Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Whie Lung Main.jpg

“I started being curious about the politics and ideologies that I’d been trained in my entire life – as a democratic liberal – to see as evil or bad,” said the LA-based singer. “Especially with the election last year. And my biggest problem right now is that everyone’s stuck in their own ideology, and I think that’s wrong, and separates us even further.”


Barber-Way has herself recently courted controversy through things she has written online. In November 2016, she published a very critical open letter to the members of metal band Allegaeon, who had made a video asking their fans to donate money towards the band. She was less than impressed with their attitude, with her letter including the phrase “you are officially the laziest, most pathetic, sub-human beta males in America.



“I was really mean when I wrote that, I shouldn’t have,” she says. “But a good thing came out of it.” Having provided her contact details, Allegaeon’s Greg Burgess called her for what turned into a two hour conversation.


“Regardless of the rude words I said, or how they see it fit to raise money, a good debate was had between two people. And it was a respectful debate, he proved me wrong in a lot of ways, I respectfully disagreed in a lot of ways, but I’m glad that conversation happened. And that’s it, that’s my biggest problem with the internet now, is that people are too quick to insult and then they log off, and no one wants to have a discussion.


“There’s a place for sensitivity, and there’s a place where being a victim becomes a currency, and I don’t get it, I don’t understand,” she says. “I don’t like writing on the internet, I don’t feel like I have a lot to say anymore. When did we stop being curious about things we disagree on?”


Maintaining a career that is one part musician, one part journalist, Barber-Way is a writer through and through, but for the first time since this dual career took off, she’s taking a step back from stringing words together.


“I’m sick of writing. I still write for Hustle and Penthouse, I’ll always do the girly mags, I love that shit, but I need a break, and I felt my politics weren’t aligning with the narrative I was supposed to write about. But that’s life, things change.”


She may be tired of writing, but that doesn’t mean the Canadian artist is not skilled at it. Even at a time where she’s dissatisfied with the media landscape, she pushed herself as a writer in a totally fresh way on the White Lung’s Polaris Prize nominated fourth album. Paradise features narrative-centric tracks, shifting between perspectives other than her own.


“Instead of whining about my life – and quite frankly I didn’t have a lot to whine about – I decided to put myself in the position of these characters that I’d either invented, or people that existed, and write as if I were them. It was a freeing exercise, to say things I couldn’t say as myself.”


On her favourite track of the record, Sister, Barber-Way sings as Karla Homolka, a serial killer in the late 1980s who operated in partnership with husband Paul Bernardo, and murdered her own sibling. The eery track sits amongst a sea of narratives about women and empowerment and love, as varied and complex and fascinating as the writer.

Paradise was all really exciting to write,” she says. “I’d always cared, but this time I really went through and rewrote a million times, and spent a lot of time on lyrics. It’s a different beast. The record is perfect in that.”


White Lung are touring Australia this week as part of Laneway Festival and their own headline shows. For information head to handsometours.com. Paradise it out now via Domino Records.