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In the Mix: Barbara on music, life, and reinvention

Barbara is not only an outstanding DJ and performer but also a skilled songwriter, vocalist, and producer. Driven and talented in multitasking, Barbara is a leading figure in the music industry.

Photo credit: Barbara – Official

She initiated her career in the vibrant music scenes of New York City and San Francisco. Her unique blend of deep house, Italo disco, tech house, and progressive house has captivated audiences. Barbara takes pleasure in introducing her listeners to undiscovered classics and new underground tracks.

She has collaborated with artists from New York, London, and Milan, releasing hits like ‘Hey Gurl Hey’ and ‘Feet Money’. Her label, Good Crazy, not only features her work but also supports international dance music artists.

As a gifted storyteller, Barbara’s songwriting prowess is evident in her album ‘Palm Dreams’. Released under her own label, Good Crazy, the album is an intriguing sonic journey reflecting Barbara’s life experiences, embodied in 15 engaging tracks.

We had the opportunity to engage in an extensive conversation with this dynamic artist. We probed into her latest release, creative process, experiences transitioning from performing in New York City to recording in Miami, and future plans. We also discussed personal topics, including how her recent divorce and Italian roots have shaped her music.

EG: Hi, Barbara! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? What have you been up to?

Barbara: Thank you so much for having me! I’ve been a longtime reader and follower of EG. Life is pretty incredible, to be honest. Fresh off a two-week trip to Vegas and San Diego where I was performing and recording. I got to perform for 20,000 people at Allegiant Stadium, where they had the Super Bowl this year, opening for Anderson Paak and Kings of Leon. And had the opportunity to record some amazing new music with producers I met during Miami Music Week. Now I’m back in NYC getting ready for upcoming DJ gigs, recording, and promoting my upcoming releases on Manual Music with Sasheen and Erdi Imak and Good Crazy, my new label, with Ed Hoffman, a longtime friend and collaborator. So you could say I’m really really happy and grateful.

EG: So, you’re fresh from MMW. What was that experience like? Will you be present at IMS Ibiza? What would be your recommendations for making the most out of it?

Barbara: It was absolutely incredible! I don’t know if I’m the only one who felt it but there was something different about the energy this year. Everyone seemed so much more open, wanting to connect and just enjoy each other’s company, celebrating really good music this year. Perhaps it was because I was more intentional and set my goals ahead of going that positively shaped my experience. I started the week attending some incredible talks at the W South Beach starting with the Francis Mercier Deeproot label showcase including Nitefreak, Moblack Records, Insomnia, Liaison Artists, Alegria Agency, and DJ Mag where the panelists shared thoughts on the future of Afro house. I was so inspired by what Nitefreak shared about artists feeling empowered to take more risks, create from originality, and forget about making what everyone else is doing (and labels that need to be embracing this and supporting it) so we can continue to see innovations and break fresh sounds across Afro House and other genres. Then I saw my friends from Femme House: LP Giobbi, Hermixalot, Julia Fugazy, Ronny Ho, Heather Church, Stephanie Karten, and Bailey Greenwood echo similar sentiments about artists “crafting their unique sound” but also some really great tips for folks just starting out about how to build your team (go where the energy flows + you will attract the people who want to work with you and BELIEVE in you) and growing/supporting your fans and audience. Huge shoutout to Carly Van Sickle and the whole team at the W for organizing these events and more.

Now here’s the incredible power of the right place at the right time, setting intentions, being open and just saying YES… From the first day at MMW, I met several producers from being out from participating and attending events that have led to new collaborations, incredible music, and even better, good friends, a little less than 2 weeks later. I will not be attending the International Music Summit (IMS)  this year since my schedule is insanely packed but I’ll be there in spirit. I cherish the last time I was able to go in 2017. I’ll never forget hearing from the family behind Elrow, learning tips for success from Pete Tong and The Blessed Madonna, watching one of my idols, Seth Troxler, rock an amazing set at DC10, and Agoria telling me to never lose my smile, to always share my light, which I have never forgotten to this day. The good news is that I will be living in Ibiza for July and August this year and hope to connect with lots of creative folks to make some magical, timeless music.

