Smile Politely

Lindsey Barr of Wicked Walls talks the C-U scene

Champaign native Lindsey Barr has long been involved in the local music scene. She’s currently in the band Wicked Walls and has worked as a mentor to help young people get more involved. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her at Ippatsu Salon for several years now and always make a point to talk with her about music. I sat down with Barr to talk about her involvement within the Champaign-Urbana music scene, Wicked Walls’ upcoming Pygmalion set, and the ways in which she’s seen the scene change from when she was a teenager.

Smile Politely: What are your musical influences?

Lindsey Barr: As a band we’re influenced by My Bloody Valentine, Low, Deftones, Jesu, and many others. I’m personally influenced by all music. I’ve been into hip-hop, music from the ’50s and ’60s, heavy rock and soft rock. I like a little indie country. I also minored in piano in college so I’m influenced by classical music. I’m kind of all over the board.

SP:You mentioned to me before that you’re working on a whole new lineup of songs for your set at Pygmalion this fall. Are you excited about doing a whole new set? Have you ever done something like that before?

Barr: Yeah! We’ve been playing the first record for the last two years now. We’ve played a couple of songs that weren’t on that record at recent shows, so those won’t necessarily be brand new, but they will be going on the next record. We’d like to have a new record out by next spring. We only have about six songs now so probably a good six more to write for that, but for a set at Pygmalion, which is our next planned show, six to eight songs is a solid set.

SP: What was you in midair (Barr’s early 2000s band) like?

Barr: It was more indie country. My brother played acoustic guitar and sang, I did mostly backing vocals and played a toy piano, tuned radio frequencies and one or two times played a couple of bass parts.

SP: Sounds like two very different bands. Did you find that difficult when you were first started playing in Wicked Walls?

Barr: Well it had been a long time since I had done a band. I think it definitely took me a little while to ease back into that and just for everyone in the band to get used to playing music together. None of us had, besides Caleb and Andy, played together before. Though we had all played in different bands. We’re learning about each other and it gets tighter as the years go by.

SP: You said you in midair was in the early 2000s. How do you feel the music scene in Champaign-Urbana has changed since then?

Barr: I think there are ebbs and flows in Champaign-Urbana. When I was a teenager in the 90s, it was huge. Hum, Braid, Love Cup, all these bands that got pretty big. And then I don’t know if it slowed down or in just my group of music people it seemed liked there was not as much excitement. There was still stuff going on, but not as many people were coming out to shows. I don’t know if that shifted with our age also because now we were all going to and playing in bars rather than going to the union to see a show or a house party to see a show. Now it seems like it’s pretty big again. There’s a lot of music going on, there are a lot of bands. There are all different types of bands in town too, which I really like because I’ve always felt we’re a pretty musical town.

Also, whatever thing I was going through at the time affects the way I saw music at the time. When I say I felt music slowed down a little I was hanging out more with the electronic and raver kids at that time. I wasn’t going to shows as much anymore so it seemed like it wasn’t going on.

SP: I know you’ve helped Saskia start up Undercut Collective. I’m sure you feel good about that since she’s so young and you’ve helped her do a lot with the music scene.

Barr: I do. I feel that it’s important to pass the torch to the younger kids. I especially got excited because I saw a lot of myself in her, just kind of growing up and wondering what could I do to get involved with this stuff. Honestly I feel like it is easier than it seems at that age and I just wanted to help her. I didn’t have to do that much except introduce her to a couple of people and help her contact some bands at first, then she just took off with it. She just needed a little push in the right direction. And it’s doing well.

SP: I think you’re right in that you helped make her idea accessible. If she didn’t know anyone it would have been really hard. Having someone like you coming in and saying I know these people who can help you, that’s huge. A lot of times it’s hard to know where to start and it can seem so overwhelming.

Barr: And for me that stops me from doing some things sometimes.

SP: Helping Saskia start up Undercut Collective goes into the next thing I wanted to talk about as far as the involvement of women within the music scene.

Barr: I feel like there is a lot more of that now especially with the younger crowd. I don’t personally know some of these girls, but Emily Otnes is doing a lot. My drummer’s daughter, Fiona Kimble, is actually playing often now. When I was growing up in the ’90s I was pretty into hip hop and R&B, while my brother was into grunge and indie rock and he really wanted me to listen to that stuff. At the time there were a lot of girl bands going on so as soon as he figured out I was interested in the all girl bands he started shoving all these girl bands down my throat. There was Sarge, Beezus, and a lot of local stuff like Angie Heaton. Then I feel like there was a time when there weren’t a lot of women involved, and the only person I can particularly think of being involved was Kayla Brown, but I personally didn’t see a lot of girls involved for awhile. Now coming into this time period the Motes lead singer who was actually in Beezus (pictured above, image via she’s back doing stuff again.

SP: Do you think your daughter, Delaney, will be involved with the music scene soon?

Barr: I think for sure she will be. Her dad is in a couple of bands. Caleb and I are. I see a lot of excitement in her when it comes to music. Saskia has talked about having Delaney help her out in spreading the word about shows to the middle school kids.

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