It is not very often you get the chance to sit down and chat with a music idol but when I had the chance to sit and chat with Barry Jamieson it was an opportunity I could not pass. He is an artist that will no doubt have had an impact on your musical upbringing whether you listened to many of the tracks released where he worked with Sasha, his own work, or the many releases on his Fluid Recordings imprint. I won’t waffle on any more and instead, get straight down to the chat Barry and I had for Decoded Magazine.
Towards the end of last year, Barry Jamieson broke his lower leg bones in 3 places and is still on the road to a complete recovery. His injury lead to the cancellation of the ReFracted tour which was scheduled for late 2018. I asked Barry when we can expect to see him back as part of the ReFracted tour… “It was a shame the shows had to be cancelled. There were a few factors that affected Sasha’s decision to hold back the shows. I do play quite a vital role in the show. It would have been difficult to find someone to cover for me, at such short notice. Sasha and the lads are busy working on music for the shows. Hopefully, they will have something to announce later in the year.” I know it is something many of you cannot wait to experience once back on the road.
I went on to ask Barry how the ReFracted idea first came about, and how did it evolve into the experience we now love… “Sasha went to see Nils Frahm at the Barbican. About a week later, Sasha asked us if we thought we could turn the Late Night Tales album, Scene Delete, into a live show. We all agreed it would be a huge task, but we were all up for the challenge. The more we worked on the idea, then more we realised that we had to include other music from Sasha huge catalogue of work. That is when it got really interesting. The more the guys rehearsed, the more we knew this was going to be something incredibly special for us, as well as the fans. Sasha really had a lot on his plate. Learning piano every week for 9 months, to help build up his confidence, also working out how we could all get it to work live.”
I asked Barry what some of the biggest challenges had been with the ReFracted live tours… “I guess for me, the biggest challenge was recreating all the sounds from so many tracks. There are so many parts to each song, and some of that stuff was done over 20 years ago now, on gear that we don’t even own anymore, or we couldn’t take out on the road. Vintage gear and live stages is a bad idea! I had to find the best modern day synth or keyboard to recreate the sounds on.
“The Access Virus Ti has always been a huge part of Sasha’s sound. Charlie May has created some incredible sounds on the Virus over the years. Finding them, or recreating them took us a very long time. The Xpander riff took me about 3 days to get it right. It is so distinctive that we had to get it to play and feel just right.”
Barry went on to say… “the effects that we have created for Sasha’s music is a huge part of his sound too. Recreating that live was a challenge too. We spoke the Ray Maxwell at Eventide, who hooked us up with I think 8 H9 Max pedals for the show. They’re an incredible effects pedal. Dave Gardner’s set up for the show took us a long time to figure out too. When we record in the studio with Sasha, we do so much post-processing of parts and sounds, it is hard to recreate that for live. With Dave, we built an effects rig that Dave plays like an instrument. Layering parts of each track over the live players, as well as taking feeds from each of the musicians on stage. Then Dave treats and messes up those parts and feeds it back in the live music. It creates so much energy, dynamics and tension in the performance; it would sound very different without it.”
Without sounding like a bit of a “fanboy” which is hard when chatting to Barry I asked him what we can expect from him in 2019 in terms of new music from his Mono Electronic Orchestra pseudonym… “I spent a lot of time at home after my injury. I did a few remixes but also wrote a lot of great music too.”
“I have about 6 tracks that I need to finish up. There will be a follow EP for John Digweed’s Bedrock label, plus something special for Get Physical that I am working on.”
“I am also in collaboration with a few old friends on some new music too. Mike Hiratzka and I started a cool idea, during his tour with JT this past year. I have also started a project with Lee Softley from Blue Amazon. Lee and I have been friends for over 20 years now, as with Mike, but we have never worked on music together. It has been a lot of fun so far. Watch this space.” Plenty in the pipeline by the sounds of things and definitely one to keep the fans of Barry’s music very intrigued.
Even before speaking with Barry it is clear that his passion for music is as high as I am sure it has always been and especially for the live performance side of things. I know Barry was keen to take the Mono Electric Orchestra side of things on the road as a live show so I asked him if this is something we could expect any time soon?
