On the cusp of coun­try star­dom

Up-and-com­ing Toronto singer Owen Bar­ney re­leases de­but sin­gle

Annex Post - - CURRENTS - by Jes­sica Padykula

Some stu­dents leave high school with no clue of what ca­reer they want to pur­sue. Owen Bar­ney, how­ever, knew ex­actly what he wanted to do long be­fore grad­u­at­ing.

The Royal St. Ge­orge's Col­lege grad­u­ate al­ways knew he wanted to pur­sue a ca­reer in mu­sic, and he has just re­leased his de­but sin­gle, “Let­ting Go,” on Wax Records.

Bar­ney took his first gui­tar les­son at age seven and hasn’t stopped mak­ing mu­sic since. He cites the sup­port of his par­ents, in par­tic­u­lar his mother, for his cur­rent suc­cess.

“My mom did ev­ery­thing she could to help me get as many shows as she could. I was 14 when I started play­ing live, so I had no idea how to go about do­ing that,” he ex­plains. “My mom was the rea­son I got dis­cov­ered.”

He also cites his gui­tar teacher, Nik Palekar, as one of his best friends and one of the most in­flu­en­tial and sup­port­ive peo­ple around him.

In ad­di­tion, Bar­ney had im­mense sup­port in high school from his teach­ers, not­ing that his mu­sic teacher, Doug Jamieson, con­tin­u­ally en­cour­aged him.

“I played him songs, he came to my shows, and he re­ally en­cour­aged me,” he says. “My school was ex­tremely sup­port­ive of my mu­sic,” says Bar­ney.

It was also in high school when Bar­ney was signed to Wax Records, some­thing he de­scribes as a ma­jor mile­stone.

“That was a huge point in my mu­sic life and a huge step for me so far,” he says.

When asked what drew him to coun­try mu­sic specif­i­cally, Bar­ney ex­plains that it has al­ways been a part of his life.

“My mom’s fam­ily is from Al­berta and are all coun­try mu­sic fans,” he says. But he also says that the genre is one where he re­ally feels like he can ex­press him­self nat­u­rally.

“When I write the songs, I can tell my own story. It’s my way of telling peo­ple what’s go­ing in my life. My song­writ­ing is my life, ev­ery­thing I do,” he ex­plains.

The artist Bar­ney looks up to the most is Juno Award–win­ning Cana­dian coun­try mu­si­cian Dean Brody.

“He is the best Cana­dian coun­try mu­sic artist in my eyes and some­one I’ve al­ways looked up to,” says Bar­ney.

Since Bar­ney be­gan per­form­ing at 14, he has learned a lot, not least of all that, “you never stop get­ting ner­vous.”

In ad­di­tion, Bar­ney has also learned the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the au­di­ence.

“When I started play­ing live at 14, I was re­ally shy, but as I started writ­ing my own tunes and telling sto­ries about the songs, I started to get more com­fort­able,” he ex­plains, adding that be­ing at ease with an au­di­ence is some­thing he is con­tin­u­ally work­ing at.

So far, his favourite Toronto venue to play was Boots and Bour­bon (now closed).

“I played there at 14, and it was one of the first places I played and the coolest feel­ing be­ing in Grade 8 and be­ing in a bar play­ing on­stage,” he says.

Bar­ney is jus­ti­fi­ably ex­cited about the re­lease of his de­but sin­gle.

“It was an un­be­liev­able feel­ing for me af­ter dream­ing of get­ting some­thing out into the world,” he says.

Now that Bar­ney has re­leased his de­but sin­gle, the next step is to start get­ting as many shows as he can. He has writ­ten a whole EP at this point, so there’s more to come from the ris­ing star.

“Play­ing on a stage where I’m above ev­ery­one and they’re all sign­ing along to my songs is a huge goal,” he says.

Bar­ney started per­form­ing live when he was 14 years old

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