While only 18 years old, Gareth Barker has already gained international attention in his newly founded music career. With no family in the music industry, Gareth has had to build his own career from the bottom up. His musical education has included an immersion study of artists like Ronan Keating and Gary Barlow, allowing him to quickly gain prominence as a young new jazz-pop artist. He has already snagged the attention of Hollywood, having performed in a private show for Peter Jackson, Ian McKellen and the entire cast of “The Hobbit.” Recently arriving back to New Zealand after months of continent-hopping, Gareth Barker takes a break from the recording of his new album to speak with The Stanford Daily about his music journey so far.
Intermission (INT): Gareth, your website says that you’ve always been shy singing. When did you decide that you had the courage to start singing in front of other people?
Gareth Barker (GB): Two years ago, I moved halfway around the world from Wales to New Zealand. It was a scary move, being in a new place so far from home. I made this recording of me singing and decided to drop it off with the only music teacher in my new school. He didn’t even know who I was, but he gave me such good feedback. Shortly after that, he got me on stage, and I went from being this shy new kid to singing in front of the whole school.
INT: Your music has been compared to various artists from Michael Bublé to Bruno Mars. How would you describe your sound, and which artists have influenced you?
GB: I would describe it as a more youthful Michael Bublé with a mix of Ed Sheeran or Bruno Mars. I do draw a lot of my influences from Michael Bublé’s music, as he inspired me by the way he sings, performs and interacts with fans. I like artists like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars because they sound just as good live as they do in the studio. That’s really something I strive for.
INT: How did you know that you wanted to pursue a music career? Did you have any other plans?
GB: Well, I only really decided that I would pursue music two years ago. I always sang around the house and it used to always make me happy, but I really didn’t consider a music career until moving to New Zealand. Before that, I was thinking of doing something with animals, looking at being a vet or something. But my parents’ support has been everything to me. I couldn’t have done it without them. They really pushed me to pursue my passion, and they’ve been behind me every step of the way.
INT: From your Facebook statuses, it seems like you’ve been traveling a lot lately to work on your music. Where did you go and what was that experience like?
GB: Absolutely amazing. My new album, “Hello World,” is the result of a music journey that has taken me across three different continents. For example, I went to New York to write music, recorded the album in Canada, hopped on a plane to France for a music conference…I mean literally, I was traveling and seeing new things every week. It wasn’t just all fun though. This whole year working on the album has been a lot of work. Every song is original and they each have a personal meaning to me in their own way. It’s exciting to see the album finally come together, definitely like a dream come true. I can’t wait to hear the feedback from my fans!
“Hello World,” Barker’s debut album, will be released on April 23. Listen to his lead single, “Say,” here.