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MUSIC JOURNALISM

Britt Barker

Britt Barker
Abby Duran September 1, 2020

Out of the gardens of Greenville, South Carolina, Britt Barker’s ashes transform equally to a rising phoenix and rising producer. He overcame his conflict with substance abuse and, in return, provides medical and physical support for current dependents. His debut EP, Trust, under the alias Catch The Rise, is an outline journey on his path to recovery. His music is a solid reflection of the trust he has instilled within himself.

“My experience with substance addiction/disorder is more of a downward arch. I started in high school and went into college unprepared: I would say what I wanted to do, but I never followed through. I had the time of my life, performing in bands, but then the consequences began piling up in my twenties. There were legal issues and fractured relationships. People could see that I was still me, yet it was pure misery. Life wasn’t fun anymore.”

Barker battled to end his addiction yet still stood on unsuitable foundations. He turned to the open arms of his family as his crutch. Their tender, yet tough love, was available so long as he was willing to change direction.

“I can’t imagine how stressful that was for them, but knowing where to turn to for support got me through it. July 18, 2015, was the last day I used anything. It feels like two different lifetimes. It sounds cliche, but it is rebirth. I had to completely give in to the fact that I will never have the life that I want while using substances.”

Like many people with a drug or criminal experience, Barker was hitting brick walls when it came to employment. Despite the roadblocks, he now holds a position at Favor Greenville, a community-based assistance center for dependants of substance misuse. Barker’s gentle demeanor and comforting voice are essential in the ER program, and one he asserts with tremendous pride.

“It’s funny that my experiences are considered liabilities elsewhere. Now working with affected people of substance abuse, my past life is an asset. It’s vital that I stay submersed it in for my recovery. If I go back, I know I will end up like the person I’m treating or even dead. It takes a special kind of human being to be engaged in that work. Emotionally I know the purpose of my presence, but this work is heavy no matter how you slice it.”

Furthermore, Barker explains that cases vary among peoples, yet the common theme is always not knowing where to go. In co-ordinance with Assertively Community Engagement, he aspires to assist beyond the hospital. The new project focuses on finding people at home and getting a first-hand look at their environment for future improvements.

“Sometimes it’s sober living or obtaining legal paperwork. I try to fit them with the right organization that can help get their life back. We miss so many because we are waiting for them to come to us via ER, hotline, in-person, or online. How many are sliding through the cracks because we are waiting?”

After graduating from Clemson University in Philosophy, Barker needed to fill an identity void that was no longer around the academic structure. He notes that recovery and music were among his daily thoughts. Catch The Rise became his producing personae and a musical reminder of where he came from and his rebirth.

“My songs are the soundtrack of my life. If I allow past experiences to creep out positively, that is reflecting in my music. I don’t always know which emotion I am trying to identify with; however, I trust my sub-conscience to flow out creatively. In this way, I can process my thoughts comfortably. Also, it’s something my ears can enjoy.”

With a clear conscience, Barker embraces his intuitive listening and set out to produce Trust. Mastered by San Francisco based engineer, Count Eldridge, the five-track EP came together in half a year.

“My process with this album is an equal balance of electronic and organic instrumentation. A motif of the dichotomy of the natural and the technological worlds. There were no creative restraints. Naming it, Trust was a no brainer. Entrusting in myself and feeling called to create didn’t lead me astray.

For so long, the problem was how do I fit those parts into a digestible song that people want to hear. Now that I’m committing myself, I can build a whole composition. I was surprised at how attracted I am to vocal sampling. You can get them anywhere, but the technique of incorporation is complex. Chopping, editing, and changing octaves is a time-consuming process.”

However, Barker has a knack for concocting catchy melodic guitar riffs. It’s the thread between tracks and undoubtedly his voice portraying his story.

“Tendencies is around the emotions of a former relationship. I was meditating on this idea of how my behavior patterns where “tendencies” controlling my future. It was in the way of things that might be better for me in the evolution of a human being. My fears and self-sabotaging habits were causing me to reflect on what it is keeping me from achieving.

Translator is a valentine to the music itself; it is the ultimate “translator” and communicator. I recorded and incorporated some earthy tones. The interplay of technology and nature was my goal here.

The most challenging track to produce was Desert Night in Phoenix. That one almost broke my spirit. It is my homage to Pretty Lights, who is a massive influence in my life. I still made it my own, but you can hear the drums’ compressed and vinyl effect. The imagery that would pop into my head was a backdrop of city lights in the desert. Also, it ties into the idea of both nature and society’s progression.

Creating the opener, Purple, was intense. I would think about the former relationship I was in and how it left some bruises. One night I turned on the studio lights, and the dusky sun made the whole room appear purple. I didn’t know which direction to place the dopamine inducing vocal samples, but so many things were screaming to be Purple.”

South Carolina gets credit to the successful release of Barker’s debut:
“This part of the world has grounding energy. My roots and family are here. Things here are simple, and you don’t always have to figure it out. Traveling and being out of my comfort zone is a favorite pastime, but making this record in Greenville was less distracting, more grounded.”

His dream was Trust; now his future is film scoring. His present is the open invitation of what his music can bring.

“My path is not for everyone, and what is best for you may not be for someone else. There’s a way to a better life, and that quality can improve.”

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