Uproxx Music 20: Bairi Emerged From The Darkness As A ‘Fire Siren’ To Reckon With


Bairi (pronounced bye-ree/) makes the kind of music that forces you to sit still and absorb everything that comes out of it. It’s captivating in the best ways and heightens the senses all before seizing them for the duration needed. It’s a conclusion I came to one of the first times I heard the Pennsylvania-born singer back in 2021 with her “Paraíso” single. With an enchanting violin and scintillating piano keys as the background for the captivating record, Bairi takes command with vocals that are both dominating and alluring, a perfect recipe to draw you into a front-row seat for her show.

If “Paraíso” lies on one end of the spectrum for Bairi artistry, her latest single “Come My Way” is on the other end. Where “Paraíso” is sweet and soothing, “Come My Way” seeks refuge on the dancefloor. The upbeat number is filled to the brim with sensuality and anticipation as the fulfillment her body craves is within reach. Both songs are expected to appear on Bairi’s upcoming debut EP Fire Siren which is due April 22.

“This project represents the darkness and events leading up to my finally committing to my purpose (music) and really deciding to love myself; or at least it set me on the path of learning how to,” Bairi tells Uproxx. “It was a very dark and confusing time during which all I knew was pain and distraction — until the suffering of my choices opened my eyes to the truth of who I really am. I hope that by the end of the project, the listener understands that while it heavily touches on toxic themes, it is not a story about the conscious decision to be toxic; rather, it’s about breaking the matrix that kept me in those toxic cycles.”

Together with the arrival of “Come My Way” and the announcement of Fire Siren, Uproxx placed the spotlight on Bairi for an Uproxx Music 20 conversation that dives into her inspiration, interests, and the unique moments that make Bairi the artist she is today.

What is your earliest memory of music?

I’m overwhelmed thinking about all of the backseat revelations in my parents’ cars when hearing a song for the first time (i.e., my first time hearing “The Thong Song” in the McDonald’s drive-through or dramatically staring out of the window while Mike Shinoda’s remix of “Crawlin” by Linkin Park made me fall in love with orchestral arrangements). Still, the two memories that stand out to me the most are when I heard “When You Believe” by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston in the credits of my favorite movie Prince Of Egypt, and when I heard “Journey to the Past” by Aaliyah in the credits of Anastasia. There’s something about being completely enamored with a movie and then hearing your favorite singers drive it home. It’s the same reason I almost cried hearing Jhené Aiko in the credits of Creed. It’s probably the reason I’m very dynamic in my compositions.

Who inspired you to take music seriously?

My grade school choir director, Mr. Joseph Farrell, really helped me believe in the power of my voice and the importance of being hard-working and disciplined to nurture my gift, even though it was just recently all of those lessons hit me. When it came to actually pursuing music as a career though, the first person that shifted my perspective into becoming an artist was my friend Dave Langston. When I first got to New York in 2015, I was majoring in English literature when I met him in a Psych class. One day we sat in my car as he played me his music and when I told him I sang he very seriously told me I needed to pursue it. He got me in a studio doing vocals for him and then eventually it was in that studio I recorded my first EP that released in 2016. Will always be soooo grateful for him.

Do you know how to play an instrument? If so, which one? If not, which instrument do you want to learn how to play?

When I was a kid, my grandmother gave me a Casio and I taught myself how to play a lot of the music in the video games I was playing (Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy 8, 9, X, X-2). I took a few piano lessons, but got really nervous and never finished. I do plan on mastering the piano one day to honor my inner child.

What was your first job?

I worked at Chocolate World in Hershey at 15 years old as a food service worker at this little dessert creation studio.

What is your most prized possession?

My bear Dodi that my dad got me I wanna say around 2003 before he got deployed. Everyone makes fun of him, but that’s really my rider!

What is your biggest fear?

I read this question and got a little nervous to answer it. I think it changes based on the season in my life. Right now, I have an irrational fear that my dreams of being a superstar and performing on all of the stages I’ve dreamt of aren’t going to happen. Anybody can tell you I love singing and my career more than anything else. But with that being said, fear is just a lack of faith. I’m being shown that I need to let go and just let it all happen to me versus trying to do too much and control everything. Whoever is reading this, you can too. Don’t be scared of the unknown. Don’t be scared to be the biggest version of yourself.

Who is on your R&B/rap/afrobeats Mt. Rushmore?

Beyoncé, Aaliyah, Usher, and Justin Timberlake.

You get 24 hours to yourself to do anything you want, with unlimited resources: What are you doing? And spare no details!

