Our interview with Barry Snaith

Our interview with Barry Snaith. Veteran of the music scene

U.K.-based, multi-talented artist Barry Snaith is a veteran of the music scene, having shared the stage (as a member of the band Strangeways) with legends The Ramones, The Pretenders, and Johnny Thunders, collaborating with a myriad of other creatives, including recent hit tune “Radio Boom” with renowned DJ Jonathan L, and releasing music as The Inconsistent Jukebox. Snaith’s latest single, the gritty electro-rocker “Bold Ego Fledgling”, is taking wing in early August and he’s currently working on darkwave/ambient artist New Mown Hay’s album.

Northern Transmissions: Greetings, Barry! It’s so good to have this opportunity to chat with you about your collaborative music project The Inconsistent Jukebox and striking new single “Bold Ego Fledgling”, and to find out more about your previous artistic ventures. Where are you at the moment and how are you doing?

Barry Snaith: Hi, Jen. I’m currently in Wakefield, UK, about to do a photography shoot, a radio interview, and then a song. Doing great, thanks!

NT: Your electo-rock tune with an urban-pop edge, “Bold Ego Fledgling”, is slated for official release August 5th via Supersonic Media – and it also contains 4 remixes by various artists. Can you spill some details about the creation of this single? How did you connect with guest vocalist Ang Kerfoot?

BS: Ang lives in Las Vegas. She’s a very prolific and spontaneous, and a regular live performer on the scene there as Kerfoot & Dau. We’ve worked together a few times before, after I met her initially on Soundcloud. “Bold Ego Fledgling” came about from a short piece from Hungarian jaw harp maestro Konokunok and Spanish artist Eco Rem – just a percussive piece. People often send me parts to work with and I then try to assemble something from that. I have worked with Konokunok a few times too. Like Ang, he is very prolific. I worked on the piece and sent the music to Ang with some ideas, she added her parts, and then I shook it all up.

NT: Why did you decide to include 4 remixes with the single? Are you heavy into remixing yourself?

BS: I do produce and remix other folk’s material, and I’m currently working on New Mown Hay’s album – he’s a darkwave/ambient artist from the south of France. Remixes can cast the net a little wider and it’s also adds good value to a single. Other people’s take on your song generally give it a whole new approach.

NT: Is “Bold Ego Fledgling” the debut single from you as The Inconsistent Jukebox? What do you have planned for the future?

BS: It’s the debut single on Supersonic Media Records, but I’ve released a few things over the past few years in various forms. There’s one track out right now, “Radio Boom”, on the Berlin-based label Emerald & Doreen with award-winning DJ Jonathan L.

NT: You’re a man of many talents – musician (guitarist), songwriter, and producer (What am I missing, because I’m sure there’s more!). What was your starting point in the music field? Would that be when you toured and recorded with some of the greats like The Ramones and Chrissie Hynde? What was it like to be associated with such talent and personalities?

BS: I make the videos too, create much of the artwork, play keyboards, and sing. I’ve made music since I was 15, played many gigs, and done a few tours. I signed to Warners’ Real Records at 18 and was stablemates with The Pretenders and Johnny Thunders. Chrisie and the boys were just starting out and initially used to support us on tour until the band, unsurprisingly, became huge. The Pretenders’ UK number one single “Brass In Pocket” was titled that way because of that phrase being uttered by our vocalist in the dressing rooms at a gig. There’s a video recording knocking around of us and Chrissie doing “Wild Thing” in French (“Chose Sauvage”): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyxM6oaayww

We’d see legendary New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders all the time at the label. A really sweet guy, very friendly – but the heroin got him in the end. I gigged with The Ramones a few times and Tommy produced our second single. It was amazing to be schmoozing with the likes of them and Debbie Harry. We were just young kids, enjoying the punk lifestyle, and excited (but still cool) to be in the presence of our heroes.

NT: Your musical tastes and output run the gamut, from alternative rock and indie pop to soundscapes and electronica. Is “Bold Ego Fledgling” your first foray into the electronic rock style?

BS: No, it’s not. The second single, “Likey Nike”, is in a similar vein and was recorded and written before “Bold Ego Fledgling”. That will be released around October and has an amazing video featuring the work of George Redhawk (He’s well worth Googling). Because I love music and most genres, what comes out is an amalgamation of all of that. I’m primarily a guitarist, but I don’t always have guitars on my songs.

NT: Even though The Inconsistent Jukebox is a solo endeavor, you are still all about creative collaboration; not only for the music, but for video, dance, painting, and more; the whole package, basically. Why take on so much when you could just offer the song itself to the public?

