Interview: Bartees Strange talks ‘In a Cab’ and major life changes

Posted: by The Editor

Photo by Joshua Priestley

“I’m willing to trade my friends for glory,” said Bartees. “I don’t literally feel that way, but the song is this over-hyped version of glory and wanting to be lifted up high and praised for the work you’re putting into this thing you care about.” With his music he channels the all-too-common feeling of wanting to do whatever it takes to change your situation and live the life you desire. The instrumentals and effects on the vocals reflect this heightened, somewhat chaotic emotion and bring the song to an obscured fever pitch.

The core of “In a Cab” sparked from a trip to Brussels last year where conversations he had caused Bartees to really think hard about coming back to life in America. “It was the first time I think in my life where I realized I had options to do whatever I wanted with my life,” Bartees said. “I don’t think I’ve really, up until the last couple years, fully believed in myself artistically. Or even personally, you know? You’re always fighting your own imposter complexes and how you see yourself in the world – if you’re living up to what you think you should be.” These conversations led to major life changes: leaving the band Stay Inside to focus on his solo work, moving from New York City to Washington, D.C., and even writing his forthcoming album and putting “In a Cab” on it.

All of these factors are leading Bartees to create something special. “I needed to get out of New York. It was a lot of fun to play there, but it was hard for me to focus on what I was trying to do,” Bartees said. “I played in so many other bands and was touring for all types of people.” The move to D.C. has given him more space, physically and mentally, to work on the record, to figure out how he’s going to do it and what it truly means. “The last record I did I really liked, but I had a lot of limitations, which was good I think because it made me focus more on what the nut of the song was and try to be a little more creative because I didn’t have drums and I didn’t have a bass or any way to add that in the apartment that I was in. But now that I’ve got a little more space it’s like all the things that I wanted to do I can finally do. And I’m excited about just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing if it works and if it doesn’t. It’s a totally different experience, but it’s cool.”

In addition to recording in D.C., Bartees is was also recently granted a residency through a nonprofit called Think Olio. “It’s the first one they’ve ever done and the coolest part about it is I can bring anyone I want,” he said. He plans on bringing some of his best friends out to the barn house in rural New York to knock out the rest of the recording for the album. The original plan was to head down to Nashville and record with outside engineers, but the opportunity this residency presented ended up being too good to pass up. “This is my first full length record and I wanted it to be something that was personal. I wanted me all over it,” Bartees said. “I want me and my friends and all the people I’ve met in New York over the last five years that have helped me get to this point to be a part of it. Let’s all do this together and nail this thing.” 

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Scott Fugger // @Scoober1013 

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