I would hire someone to organize my business/administration/finances, hire a tour manager to set up a tour for my project, pay everyone I’m working with now the money they deserve, fly my team, family, and all of my favorite creatives to Camp Bairi: a remote location by the beach to finish up my project and do all visuals, production of all of my merch ideas, create and finish music, feed them amazing food, have intimate convos, etc. I know that sounds like a lot for 24 hours but generally, a perfect day for me involves loving on my loved ones, journaling, making music, dancing, performing, eating sushi, sharing my art with others, improving however I can, and creating stability and inspiration for myself and everyone around me.

What are your three most used emojis?

❤️‍🔥 (my preferred heart emoji cause I’m fiery), 🥹 (when I’m feeling sentimental, which is VERY often *laughs*), and 😭 (because I be crying laughing)

What’s a feature you need to secure before you die?

6lack!! I have actually had one for him in the tuck for years, I’m just waiting for the right time. In addition, I NEED to work with Ludwig Göransson on a movie soundtrack.

If you could appear in a future season of a current TV show, which one would it be and why?

Hot Ones, anything that Issa Rae does, Abbott Elementary (I’m from Pennsylvania, Quinta!), Dave, Grammys, Oscars, Tonys, Emmys, People’s Choice Awards (hope these count). There are soooo many podcasts I want to be on too. I love chatting.

Which celebrity do you admire or respect for their personality and why?

Beyoncé. She’s incredibly hardworking and courageous and advocates for herself and her ideas. A very clear example of purpose and alchemy.

Share your opinion on something no one could ever change your mind about.

This is sooo random, but I’m completely convinced that Kanye West’s “Say You Will” production is inspired by Kingdom Hearts’ “Dive Into The Heart”. There’s absolutely nooo evidence to prove this, like none at all, but I don’t care *laughs*. Listen to both and tell me I’m lying (and I won’t care).

What is the best song you’ve ever heard in your life and what do you love about it?

Again, “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Two of the best voices in music, a choir, incredibly profound production and message, and the fact that it will make me cry no matter what I’m doing when I hear it. I’m listening to it right now to test the theory and it’s not failing *laughs*. There are a lot of perfect songs to me, but this is always the first one that comes to me.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform, and what’s a city you’re excited to perform in for the first time?

It’s a toss-up between New York and Atlanta for my favorite city to perform in. Two of my favorite, most lit performances were in either and the energy was unmatched. I’m excited to perform in a church in Italy. When I was in 11th grade I passed up the opportunity to do this because a lot was going on in my home life and I was just so scared and lacking confidence that I couldn’t show up how I needed to. I can’t wait to redeem this moment for myself.

You are throwing a music festival. Give us the dream lineup of 5 artists that will perform with you and the location where it would be held.

I tried to realistically and tastefully answer this question at first, but truthfully, what I really want is Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, RAYE, Chloe x Halle, Doechii, and myself. I think all of us are extremely dynamic, cinematic, and immersive, with some similarities but different enough for it to feel like a full spectrum of music. I’m the opener I don’t even care *laughs*. Either Madison Square Garden, which is one of my lifetime goals, or somewhere that feels like a wonder of the world, like an oasis in the desert or hot springs in the mountains. I know this all sounds ridiculous; I’m tired of trying to make sense of everything *laughs*.

What would you be doing now if it weren’t for music?

A counselor/therapist or teacher of writing/music, most likely counseling. At some point, after I get into a comfortable position within my music career, I want to get a counseling certificate and extend my services to creatives already in the space and young kids as well.

If you could see five years into the future or go five years into the past, which one would you pick and why?

I’m struggling with this question! I know we aren’t supposed to have regrets, but there’s definitely sooooo much wisdom I would share with myself 5 years ago that would save me from a lot of unnecessary suffering. While a vision of the future would be amazing, I can’t promise that I wouldn’t hold onto that vision too tightly and let it get in the way of my present. I have to plead the fifth here. I’m grateful to be able to reflect on my past and have a good enough relationship with God to get insight into the future and have enough faith to see it through even when it’s dark.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Seek respect for who you are instead of love for who you’re not. You are naturally kind and a natural light, you don’t need to prove yourself or lessen yourself for the right people. You belong without trying.

It’s 2050. The world hasn’t ended, and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

I would like my music to be remembered as an experience, as a key to unlocking revelation within people’s spirits, something that gave language in the natural to the truth within, whether good or bad. I’m not perfect, and I hope that the honesty and journey that I take throughout my music/career/life teach a lot of lessons on how to know and heal oneself.

Fire Siren is out 4/22. Stay tuned for more information.