For folks attending IMS I will share the following 3 tips for you to have an incredible experience:

Plan and set your intentions ahead of going: If you were to reflect on life after IMS what would make you really happy and proud that you accomplished? Yes, you want to meet and network with folks but get specific. They say when you set measurable goals and actually speak them into existence (written too) they are much more likely to happen. And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Share your music, go to an event you normally might not attend, if you’re somewhere and not feeling the energy ditch the program, and don’t be afraid to separate from the pack or attend things on your own.

Be open and be yourself: This goes hand in hand with intention setting but if opportunities pop up during the event for meetings, workshops, recording/writing, attending events, etc, embrace it fully. And be unapologetically you. A lot of folks think networking is a dirty word but I like to bring it back to simply meeting new people, human to human, and finding out how you can help and support each other. Lots of producers need vocalists, promoters and party planners need DJs who know how to entertain, labels and PR need artists, it’s really a symbiotic relationship. The dance music community is small so it’s really important to treat people kindly, and professionally and be authentic.

Have fun and dance like no one is watching!: At the end of the day we do this because we love music and understand the power it can have to change people’s lives. It’s one of the oldest, most universal languages that unites people from all over the world. How incredible is that? Go to the parties, support your friends who are playing, dance and smile if you’re having fun, forget about looking “cool,” bring earplugs, and HYDRATE. I love my little safety kit of bandaids, Tylenol, Liquid IV, eyedrops, chapstick, sunnies and lifesavers, essentials.

EG: Thanks for the tips, they are much appreciated! Also, congratulations on the release of your debut studio album, ‘Palm Dreams’! You must be very excited to have this one out. What has the initial reception been like so far? How are you feeling now that it’s out?

Barbara: Thank you so much. I am really proud of the work and to see how people are reacting brings me happy tears and goosebumps. I had the opportunity to host my album launch party at Outer Heaven in New York and instead of just doing a listening session as planned, I performed the songs live for the crowd. It was a really special night that I’ll never forget until I die. And even more incredible was that it was truly full circle performing my debut album in the city that shaped my sound and launched my career as a DJ. The guys at Outer Heaven supported me from the very beginning, inviting me to spin at Make Believe in LES so I’m truly thankful. One of my best friends even came from Vienna, Austria where she lives now with her husband and 2 children just to be there. We both cried. I’m really happy it’s out because it’s the first time listeners are really hearing my voice and story. Now I’m excited to explore new sounds and genres and the full range of my voice in my upcoming projects. Plus take more risks.

“I’m excited to explore new sounds and genres and the full range of my voice in my upcoming projects”

EG: Is there a thread or concept interconnecting these 15 tracks? Is there a meaning to all 15 cuts? What was the creative process for ‘Palm Dreams’ like?

Barbara: LOVE obviously (laughter). What else keeps us preoccupied, up all night, crying, daydreaming, and feeling those butterflies on cloud 9? The spectrum of love is potent. The album is all about falling in and out of love with yourself and others. When you find yourself and truly love yourself, the good and bad parts, there are things you realize you won’t settle for or tolerate in other relationships that are too toxic and damaging. And when we fully love ourselves there’s a groundness and lightness to life that makes it easier to love and give to others. We need more of this compassion and kindness in this world now more than ever.

