‘What if it’s all gone?’: Barbie Almalbis on being a musician during the pandemic

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Barbie Almalbis talks about the “unplanned” theme of her new album “Songs from Inside,” how to record when you and your band are far from each other, and what she would say to her younger self.

Barbie Almalbis is celebrating her 25th year in the music industry this year, which means it’s been more than two decades since she began her musical journey with Hungry Young Poets (We can still remember “Torpe” and “Firewoman” like they were just released yesterday). She’s celebrating this milestone in her career with “Songs from Inside,” a nine-track album which derives from her experience as a musician, a mom, a friend, a wife, and a pet lover during the time of quarantine.

She and her band recorded half the album remotely due to the risks of gathering during a pandemic. “We had to make use of the tools we had at home,” she says, detailing a more relaxed process. For example, corrugated cardboard became a kick drum, while a cellophane plastic bag became a shaker for one song.

Despite this, it still wasn’t lost on Almalbis that her career might be gone because of the uncertainties brought by the pandemic, especially in the earlier stages. Gigs are still cancelled and will still remain to be in the foreseeable future.

“I even had a thought sometime in the middle of this pandemic like, ‘What if this all ends? What if it’s all gone?’ The thought that came to my mind was I still have my guitar, sitting in my room, which was the most precious thing to me when I started as a songwriter in high school. It wasn't like songwriting and being a musician was a means to an end. It was something I really loved…just playing songs in my room, writing songs. Nung tumigil yung mundo I thought I still had this! I can still sit down, write songs.”

Here, the musician talks about burnout, the unplanned theme of her album and what she would say to her younger self.

Listen to “Songs from Inside” on Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming platforms.

Interview and video by SAMANTHA LEE