Montreal's glamorous one, Jef Barbara recently released his Soft to the Touch on Club Roll (courtesy of the good people who bring you the Pop Montreal Festival), and today presents a vignette of metropolitan melancholia for lonely hearts everywhere in the music video debut of, "Song For the Loveshy". Directed by Zoe Kirk-Gushowaty, we get to follow Jef by foot or by cab into the neon lit boulevards of vacant dreams and city light ghosts of absent lovers.
The video works to compliment the song's mellow vintage glitz as the illuminated buildings and street lamps are paired with images of jewelery and roses. The city moves at the pace of the opiated guitars as Barbara makes his about town, strolling past glowing pop art walls of poly-fluorescent light fixtures. Singing out to that special someone who is somewhere sipping a rum and Coke, Jef makes his camera talking appeal of, "hey you, sitting over there, you look so sad and broke, hey I know, I've been there…anytime you need a friend, I will be there, this from a friend that really cares." From the director bathing the song's evening shades in rich blues and purple hues, Barbara creates a timeless sense of longing and yearning through the 50s model to create loveshy sentiments for a new golden era.
Jef Barbara talked with us for a bit about recording "Song For the Loveshy", the lonely expanses of city scapes, Montreal comforts, and more.
First, tell us about the loveshy sentiments that went into recording the song, "Song For the Loveshy".
I don't know if any loveshy sentiments went into the recording itself. The music was written before the lyrics, which I wrote the night before we recorded the song and if I remember well, I was a bit anxious because I had no clue as to what I wanted the song to be about. Lyrics are always very important to me. And although my opinion is that words should always complement music and not the other way around, I like to sing about things that make sense to me. It's a good thing that I overcame writer's block otherwise the recording session wouldn't have happened; most of what you hear in the song is a live take, except for the organ and a few synth overdubs.
How did that loveshy sentiment transfer over to the video of lonely, late night metropolises?
You'd have to ask the director of the video, her name is Zoe Kirk-Gushowaty. She made the video for Dirty Beaches' 'Lord Knows Best'. I believe she captured the spirit of the song very well. As soon as she showed me the treatment for the 'Loveshy' video I knew it was going to work out.
How do big cities and urban empires contribute to those lonely and loveshy feelings?
From my experience, big cities and urban empires create distance between people because they provide an environment where most needs can be immediately fulfilled with no human interference, which brings about a space where individuals become more aloof and not inclined to interact as much.
I believe that a, growing up as an only child for the most part of my life and b, in the city are two of the reasons that made me the reserved, socially avoidant person I am today. That being said, I also think my analysis might not be totally accurate because I realized upon visiting big cities like Paris and Madrid that people there tend to seek social confrontation in all sorts of different ways…
How did you balance both glamor and a kind of protective intimacy on your Soft to the Touch LP?
Soft to the Touch evokes thoughts, fantasies, the way I felt at certain points in time, it's also filled with commentary on events that were outside of my own personal experiences. Indeed there is a sort of protective intimacy because it's like a personal diary. As for the glamourous part, I would say that it's intrinsically part of how I express myself artistically. I don't believe that glamour and intimacy and diametrically are opposed, hence Soft to the Touch's boudoir vibes.
Favorite things about Montreal these days?
I've been in Europe for over a month now, I miss chilling in my apartment with my cat, I also miss hanging out with my friends. I'm looking forward to going back and cooking red lentils with brown rice and invite people over for drinks.
Jef Barbara's Soft To The Touch LP is available now from Club Roll Music and will be playing the following dates:
07 Ottawa, opening for Yamantaka // Sonic Titan.
29 Montreal at La Reference