“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” – Matthew 6:12
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll find what you don’t like. Thrusting themselves over the wall of a private community, the alternative-pop pair, Bahari, plant their feet onto viewers’ screens in the “Waking Up The Neighbors” visual, and deep-dive into a pool of trouble. The tandem’s spellbinding chorus: “Treat me like a stranger/ Pick your party favors/ Fight until my face hurts/ Waking up the neighbors,” is met with actual witchcraft upon trespassing in the single‘s music video.
To an atmospheric beat — near otherwordly imagery, voodoo dolls, and tethered versions of themselves — the twosome faces a glitch in their musicological matrix. The haunting SVN QNS-directed flick isn’t Bahari’s first cinematic effort. They were featured on this year’s, To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (Music From The Netflix Film), with their teeny-bopper-friendly tune, “Crashing,” beside ILLENIUM. Beyond picking up their pens to ink tracks, Ruby Carr, singer-keyboardist, and Natalia Panzarella, singer-bassist, check all the boxes for potential superstardom.
“We were brought up in completely different parts of the world — different influences and different cultures. We balance each other out,” Carr says during our conference call. This reflective nature comes to life in the duo’s behind the scenes YouTube series, WHO THE F**CK IS BAHARI.
By snatching a page from multiple greats, Bahari reverberates to enthusiasts like new Avril Lavigne-meets-Gwen Stefani prototypes. The Knockturnal chatted with the Epic Records headliners to discuss their roster’s BIA collaboration, their forthcoming album, and the song, “Waking Up The Neighbors.” Check out what we know about their 2020 poetics thus far.
The Knockturnal: The previous single “Sad Face,” became popular across streaming service platforms. So, your listeners closed out last year with an EP of “Sad Face” remixes. How did you narrow down which versions were your favorites as a unit?
Ruby Carr: At that time, we were working really closely with Rock Mafia. We had a couple of friends that were remixing. We asked a lot of people that we knew or people that Rock Mafia worked with in the past, to [submit a] remix — if they liked the song. It was really cool.
Natalia Panzarella: Actually, one of them we received by email. Someone just said, “Hey, I remixed your song.” We just fell in love with it. The producer’s name is Rabid. We were like, “We are going to put this on our EP,” because we loved it so much.
The Knockturnal: Amazing! Do you have a roundabout number that you narrowed this down from?
Ruby Carr: I think like ten [songs] maybe… and then we narrowed it down.
Natalia Panzarella: We went with the ones that still kept the emotion of the song, but [sonically] brought it to a different place.
The Knockturnal: Your music video for “Savage” featuring BIA was fashion-forward and mysterious. Who came up with the audiovisual’s story and concept?
Ruby Carr: We did!
Natalia Panzarella: Yes, we did. We did this during the quarantine. We shot this at our house. We completely transformed our house into a studio to shoot the video. We worked with the director, Russell Tandy, who we have worked with closely in the past. We all just kind of [brainstormed and said,] “This is what we should do.”
The Knockturnal: Did you handle your styling?
Natalia Panzarella: We work with Nicole O’Brien. She has been our stylist for the past two years. We love her. We love her so much because she sees a vision for us. We are grateful for that. She puts us in things that are very high fashion, but she also lets us pick [what we wear, from what she pulls]. It is really cool.
The Knockturnal: Describe the single’s studio session alongside your Epic Records labelmate, BIA.
Ruby Carr: We recorded separately because of quarantine. We came to Epic Records, really wanting a strong female feature for the song, “Savage.” The first person they thought of was BIA. Immediately we were just obsessed with her. She killed it.
Natalia Panzarella: Yeah!
Ruby Carr: When we heard her verse, we were like, “There we go. There it is.”
Natalia Panzarella: We already heard her song, “COVER GIRL,” we thought she was so cool.
Ruby Carr: Like, we wished we could work with her. Once we heard her verse, it was like, “Okay! This is it. We have to put this out.” She elevated the song.
The Knockturnal: I think BIA is awesome. She gave a great verse.
Ruby Carr: She is amazing!
Natalia Panzarella: She is so sweet. She came to our house for the music video, and she was just such a sweetheart. The song went really well.
Ruby Carr, you grew up in Lamu — a tiny island off the coast of Kenya. Natalia Panzarella, you hail from Nashville. How did this geographically unusual collaboration come to be?
Ruby Carr: I think there is so much to say within our music, because of the fact we were brought up in completely different parts of the world. We have different influences and different cultures [that inspire us]. I think that is what drew us to each other when we first met — we were so different. We just bonded over that. We had so much to learn from each other. We brought completely different things to the table. So, we balance each other out.
Natalia Panzarella: Also, we were raised around different types of music. The strongest part of music that we grew up to [had a common thread] — Bob Marley for Ruby. For me, it was Dolly Parton. They are very lyrical. They are thoughtful about what they are saying. So, that is mutually important to us, and it is apart of what we want to put into our music.
The Knockturnal: Okay, you have just mentioned some legendary names that are cross-genre. Who do you consider to be some of your grandest influences?
Ruby Carr: I think they are going to be different. Also, we do have similar ones. It is weird.
Natalia Panzarella: We both grew up listening to classic rock. We both grew up listening to The Eagles. Harmony was such an important part of the music that we listened to when we were kids. That is something we really want to put into all of our songs. We are two vocalists. We want to make sure that we are harmonizing all the time.
Ruby Carr: Also, we add that extra element of the emotion that we try to [make listeners feel] with our music.
The Knockturnal: Your 2014 independent single, “Wild Ones,” broke through to the mainstream — what have you learned after signing to a renowned major label?
Ruby Carr: When that song came out, we were not expecting that. We were 16 years old. So, we were not expecting it to do so well. After that, it taught us so much about writing your truth. No one can deny it. It resonated with people. With working with a major label, well, Epic Records, we are really excited for them to be our partner in this upcoming project. [Having them enhances] our creativity. We are excited to see where it goes.
The Knockturnal: Please tell your fanbase what to look out for, for the remainder of 2020?
Ruby Carr: We have a project coming, an album. We are now selecting all of our final [tracks]. We do not have a date just yet. We are still in the process of deciding when we are going to be releasing it.
Natalia Panzarella: Our first single is “Waking Up The Neighbors.” The title for our album is pending. The song “Waking Up The Neighbors” is what we want our fans focused on.
Ruby Carr: Our latest single is a very new sound for us. I think this is very unexpected. On our album, we are producing on it. So, it is different. We are excited for people to hear that side of us.
The Knockturnal: Lastly, who is Bahari?
Ruby Carr: Who we [are as women] are people who always try to encourage other people to be who they are — and not to be afraid of who they are. Speak your truth. Do that often. If you are honest with who you are as a person, no one can deny that. No one has a right to say anything about it.
Natalia Panzarella: I think over the past two years — we went through a lot. I think just having that faith and belief that we can just keep putting everything we have into this has helped in sharing our truth. And sharing what has happened to us, made us feel like, maybe other people will relate. When that started working, we said, “Okay, this is a positive affirmation.”
Ruby Carr: We just want people to know, no matter what you are going through, you are not alone.
Natalia Panzarella: Never!