BS: Nowadays, music is not generally released in a tangible format (i.e., nothing to actually hold onto now that everything is in the ether and downloadable) and so it’s good to incorporate other fields of interest, other forms of art. I learned a lot about art, film, culture, literature, and politics mainly from the music I heard when I was growing up and I think it’s good to get people interested in much more than the music.

Music journalism was also culturally informed and more intellectual in the past and cast a much larger net than just the tunes. Art is everywhere and it can enhance the experience to have incredible work associated with the sound. That’s why there’s been a resurgence in vinyl – this newer generation missed out on album artwork, gatefold sleeves, incredible art concepts, lyric sheets, free discs… all of which added to the whole package. I’d like to think that my music could also draw people towards other art forms. Collaboration is a wonderful thing because something unexpected invariably comes out of it. It’s exciting to bring something new to an idea and spark off that. Music is so saturated now that it’s good to have something more than just a song floating in the air.

NT: Speaking of the kit and caboodle, “Bold Ego Fledgling” has a magnetic companion video that was choreographed by Parris Goebel who has worked with stars like Janet Jackson, Rhianna, Jennifer Lopez, and Justin Bieber. How did this partnership develop?

BS: It came about because I’d been looking for some great dance moves to go with the song. Parris’s work fit perfectly with the mood – plus, with her being from that pop/ hip-hop background,I felt it was something that a lot of people miss in the indie field. I myself didn’t know who she was because I (unsurprisingly) don’t listen to Justin Bieber or Rihanna, at least not by choice. As marketed and packaged as they are, they’re good pop artists for kids, but I hope this video can bring Parris to a different audience. Her work with ReQuest Dance Crew is utterly fantastic and there’s certainly nothing bland or manufactured about her/them – the choreography adds a hard edge to the song, which is exactly what it requires. I’d love to work with them again. For such a global superstar, she’s a very humble person and has marvelous management in her dad, Brett.

NT: In regard to the remixes of “Bold Ego Fledgling”, why did you select Liz Cirelli, David Augustin, Richard Brown, and Born2Groove to remix the track?

BS: The label chose Liz and Born2Groove, whereas I know David and Richard and they were my first choices. Richard has done many remixes for Warp Records, Bjork, and many others and David is a master at soundscapes for media. We’re also releasing an EP of remixes from around 5 more people, all bringing something new and fresh to the song.

NT: You touched upon your recent musical collaboration with internationally known radio DJ Jonathan L for the song “Radio Boom” that dropped in June. Can you break down what each of you brought to that song? Did you reach out to him for this project or vice versa?

BS: Jonathan’s a legend in radio DJ circles and is known as ‘the father of all radio festivals”, pre-dating Lollapalooza and the like. Jonathan had an idea for a spoken word piece about the state of commercial radio nowadays (churning out the same old processed music and not being adventurous). He liked the idea of something his wife sang around the house (boom boom boom boom) so he sent me a simple recording of those things for me as a starting point. A bit of me cutting, chopping, and re-assembling the parts eventually crafted something hooky and I made a song out of it just playing bass, my mini keyboard, and some beats.

NT: I’m looking at your Facebook profile right now after viewing/listening to your Soundcloud page, and I see that Captain Beefheart keeps popping up as one of your influences. Why so much so?

BS: For me, Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band stand for everything original and groundbreaking in music. Like Picasso going from traditional art and then ripping up the rule book and reinventing what could be done, Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) used music and words like paint, smashed the concepts of timing, and made music that was cacophonous and required repeated listening to catch it, but once you understood that it was intended to sound that way, you appreciated it more.

It’s adventurous and fun without being flippant or throwaway like Frank Zappa’s lyrical output (He’s often compared to Zappa, but to me they’re polar opposites). The recording of and learning process for Trout Mask Replica is legendary – he was a tyrant and kept his band in a cult-like environment of discipline and fear, locking them in a shack until they had learned these almost impossible songs.

Ground-breaking stuff, utterly outrageous, and innovative. Music as art. Ugliness made beautiful. The drummer, John French, had to begin all their songs with a shout of “And…” because it was impossible to count them all in, because they often played in different time signatures simultaneously, only coming together every 12th bar. Don Van Vliet had no musical training or understanding and I love the originality that came from that. I neither read nor write music and have no intention of learning. Neither have many of our musical heroes.

NT: If you were languishing at the airport between connecting flights – or delayed flights, as seems to be the norm these days – who would you want to have sitting on either side of you in the departure lounge? What music would you want emanating from your headphones?

BS: Sitting with me waiting for the plane – David Bowie’s ghost on the left, my brother on the right.

NT: What has been your most glorious moment, so far, as an artist, or are there too many to choose from?

BS: There are many, yes, but I did love playing on stage with The Ramones.

interview by Jen Dan