Perhapsy (Photo by Odell Hussey)
Meet Perhapsy. You may know him from other East Bay bands he plays with, like East Bay Express cover-gracing “prismatic pop” stars Bells Atlas or the equally soulful Astronauts, etc. But in the time not spent with those, Derek Barber uses his guitar and vocal chops to compose atmospheric, guitar-looped gems as Perhapsy. Ahead of his single release show at the Hatch in Oakland this Friday, we chatted about jazz heroes, balancing musical projects, and favorite Bay Area hangs.
The Bay Bridged: You’re releasing a single this Friday! Can you talk about the song and how it came to be?
Derek Barber: The song is called “All My Soul Swallowed” and lyrically, it deals with the loss of a close friendship yet the strange and tiresome formalities that exist when you continue to see and interact with that person. At least that’s what I think it’s about. I almost write exclusively from a stream-of-conscious place, so the meanings to these songs seem to only show up when I reflect back on what I’ve written.
TBB: Your last single you put out on Soundcloud, “Samuel,” has a very atmospheric trance-like quality created by the jangly guitars and your vocals. Has your writing style for Perhapsy changed at all since then?
DB: “Samuel” is one of the many demos I’ve put up on soundcloud over the years while working on Me Tie Dough-Ty Walker (my upcoming sophomore album). Because it’s taken a long time to finally release, I found that Soundcloud was a great way to put up newer demos (many that don’t appear on MTDW) and sort of relieve the anxiety of having a lot of newer material since I started the album.
As far as writing style goes, I’ve become very interested in pop formats, yet with constantly moving and intricate guitar ideas. Also, sudden key changes have always fascinated me.
TBB: You majored in Jazz Studies in college — who are your jazz heroes, and have they influenced your music?
DB: In terms of jazz guitar, Bill Frisell is a big hero. Everything he plays is just gorgeous, even when it’s on the weirder side. Outside guitar stuff, I once spent a whole summer listening to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme every morning at 5:30 AM. Kinda life-changing…
Thelonious Monk is a constant source of inspiration — the way he would dance around on stage, etc. I also love his quote, “Everyone’s a genius just by being themselves.”
TBB: Alongside Perhapsy, you’ve involved in a few other local projects, namely Bells Atlas and Astronauts Etc. How do you balance your time working with each of the projects? And how do your musical/collaborative styles changes within each group, if at all?
DB: Well, it’s not always easy but I really love the different roles in each band — in Bells
TBB: Lastly, what are your favorite venues to play in the Bay Area?
DB: The Independent always treats musicians super-well and super-professionally. Amnesia is one of the best dives that really gives new bands a place to start. Also, in Oakland, the Hatch gallery has become the non-market unofficial good-hang.
Perhapsy, Carly Bond (from Meernaa), Social Work DJ Set
January 8, 2016