On the surface, Barton’s music may sound like dance music, but there's a lot more going on both musically and lyrically for those who listen deeper. The euro-based singer-songwriter doesn't rely on common clichés. He draws from his personal life experience; adding an authenticity that is hard to find in much of today’s pop music.
“My life and everything in it influences my music, both in terms of providing reference material and inspiration itself,” he explains. “Writing songs for me is a way to express myself. I can start with a poem or can simply sit at the keyboard and let the tones inspire me. My gimmick, as an artist, is that I reveal myself in my work.”
Barton has been a performer for as long as he can remember. As a boy, he would sing songs he made up himself. “If I was not singing my own songs, I was learning someone else’s. I would listen to records over and over, listening and writing down every single word until I understood what everything meant.”
His boyhood idols include an eclectic group of singers and songwriters: Linda Ronstadt (for her ability to express natural emotion), Neil Young (for his childlike approach to vocals that today, remind Barton to not over complicate themes in his songs), Debbie Harry (for her varying vocal personalities), Annie Lennox (for her trademark harmonies) and Kate Bush (for her ability to explore soundscapes and environments).
However, it wasn’t only the greats that inspired Barton’s ambitions. In fact, the not-so-greats also played a key role in his development as an artist. “The real thing that spurred me into taking action with a singing career was my own consumption of music,” Barton explains. “I kept hearing things in other people’s songs that I would have done very differently. That’s what pushed me in the direction of doing my own production.”
For Barton, it’s a sobering fact that few pop artists write their own material. Fewer still are capable of producing themselves. “Singing other people’s songs is something I’m just not interested in. It’s important for me to create my own voice.”
That voice is rooted in seventies disco in a sound Barton refers to as Modern electronic disco. Many basic elements of disco can be heard in his music. For example, the notion of celebration, encouraging people to feel good about whom they are - a common disco theme - runs throughout much of Barton’s work. His fondness for eurodisco and the lesser-known “sleaze” – a subset of disco that emphasized musical arrangement – is also prominent.
“Disco is no longer off-limits,” continues Barton. “I hear a lot of music on the radio today that is very clearly disco derivative, inspired by classics like ABBA’s “The Visitors”, Yello’s “Vicious Games” or Grace Jones’ “Feel Up”.”
Barton aims to add a few of his own songs to the list of tracks that will endure on dance floor for years to come. Two singles in particular have resonated with fans: the dark extended mix of “Take Me Up” (featured on the soundtrack of the film “Boy Culture”) and his ascendant dub of “To call My Own” (which climbed to #1 on Sirius Radio).
Barton released a full length album, FORMATIVE, in December, 2008. FORMATIVE is a collection of songs he wrote and completed before the release of TONIGHT in 2004. When asked why he chose to release a collection of earlier material, Barton responded:
“I wanted to give my audience an opportunity to connect my earlier work with who I am now. The release of FORMATIVE was a step for me to present earlier work that still shows essential qualities of BARTON – compelling melodies, interesting lyrics, and a unique presence in the production. Over the years I have come to see that there is a consistent direction, which shows that I have been moving along the same line for some time now – and this was very important to me to be able to share with people.”
In May, Barton will release remixes to another track from the FORMATIVE LP, “Valentine”, a sensitive ballad about longing for love. “I went back and forth about releasing Valentine,” he admits. “My team felt it was an important song and that I needed to give it the attention it deserved. They were right. The track quickly became a crowd pleaser.
“It has taught me to listen to the advice of people close to me. Sometimes friends and family really do know best.”
The newfound revelation may hint at why Barton decided to title his next album, LESSONS LEARNED. The first release off the new album, scheduled to hit stores this summer, will be “On the Beach”. The song artfully blends metaphors of nature with unforgettable lyrics like “I know the thing that keeps it (the world) turning are the things for which we’re yearning, and drowning in your love keeps me alive”.
“I am not and never intend to be a Madonna or a Depeche Mode” concludes Barton. “As a completely independent artist, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to make music that I love, that people take a positive interest in, that they dance to and live with. I think I have an interesting musical signature and path. I will be known and appreciated well by some people – not all – and that is exactly right for me.”