Langue disponible : anglaisPlenty of musicians like to talk about how they earned their success the hard way, but French singer Hugo Barriol has most of them beat -- he spent two years busking on Parisian subway platforms before he got his shot at the big time. Barriol has a clear, subtly passionate vocal style that brings a warmth and relatability to his songs, most of which deal with the ups and downs of life and human relationships, with low-key accompaniment that largely focuses on acoustic instruments. After he was discovered in 2016, Barriol's sound was first captured in straightforward form on a six-song self-titled EP, while his first full-length album, 2019's Yellow, boasted a fuller production but found his musical and emotional trademarks little changed. Born and raised in Saint-Étienne in eastern central France, Hugo Barriol picked up his interest in music from his father, who was a member of a group that practiced in the basement of the family's home. When he was young, Barriol would spend time in the rehearsal space and taught himself to play the drums. When his family relocated to Lyon, he joined a local band as a drummer, and in his late teens, he took up the guitar, becoming proficient on the instrument over a period of several years. Barriol then spent some time in Sydney, Australia, where he learned to speak English and honed his skills as a vocalist and songwriter, performing in English. Barriol picked up money on the side by performing in Sydney's subway stations, where he got a positive reception, enough so that when he returned to France several years later, he wanted to continue his informal public performances. Barriol applied with Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), the organization that operates and oversees mass transit in Paris, and he was granted a license to busk in the subways of the City of Light. Over the space of two years, Barriol would play five sets a day in various locations in the Paris subway system, where he honed his vocal style and musical voice. Barriol's talents did not go unnoticed, as he won a following for his subway appearances and balanced them with performances at Parisian bars and nightclubs. In 2016, he won the Metro Music Award, a prize given out by the RATP to artists who busk in the Paris subways, and he landed a contract with the French independent label Naïve Records. Naïve released Barriol's debut EP in 2017, and a track from the set, "On the Road," became an international hit, receiving over five million plays on major streaming services. No longer having to compete with trains to be heard, Barriol toured in Europe and the U.K., and stayed in England long enough to record his first full-length album, Yellow, which was released in February 2019. ~ Mark Deming
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