Samuel Barrie left West Africa at a young age, starting a new life in Australia. Now, the comedian, novelist, poet, rapper, musician, model, and film-maker dedicates his life to his artistic pursuits. We talk to Barrie about his first novel, his artistic influence, and the war-torn story of his move to Australia.
The Chic Edit: You moved to Australia from West Africa at the age of five; can you tell us the story behind that?
Samuel Barrie: I moved around four and turned five here. We were escaping the civil war in Sierra Leone. I came here young as a refugee because my parents believed that Australia was a land of real opportunity. I was still in my mother’s stomach when the civil war began, so I wouldn’t say i have much memory of the occurrences, but there was a lot of needless blood shed. It wasn’t easy but we made it here and it’s been a real blessing.
CE: You speak English as a second language, your first being Krio. Did you already speak English upon your arrival? What was it like adapting to a new environment at such a young age?
SB: I spoke Krio as my first language but most people wouldn’t know that. Being relatively young, I wouldn’t say it was really hard to assimilate to the English dialect but I truly did struggle with certain words. Although growing up here my voice never gravitated towards the Australian accent, I feel really confident that I’ve got the language down.
Being the one of few African kids within my environment was a very interesting experience—it really helped build character. I was relatively a very shy and quiet kid but those who knew me on a deeper level would definitely say otherwise. I took it a day at a time, nothing really got to me. I was mostly stuck in my mind dreaming things up, not really focused on reality.
CE: You dabble in just about every artistic avenue, as a writer, poet, musician, actor, comedian, etc. From where do you garner your inspiration in order to create such a vast array of projects?
SB: My inspiration can come from anywhere, really. Recently, I’d say my life and experiences but ideas just tend to come. I keep a journal of ideas and before I start developing anything, I’d string a few of them together and see how they work. I wouldn’t say all my works have a set development process, as I don’t know any creative who undertakes any project the same way.
I tend to explore the four L’s of life (Love, Lies, Lust and Loneliness). It’s deeply rooted in the majority of my unreleased projects. I like to just keep an open mind to ideas.
I look at what’s happening in the world and with people around me and try to speak on what’s relevant or what I’d see as universal truths…oh, and things I just find funny.
CE: You’ve already finished a novel and you’re not even twenty. (Impressive!) What is the novel called, and can you give us an idea of what it’s about?
SB: I wrote my first novel after finishing year 12. It started as just an idea when I used to message a friend on a daily basis with installments of the story. Through time, I realised I may have had something on my hands, so I took a few months to develop the idea. I’d never written a book before and definitely knew I broke a lot of literary rules but you can’t really get better without trying.
At first, the book didn’t have a name. Seven months into writing it, (definitely not consistently) I came out with my first book, which I titled “The Moonlight Trails: Volume One, Rise of the Kingpin”. It’s a dark, crime thriller with exotic elements. I felt as proud as a new parent but the baby was ugly as the book was straight trash, so I took a few more months to develop it and rewrite. I believe the story was good but my first draft execution was amateur at best. Although people around me enjoyed it, I wasn’t satisfied. I’d reveal information about the story but I’d rather people just read it when I eventually get it published or self publish.
CE: You practice freestyle rap and free-verse poetry. How do you manage to avoid self-consciousness in front of an audience using such an improvisational art form?
SB: I truly don’t avoid it. I’m highly over analysing and self conscious all the time but I don’t let that get in the way of just going and flowing with it. You never improve without practise and you never truly shine if you don’t put yourself in the light, so I do my best to. I was definitely horrible at first but I had people around me who vibed with my efforts. I also have highly embarrassed myself in public festivals where people I know have viewed. If you can crash and burn in front of those you care for and do it with confidence, I think you’ll be fine in front of strangers you may not necessarily see again. No matter what happens, you still impacted upon someone’s day. Hopefully I make them smile. I try to stay positive, unless it’s a rap battle: then what ever is said, they had coming.
CE: It sounds like there are few artistic mediums you’ve yet to utilise; are there any you’re still meaning to try?
SB: There are a lot of things I want to do that I, at this point in my life, haven’t figured out how and when. I do now what I can without having to wait on anyone to give me the greenlight, as it’s so easy nowadays to just create.
I really want to make an animated movie like the classics. Something along the lines of “A Shark Tale” or “Shrek”. One of those short but straight to the point movies that have humour for everyone to enjoy. I’ve always been a big fan of family-friendly entertainment.
CE: You’re relatively new to modeling; what has surprised you most, so far, about the modeling industry? What has lived up to your expectations?
SB: The modelling industry has been a blessing. Any industry has pros and cons but it is a business. There’s also a nice level of creativity that brings me so much joy. Before delving in, I did a lot of my own personal research, so I knew was I was getting myself into. I’ve had no negative experience, so far. I try to breathe positivity into whatever shoot I’m on.
CE: Did you find you had a natural talent for it, or did you have to learn?
SB: I’ve always been able to pose; I used to look in the mirror a lot and just copy poses from music videos I thought were cool. Being a big fan of Travis Scott’s musical aesthetic, I tried emulating it a lot—but when I started professionally modelling I’ve been more researching how others pose depending the brand. I’d also like to think I bring my personality into it, I just needed to get more comfortable first.
CE: Does your family support all of your artistic pursuits?
SB: My family has been very supportive through any of my endeavours. I can never say anything negative about them nor would I want to. There’s ups and downs but we stay together, as we have each other no matter what. My family isn’t limited to blood: all my love ones, I consider family, including my collaborative group with Patrick, Tim, Yomi and Bartholomew.
CE: Where will we be able to see your work (in any of its forms)?
SB: Still working on setting up all my platforms. Marketing is a very important aspect; you can release work but what’s the point if no one sees it? For now, you can follow my Instagram. I guess the following Sound Clouds will eventually contain some of my content: Playyomi, Samuel Barrie, and Akura Music.
Also, if you want to reach out with direct questions, you can reach me on my ask.fm, here.
Follow Samuel Barrie on Instagram.