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An Interview with Bar Pandora

I have been joined by Charlie from Bar Pandora, who has joined me to chat about their musical journey!

Welcome to Totally Music would you like to introduce yourself?

My name’s Charlie, but I write and perform under the name Bar Pandora. I started Bar Pandora in 2021 as a “fuck it” project- to use creativity and music to express all the parts of me that I’ve policed in the past. Finding joy and catharsis through music was the seed of Bar Pandora, and so far it’s doing it for me.

What got you into music? 

I’ve been playing and writing music all my life - it started so young that I can’t really remember what started it. My dad is a musician - he plays piano and the accordion, and worked as a drama teacher writing a lot of his own musicals, so I guess I was surrounded by it in my early years. Writing, singing, playing piano and making up songs was just a natural thing to do when I was young- I assumed it was what everyone did. And I just never stopped.

Where do you get your inspiration from for the music your create? 

So many places! My writing process tends to be quite piecemeal - it starts with a kernel and I build the song up around it. So inspiration can come from anything: the sound of a car door slamming, a kid singing on a train, accidental sounds I picked up while I was trying to record something else… or sometimes just a solo jam on the piano/guitar. I record everything I do and later I sift through it and see what catches my ear, and work from there.

You released your EP ‘ Recreate this’ in November would you like to tell us about it? 

Writing this EP has been an interesting process, and very different to the first one which had no expectation attached to it. When I started making these tracks, I knew I wanted to push myself further, to do more and say more, but not to kill it with overthinking.

The tracks on this EP emerged in a cycle of creating, destroying, then creating again. I would write a track, tear it up and stick it back together again and in the process I got a little deeper into what was driving me.

The end result is a collection of tracks that I had a lot of fun making and also turned out to be pretty personal. If you pick it apart this EP is really a catalogue of my flaws, fears and insecurities. For me Bar Pandora has always been about following the feels, and a lot of feels happened while I was writing these tracks.

What is your favourite song from the EP and why? 

That’s a very difficult question! It depends on the context. If we’re talking which is my favourite one to perform live then probably “Ultramess”. That’s a really fun one to play and sing, and it was the first single I put out from this EP so it holds a special place for me in that way too.

But in terms of the recorded tracks the one that means the most to me is the EPs namesake, “Recreate This”. It’s a subtler track and I didn’t put it out as a single, but it speaks to me. All of my songs are personal to an extent - there’s always something in there that speaks to my experiences, my history, stuff that’s happened/happening and things that I’m processing. “Recreate This” isn’t quite like that. It’s more of a message to future me.

It speaks to my fears and insecurities and then it expands into a kind of soothing chorus to myself. The part of me that wrote that outro is the part of me that calms and coaxes me when I’m feeling overworked, overwhelmed and demoralised. I don’t hear from her very often so it’s nice to hear it in one of my own songs.

What has been your favourite musical memory and why? 

This has nothing to do with my music, but my favourite musical memories (there’s more than one) are car singing-together memories. Once my sister drove me from York to our mum’s house in Kent with no radio, so we took it in turns to sing songs to each other instead. My partner and I often sing together in the car - lots of Beatles and Radiohead because those are the only things he remembers the words to for some reason.

What can fans expect from one of your gigs? 

There are three of us in the band: myself on guitar, synth, vocals, Matt Rheeston on drums and Indie Lakshmi on bass - both incredibly cool and talented people. I don’t know how I’ve managed to get these amazing people in my band. All of the songs are multi-layered with lots of electronic sounds, so we’ve come up with fun ways to bring the tracks to life on stage using live looping, samples and synths to build the soundscape. It’s a good mix of live and electronic and so there’s quite a lot of variation from track to track. And it’s very, very fun to play.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a musician?

Honestly, I think keeping going is the thing I’m most proud of. It can be so hard being a musician - I’m not going to pretend otherwise. There are loads of things about it that can really grind you down and you can easily lose sight of why you’re doing it. In 2020 I quit music altogether for a year. When I started again I was determined to do it differently - to do it for me in a way that is enjoyable and fulfilling no matter what. So I made the decision to start working under the maxim “fuck it”, and the name Bar Pandora. I’m proud that I did that - it was hugely empowering.

What’s next for you? 

Playing live as much as I can. I didn’t get to do it as much as I would have liked last year but this year I’ve got an amazing band and I’m going to get out there as much as I can to show them off. Playing live is the lifeblood of being a musician. It should be obvious - connecting IRL is a good thing to do (!) - but it’s so easy to forget when you’re in writing mode. I’ll keep writing, but I’ll be out and about with the live band as much as I can.

If you would like to check out 'Bar Pandora's' Music you can find their music here:

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