and heels and she’s singing gospel and just shredding on this electric guitar, she was incredible. I also love Kathleen Hanna, who’s the singer of 90s feminist punk band Bikini Kill. She coined the phrase “Girl Power” when she made her own zines, and she was a massive influencer and a total badass chick who didn’t take shit from anybody. All the History Grrrls are great.
You also release zines to go with the tracks on your album. Whats that been like getting to create the zines? And how you have the time?
I love doing the zines. I think the point of zines is that they are a bit naive and homemade, and so I get to do it in my spare time, its a love project. I write about great women, I write about books that I love, I get to interview women that I love or I admire and that’s why I get through them. I don’t have a huge amount of time, I often see spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, but I think thats part of the charm of the zine. The best part of making them is that I get to explore my inspirations and I get to share them with people, I love getting people’s feedback. I’ve done five zines now, so at shows we’ve got a limited amount of packs of five that we are going to sell, so if people want one they can buy one or they can buy all five and they can subscribe to the whole series online. Its a really fun thing to make and to share with people.
You also have a collaboration with Gift Box Organics, could you tell me a bit more about that?
The Gift Box makes organic tampons and they also have a project where for every box of tampons bought they give a box to women who cant afford it, to disadvantaged women. I’ve always wanted to do a collaboration with a sanitary product company, it’s something that I use and something that’s close to me, and I write a lot about shame and I think theres a lot of shame with getting your period, even though theres its a natural bodily function happens to half the people on the face of the earth. In some parts of the world it isn’t supported and women don’t have access to clean and safe products and in Australia its crazy that that could be the case as well. So I really wanted to collaborate with a company that did something with that and Gift Box are great they are nailing and I am so proud to be apart of it. With an artist friend of mine, we made a tea towel that we are selling at shows and all proceeds go to Gift Box Organics. My friend Lily illistrated and designed this incredible design, its a really powerful image and its really fun and I’m proud to sell it at shows.
So now that your album has been out for a while, is the audience reaction different to your initial album tour?
I guess with the first tour it was soon after the release and Girlie Bits had gotten in the Hottest 100, so there was a massive buzz. We’ve only played 3 shows this tour, but it does feels like people are now on board. Last tour there was a lot of excitement, people singing along to the singles, but now I see people singing along to the other songs from the album because they’ve had time to listen to them. It feels like people have had time to digest the album now.