The day before kicking off her One Foot In tour in Geelong, Melbourne musician Ali Barter stopped by Oxygen College to share some wisdom with students for what lies ahead and to perform a few songs.

Sitting up on stage in front of a room full of Oxygen Students, Ali told the story of starting out singing as a kid. Her serious moment began with a stint in a choir (as she admits it was to avoid Saturday morning sport) before taking time off in her later years to bum around. A little while later her passion for music would be reignited.

She confessed to the students that at 24 years of age she “was shit” and had a lot of catching up to do, often heading to her local to play open mic nights. She then started opening for friends, performing anywhere she could and making videos to put on YouTube. It was at this point she was approached to make an EP and where everything really began.



“I love a big catchy hook, so if I’m writing a verse it’s usually however many bars and the chorus is a bit higher and repetitive – I like a repetitive melody…. I like to write by myself for a time and then I get to a certain point and I might sit down with another writer or a producer.

“I love power chords and that’s pretty much all I play. And that’s fine for me because I’m a singer and a songwriter and the guitar is a tool for song writing. And I have a shit-hot band that make that sound more interesting. Any time I try practising guitar I end up writing a song, so I’ve accepted I’m a songwriter.”



“I demo pretty heavily – all the songs were formed and all the parts were written [for A Suitable Girl]. If you’re going to be in a studio it costs money and I think it’s better to go in there with some work done. We do pre-production rehearsals as well, because it sounds very different from the demo you make on the computer to an actual band.”



“[Festivals are] pretty wham-bam-thank-you-mam. It has to be a vibe-y set, so don’t play any of your ballads. Play all your hits and play the up-tempo, fun ones because no one wants to hear your sad songs.

Play as much as you can, because if you do have the chance to go overseas you’ll be really good at what you’re doing.”



“Being a female musician you’re going to be around dudes a lot – but you know that already. And I have only the nicest dudes in my life. There’s dickheads wherever you go and they could be male or female. As a woman in the industry surround yourself with really nice people and trust yourself.”



“Looking at music as a career is such a scary thing because it’s so unpredictable, and I still – where I am now – have a lot of fear for what I am doing. But that just kept me from doing it. If you want to do it, you’re gonna do it. It just kept coming back to me and so I started writing songs and playing heaps of open mic nights because I was 24 and I was shit and knew I had to make up for lost time.

I couldn’t foresee how being a singer-songwriter could be my career. But just immersing myself in it, it gradually came. And it takes a while. I put out three EPs before I put out an album. There’s no one way it happens.”



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