Electro-pop power duo Bahari are unifying borders with a signature sound that is lighting up global music charts. Comprised of singer/bassist Natalia Panzarella (who is originally from Nashville) and singer/keyboardist Ruby Carr (who is originally from Kenya), Bahari initially broke into the industry in 2014 with their debut single ‘Wild Ones’. The track went viral reaching more than 37 million streams on Spotify alone in addition to landing features on the popular television series Teen Wolf and The Royals.
The success of ‘Wild Ones’ opened up the door for Bahari’s career to take off. In 2015, they collaborated with Zedd on the hit single ‘Addicted to a Memory’ (which has over 30 million streams on Spotify). The following year, Bahari released their debut EP Dancing on the Sun which landed them the opening act on the Revival Tour with Birdy and Selena Gomez. The EP’s title track also appeared in Supergirl and So You Think You Can Dance. In 2018, Bahari flipped the script and made the strategic decision to maintain more creative control and release their music independently. This decision quickly paid off with their first independent release ‘Savage’ which has surpassed 100 million streams and is certified Gold.
Most recently, Bahari dropped their new dark pop sound with the release of ‘gameboy.’ The song is the first release off their upcoming album that is set to drop in 2020. In an exclusive interview with Vydia, these tastemakers share their journey to success and what fans can expect in the new year. Here’s what they had to say:
How did the group originally come together?
We met a couple of years ago at Rock Mafia where we both were writing and just learning to produce. We both immediately got along, being the only two 15-year-olds at the studio and had our first session. That’s when we wrote ‘Wild Ones’ and after that, we just knew we wanted to continue making music together, no matter what.
Where did the name Bahari originate from?
Bahari means the ocean in Swahili (Ruby’s native language) and we both wanted the name to be something that tied us together. We both grew up being around the ocean and it was a big part of our childhood.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
We were both raised on a lot of classic rock, so Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, and the Eagles. One of our biggest inspirations will always be Lana del Rey.
You both come from such different backgrounds (Ruby is from Kenya and Natalia is from Nashville). How has this diversity shaped your approach to music?
Even though we come from completely different backgrounds across the world from each other. Music is a big part of the culture in both Nashville and Kenya, even though the music we listened to growing up was different, we had similar taste and everything we listened to was very melody and lyrically driven.
You entered the music industry with a viral hit when your debut single, “Wild Ones”, amassed over 37 million streams on Spotify alone. What’s the biggest factor that contributed to this initial success?
‘Wild Ones‘ was the first song we wrote together, it’s probably what drew us to each other, it just felt natural. we were sitting on a couch and we finished it in 30 minutes. I think the reason it did well is that it’s just our truth, we weren’t trying to be anything we were just being honest and writing about how we felt.
This past year you debuted a string of singles including “Chasers”, “Savage”, and “:(“ which unveiled an entirely new depth to your music. How would you describe this sound and what sets it apart from today’s mainstream pop?
The new music we’ve been releasing has been part of a new project we are working on, it’s a new chapter for us and we were experimental in the process, which led to some of our favorite songs. This new sound is more personal and we are more involved in the production. We want to make sure the emotions in the lyrics don’t get lost.
How do you think you’ve evolved as a group since “Wild Ones” was released?
Since wild ones came out, we’ve been through so much as a group, as well as individuals. We were so young when we started and we’ve grown together.
We’ve gotten so much experience and learned so much about ourselves and about the artistry of writing songs. We’ve evolved and changed over the years but ultimately it’s just made us stronger and more determined.
Through all of your success, you’ve chosen to release your music independently. What factors contributed to this decision?
It was a really crucial time where we were trying to make our sound in our image more true to who we are. We wanted to start over in a way and re-create ourselves. Especially in the music, since we’ve gone independent we’ve had full creative control and we can put out the music that we feel is real to who we are.
What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve faced as independent artists and how are you able to overcome it?
Our biggest obstacle was probably just the beginning, starting over and having to find new people to be a part of our project. We created a whole new team, the people you surround yourself with is so important, we are working with our friends now and we’re so lucky to have found such an amazing team at Rock Mafia.
How has Vydia empowered you as independent artists?
Vydia has helped us reach a much broader fan base, especially in the YouTube community. They have been so supportive of our music and everyone there is so passionate and we are so grateful for people like them.
What advice would you give aspiring independent artists just starting their careers?
The advice we would give is just to work hard and do what you want to do. Don’t let people tell you who you are, and do what makes you happy. Nothing happens overnight so you have you be patient, trust the process and work hard.
What was your favorite music moment in the past decade?
Ruby: “I think one of our favorite things to happen in music this decade is when streaming became available globally. Where I grew up (Kenya) I didn’t have access to all the music I wanted to listen to. Now streaming platforms have been introduced so that anyone, no matter where they are, can listen to what they want to and think that’s amazing. Music should be shared by everyone.”
Natalia: “Also the Tupac hologram, that was nuts.”
What is your New Year’s Resolution as a duo?
Our new year’s resolution is to stop comparing ourselves to others and to travel to as many places as we can, internationally, so we can play our music for new people and meet everyone who listens to our music.
What can fans look forward to in 2020?
We have a lot coming next year, we have new music coming out and we are going on tour in February with Elohim. There’s so much to look forward to and we can’t wait to share everything we’ve been working on.
The stage has been set and we can’t wait to see what Bahari will accomplish in the new year. To ensure you don’t miss out on any new music, follow Bahari on social media. Check back to our blog page next week to see who our next Tastemaker of 2020 will be!