Jess Kav from the ‘agrosoul’ band Barq sat down for an interview on the TPOE podcast (subscribe on iTunes/Soundcloud/whatever podcast app you use) recently. You can listen to the SC embed, and there are highlights from the conversation below. Barq are heading out on their first national tour tomorrow, as part of the Big Giant Head tour, alongside Harbouring Oceans and Hawk, who have just released a new EP, She Knows.

Big Giant Head tour dates:
March 30: Cyprus Avenue, Cork
March 31: Connolly’s of Leap
April 1: Pumphouse, Kilkenny
April 2: Central Arts, Waterford
April 5: Roisin Dubh, Galway
April 6: Whelan’s, Dublin


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Jess on how Barq started out: We were writing together, myself and Tommy, Steve and Neil, probably for 12-18 months prior to us releasing ‘Gentle Kind of Lies’ so we were totally in each other’s heads; the only other people who had heard the first three songs were friends who had walked in on rehearsals or had heard some of the demos, so we had no idea how the general public or the general Irish music community were going to accept it. And in a way, obviously, that recognition is amazing but in a way just coming together with three close friends of mine and producing music was enough of a reward.

Jess on developing the Barq sound: I think we wanted to be a hip-hop band, way more strictly hip-hop. I really like experimenting with rap but it’s such an absolute skill in itself so I tried a couple of different things and we experimented in the beginning with doing more hip-hop which I guess is where Gentle Kind of Lies came from. But then as we moved forward we ended up just introducing and interpreting so many different sounds that it’s very much expanded into a much more mixed genre.

Jess on touring the world with Hozier: At the time, the idea was to have me on for a couple of promos, post-EP release, but when he blew up the way he did, we ended up going to SXSW, New York and LA as well, it was actually this time three years ago… It was amazing to be a fly on the wall during that time [of Hozier getting big]. One of the other amazing things about it was getting to know Caoimhe from Wyvern Lingo, have her there on tour.

Jess on what made her want to start her own band: I was very much inspired creatively by Lethal Dialect and his work ethic and seeing him in the studio. Being on tour with Andrew, who is such an incredible lyricist as well and an amazing vocalist, to be on tour with somebody like that and to see there is an availability and an opportunity for my friend, for somebody that I know to become so successful and so famous, that was just, yeah that’s the reality, this can happen to some people if you put the work in. I think once the working with Hozier and Lethal Dialect happened, pretty much within the same couple of months, that was the catalyst for me to really make it work.

Jess on how the Irish music scene has changed: I’ve really seen how the music industry has developed and become so much more diverse over the last ten years. A huge part of that, obviously, has been the fact we’re so much more multicultural now, where you have people who are getting involved in the Irish music community who might have Brazilian descent or African descent or Polish descent or whatever, and they’re coming and they’re making amazing music. Rusangano Family, who won the album of the year for Choice Music – that’s a perfect example of an amazing band who are talking about being from a different country originally, coming over to Ireland, immigrant culture, and what they’re up against. And they won album of the year, which is amazing. We’re more open to having different flavours getting involved in our Irish music now, so it’s not just the usual traditional stuff – which I was never raised on either. My mother is half Nigerian. She was adopted but she very much grew up looking towards America as something she identifies with. When I was growing up there was always Motown in the house, and soul in the house, and blues in the hosue. She was very much a feminist as well so it was always really strong female vocalists like Joan Baez and Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell – they were the people my mam listened to. It’s hard not to be influenced by that. And meeting other women now, like Farah Elle, whose of Libyan descent, and Soule, and Jafaris, and people who I’m discussing what it’s like having these different cultures in the home and how it’s influenced your music, and that’s what I think’s really helped it develop and become way more textural. I feel more at home in this community now.