‘Short and Sharp with an Indie Edge’: Oli Barton & The Movement

Marcus Maschwitz

It’s been a while since we featured some new and upcoming talent for #NewTunesTuesday, well today we treat you to a rising London alternative group: Oli Barton & The Movement. The group return with their trademark unique indie sound, and new single ‘Martyr‘. Ahead of the release of their long-awaited mixtape ‘pipe dreams’, mixing emotional synths, 80s style percussion, and a positive and uplifting central message, ‘Martyr’ expands Oli’s palette and continues to showcase him as an increasingly promising voice amongst British indie artists.

‘Martyr’ follows the release of last year’s ‘Get Out’ which proved to be their biggest hit yet. Having gained great support from BBC Introducing, the band played multiple festivals in the year before the pandemic where they stormed through many high-profile performances garnering significant attention.

We managed to grab a busy Oli for a sit-down chat to talk about their new single, their support of women in the music industry, and their 2021 plans!

Photo by: Marcus Maschwitz

Dragadventures: Hi Oli, Your new single ‘Martyr’ is out now and we already have it on repeat here at ‘Dragadventures headquarters’. Before we talk about the new song and the message behind it, we want our readers to get to know the people behind the song – can you introduce us really quick to ‘Oli Barton & the Movement’? Where are you guys from, what brought you together and why should everyone listen to your music? Also, what song would you pick to play to someone who’s never listened to your music before?

Oli Barton: Hi Kirsty and Sparkles, thanks for having me on! So I’m London born and bred, still living within a mile stretch of my childhood home but the guys in the band are from all over. Italy, Switzerland, and Kent, we were all at university with each other and some of the guys have been playing in this outfit now for nearly 5 years.

We originally started off by playing some covers here and there before I decided to start penning tunes and yeah here we are! Our music is made for people who maybe don’t feel quite right in their skin and people who feel the need to identify with somebody. We aim to be that warm blanket, that acceptance. I generally see myself as something of an outsider and I’d love to be that person that people identify with when they can’t identify with anyone else. If I had to pick a song to show people exactly what it is we do, it would be 44, no question. We make short and sharp pop songs with an indie edge and no room for messing about.

Dragadventures: Speaking of songs that get you in to your music, ‘Martyr’ is for sure a worthy candidate for the post. In your press release, you talk about how lyrically you “Wanted to pay tribute to these unsung heroes because they prove that we are always stronger together”. Can you tell us a bit more about what inspired the song? And, do you find creating music easier drawing from your own life/experiences, making it somewhat of a ‘cathartic, free-flowing’ procedure?

OB: Well Martyr came at a strange time. Obviously, the pandemic has been in full swing for a year now and we’ve all suffered quite hard from it; whether that be through illness, grief, financial loss, or mental health issues. Through all of that though, for me anyway, there have been people who stuck by me the entire time and supported me throughout. Without those people, I’d be lost. And so to me personally, this song is for them. We are stronger together undoubtedly. All my music is fairly personal though, I try not to reach too far out of my own bubble. I mean, if there’s one subject that I know a lot about; it’s me! So in that respect, I try to draw parallels that will hopefully make my message and my story relatable.

Dragadventures: We feel that a lot of people will feel connected to the lyrics since the world around us is still in the throes of this weird pandemic situation and support systems from friends and family have never been more important to make sure your mental health is cared for. How have you experienced the last year and did you find some ‘coping mechanisms that you think would help our readers as well? What would be the thing you miss the most from our ‘pre-pandemic’ lives and what are you looking forward to the most for after when it’s over?

OB: I think weirdly that my personal coping mechanisms are quite unhealthy and that’s kind of why I struggled during this time. What really helped me, despite my consistent wish to be antisocial, is reaching out to other people. Talking, zooming, and just relating with others. Knowing that you’re not the only one struggling is quite comforting. I think that beyond a haircut though, the thing I really missed was having rehearsals with the guys, this is what we do. We are passionate about music, and only music, so to be taken away from that was probably the worst thing. We find it cathartic, a real release. Not being able to do that for a year has killed us. Thank god it’s (sort of) back to how it was.

Dragadventures: Circling back to past times once again, the sound of this ep is full of 80’s synth – what made you choose that particular decade when creating the song? Would you say you’re inspired musically by different decades? Also, are there any artists in particular from the 80s or other decades that got you ‘hooked’ on music? 

OB: The ironic thing is that I didn’t actively pursue an 80’s sound on this one. It just came about naturally, it was what seemed to fit the track and I’m really pleased with the direction we went with it. We went down the rabbit hole a bit and it paid off! Of course, I love a lot of artists from that decade but primarily I’m a huge fan of Adam & The Ants and the Human League. Maybe there’s a bit of that in there somewhere! 

Dragadventures: Last year you released ‘Get Out’ which was heavily supported by BBC Introducing, that in itself must have been a huge uplift! How did it feel to have that support and do you feel that helped with confidence, and musical direction? At which age did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in the music industry and what would you tell people that feel they want to do the same but are maybe held back by fear of others’ opinions or judgments?

