Introducing: Barnaby.


Originally published for Notion.

As the year draws to a close, all eyes turn towards the artists who are predicted to make it big in the new year. Southampton-based vocalist and producer Barnaby Atherton, aka Barnaby. (punctuation is important guys), is one of those ‘artists to watch’ in 2014.

Back in July, he caught our attention with the release of supremely catchy, lo-fi RnB summer jam, ‘Fresh Made Lemonade‘, which was followed up last month with the much darker, DREAMTRAK co-produced ‘Bored‘. If 2013 was the year of the RnB revival – at least in alt. terms –  then Barnaby. is on track to keep it moving into 2014, with his smooth, soulful vocals combined with minimalistic beats making for the best kind of chilled-out RnB.

Nadia Younes caught up with Barnaby. to chat about working with different producers on his upcoming EP, being compared to Frank Ocean and his plans for 2014.

PlanetNotion: There was a bit of a gap between the release of ‘Bored’ and ‘Fresh Made Lemonade’ – were you working on the new single between that time or did you have something else going on?
Barnaby: Well ‘Bored’ was actually the first song I’ve ever worked on with somebody else, like co-producing, so that happened a few months ago now. It’s actually just a promotional thing, it’s not really going to be like a proper single because we’re working towards an EP, which should be coming out in the new year. And then I’ve got a couple of features which should be coming up soon so I’m just sort of bridging the gap I suppose between releasing more of a body of work in the new year.

PN: How far in to the EP are you then?
B: Nearly done I think. We should be getting the final mixes today and I’ve got a couple of songs and other bits to round off but almost finished.

PN: How long have you been working on it for?
B: I guess, sort of properly working towards it for about a month, like actually making sure all the songs work together and stuff like that.

PN: There was a big change in tone between the two singles with ‘Fresh Made Lemonade’ really sounding like a summer song but ‘Bored’, by comparison, is a bit darker – do you think about the timing when you’re releasing songs?
B: I guess it felt like the right sort of time of the year for releasing something like this just because it’s getting a bit colder and stuff but, when I was writing it, the tone of the music is how I wrote the lyrics and that’s why it came out maybe a bit depressing I suppose.

PN: You co-produced ‘Bored’, where as you worked on ‘Fresh Made Lemonade’ by yourself – do you prefer producing things yourself or working with other people or does it just depend on the situation?
B: Yeah, I guess it depends. It’s cool, like I’ve never worked with anybody before and it was really good actually. A lot of the stuff I’ve been working on with other people will sound kind of different, but similar, to the stuff I’ve produced on my own so it’s good to get a lot of different inputs because it might all sound a bit too similar if I did it all myself. It’s nice to be able to get someone else’s input on things.

PN: Is that something you’ve done quite a lot on the EP, working with other people?
B: Yeah, I think there’s going to be maybe like four songs and only one of them I actually fully produced myself and everything else is going to be working with others.

PN: You’ve had quite a few people reworking ‘Fresh Made Lemonade’ – do you like that people remix your songs and do you have any favourites?
B: Yeah, I especially like the first one, the Debian Blak one. I like the others as well but that one in particular is my favourite I think.

PN: Have you ever found that anyone’s kind of missed the point of the song and got it completely wrong?
B: Well, this is the like the first time anyone’s remixed any of my stuff so it’s all a bit of a new experience I suppose.

PN: You get compared to people like Frank Ocean and James Blake quite a lot. Are they artists that influence you at all?
B: Yeah, I think my musical sensibility, production-wise and lyrically, is maybe closer to the Frank Ocean side of things than it would be to James Blake’s because his stuff is always a bit more metaphoric and a bit out there, I suppose. But I guess perhaps my vocal sensibility is a bit closer to James Blake than Frank Ocean. So I guess I’m somewhere in the middle, which is not a bad place to be.

PN: What’s your writing process like – do you start with lyrics or a melody or is it just whatever comes first?
B: They kind of tend to come at the same time. Generally I’ll start with the musical side of it and get a general mood to go in and then the lyrics just start coming out alongside the melody, depending on the way I feel or what sort of place it puts me in. One doesn’t generally come before the other really; it’s weird.

PN: So you said the EP will be out next year – do you have any idea of a date?
B: It should be out early next year, hopefully January or February. Well, we hope, but things are nearly there so it should all go to plan. And we’re hoping we should be able to start work on a debut album at some point next year. But we’re not waiting around, we want to keep momentum up and keep releasing stuff. So, at the moment, the goal is the EP and to just keep going really.

PN: You’ve only had a couple of singles out and there’s obviously quite a lot of hype building. How are you dealing with that?
B: Yeah, it’s been crazy but it’s really cool. Six months ago, I was just sat in my room making music so it’s been crazy – like getting premiered on Pitchfork and all that kind of stuff, it doesn’t happen to many people so I obviously feel pretty lucky getting all of this attention so early on. It seems like everything’s going really well which is something that I’ll try and hold on to I suppose.

PN: Is there anything else you have coming up that you want to mention?
B: Well I think the word’s potentially out there but there’s a producer called Blue Daisy, who I worked with on a song and that’s on his EP. The lead single called ‘Psychedelic Love’ is out at the moment and the song that I wrote with him is going to be out early next year and it’s the first feature thing I’ve done, but I don’t know a definite release date for that yet.