The creative process was one word: intense. It was a full immersion, jump-in head-first sort of thing. I co-produced the album with Jim Greer, an incredible multi-instrumentalist, sound engineer, and creative genius who’s worked with Macy Gray, A Tribe Called Quest, Foster the People, Big Freedia, the list goes on. And yet he’s one of the most chill, down-to-earth, and loving guys you’ll ever meet. We got connected through my vocal coach while I was living in San Francisco and he liked my energy. We never worked together before and made 17 tracks together, 15 of which made the album in 2 weeks. By the end of the process, I met his family, knew his favorite Thai order, and had bronchitis LOL. We were mad scientists those 2 weeks, spending like 15-hour days together in his studio in Berkeley, California. I wasn’t sleeping because I had so much adrenaline and was so excited. At night I would dream up more ideas and he was shocked I would come into the studio at 8 am with 5 new drum beats. Like I said, crazy, but Good Crazy. We’d start each other reflecting on the day before, picking up where we left off, or start something new from the drum beats I made. Jim would then start some chords going on the piano and I’d get on the mic with my oohs and aahs to scope out the rough melody of the track. While he worked on the instruments and melodics, I’d be writing and then it was time for me to lay down vocals. He had this incredible vintage mic, custom-built ‘Little Wonder,’ and it made my voice sound so cool. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I said Jim, the next one we’re writing is about a horse at the disco.” But that was after day 2 or 3 when I had “proved myself.” Trust.

EG: ‘Palm Dreams’ is out via your own Good Crazy imprint. Where is the label at the moment? What can we expect from Good Crazy in the next few months?

Barbara: Yes. I signed with the incredible team at Paradise Worldwide for distribution and they actually approached me with the idea to start my own imprint. I had also envisioned it but didn’t expect the opportunity so soon. We’re doing really well and excited about the first 3 tracks we have signed across trance, house, and nu-disco. We’re actively accepting demos at, so please send us your incredible music.

I don’t care how many followers, views, or likes you have. I’ll know in the first 20 or so seconds if it’s a hell yes and I want it. In the fall I’m excited to start up some Good Crazy parties showcasing artists on our label. Follow along on Instagram, GoodCrazyMusic, to find out when we’re bringing our unhinged funky crew to a city near you.

Photo Credit: Rachel Esterline

EG: On a more personal note, you have recently gone through a divorce, right? How has that impacted your creativity and your approach to music?

Barbara: Now that it’s been finalized legally I feel ready to speak about it. It’s honestly one of the hardest choices I’ve had to make and I’m only sharing because I want others who are considering divorce or feeling ashamed or sad about it to know they’re not alone. And it doesn’t have to be ugly and cruel. In our case, it was a matter of different things we wanted out of life and the inability to grow together and fully communicate and express our feelings. I wanted to free us both for the love and life that was more fully aligned with our true nature and purpose. You can never ask someone to change for you and make yourself change for someone else. On the one hand, I am so happy to be back to myself because I feel like I lost myself for a while there but also it’s hard to swallow that I’ve caused someone so much pain with my choice because it wasn’t a mutual decision. I’m grateful for all the love he showed me, he truly is one of the kindest men I know, and hope that we can one day be friends.

In terms of my music, on the other side of the decision, which took an incredible amount of reflection and soul searching, I’ve gone full in. I have the courage and trust now to sing from my heart and make decisions regardless of fear. The newer stuff will definitely feel a bit more painful and sad but it’s all part of the healing. The sound is also a bit darker, edgy, raw, and influenced by rock which kind of fits with the experience.

EG: Thanks for sharing this with us. And how do your Italian roots and culture seep into your music? Where do you go to for inspiration?

Barbara: Dolce far niente baby! Like most Italians, I am very proud to be Italian. The good: we’re lovers, we care deeply about our family and food, and know that life is more enjoyable when you share it and celebrate together. We have some of the best food during the holidays, our country is breathtaking and the language, amore. The women are some of the strongest I’ve ever met (Thank god for my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, aunts, and cousins who helped raise me) and we’re very loyal and dependable.

We’re super expressive (comes with the passion) and you can see our emotions through our hands and faces. The not-so-great: The passion. We’re fiery. I know I can be impulsive and get a hot head sometimes because I get so excited and care so deeply about things. We can be honest to a fault and there’s lots of personality (good crazy I hope) but some batshit too. Never marry an Italian they say, we don’t do well when scorned.

