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An Interview With Barker & LED | The Production of the LOVE AGAIN Single

An Interview With Barker & LED | The Production of the LOVE AGAIN Single

Who Are Barker & LED and What is Love Again?

James Kay (Barker) and Eran Monkcom (LED) are two young, talented musicians heralding from Hampshire, UK. The duo met during their school years and would soon build a freindship based on their musical interests. While their personal tastes would vary greatly, from classical folk to Russian hip-hop, the pair would continually spur each other on in an effort to get creative and record demo-tracks throughout their youth.

Now on the verge of entering their 20’s, Barker and LED would be born – graduating from the raw, roadside recording session to the slightly more serene bedroom studio. In 2018, Kay would record and originally intend to release a single titled ‘Missing Heart’, however, through a series of circumstances this would not come to pass. Instead, the song would be shelved to gather dust, until Monkcom listened to the track and saw potential in the lyrics contained within it.

Over the next three years, Monkcom would use the foundations of this song, sampling the vocal acapella, to restructure it from the ground up; converting the piece from a doomy indie-pop ballad to a house track with melancholy lyrics.

“The once sombre ballad has now turned into a summery anthem, with diverse vocal modulation and bombastic walls of synthesized sound. Yet, the songs melancholic lyricism has maintained its potency, becoming something of an oxymoron when juxtaposed against its upbeat instrumentalization.”

Mouthing Off Magazine

In 2021, Mouthing Off Magazine would discover the two artists and help to support them on their journey to recording success. Today, Kay is now in the process of recording his first EP (“Give A Dog A Bone”), with the support of Monkcom who will be acting as a producer, which is set to be released at the end of 2021 / begining of 2022.

The aim of this interview is to introduce the public to this creative duo for the first time and provide more information on their background, inspirations, and musical process. It is our hope that this will be the first release of many and that we will be able to keep you updated on their progress and achievements as time moves forward.


The Interview

How did you get into creating music?

James (Barker): I started learning guitar in 2017 and really took to it, especially the bass guitar – inspired by bassists such as Kim Deal and Matt Sharp. Then, when I first heard ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ by Neutral Milk Hotel, I knew that I wanted to write music of my own.

Eran (LED): My interest in making music started back when I was about 9 or 10. A family friend gave me his old iPod Nano, and he’d left some of his music on it. The first thing I listened to was an album by The Prodigy, I thought it was amazing, and when I got home I started browsing through YouTube for hours looking for new music, eventually I started listening to more electronic artists of the time, like Skrillex, and Pendulum, and I was becoming more and more interested in creating music from this genre.

Fast forward a few years and 2014 would bring in House and EDM to the forefront of music and I decided to download FL Studio. I didn’t have enough money to buy it, so I just used the demo version. Unfortunately, this meant that I could only work on one track at a time, and if I started working on another, or turned off my computer, I would lose all of the progress I had made. This went on for a while, until, after a year or so, I had saved up money to buy the full version, and I adjusted to the prospect of taking music production seriously.

Since then, I’ve gone through phases of working on multiple different genres to perfect my methods, and I’m happy to have finally reached a point where I’m capable of working on professional releases, like my latest track ‘LOVE AGAIN’.


What Artists or Bands do you guys look up to?

James (Barker): I look up to lots of artists but it’s difficult to pinpoint my direct idols without just listing them. Naturally, one has to look up to the Beatles and be impressed with what they did, that’s sort of where music begins for me.

Eran (LED): Some of my earliest influences were artists like Skrillex, The Prodigy and Pendulum, which not only had a large impact on my desire to listen to music but create it.

These days I’m a big fan of both UK Drill, which I’ve been working on producing for a while now, and Russian hip-hop artists like MORGENSHTERN, Kasta, and SLAVA MARLOW, who I don’t think get nearly as much international attention as they deserve.


Your Single – LOVE AGAIN – has recently been released. Could you tell us about how this collaboration started and the development of this song?

Eran (LED): Being both school and college friends, Jamie and I had known about each other’s musical interests, and we had considered the idea of collaborating for quite a while.

