1. How would you characterize your music?
B: Guitar-based alternative rock soundscapes, ambience and commercial indie.
2. What is one early music experience that made a deep impression on you//made you rethink what music can sound like//has helped shape the music you make today?
B: Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band. An utterly unique double-album’s worth of creativity and groundbreaking innovation in a rock music medium. Smashing the rule book on musical timing, writing and melody. Don Van Vliet (Beefheart) said that ‘music should be an irritant’. It taught me that music should be allowed to be difficult and worth spending time getting to know and love it. That it should be allowed to seep in. It also taught me how to play with time on a song, in fact, how timing can be almost disregarded because your brain will always try to put the music into some kind of recognizable time signature anyway. It’s fun to play with that. And then there was that playfulness with words, using them like paint.The whole of that album is like a painting. After a few listens it becomes a masterpiece. It counters my love of beautiful music too.
3. What is usually your process when creating//writing a new song?
B: If I were to write a song entirely from scratch it would often begin whilst strumming on an acoustic guitar or whilst inventing the whole thing in my head first, like doing a sketch. Most of my songs with a riff would start in my head rather than on the guitar. Riff and drums and a general vocal. Sometimes the title but I would mainly just use phonetic sounds, for a feel of the song. Often these would later determine the sounds in some of the words (because they became ingrained in the songscape). For non riff-based songs I would strum the guitar, getting a feel for some chords or melody, then jam for a while until I the picture started to form, then I would get some kind of structure to the piece. Write some lyrics, which I would really deliberate over, trying to get almost every word right and relevant to the song, and well-considered words too (not just throw-away shire, which I am sometimes very partial to also – T. Rex spring to mind as do a lot of contemporary pop songs). Often I will take someone elses music (willing victims) and try to put an entirely different slant on it. Almost always starting with atmosphere/mood before I even considered adding my guitars. There are so many ways of creating and writing. One of my favourite songs of my own is “Let’s Defenestrate” which came about as a ‘challenge’ – the brief being to write a song using F, Am, C and G. In that order. That’s all. So that was written under strict guidelines as a foundation and then just finding out how to make it sound exciting. I think under that framework you could write many songs, just always strive to make it interesting, unpredictable, challenging or catchy.
4. Where can we find your music//what have you done to make your music available?
B: iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, hearthis.at, and a few others. Two websites (The Inconsistent Jukebox and Shoot The Wendy Bird), Youtube, and links or norices on FB, Twitter, Google+ . I’ve released a few tracks on the Holier Than Thou indie label and these can be found on the the aforementioned sites, for what that’s worth nowadays. Sales have dropped so low nowadays even for major artists that it’s much harder to make a living just from music alone. We do it for the love of it, we have to make it and are compelled to let it pour out, and that’s the enjoyment of any creativity – if we make money from it that’s a bonus.
5. What is a recent musician//band//music that you are excited about?
B: FKA Twigs – like Lady Gaga with interesting songs. St Vincent. Both idiosyncratic and original.
6. How would you describe the music climate in your home when you were a child?
B: My parents weren’t really interested in music, neither was my brother. But my mum’s younger sisters always had interesting taste and liked cool bands, not pop, although those things can live together very well too (interesting, cool, pop). My tastes were influenced by my friends’ older brothers or sisters, so I never really grew up on mere bland pop. I was buying Beefheart at 12 years old. Once I was int my teens my world was entirely immersed in music. And girls. Still is.
7. Is style//image important to you and if so what//who do you consider cool in music?
B: Yes I do think it is. I think image is part of the creation in most music. Even if the image is ‘not having an image’, but too much of that seems lazy. It’s good to see people who add style and panache to their music, whether that be attutide, clothes, charisma. I’m drawn to people who make an effort – Bjork, Cool could be The Velvet Underground, Bowie (a slip in the early 80s), Jim Morrison – I don’t think Alex Turner’s quite mastered the fine line between cool and arrogance yet. The flambouyance and identity of past eras don’t seem to be as prevalent lately – Elbow, Alt J, Hot Chip, even Radiohead (who I love) band like that aren’t people who you’d think ‘hey, they look cool, I might dress like that too’. Not that I’d do that anyway – better to dress like yourself. I dress like the actor Terry-Thomas when I’m not slumming it in t-shirt and cords. See, i even wear trousers that sound like something musical. I like any artist or band who put thought into how they appear, whether it be exotic, subtle, outlandish or minimalist. Anti-fashion as a statement, as adopted by The Fall or The Buzzocks (both great) may be interesting as a talking point for maybe a minute but just looks shit. I’d rather listen to The Fall but look at Prince. Imagine Mark E Smith snarling into the mic whilst wearing a diamond-encrusted tailcoat, platform boots and a ruff around his neck. That would bring us back to Bowie in the mid seventies. Karen O is pretty cool. Style and image doesn’t have to be fashion. It can be art. Like Factory Records. It was more an artistic non-profit-making concept than a business. That’s petty cool and stylish.
8. What song do you want playing at your funeral?
B: I was close to death once and I had to think about my possible funeral, just in case. I chose ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’ sung by James Baskett. Just as a celebration of a happy life. Not taking things too seriously. That was a long time ago now and I think I’ll now maliciously choose a song calculated to make everybody cry their eyes out. and be miserable throughout my funeral. So I’ll pick… nah, fuck it, let’s have‘The More I See You’ by Chris Montez.
9. Why music and why do you make it?
B: It’s the only thing that comes naturally to me. I have work at everything else. An old school Physics report said “The mere mention that any effort has to be made on Barry’s part renders the task impossible”. that’s a genius sentence and I’ve tried to adhere to that as a lifestyle choice ever since.
10. If I should listen to one undiscovered musician//song today who//what should I check out?
B: I have to give you two, as i can’t split them. They draw for number one position so you have to allow them both. One is Hydrophone Recording Of Burning Embers Underwater by Richard Devine. Genuis to think of recording that: and the other is Songe 3 by Serge Gentil and Renaud Deback. Sublime and very cool..
Find Barry at https://soundcloud.com/barry_snaith