It’s really interesting growing up in an Italian family and culture and community of the North End in Boston because I really do approach making music like cooking. I also really love to create and sing while I’m in the kitchen, a natural gathering hole and place of comfort and nostalgia I guess. Like Italian food, the best music can often be so simple. You don’t need all the fancy ingredients or bells and whistles. Look at Pomodoro sauce, olive oil, our wine, bread, and pasta, it’s all so pure, made from the heart. We value very few ingredients but the utmost, highest quality. And just like good music, good food takes time, care, and patience. If you try to make my grandmother’s (Mame’s) Sunday sauce a few hours before company arrives on Sunday, your friends will never come back over to eat. Like cooking, music helps us feel more connected to each other and proud.

“The newer stuff will definitely feel a bit more painful and sad but it’s all part of the healing”

EG: Now, let’s step outside of the studio for a bit… What’s your take on the state of the scene? How do you feel about the implementation of AI? Has any form of AI been used on ‘Palm Dreams’?

Barbara: Ah, you mean the robots coming to replace us all? Just kidding. AI is here and going to play a big role in the future in all industries, so there’s no sense in fighting change. You’ve seen what happened to Blockbuster? I think a lot of folks are afraid of AI and something new is always scary, but it’s not going to replace us. Not now, not ever.

There’s no AI used in ‘Palm Dreams’, but I have used Google Gemini to help me brainstorm lyrics and Google’s Music LM + Magenta for inspiration. I’ve always been deeply passionate about technology and how it can enhance our lives and foster innovation. Where I would love to see help from AI is in making workflow more efficient. For example, and I’m sure the tools exist, I really struggle with capturing lyrics at the moment. Ideas are coming really fast in the studio and it’s only when we need to input them into Musicxmatch that I have my “Oh crap” moment. I had to learn this the hard way this past weekend, spending several hours listening back to tracks to transcribe and format everything correctly. Now imagine if there was a tool just transcribing as you’re singing (like Otter or AI note-taking during meetings) so you have your lyrics ready to go? It would be speech-to-text detection which already exists. This tool may very well already exist for singers and producers, but imagine how much time that saves.

Also, Grimes is a great example of how AI is helping to produce new, incredible content that’s increasing her connection with the fans. Check out her track, ‘Cold Touch,’ with Kito through Grimes AI. It’s incredible. You’re still the artist making the ultimate choice on your style and creative output, but AI is your enhancer. Rick Rubin talks about this as well in his podcast episode, “Magic, Everyday, Mystery and Getting Creative with Krista Tippett.” Because we’re trained on specific rules and inputs from society, past experiences, etc., sometimes it limits creativity versus when you’re playing no rules (or know the rules so well) you don’t know what you’re breaking and that can be where greatness comes from. One area where I agree we need to get a handle on is Deepfake, using someone’s music or voice or likeness, copying that as your own without someone’s permission or approval. It’s misleading to fans and really harmful to artists who already don’t receive proper compensation from streaming royalties. I would also like to see way fewer bots inflating social media stats and Spotify playlists that are basically pay-to-play and spammed by a bunch of bot listeners.

EG: Finally, can you provide some insights into what’s next for Barbara? What can we expect from you in the coming months? Where can your fans catch you next?

Barbara: Buckle up is all I can say. Hybrid, live, mashups of new genres, breaking genres, more releases on Good Crazy…it’s all on the horizon. I’m really focused on making some of the best art that I can these next few months so not too many chances to see me live at the moment. However, I’ll be sharing a lot on this journey with my fans digitally so be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok to hear sneak peeks and previews of what’s to come. There will be a few gigs coming up in the US before I head to Ibiza this July and Europe this summer so do follow along as those get announced. You can also join my mailing list for updates on where I’ll be playing and some drops that are coming. Content only for my insiders.

EG: Thank you so much for your time, Barbara! We wish you all the best for the future. See you on the dancefloor!

Barbara: It’s been such a joy chatting with you, dear! Thank you for having me. I hope to see you on the dancefloor very soon! Bisou.

Barbara’s ‘Palm Dreams’ is now available via Good Crazy. Stream and download here.

Follow Barbara: Website I Spotify | Soundcloud | Instagram 

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