By Brian Ives
You may not have heard of Bahari yet, but that’s likely to change in the next few weeks. They have an infectious new single out — “Dancing on the Sun” — and will be playing arena stages later this summer when they open for Selena Gomez.
That gig might lead you to believe that they are a “pop” group, and that’s true, sort of. They’re definitely pop, but pop in the way that ’60s and ’70s bands the Mamas and the Papas and Fleetwood Mac were.
In fact, the group – consisting of Nashville native Natalia Panzarella (bass, vocals), Ruby Carr from Kenya, Africa (keyboards, vocals), and Hermosa Beach, California’s Sidney Sartini (guitar, vocals) – draws a lot of inspiration from the music of the ’60s and ’70s.
Sartini tells Radio.com, “I think we’re pop, alternative, rock and psychedelic, mixed together.”
Carr points out that “Genres are very weird in today’s world. Genres all tie in to each other. We have a song on our [Dancing on the Sun] EP that’s very ’60s retro rock, we have a really pop ballad, and then we have [the non-EP track] ‘Wild Ones.’ But together, it makes a sound.”
Panzarella opines: “It’s weird: I wouldn’t say we’re stereotypical ‘pop.’ There’s a pop influence in our music, but we’re definitely inspired by classic rock, and the ’60s. All of that mixes with the pop, and a ton of other genres, and you get Bahari.”
Carr begins to list some of their influences: “We love the Eagles, I love the Rolling Stones,”
Panzarella adds, “The Beatles.”
Sartini: “Led Zeppelin. Black Sabbath is my favorite band!” She’s also a huge fan of punk rock legends X, and in fact, has an X tattoo.
Carr also loves Sabbath: “They’re awesome, I love them too, they’re so great. I’m also a huge Bob Dylan fan, a major Bob Dylan fan. I think that what’s important with a lot of these artists is that they’re really very lyrics-driven and that’s something that we really want to do with our music.”
Something else that they also hope to accomplish with their music is even more ambitious: encourage the preservation of endangered species of animals; that’s a subject particularly close to Carr’s heart.
“I don’t think people really understand how important preservation is,” she says. “We’re at a place right now where there are so many incredible species of animals that are not really going to be here for very long if we don’t try and preserve them and protect them. Where I come from, it’s something that’s very, very prominent in every day life, people are very aware of it. But I’ve noticed that around the world, it’s not something that people are talking about enough. We’re trying to encourage [preservation] in any way that we can, whether it’s through our music or our videos or our social media. Where I grew up, when I was a kid, there were elephants everywhere, I remember seeing rhinos everywhere. Now, it’s very rare to see one in the wild, you have to go to specific [locations]. It’s sad to see what has happened in the past ten years. Not a lot of people are aware of the severity of the situation. And it’s something that we really need to spread to young generations, because it’s all about education. Ivory [from a tusk] is an elephant’s way to destroy a tree, to eat it. It’s worth nothing to people. A rhino horn, it’s not an aphrodisiac. The only way that people will learn how wrong [poaching] is, is when they learn that [ivory] is worth nothing.”
Their love of animals is apparent in their first music video, for “Wild Ones,” a clip with an animal-friendly theme. Carr says, “We got to work with an organization called Wolf Connection, they rescue wolves that have been abused or used in circuses.”
As for the song itself, Carr recalls, “It was the first song we ever wrote together. We wrote that song in like 20 minutes.”
Panzarella continues, “The concept of the song is… it is hard to find a group, like a ‘wolf pack,’ where everyone makes you feel included and special, and you can just be yourself and not be judged or bullied. And we kind of found that within each other. This industry is hard, so we thought we’d be a wolf pack.”
The ladies frequently finish each other’s sentences, and the wolf pack analogy isn’t far off. Sartini adds, “We definitely wanted to be known as a band, not a ‘girl group.’ Nothing against that. We just want people to take us seriously, and listen to our lyrics and our message and we thought that by playing our music and writing our music and being so involved …”
Panzarella finishes, “… the respect would come.”
All of this seems very ambitious for a group opening for one of the biggest pop stars in America, and they say that they’re humbled by the opportunity to open for Ms. Gomez. Sartini says, “We’re so grateful for the tour with Selena Gomez, we love everything she stands for as far as being strong and independent. And she’s very classy!”
Rose: “Selena Gomez’s music is very pop, but we use the same producers, and we’ve known her for a while. Especially with her Revival album, she’s transitioned into a very strong independent woman, and the our music works with what she’s doing.”
Bahari’s Dancing on the Sun EP is out now, and their dates with Selena Gomez begin on June 17 in Austin.