James (Barker): The track would become a reimagining of a long since released song of mine called ‘Missing Heart’. The collaboration began when the song was just at the demo stage, and I sent it to LED to remix and improve as I was struggling to get the sound I wanted. Through the errors of technology, only the vocals sent across and thus this happy accident gave LED the freedom to create the instrumental behind the vocals from scratch.

Eran (LED): The first draft of the song was very rough. I didn’t have a strong idea of where I wanted the track to go, and I spent several months thinking about how to perfect it. I wanted the instrumental of the song to reflect the vocals in a particular way.

Eventually, I settled on House as a genre as I felt that a more upbeat instrumental would combine well with the emotional and meaningful vocals Jamie had created.

Nearly a year went but I was still nowhere near finished. When I began working on this project, I couldn’t afford the audio equipment required to get the track to a professional level, however, I was eventually able to buy some studio quality monitors and managed to finally start the process of reworking the entire song.

Another two-years of tweaking and contemplating later, and the mix was finally at a level I was happy with.


What kind of equipment did you use to record the lyrics and produce this track?

James (Barker): The vocals of this track were, I believe, recorded at my house through a Blue Snowball Microphone, cheap little USB thing, so it’s impressive that the vocal quality has been enhanced so well by LED’s production.

Eran (LED): My workstation is, and probably always will be, FL Studio. I use KRK Rokit 5 Monitors, which produce incredibly professional sound for their price and in terms of plugins, I have a whole array of free to use DLL’s, in addition to REFX Nexus and NAtive Instrument’s Massive – both of which I strongly recommend to any other beginner producer.


You’ve mentioned previously that you timed this track’s release for when the UK would finally open up from lockdowns and restrictions. How have the events of last 18-months effected you?

Eran (LED): I don’t think anyone can deny it’s been quite a tough and unexciting time to live through coronavirus restrictions. However, it seems now that life is returning, at least for the most part, to normal. I hope this is the direction things continue to go in.

James (Barker):  I think everything that could be said about the lockdown situation already has been, it’s been tough on all age groups. But for me personally it has not affected my output negatively, if anything, the pandemic has given me more time to bury myself away in my music which I’ve seen as a silver lining.


One of the most interesting elements of this track is how the lyrics run counter to the positivity of its soundscape. Was this an artistic choice or simply a product of your collaboration?

James (Barker): This was an artistic choice as the original demo I created was positive in its nature and utilised the major scale, however for the EP version, which I released in 2019, I reworked the song into a less upbeat track so it’s interesting to see the differences between the two versions.


I find these lyrics to be some of the most impactful within the song. There is a great sense of doom present within them, with little hope of escape. Do you think you could explain this verse and perhaps even the overarching narrative of the song.

‘Love is just a conspiracy, programmed against me, to lower my productivity and make me insane / So in reality no one wakes up next to me, this is just my choice you see, and it makes the most sense.’

Barker – LOVE AGAIN

James (Barker): I think my lyrics should be left up to the interpretation of the listener, sometimes I don’t put much thought into the lyrics and really these ones are just my take on a song about being fed up with romance.


What projects are you currently working on? Can we expect any further releases over the next coming months?

Eran (LED): I always have a large number of projects on the go, people can expect a few more releases on my SoundCloud over the coming year. I’m working on creating a new YouTube channel just for instrumentals, which will be available soon too.  I’ve always tried to ensure that what I make puts quality over quantity, which is why I’ve never put out a consistent stream of new music.

James (Barker): I’m currently working on an EP which should be released this year, which will hopefully be followed by my seventh album – a project I’ve been working on for a while.


Illustration by Anna Ring

About The Author

Gregory Segal

While humanity has has continuously ventured into the unknown, today we are on the precipice of a new uncertainty. With covid, political unrest, and economic decline we feel that another sinister turn is just round the corner. Although discussion, art, and storytelling won't necesserily create any solutions for this in the short-term it might provide a conduit for productive thought, or at the very least might take our minds off our current reality.

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