Published in The Music (QLD, VIC, SA), X-Press Magazine (WA) and on theMusic.com.au, Mar – Apr 2016
Barker’s Got A Lot Of Fingers In A Lot Of Pies
Australian adoptee Arj Barker‘s not only been working his latest set to perfection, but crafting a new single, developing a TV show and avoiding goats in bushes. Daniel Cribb gets schooled by the comic-turned-hip hop star.
If you were sitting in a Melbourne bar and an Arj Barker-like character dressed convincingly as Satan sat next to you for a couple of drinks, you might be left somewhat speechless. Well, between takes on the set of Brisbane rockers DZ Deathrays’ latest music video — the second DZ clip Barker has been a part of — that’s exactly what went down. “I would just sit there at the bar, having a beer and I got some pretty funny looks, because that make-up was really intense,” Barker laughs. “They’re mates at this point, so it was a pleasure working with them,” he adds.
Having spent a large amount of time Down Under over the years, he’s come across a few local acts that have sparked his interest, including Adelaide two-piece Filthy Lucre. It’s in South Australia that Barker’s been moulding his new show,Organic — a fitting title considering his methods — in preparation for MICF. “I did two weeks of previews at the Fringe festival in WA, and since then it’s changed a lot. When I came to Adelaide I had it pretty well dialled-in; I’ve just made some minor tweaks, subtle tweaks,” Barker explains.
“It’s more it comes down to the wording — getting the wording just perfect. I’m sort of particular about that, so I have it so ingrained that I can deliver it in a natural way. I never want it to feel like you’re watching a play or a speech.”
Extensive runs in Adelaide and Melbourne just scratch the surface of his itinerary, with Barker still performing his Get In My Head show — an endeavour that has instantly hilarious art that parodies an old record cover — around the country. Organic keeps the trend of comical posters going, but needed some work to avoid people envisioning acts of beastiality. “We did initially have a goat in the bushes with me, sticking its head out in the same direction, but in the end we decided that people were going to assume it’s this joke about having a sex with a goat, which I didn’t want because that’s a little lowbrow for me, so we decided to just leave it pure.”
Taking into account other projects along the way — like the DZ Deathrays venture — it’s surprising he’s had time to work on a hip hop single and accompanying video. “I’m putting out a song — it’s a hip hop song produced by myself, and mostly created using Logic in my hotel room in Brisbane,” he reveals. “It’s a real grassroots operation. I love rapping, and I love comedy. I’m just editing the video for it now. It’s called Disgrace Book, and complains about certain behaviours on Facebook, but it’s very light-hearted.
“If it catches on I hope to get a chance to perform it… [it’s] on my list of goals is to make a whole album of probably mostly hip hop-style stuff. I’ve always loved rapping and I’m not ashamed to say it. I’ve always tried to rap going back all the way to high school. I see no reason to stop now.”
There have also been some exciting developments on a TV show he’s been working on. “It’s coming along real well. It’s still too early to announce anything, but we made some great progress. We have a production company that’s on board with us now and that’s a massive step. The next step is finding a network that wants to commission the show. We have the talent, the writers, a production company, but we’re just missing that final element — the network — but we haven’t even started to pitch it yet. It’s a little early but it’s coming along great.”