SayWeCanFly “Driftwood Heart”
Every once in a while an artist comes along who makes music so heartfelt and relatable that he or she become an instant sensation in the underground community—and that can certainly be said of 20-year-old Canadian singer/songwriter Braden Barrie who has been playing under the name SayWeCanFly since 2009. Fresh off a successful stint on the Vans Warped Tour’s Acoustic Basement stage, Barrie is finally ready to unleash his Epitaph debut the Darling EP on the world. “The Warped Tour was something I dreamed of doing since I started SayWeCanFly and it was definitely surreal living out a moment I’d experienced so many times in my thoughts,” he explains. “It felt like home but it also felt like the craziest place I’ve ever been and I couldn’t believe I was able to play for a completely packed tent every day of the tour.”
Things are inevitably about to get much crazier for the Lindsay, Ontario-based Barrie once his dedicated fan base of nearly 1.2 million social media followers—as well as the uninitiated—hear his third full-length, which was recorded at a cozy studio called The Green Room in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “The whole recording process was just a long hangout with some microphones,” Barrie explains. “The most important thing about bringing my songs into reality is good vibes. I need to be in a space where I can completely let go and get lost in my emotions with no negative vibes or stress around because the studio is the doorway between my heart and our world.” That doorway stood wide open for Barrie who unbelievably wrote all of these songs in 24 hours. “It was just one of those days where I was able to pour my feelings onto paper without trying,” he says. “I’ve always found that my best songs happen without knowing they’re coming.”
While SayWeCanFly has previously released four EPs, the Darling EP features his strongest material to date and also sees him expanding on the stripped-down instrumentation he’s utilized in the past. “I think just because of how these specific songs were written they needed some heavier instruments to really amplify the feelings I put into them,” he explains. “Acoustic music will forever be my passion and it will always come down to just me and my acoustic guitar, but I like expressing certain songs in different ways in the studio.” This articulate aggression is illustrated in bittersweet songs like “High School” which illustrates how angry the world can make Barrie at times. “I definitely call out the system in that one,” he explains. “The whole theme of this EP seems to be the journey through our darkness trying to find that little spark that makes us feel like we’re okay.”
That journey always contains an element of hope—and even when Barrie is singing about heartbreak during “High School” he eventually concedes that there’s “sunshine in the rain.” “I always try to look at the other side of the coin when it comes to love because pain usually stems from the absence of something beautiful,” Barrie says. “For example the reason I say, ‘I don’t believe in love’ in that song is because I do, but it’s caused me so much pain that I don’t want to believe it in anymore,” he admits. “I just wanted to be completely honest about my feelings on this EP, even if I don’t always understand them myself.” That vulnerability has endeared him to fans who Barrie describes as “quiet kids” just like himself. “It’s so important to write from the heart and do it like you’re the only one listening,” he adds.
That said, Barrie isn’t afraid of tackling serious subject matter in his music as evidenced not only his lyrics on this EP but also the videos about depression and self-harm that he regularly makes for his YouTube page, which garner tens of thousands of views. “The reason it’s so important for me to write about our pain is because humans have forgotten that we’re all the same,” he says of the videos which undoubtedly help people dealing with serious issues. “It’s not about the cutting or the suicide or the depression, it’s about the reasons those issues exist,” he continues. “I just want to remind everyone that it’s important we stare darkness in the eyes and continue to beware of its presence because that in itself makes us stronger.”
SayWeCanFly’s energetic live shows also embody this idea and prove that Barrie’s catharsis is contagious. “When I get onstage I’m shelling my story, just me and my guitar,” he says. “The reason I love playing shows is because everyone in the room is focused on the same thing and for a while who we are and how we’re different stops mattering,” he summarizes. “More than anything, I always like to leave everyone with thoughts that we don’t like to think. I’m really excited to start playing these new songs live because I think they’re some of my most relatable and honest pieces yet.” Luckily for fans, Barrie plans on hitting the road as much as possible over the next year and has already began work on his next full-length album. In the meantime, hopefully these songs will help you heal.