Even Bartee Strange has struggled to manage this past year. “It’s been a ride, man. It’s hard to know what’s even real,” he said with a smile. “But then you play a few shows, and you’re like, Gosh.“The singer-songwriter has gone from covering Country songs to touring with the beloved band. (They even invited Strange onto the stage to play some.) their own hits with them.) If his debut album (2020 Live forever) spawned some indie rock style followed by this year’s sequel, Farm to Table, indie rock move. It dazzled critics and raving fans alike, pushing the Strange name even further into the indie mainstream. He and his band have performed shows around the globe with big repertoire like Phoebe Bridgersand his own remarkable tour starting next month. Gosh sounds right.
Strange never thought about straying from convention. He floats in and out of genres, and his songs are full of hooks and riffs you never see coming. “I found myself on a journey to do everything I wanted to,” he explains. “I always think about clothes the same way I think about music. No one tells me what to play. I’ll play whatever I want to play. I’ll play in a heavyweight band, but I’ll do it. that way. I have a little indie rock band now, but I rap on it. I play country music. I make rhythms on it. I want to do whatever I want.” He has a similar mindset with dressing: As his sound and shows get bigger and bigger, so does his style.
In his mind, the two are closely related. “I’m trying to start this conversation around Black artists and guitar-based music. It may look new, but it’s actually very old. Its history is deep. And some of the artists. It’s the people with the weirdest taste. All the time.” He listed a number of names: Sly Stone, Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Prince, Brothers Johnson, Ohio Players. Strange has been studied, and he’s not exaggerating — vintage photographs of the men mentioned above show some very edgyly dressed men. “These guys, when they get on stage, are crazy. They define rock and roll outfits.”
Nowhere has Strange’s stylistic expansion been on display this year than at the show he played in June at Los Angeles’ Getty Center, the famed Richard Meier-designed campus in the hills. . When Strange got the call, he knew he wanted to wear something to make up for the occasion. He sported an elegant long coat and matching trousers from the latest Homme Plissé Issey Miyake collection. (His band looks just as drippy.) Perhaps this is the first time the Japanese designer’s extremely late pleated ensemble has been outfitted with a Fender Jazzmaster.