Singer Breanna Barbara Isn’t Afraid To Talk About Depression

With a sound that’s been labeled “occult blues” in the past, it may unsurprising to find out that singer-songwriter Breanna Barbara is open to talking about the supernatural.

But it’s not because she has a fetish for spooky shit — The New York-based singer draws her interest in darkness from a place of personal strength, which she had to access after her father died, while Breanna was in college.

So for anybody wondering how to transition moments of sadness into something positive, and even creative, meet Breanna Barbara; she and her music have come along to help lead you through the underworld that is life.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Minnesota, but I grew up in Florida, and then New Orleans, and then ended up here.

Why’d you travel so much?

That’s a good question. My father passed away after I had plans to finish college, and afterwards, I just kind of moved around a lot.

That happened when you were in college?

I was around 21 when that happened, yeah. It was pretty intense. When something that traumatic happens, it takes a long time to process.

I always feel like after your parents die, you must live in some sort of completely different reality from what you felt before. 

For sure. It was definitely a paradigm shift. I suffered from depression after that. A while after, I finally got to go to a doctor, and I kind of just realized that I was experiencing a textbook case of grief.

In what way?

Well, any sort of major life change is kind of indicative of that. Moving around, changing friends, doing crazy things because it’s hard to be where you are… it made sense afterwards.

So was that was how you got into music?

Yeah, so at the point, I’d really fallen in love with theatre, but I went to New Orleans one weekend, and then ended up staying for a month. That exposed me to a lot of the sounds that I’m now really heavily influenced by. That’s when I realized that I wanted to play music.

Where did you stay when you went there?

I had met some people through friends. There was a community at the time that was kind of supporting that lifestyle, like friends living on each other’s couches. It was a very coming-of-age moment, and definitely the moment where I found something that I really connected to.

And then after that you made your way back to New York City?


Do you ever miss doing theater?

Yeah, I actually just did a short film last year. It’s called Magos. The cool thing is that you actually can have it all in life, and when it’s interesting enough to try, I will. The thing is about film is that it’s such a huge collaboration, versus music, you can go home and write a song in your bedroom.

What do you find yourself writing about right now?

As of lately, it’s actually been a lot less about me, and more about the music. I’ve been very inspired by songs that make you move and dance, and I want to keep focusing on music that connects to my soul and that people want to dance to.

What’s your favorite song to dance to right now?

“Primitive,” by the Groupies. And Fat White Family.

So that’s not like traditional dance music, I guess. 

Yeah [laughing]. Just any sort of 60s soul music. The stuff I was writing when I wrote this record was a lot of delta blues, which isn’t really a prominent genre in New York City.

Do you believe in ghosts?

Yeah, I would say that. I believe in spirits, because I’ve felt otherworldly presences, and maybe that’s because I want to believe my dad is still around but… I’m really into cult figures that talk about spooky things. I think that in a world where’s there’s so much harm, and everybody is so afraid of what’s going on, why not believe in spirituality?

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