Meet Haasan Barclay, the unclassified creative at the heart of a budding Boston music scene.
There doesn’t seem to be an artistic role Haasan Barclay can’t fill or redefine. As a producer, his work with artists like Michael Christmas and OG Swaggerdick has been instrumental in the growth of Boston hip-hop. As a solo artist, he remains unclassified with self-written, self-produced tracks that transcend any single genre. Following the success of his expansive debut album, Heaven Is Your Last Dream, Barclay’s release of “Deep Blue Sea” (feat. Michael Christmas) and “Live For You“, which has gotten love on the acclaimed BBC Radio 1Xtra, cemented 2017 as his breakout year. In anticipation of his sophomore project, I met up with Haasan before an intimate performance at Boston’s Great Scott. Check out the interview below:
You just dropped your song “Live For You” and it’s been met with great praise and support – what does this song mean to you or signify as part of your progress?
The song is a huge turning point in my life. I really pushed myself to make something off of a real feeling. The feeling at that moment I wrote it was unconditional love.
The artwork for the song is a photo shot by your wife Liv, as is most, if not all, of your art. Can you speak a little about your one-two punch takeover of the artistry and what types of highs and lows there are working with your significant other?
I couldn’t ask for a better partner in all of this. We tackle everything as a team and we only get stronger by the day. Communication and understanding your partner’s strengths is key to any success.
Do you have any show routines, or routines you go through in order to get into music-making mode? Special meals, lucky clothes, music you listen to in order to get into a creative space?
I do anything I can to relax; sometimes I ride my bike through the city at really high speeds to build adrenaline, sometimes I play guitar naked. There’s really no rhyme or reason to that.
You’re playing on a bill with two other Massachusetts-based artists, Ed Balloon and Kyle Bent – for someone like yourself, where you’ve been here in Boston for so long and seeing the growth, what does it mean to be able to play a bill with other great hometown artists?
It’s awesome because I went to high school with Ed Balloon. We were in AP English together. I’m excited to see him dance because he’s been doing it for years and now I get to see it onstage for an audience. Life’s funny like that sometimes.
You also recently put out a song with Michael Christmas which you also produced – what is your first memory with Michael? How did you meet?
I met Christmas on Newbury street in 2012. It was cool because I didn’t know too many of the rappers around but here comes this guy wearing funny clothes, popping up in multiple friend groups. We were both weirdos so naturally we gravitated towards each other.
You’ve played multiple roles in the development of the Boston music scene – has Boston, in turn, had an influence on you?
The sense of pride I get from seeing friends I’m close to succeed on their visions gives me hell of an influence. I didn’t grow up with too much local influence musically, but I think it says even more that we’re doing it ourselves despite that.
You were Fresh out the Mint’s first interview back before you dropped Heaven Is Your Last Dream– now you’re working on a sophomore album – in what ways has your music evolved since that first interview? What can we look forward to on this next production?
I have a much stronger idea of who I am as an artist and a musician. There’s a lot of comfort in that, but it means I’m looking for new ways to challenge myself and everybody listening.
Haasan Barclay will be performing the full tracklist for his new album, expected to drop this month, at Aeronaut with Allston Pudding on July 19th.
All photos by Dana Brooks