Barbara and the Camp Dogs has a long history. Barbara is my alter-ego; she has come out a few times on a big night out. She’s the side of me I wish I could tap into more often – in a controlled way of course, because she’s wild and sometimes dangerous. Barbara came before the story or the songs.
Music is a massive part of my identity. Throughout my life, music has given me a way out and also a way in. It’s given me opportunities and it helps me to dig deep and self-analyse. It’s easy not to see your own flaws and only those of others, but if you want to write music that reflects who you are, you have to be unafraid of saying that you are imperfect. Barbara is not based on myself or my story. Barbara doesn’t budge or compromise and sometimes it’s to her own detriment. She can be fearless but she is damaged so she can be a very hard pill to swallow. When women are being assertive, we get labelled difficult. That’s the case with Barbara but she doesn’t care about the “difficult” title that others place on her.
I wanted to write this piece with [playwright] Alana Valentine because I love her use of language. I can be a little too rough and sometimes I limit myself because of it. So I am learning a lot in the writing process. Barbara was inspired by the women I’ve worked with over the years. Many of whom have this wildness and a fight I just don’t see in the fellas often enough. It’s difficult being a woman on the cusp of 40. You notice things you never did before. You start to become invisible. How do you navigate the later years of your career as a woman in this industry?
Barbara and the Camp Dogs has been over four years in the making. Barbara has gone through a few changes and the things I felt were important back when Alana and I first started writing the show have since changed. I feel far more comfortable with myself in some aspects but have picked up other insecurities during that time also. Barbara gives me permission to say what I want to say.
Barbara and the Camp Dogs plays at Belvoir 2-23 December. For more information and to purchase tickets, go here.