Chatting with the guys from the Surf Coast’s own Barbarella is like listening to some sort of mutual admiration society. Barb Peppard and Evan Jones are just so full of praise for each other’s abilities and clearly deeply respect each other as musicians.
The duo plays a mixture of a few covers and Barb’s original songs, with Evan providing the lead guitar alongside Barb’s acoustic rhythm and beautiful vocals. They met while playing in a backing band for Victoriana Gaye and then decided to play some solo gigs. They regularly play at the monthly Aireys Inlet Community Market and various other performances in the area. They’re certainly becoming quite well known in Aireys Inlet.
“Lots of people call me Barbarella now,” Barb says. “I’m like Sting: I’ve just got the one name.”
The Irish-born songwriter says she always likes to have a tinge of melancholy in her tunes. “I think it’s the Irish in me. It’s the whole lamenting thing. I always think a good song is something that rips your heart out. It’s always got to have a sad edge to it.”
“She’s a whinger,” jokes Evan, who says Barb has a real gift for songwriting, although she hastens to add that her skills have improved greatly since the two began performing together. Evan says he tries to provide a certain atmosphere to the act to allow Barb’s songs to really flourish.
“One thing I try and do is provide a framework so Barb doesn’t have to think so much about what she’s playing,” he says, “because you sing better when you don’t play and these songs need to be sung really well. I think I add some pretty decorations here and there, a little bit of tinsel.”
“Some of the songs I write are kind of sparse, but they’re songs I imagine you’d have a band for, and Evan will become the band and give it a groove,” Barb adds. “Without it you’re not capturing what the songs are about.”
“As far as the structure of the songs is concerned, creatively they’re very much Barb’s,” Evan continues. “She goes to some really interesting chord changes that I probably wouldn’t have ever considered, and they’re really good.”
Barb is currently working on an album of her originals with local producer Valdi Kapelis which will feature a number of other Surf Coast musicians in addition to Evan. She’s hoping to have it ready for release by Christmas time.
As corny and cliché as it may sound, Barbarella just hope to play nice songs that people will enjoy. “It sounds naff to say hopeful, positive songs, but we just want to spread love and positivity and hope,” Evan says, tongue firmly in cheek.
“I’ve written songs that have come from my heart,” Barb says, “so it’s nice for me when people listen to my songs and they kind of put themselves in bits of the song and go ‘I’ve had a similar experience’ or ‘I’ve felt like that’. You would hope people would get a bit of hope from that. I think that’s what it’s about for me. I always think songs are like photographs – they capture a second. They’re just little snapshots of something.”
You can hear Barbarella at the Aireys Hall when the Aireys Inlet Community Markets resume in September.
Written by Daniel Waight