Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Bahari

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Bahari over Zoom video!

Every so often, two separate journeys collide to form the perfect union in just the right place at just the right time. Bahari blossom from a similar confluence of circumstances. Singer and keyboardist Ruby Carr hails from the tiny island of Lamu off the coast of Kenya, while singer and bassist Natalia Panzarella calls Nashville home. Each of their experiences shapes a dynamic, diverse, and dark take on alternative pop. Generating over 200 million streams and receiving acclaim from Ladygunn, Nylon, Billboard, Ones To Watch, and more, the Los Angeles-based duo bring a shared vision to life across their music.

Lifelong musical obsession bonded the girls. Ruby refers to the village of Lamu as “a little family.” She attended a school of only five students. Mom introduced her to Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, and The Eagles. She also endlessly played a Tupac tape. Without easy access to music, she requested albums from visitors and discovered Rihanna and Black Eyed Peas via MTV, watching videos all day. Eventually, she enrolled in boarding school where she picked up piano.

About 8,521 miles away from Kenya, Natalia split her childhood between Nashville and the South Bay of Los Angeles. Her mother worked as a professional songwriter and passed on a passion for music. She listened to everyone from Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, and Destiny’s Child to Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton. She penned her first song at 10-years-old for a boy and never stopped writing. At 16-years-old, she met Ruby during a songwriting session at Rock Mafia studio.

Ruby and Natalia also completed homeschool together in between releasing music as Bahari.

Bahari initially made waves with “Wild Ones,” which generated 38.1 million Spotify streams. They maintained a consistent pace with the Dancing on the Sun EP [2016] and singles “Get Together” and “Fucked Up.” Along the way, they supported Selena Gomez and Birdy on tour and teamed up with Zedd and Grey for collaborations. After quietly grinding, Bahari earned a viral hit with 2018’s “Savage.” Not only did the song generate over 100 million total streams, but it also went gold. Signing to Epic Records, the pair reup “Savage” with an Official Remix featuring rapper BIA.

“Savage” paves the way for the album. Ruby and Natalia moved in together, built a studio, and primarily took production into their own hands. Drawing on influences as diverse as the scores of Hans Zimmer and Air, they carefully crafted an expansive, ethereal, and entrancing body of work. On one end of the spectrum, warbling bass and woozy melodies distill “a pure feeling of paranoia” into the chaotically catchy “Waking Up The Neighbors.” Then, there’s “Jackie Kennedy.” Upheld by nothing but solo piano and soft strings, the track culminates on the mournful crescendo, “We’ve lost a lifetime, you and I.”

In the end, the power of Bahari arises from this empathy.

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