Singer/songwriter Matthew Barber is a multitalented musician. Have a listen to his latest record, Big Romance—released this past Spring—for proof of the diversity of his musical skills. With record credits that include singing, guitar, piano, percussion and banjo, Barber’s Big Romance (Outside Music)—his eighth studio album—brilliantly showcases the span of his talents, earning him 2 nominations (Contemporary Singer of the Year and Solo Artist of the Year) at this year’s Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Like the record’s nostalgic and tender title track, the rest of the songs off Big Romance speak to Barber’s recording process, which saw him journey over to a farmhouse studio (owned by Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor) in Eastern Ontario, to lay down select tracks. And, as the roots of the album would have it, songs like the banjo-heavy “Father & Son,” make for the perfect companion to a dusty dirt road and bottle of rye…cracked after the truck is in park, of course.
Similar to his music, Barber’s personal style has a charming down-home feel to it. The opposite of a paint-by-number hipster, Barber is able to make a slim fit oxford with a leather jacket layered over top, look like the sort of thing you could chop wood in before heading to a bar where Jack White might make a guest appearance, when in town.
For a guy like this, Kalxon Howl is the only reason Fashion Week would ever make it into his calendar.
In true Klaxon Howl style, the brand’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection melds urban sensibility (seen in above the knee graphic plaid shorts for men and a utilitarian silk jumper for women) with classic tailoring, beautifully exhibited in designer Matt Robinson’s ode to 1920s men’s fashion, reimagined for a women’s frame.
With music still on the brain (drums in the middle of a runway will do that to a musician), Barber talks to FILLER about his take on fashion and the trends that dominated this season’s Klaxon Howl show.
RATE THE IMPORTANCE OF FASHION IN YOUR LIFE. (10 BEING FOOD I.E. NECESSARY TO LIFE.)
I would say 5. I’ve never been a follower of trends or paid too much attention to the fashion industry, but I must admit that I do find myself having very specific opinions about what looks good, and I can be picky about what I choose to wear myself.
BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE SEEN AT THE SHOW, WHAT DO YOU PREDICT TO BE THE BIGGEST TREND TO HIT THE STREETS NEXT SEASON?
It looks like there will be more of a trend towards women wearing less traditionally “feminine” outfits, based on the Annie Hall-esque jacket, tie and hat combos in neutral colours that I saw. Speaking of hats, I saw a lot of them in this show on both the women and the men. Maybe we’re trending towards a return to gentlemen in hats.
DO YOU THINK YOU’LL INCORPORATE THIS TREND INTO YOUR OWN WARDROBE?
I like playing around with hats and I have a couple of cool ones, but I rarely actually wear them. I find it’s hard to make a hat work with the rest of your outfit, unless it’s a more formal outfit…and I rarely wear formal outfits.
ARE YOU MORE A TREND PERSON OR A STAPLES PERSON?
I guess I’m more of a “staples” person in that I gravitate towards simple, classic styles that could work in any decade.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXTRAVAGANT PIECE IN YOUR CLOSET AND WHAT IS THE MOST COZY?
In terms of price-tag, my most extravagant piece would be a Jill Sander suit that I bought for my wedding. Pretty much everything else I have in there is cozy—my latest cozy purchase is a red pullover by Universal Works.
IF YOU COULD TAKE ONE PIECE FROM THE RUNWAY HOME WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Besides the vintage Gretsch drum set that my old buddy Jon was playing in the middle of the runway, I would like to take home the black single-breasted jacket with the white collarless shirt and bowler hat combo, but I don’t think I could ever pull it off with shorts like that guy did.
WHAT CELEBRITY, DEAD OR ALIVE, WOULD YOU HAVE LIKED TO HAVE ATTENDED THE SHOW WITH TONIGHT?
It would have to be someone who would be into the idea of going to a fashion show, so I’ll say David Bowie.
WHAT SONG BEST SUMS UP THE CURRENT COLLECTION?
“Fashionable People” by Joel Plaskett.
WHO IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON TO IMPRESS AT FASHION WEEK?
I have no idea, really. If I had to guess, I would say Jeanne Beker.
WHAT WAS THE SINGLE ELEMENT ABOUT YOUR FASHION WEEK EXPERIENCE THAT IMPRESSED YOU MOST, ON OR OFF THE RUNWAY?
That one guy’s beard…you know the guy I’m talking about. Sexy Santa!
SPRING/SUMMER 2015 COLLECTION