Carlo Barbacci has always strayed off the beaten path. Born in Peru's capital of Lima, the musician and producer has made life decisions that have often pissed off his parents. At age 19, he toured with Los Rigbys — a Peruvian Beatles cover band that in 2014 won a competition to be named the best Beatles band in Latin America. Then, against family tradition, he ditched business school to pursue a music career. Finally, Barbacci made the impulsive decision to leave his homeland for Miami.
Now, a year and a half after his move to the 305, he agrees it was well worth it. "It's been quite a ride," Barbacci says.
The 24-year-old singer and guitarist has released two albums, one before his move to Miami in 2018 and the other this year. His first record, the Spanish-language No Estoy, includes acoustic folk songs with a melancholy tone. The latest album, the English-language Me & My Dreams, is perhaps more in tune with Barbacci's current psychedelic sound and direction and is reflective of his new adventures in the Magic City.
"I was in desperate times in Lima," he recalls. After dropping out of school and experiencing the sting of a failed long-term relationship, Barbacci made the quick decision to leave after hearing about SAE Institute's nine-month audio technology diploma program. Although his parents didn't approve at first, they are now fully supportive. Currently, he is training at the Kitchen, a media service company in Miami, and is taking classes at Miami International University to finish his education and work toward becoming a professional producer.
Barbacci was never a stranger to Miami. He made yearly visits to the city to maintain his U.S. residency. But when he settled here permanently, he found himself alone in a new city. With music on his mind, he reached out to a familiar acquaintance from Peru's music scene, Bronto Montano of the local band A Fucking Bug, who made a similar exodus to Miami a year earlier. "When I first got here, I was in a crisis... I didn't know anything," Barbacci says.
Through his relationship with Montano, Barbacci quickly gained friends in the Miami music scene, which seems to have welcomed him with open arms. "I feel very lucky because the bands I'm friends with are bands I really admire," he says. One of the first local groups he met is Zeta, which relocated from Venezuela in 2016. Barbacci has since collaborated with Zeta's singer, Juan Chi, whose upcoming solo album was produced and recorded by Barbacci.
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"The music I do has changed since I moved here," Barbacci says. In Peru, his tone was more jazzy/acoustic. His latest endeavor is the two-month-old Mold, a project that eschews his name and instead features his songs with support from a full band. The group includes Montano, as well as drummer Bjorn Roland, who is also a member of the recently launched local shoegaze band Womanhouse, in which Barbacci plays bass. Mold's heavier, fuzzier garage sound is clearly influenced by Miami.
Barbacci lives alone in Doral in a ranch-style home owned by his grandparents, who reside in Peru. The house looks average and unassuming from the outside, but inside it's as if Abbey Road Studios invaded a random home in Miami-Dade and kicked out its occupants. Rooms decorated with family portraits and cookie-cutter furniture are littered with musical instruments, amps, ashtrays, and recording equipment. The dining area is Barbacci's "control room" where he records and produces most of his music, the master bedroom holds a drum set, and the walk-in closet doubles as a recording booth for vocals.
In this suburban home, Barbacci plans to record and release an album for Mold and reach out to more local talent to record and produce their music. Eventually, he might leave Miami in the search of more professional jazz or rock studios where he can challenge himself, he says. But for now, he's here, plotting his next move.
Crybaby, a Ladies Night. With Mold, Womanhouse, Ghostflower, and ICH. 9 p.m. Thursday, July 11, at the Anderson, 709 NE 79th St., Miami; theandersonmiami.com. Admission is free.