Barth learnt to play guitar with his dad at the age of 10. Quiet school life in Rouen, Normandy. Degree in anthropology brilliantly cut short in Paris. And then the adventure would begin. A job in Cash Converters to
make ends meet, where he would discretely amass his collection of material (organs, tape-echo, 8-track tape recorders...) and unearth his penchant for dressing up, aided and abetted by the contents of the stock cupboard (flippers, moustaches...).
Easily irritated, a non-smoker having never felt the need, Barth found himself working as a courier for an elderly persons’ association: allowing him to keep up the human contact, while moving closer to what he’d always loved: music. His next survival plan (quite literally) included making music for tv, credits, short films... until he saw the light at the end of the Eurotunnel: first album released in England on Boss Music, "Essence Of Giraffe", signed by Andy Ross, the founder of English label Food Records (Blur) and ex-bookie on the rise.
Autodidact and partisan of the DIY approach, Barth pieced his work together with the help of his acquired second-hand delights, recording in his Paris-Bastille bed-sit."Barking but brilliant" in the words of the Sunday Times. "A brilliantly warped popster" in The Guardian.
Several gigs in England ensued. From pub to club, culminating in opening for the Pretenders on the UK/France leg of their European tour, with life-long buddy Axel Concato on keyboards.
The time had come to record his second album "Under The Trampoline" which would see Barth leave the confines of his bedroom to record in the studio with Mike Pelanconi (Lily Allen, Gregory Isaac, Dub Syndicate, Graham Coxon), who co-produced the project.
The result ? A pop jewel, sparkling glints of surrealism, cut Jamaican style by and Anglo-Italian freebooter. The single "The Last Wig" was selected as soundtrack to the ad campaign for Joker orange juice.
And so came Barth’s turn to work on Mike Pelanconi’s album. He co-wrote "Milk and Honey, first single from Mike aka Prince Fatty’s first album "Survival of the Fattest", released in 2007 by Mr Bongo in the
UK and Tommy Records in the USA. The vocalist on "Milk and Honey" was Hollie Cook, new singer for The Slits, and daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook. The single appeared on Grey’s Anatomy, synchronized on an episode from the fourth series.
When Barth decided to record his new album in 2007, working with the same team was a natural decision. Superstition perhaps ? Fear of change or the risk of reprisal ? Whatever the reasoning, Mike Pelancoli would produce the album, with Barth and Axel Concato co-producing and playing the majority of instruments.
The album was recorded at the Fishmarket studios in North London in March 2007 with Will Foster (Dublin & Castle’s Punk Karaoke Band) on bass, Nasser Bouzida (Holly Golightly) on drums, Fulvio Sigurta (Nostalgia 77) on trumpet and a 12-string quartet, led by Christophe Boissière and recorded via the legendary Decca Tree on a 16-track, 2 inch Ampex tape recorder to be precise. Mike and Barth mixed the album at the The Villas Studio in Brighton, before mastering at Alchemy in London. The video-clip for the first single “Magic Wondermeal” will be directed by Ramon & Pedro. Fabien Leroy, the master behind several of Barth’s videos, has put together a making of documentary for the album : "Cuchillo at the Fishmarket."
The album cover is signed Vicente Sahuc, who also concocted the starring costume, using powers we can only guess at.
This third album, "Cuchillo", takes its name from a Spaghetti Western hero portrayed by Barth’s favourite actor, Tomas Milian. Cuchillo is the antithesis of Superman, but despite himself, is at the centre of the most amazing adventures. He knife duels to eat, robs American sheriffs, attempts to escape the clutches of a pretty young Mexican girl trying to tie him down by marriage. He’s good at making allies, and falling in his feet. Feline allusions of no use here then.
Each of these themes had an influence on Barth when writing this album, with him according the co-writing of one set of lyrics to Claire Burgess (Liverpool), and the writing of another to Francis Basset (Quilleboeuf-sur-Seine).
"Cuchillo" tells the story of the extraordinary adventures of an altogether human hero. Along the course of the album, Barth begs the question, is a hero without a human dimension really a hero ? And for whom if so ?
Questions aside, "Cuchillo" is a story of shared passions, of loyal friendships and integrity. A blend of pop fashioned for great plains and schizophrenics, surf energy, nostalgic folk ballads, wide-screen chases,
Mahlerian strings, and the habitual dub vibe.
Barth is currently finishing his fourth album, preparing for the forthcoming "Cuchillo" tour with his group, and working with Mike Pelanconi and Hollie Cook on the next Prince Fatty album. To relax, he’s also writing the soundtracks to films that are yet to exist.