“I have been dying to get out there and do live shows again. Jon Sutton and I, from Evolution, toured extensively for over 18 years. I really miss that part of my life. I have got a really great collection of solo music I have done over the past 20 years. I have built a live setup that works really well. I know it will be amazing to see and hear. The shows I had planned for last year got put on hold, after my injury. I am hoping to plan stuff for the summer, once I am fully able to get about.”
Due to Barry’s injury, he has been spending a lot of time in his studio, as he mentioned earlier, so I asked him what are some of his favourite bits of gear in his studio… “I have been working with Ableton Live since version 2. It changed the way I work extensively, during the making on Sasha’s Involver album. It opened up so many doors in the creative process I just wasn’t getting from Logic Pro, which I have been using since the ’90s. I also use Protools, but it hasn’t been a big part of how I work for a while now. I have a huge selection of software and plugins. Ones to mention: FL Studio for Mac, Metasynth 6, (this has been a huge part of my sound design arsenal for many years now), Eventide Anthology bundle, NI Komplete Ultimate, Soundtoys bundle, PSP Bundle, Sonnox Elite Bundle, SSL Duende complete, Fabfilter, Softtube, Abbey Rd Plugins, Waves, Arturia, the list could go on and on.” He laughed and went on to add… “I recently just got Softubes Console 1. It is really cool the way it integrates hardware and software. Very impressed.”
Barry then went on to speak about hardware… “hardware is a huge part of how I work. I have a cool collection of gear that has been with me for over 30 years. I don’t think I have made a track without using my beloved Roland Jupiter 6. It was a big part of Evolutions sound too. I also own a Roland JU-06, Korg MS20, Moog Sub37, Yamaha TX81Z, Behringer Deepmind 12, Future Retro XS Synth, Large Eurorack Modular setup, Waldorf Pulse, XoxBox 303, Roland TR8S and TR909, Korg Minilogue, Moog Slim Phatty, Roland Integra-7, (which replaced my JV2080 and JD990), Access Virus Ti2 Keyboard and Virus Snow. Native Instruments Maschine Mk3, S49 Mk2 keyboard. Roland System1M.”
I asked Barry if he had any preferences for either software or hardware… “I always work with both, but I normally start on the hardware. I tend to build a groove first, and then reach for the analogue synths. They are so immediate and present in sound, I just have to start with them for the vibe. There is a lot of incredible soft-synths too. I love NI’s Absynth, Sonic Charge’s SynPlant, Arturia’s new DX7V is amazing. All the Arturia stuff is stunning.”
Besides Barry’s work in the electronic music scene, he has also spent many years working in the pop scene alongside artists such as Brittney Spears, Madonna, and Brandy to name a few. I asked Barry what is the difference between the two scenes and the way he approaches the music production side of things… “It never felt any different really. I do come from a pop background too. Evolution went pop for a while back in the early ’90s. I have always loved Soul and R&B music. It felt good to be doing stuff much more popular than deep underground music. Saying that I always slip back into the deeper, darker parts of me though.” Barry laughed and we went on to talk about what music or project really launched his career in his opinion… “that’s a tough question. I don’t think I can pick one track, but I give a lot of credit to what I know from great engineers I worked with over the years. Tom Frederikse, Gaetán Shurrer Adam Lessor from Out of the Blue Studios in Manchester, Allan Branch from The Roundhouse Studios in London, and Mark Stag from Spirit Studios in Manchester. I learned from every session I did with these guys. I was always right on their shoulder, asking them what they were doing, and how to get this or that to work in the mix. Slowly I started to understand how to mix, and what tools are right for the right job. All these guys are legends in the Music scene. So many stunning records have come from the hands of all of these amazing engineers and producers.”
