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Erin Barra grew up in Salt Lake City—Catholic, of Irish-Italian lineage. Her dad owned a high-end audio store and also, built a dedicated “listening room” in their house where Erin spent a lot of time. She didn’t touch any of the equipment then—not allowed—she just listened nonstop to what her father loved: Dvorak, Ravel, Mendelssohn, Billy Joel, Carole King, Paul Simon, and Annie Lennox. However, it was another artist who she credits most with inspiration.

From the age of 12, Barra had a decade-long obsession with Stevie Wonder, whom she credits with influencing her musical aspirations most. “He is the total package. His harmonies and melodies work together so beautifully,” says Barra. “There’s so much knowledge, complexity, and artistry in his songs, and they’re accessible to everyone.”

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Alongside Santigold and Tokimonsta, Barra is part of a growing sisterhood of boundary-breaking electronic musicians who are multi-talented, entrepreneurial, and committed to paying it forward to the next generation.

The 29-year-old Brooklyn-based, Berklee-educated songwriter, producer, and audio-tech consultant is the creator and instructor of Beats By Girlz, a recording arts and music technology initiative for young women, being presented at, and with the Lower East Side Girls Club.

I was honored to get Erin to take time out of her busy day to answer a few questions for the fans and readers.

Mr. Incredible: How did you get into music and music production?

Erin Barra: I’ve always had music in my life. My father is an audiophile and I grew up with a listening room in our home so you can imagine how important listening was. My parents put me in a music pre-school and I showed a lot of promise so they just kept feeding the fire. I didn’t consciously get into production, it was just something I started doing because I needed recordings of my songs. I started doing it naturally without really putting too much thought into it and then a few years later I looked back and realized I was a legitimate producer.

Mr. Incredible: What type of music equipment did you first learn to make music on?

Erin Barra: First, I learned on a piano. I played that thing for over 15 years before I ever got behind a computer, so everything I do, even if it’s digital, comes from a really musical and instrumental perspective. My first DAW was Pro Tools and I had a dinky mbox and Shure 58. My how things have changed….

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Mr. Incredible: Outside of Stevie Wonder, who were some of your musical influences?

Erin Barra: Raphael Saadiq, Annie Lenox, George Michael, Kenny Loggins, Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, Disclosure, Shawn Colvin – I could go on and on. I am mostly influenced by things that have strong melodic content married with a clear vision.

Mr. Incredible:  Now you have been opening eyes with the act of releasing the stems to your original masters for other producers to work with. What made you want to do such a thing?PerformerErin

Erin Barra: I came to the conclusion that thinking people were going to buy my album was like playing pretend. People don’t buy music anymore, they stream it, and if they don’t now, they will soon. Giving away the stems to the album was almost like an act of commitment to, and acceptance of this evolution. Also, I wanted this to be less about me and more about the community at large, so we gave everyone a chance to be a part of the release and the results were amazing.

Mr. Incredible:  Outside of producing amazing music, you also put in work to make sure that there is some advancement in the equipment we use, like the work you did with the Ableton’s PUSH controller. are there any other pieces of equipment that you are working on and helping to work on?

Erin Barra: Right now I work mostly with Ableton promoting their products, but my specialty is integration of digital technologies into creative writing/producing and live stage scenarios. So rather than working on or with any particular product, I customize workflows for people so they can be as technical as they need to be (or not) without sacrificing creativity and productivity. It’s pretty nerdy, but I love it. IMO there’s not enough intersection between technical and creative professions in the music industry.

Mr. Incredible: Now if that wasn’t enough you have started BBG (Beats by Girlz). Can you tell us how that came about and what inspired you to create BBG?

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Erin Barra: I’m one of very few women in my field of work and I feel like it’s my responsibility to do my part in empowering women to take control of their careers by get behind the computer. I chose to focus on young women because I believe they lack the proper amount of role support needed to perceive engineering and producing as viable career choices.

Mr. Incredible: Now in a field that is dominated by men, what hardships are you going to be preparing the girls for?

Erin Barra: We don’t even talk about that stuff in class – through my actions I try to show them that anything is possible and being a female isn’t a handicap. They leave my class full of possibility rather than thinking about their limitations or the obstacles they’ll face as women.

Mr. Incredible: Now will we seen an end project composed of work from the girls?

Erin Barra: I just made this video from class – featuring beats by the girls… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaXZTNRo010

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Mr. Incredible: How do you think the market has changed especially with an influx of female DJs and Producer popping up everywhere?

Erin Barra: I think the market is just as saturated as it was before. I think it’s cool that there are more female DJ’s, I wish there were more female producers to complement them, and that people cared less about what those women looked like.

Mr. Incredible: Do you ever think there will be a day and time where Women are treated equally in the music business?

Erin Barra: Yeah, but maybe not anytime soon. I think gender equality is a cultural thing, and our culture evolves relatively slowly.

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Mr. Incredible:  How does it feel to be the newest Associate Professor at The Berklee College of Music?

Erin Barra: To be honest I feel very calm and at peace. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing institution and all my focus is on doing the best job I’m capable of.

Mr. Incredible: No as you look back at your career…as it stands now, are there artist that you are looking forward to working with that you haven’t yet?

Erin Barra: Briefly I was working with Res and even tho I was disappointed in how that ended I still want to work with her again. Raphael Saadiq is on the top of my list. I always enjoy writing for people with big voices like Judith Hill or Michelle Chamuel.

Mr. Incredible: Is there anything else you would like to say to the fans and readers?

Erin Barra: Thanks for listening – the fact that you care at all means everything!!!

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For those interested in finding out more about Erin Barra or her Beats By Girlz program by check out these links…

www.erinbarra.com – www.mammabarra.com – www.beatsbygirlz.com

Facebook Fan Page – Twitter: @ErinBarra