OB: Support is always nice. The BBC getting behind things really makes you feel like you’re aiming in the right direction so yeah it’s great for confidence. I mean I think from the minute I picked up an instrument properly, I knew that that is what I wanted to do. What I would say to those people is that everything else can be learned beyond maybe a voice. Songwriting, playing instruments, production, and everything else despite what they tell you is learned. Spend the hours, learn your craft and keep going. Just don’t stop. 

Photo by Marcus Maschwitz

Dragadventures: A huge part of being a musician is touring and performing your work to live audiences. If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would that be and why? Also, would you say that when you’re performing, you’re articulating the same emotion that caused you to write the song in the first place? What’s your favorite part of being on stage?

OB: That is a tricky one. I’m not too sure, but somewhere hot would be nice, preferably with our hotel pretty much next door. Never seems to work out that way though! I always say that if I’m no longer feeling the track, it’s out. We don’t perform tracks we’re not passionate about at that specific point. Songs come and go due to emotions but the audience deserves you to be in the moment. 

Dragadventures: Staying on the ‘gig’ subject for another question, because we know that you’re a huge supporter of a safe environment at concerts or other events. Would you say that it’s fair to say the music industry is a little lackluster when it comes to female empowerment, particularly at gigs? We know that many of us can feel very uncomfortable in close proximity to crowds of guys, especially at huge concerts, a fact which you highlighted in your single ‘ Get Out’,  which raised the awareness of the culture of harassment at gigs. Were you surprised by the support and attention it got for that message? For the guys reading what advice would you give them to be good allies to women?

OB: Female empowerment doesn’t exist in the music industry. Sure the artists and the audience are on board but the industry is not as a whole. Gigs, as we highlighted last year, are a disgrace, I’m not sure I know a single female gig-goer who hasn’t been harassed or assaulted at a gig so the support for the message didn’t surprise me one bit. The track was written and promoted based on the knowledge that this goes on. For guys, I’m not here to preach but all I can say is BE AWARE. Be aware of how threatening you actually can be. You might not mean someone harm but unfortunately, as we’ve seen in recent months more than ever, women have every justification to feel unsafe in close proximity to strange men. So be aware, be considerate, and understand your actions from someone else’s position. 

Dragadventures: If you could put on a festival with your dream line up who would headline, and what would the theme be? Who would you most like to collaborate with?

OB: My dream line-up… That’s a tricky one. I’m going to go for Lana Del Rey, Wolf Alice, Loyle Carner, and Everything Everything. In any order too! Dream collaboration-wise, I always would have said Bowie but it’s a little late I guess…

Dragadventures: Not only do you have your own incredible catalog of songs, but you did a cover of the iconic (and Dragadventures) fave Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’, too! Are you a big fan of Billie’s and how do you go about putting together a cover such as that? Are there any songs heavily played on your Spotify (or a similar service) right now that you might cover in the future?

OB: I’m glad you liked it! I’m a huge Billie fan, she’s amazing. One of the few pop artists who in the last few years has properly stood out to me.This one was a real collaborative effort with the guys, and we worked through it with multiple arrangements before we just decided to full on punk rock with it. I don’t think that it turned out too bad in the end!  Future covers? I’ll keep you posted on that, I’m sure we’ll do more in the future.

Dragadventures: Speaking of songs that you play on repeat: Would you rather hear your favorite artist sing your least favorite song or your least favorite artists sing your favorite song?

OB: Definitely my favourite artist singing my least favourite song. Phil Collins doing There Is A Light That Never Goes Out is enough to give me nightmares…

Dragadventures: Since this year seems to have pushed the digital side of daily life even more – we have seen a lot of musicians talk about how streaming services pay very little to featured artists on their platform – what is your take on the situation? And what is the best way to support an artist in this digital age? Particularly during a pandemic, do you find in a strange way social media has helped get more personal/stay in touch with fans?

OB: I think that social media has simplified the game during this period. Without it, there would be no business at all at this point! It’s definitely brought our fans closer which I’m very appreciative of. The streaming figures are low though and unfortunately, it’s not sustainable but this is the industry now and it’s our responsibility to adapt to it as best we can. The best way to support an artist now is to engage with them and their content. Instead of watching a video, like and comment on it. It makes all the difference.

Dragadventures: Since we love to end our interviews with something to look forward to in the future: What does 2021 have in store for Oli Barton & The Movement, any sneak peeks you can share?

OB: Well I can share that ‘Martyr’ is part of our upcoming mixtape ‘pipe dreams’ and that the follow-up single is coming very soon so watch this space…

Be sure to follow Oli Barton & The Movement on all social media:

Instagram: @olibartonandthemovement

Facebook: @OliBartonAndTheMovement

Twitter: @olibmovement

Official Website: @http://www.olibartonandthemovement.com/

Youtube: @https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxwK-yeBU9MIylS9mOZ6LtQ/videos

New single Martry is out now:

Youtube (Lyric Video): @ https://youtu.be/BzwikC5K5m8 

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/olibartonandthemovement/martyr-oli-barton-the-movement/s-5V71s

Streaming Platforms: https://olibartonandthemovement.lnk.to/GetOut

DragAdventures was born from the passion and the love for the art of drag. It's fueled by the combined chaotic forces and wanderlust of Kirsty and Sparkles, two European girls that reunite their powers to see as many of their favorite performers as possible and wanted to give all these amazing people a platform to showcase their talent.
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