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Sibling double act proves to be a big hit

When two sets of siblings joined forces to enter the Smokefree Rockquest, the result was The Barn Project – an extraordinary co-mingling of talent and creativity. Named after their practice space (a refurbished family barn!), the newly formed band not only made it through to the semi-final video submission stage but also gained a wide range of valuable feedback and experience.
The Barn Project

It was double trouble when ACG Sunderland siblings Amélie and Fabian Villars teamed up with Takapuna Grammar sisters Nataliya and Chamonix Brand to create The Barn Project – an “alternative pop/rock band with some indie mixed in”.

The newly formed band caught the attention of music lovers, securing their spot in the recent Smokefree Rockquest Auckland semi-finals. With Amélie as lead singer, Fabian as guitarist, Nataliya on cello and Chamonix as the drummer and backing singer, the siblings had all their bases covered, pooling their musical talents to create something truly special.

“The Barn Project is a cool, unique sound that doesn’t really fit into just one genre,” explains Amélie (16). “And while we have a specific formation for the band at the moment, we all play a number of other instruments, so it may change over time.”

And with an original song specially written for the competition, the two sets of siblings were off to a great start.

“It’s definitely a group effort. Chamonix and I usually write the lyrics, and Fabian and Nataliya mainly write the riffs, but we all give each other great ideas and suggestions. We look at the song as a whole, not broken off into individual parts.”

The Rockquest regional heats see artists perform an original song in front of a team of judges. The Barn Project made it into the top 12, earning the opportunity to submit a video of an original song for selection into the semi-finals.

“It was challenging recording our submission for the regional semi-finals because you don’t have the same amazing musical equipment, recording gear and sound professionals as you do when playing to a live audience. But on the other hand, you get multiple takes. And there’s not as much pressure when performing in front of your family instead of heaps of people!”

Amélie and Fabian have known Nataliya and Chamonix for years, and although they’ve each explored music as solo/duo artists (and all previously competed in the solo/duo category at Rockquest), this is the first time they’ve created a band together.

“We decided to form the band in order to do the competition because it’s such a good experience in the band category. You get great feedback that really helps you improve your musicality on a personal level and as a band,” says Amélie.

In addition, the strong family connection ensures the experience is even better.

“We are very honest with each other, which makes the songwriting very efficient and lots of fun. Being siblings also makes practising much easier because you’ve always got someone to practice with even when the whole band is not there.”

Amélie and Fabian have been lifelong music devotees – Amélie started singing at a very young age, and Fabian discovered rock music when he got his first guitar as an enthusiastic eight-year-old.

“This was the start of my music passion, and it has stuck with me ever since,” says Fabian (14). “I really enjoy music and would love to keep doing it as a hobby for the rest of my life.”

As for their musical inspiration, the pair are avid fans of many different genres as they continue to develop their individual sound.

“There are so many great musicians, and I am mostly influenced by just little things a hear,” confirms Amélie. “But two that stand out are Adele; I think she is an amazing singer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who have great creativity and such interesting melodies.”

“My biggest influence would be John Frusciante, guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” adds Fabian. “His creativity and originality are like no other. As for my other musical heroes, I also like Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, and Fleetwood Mac.”

See what makes The Barn Project so special, as they perform their original song Stability at the Smokefree Rockquest's Auckland regional heats.