In Conversation With barnacle boi

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Written by Maya-Rose Torrão

Producer, DJ, vocalist and visual artist barnacle boi is the name on everyone’s lips in the underground dark electronic music scene. Well-known for his original tracks, as well as his production for artists including Bones (TeamSESH), Holly Stell and Madi Larson, his style is a unique mix of bass-heavy emotional trap music. barnacle boi started developing his trademark sound when he found himself unexpectedly living in Denver, Colorado for a few years and he hasn’t looked back since; his tracks have received recognition and support from an eclectic mix of influential sources, including former front-woman of Crystal Castles, Alice Glass, and lead actor of Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’, Finn Wolfhard.

barnacle boi has gained a huge amount of recognition for his remixes and flips of well-known classics from the 2000’s and 1990s but is also popular for his original material that oozes his unique sound.

Listen to one of our favourite barnacle boi flips below while you read our interview with this multi-talented electronic artist.

We caught up with barnacle boi AKA Ian Oliver and chatted to him about collaborations, high energy live shows and herbal supplements.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
i’ve always loved to create ever since i can remember. regardless the form of art, it allows me to express myself and let my emotions flow. music just happens to be my favorite form.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
honestly, it depends. sometimes i’ll hum/whistle a melody into the voice recorder on my phone and later plug it into my production software, and there are other times where i’ll create a sound and go from there. it varies from time to time.

Does your material feature any collaborations?
yes! so far i’ve collaborated with rappers such as bones (teamsesh), stuicide, and others that haven’t released what we’ve done yet. i’m currently in the midst of projects with graves, brothel., gvllow, mrkryl, m!ngo, jvwes, teddy bogart, and a few others i cant announce just yet.

What’s on your current playlist?
lots of stuff that ranges all over the place, haha. germ, gvllow, lorn, essex, trashlord, bones, xavier wulf, lil peep (always), minor threat, phantogram, 6dogs, catslash, droeloe, eastghost… the list could go on.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
i love high energy crowds. my live sets are much heavier than my production typically tends to be, however i will always throw originals in the mix to take the crowd on an energy “rollercoaster”. there isn’t a better feeling than being on stage playing music for a packed crowd.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound? 
within my software and plugins, each project i’ll typically start with an initial patch with no modifications. first i’ll throw an EQ and reverb on my synths and experiment with oscillators, etc from there. same goes for bass- just without the reverb.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.
on a normal day i’ll wake up at 6am, take some vitamins and drink coffee, and immediately hop in the studio. for some reason between the hours of 6am-12pm is when i’m the most productive/creative. typically, i’ll bounce back and forth between multiple projects so that whatever track(s) i’m working on doesn’t get stagnant and cause me to lose inspiration. all in all, i’m in the studio from 6am-6pm every day unless i’m traveling or playing a show.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 
well, back in 2015 i was living in denver, colorado thinking that it was all “up from there”, when suddenly an unfortunate situation caused me to have to move across the country back to my hometown of wilmington, north carolina. i was pretty upset and felt like i had worked my way up for nothing, when suddenly i turned the negative thoughts i had into motivation and decided to get my hand tattooed as an “engagement” to the music industry. that way it basically forces me to succeed and stay on track, because most “9-5” jobs won’t hire anyone with a hand tattoo. i guess you could say that it was at that moment that i 100% committed myself to my passion. however, i’ve always known that this is what i wanted to do- ever since i can remember.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
i like to have a water and a few beers on hand but that’s about it, haha.

What gets your creative juices flowing?
lots of coffee, herbal supplements, other “herbs”, and good sleep.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
i use ableton because it’s what i’m most comfortable with and it works best with my work flow/creative process. as far as equipment goes, i use an m-audio axiom 61 keyboard & beatpad and i go back and forth between my headphones and mackie cr3 monitor speakers.

Any side projects you’re working on?
yes! i have a few actually, haha. i have a vocal side-project titled “throwmance” but i’m not really taking it too seriously just yet. however, it has gotten a great response so far and i plan on releasing more under that alias soon. i also have an edm project titled “sightlow“, which was my initial project, but i haven’t released anything for about a year under that name. i plan on making a comeback in the next year or so and dropping a 4 track EP- but barnacle boi is my main focus right now.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
10 years ago i would make experimental beats, and from there, i began making trap/hip-hop beats. that became extremely repetitive to me, so i moved on to dubstep and other heavier-hitting sub genres of edm under my sightlow project. i did this for quite a few years and always felt like i had to force it out of me. starting in the year 2013 or so, i began making music on the side that came from my heart and felt 100% natural to me. i had a stockpile of tracks like this but i couldn’t release them under my sightlow project due to branding, marketing, etc purposes. from there i decided i had to make a side-project that i could release all of those tracks under (which is how barnacle boi started). what started as a “side-project” ended up becoming my main focus as my fanbase/feedback surpassed anything i had achieved under my other projects.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
this year i’m releasing my full-length debut album, “introspect”, as well as my first music video for my track ‘downpour’ (which will be featured on the album). august 5th, my first official line of merch in collaboration with www.deadthoughts.com will be released- which i’m pretty excited for. i also have a lot of stuff going on that can’t be announced yet. overall, i’m extremely excited for the remainder of the year going into 2019.

So are we! A huge thank you to barnacle boi for his time and we can’t wait for all the exciting stuff happening for this lynchpin of the underground electronic music scene.

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