Many of us will remember the date of the 4th of March 2019 as the day music lost a great man, The Prodigy frontman, Keith Flint. It was a massive loss for the scene, especially someone who was relatively young. I asked Barry if he feels the scene has a lot to answer for and how he thinks the music scene can help improve the way it helps people who suffer from mental health issues? “The loss of Keith is a real shock. He was a bolt of lightning on stage. He was such a great performer and an amazing human being. I first met Keith and the Prodigy back in 1991-92 in Scotland. We played a few events together early on before they exploded. Losing anyone to suicide and mental illness is tragic. I have experienced this more often than anyone should have to in a lifetime. All of them lost leave huge voids behind them. Not having answers is so difficult to live with. It is such a silent issue, it is hard to get people to open up and talk about it. I know many of my friends suffer from depression and are bi-polar. I know they struggle on a daily bases. I think the more it is openly discussed in our industry, and in public in general, can all help to find better solutions that can really make a difference. After Avicii’s death, Pete Tong gave a very moving speech at IMF in Ibiza. He really shone a light as to what is affecting so many who we work within our industry. More has to be done to protect these amazingly talented people whose music we have grown up with and loved so much.” It is, unfortunately, an issue more and more of us will be affected by, or so it seems, so if the dance music world can come together to help anyone it can only be a good thing.
People who follow Barry will know that he is a man that likes to get his political thoughts out there. I asked him his thoughts on the state of global politics at present. Apologies I could not help myself, I was having one of those days… “if I answer this question, I will be here for hours. All I can say right now is, VOTE! We have to change those we elect; otherwise, the planet will be the end of all of us.
“The world is in a crazy place right now, driven by greed and hate for one another. It is a sorry state for the future and our children. We need to make wise decisions and hunt out the truth. Facts matter. Social Media will not give you an honest view of the world and what is really going on. It is all a propaganda machine. Search out what is really going on. There are true and honest people out there, doing great things. Climate change should be at the top of anyone list right now. We are in for a bumpy ride. Make the right choices!”
I could not have said it any better myself… well said, Barry!!! Moving away from politics and back into the music world I asked Barry his thoughts on the scene and if he thought there was an oversaturation in the market of average music… “I think the talent that is coming out is amazing. These kids really know their stuff. Yes, there is far to much shite out there, but that’s because of the distributors. They were the filter to good music back in my day. It was very hard to get a deal, or for a label to get distribution unless you had something special. With it all being digital now, anything can be put out. That is why it is swamped with crap. But if you look deep enough, you will find amazing music.”
As a fan of Fluid Recordings back in the day I just had to ask Barry about some of his favourite releases back in the day on his and Jon Sutton’s label…. we put a total of 41 releases out. All were great releases. I think the few that stood out for me had to have been, ‘Andy Ling – Fixation’, ‘Evolution – Phoenix’, ‘Arrakis – Aira Force’, ‘Jimmy Van M – E.C.I.P.S’, ‘Christian West – Eterna’, and ‘Jamez presents Tatoine – Music’, just so many incredible releases.” I went on to ask if we will ever see some of the tracks re-released and remastered? “It is something that may happen soon hopefully. I am asked so much about the Fluid back catalogue. The way the progressive house scene is right now, it would make sense to put this back out there again. I will have some more news on this later in the year.” Barry Jamieson definitely just made an old raver very happy!!!
Finally, before we went out separate ways, I asked Barry if he had any more news he might want to share… “more refracted shows in the works. Helping Sasha and the lads finish up the new music they are all working on. Charlie May and I are trying to do a back-to-back live performance thing at some point hopefully. My live Mono Electric Orchestra shows this year, and hopefully some DJing too. I do miss spinning.”
I would like to thank Barry for a truly amazing chat and a great mix. I hope you enjoy the interview, radio show with Luke, and the exclusive mix from Barry.
Decoded Radio hosted by Luke Brancaccio presents Mono Electric Orchestra.
01. Gesaffelstein ‘Hyperion’ Columbia
02. Applescal ‘Atlantis’ Automation
03. Applescal ‘Saints’ Automation
04. Eins Tiefer ‘Acer’ white
05. Kolsch & Sasha ‘The Lights’ Ipso
06. 1979 ‘Distanza’ Fryhide
07. Simon Berry & Luke Brancaccio ‘Believe’ (Torsten Fassbender) Platipus
08. 1979 ‘Metro’ Fryhide
09. Oliver Lieb ‘Violet Phosphorous’ Bedrock
10. Pig & Dan ‘Infinity’ Unknown
11. Pig & Dan ‘Terrax’ Unknown
Mono Electric Orchestra
01. Michael Hooker – Slanted Perceptions (Theo Schmitt Re-work) – ReSound Music
02. Rowee, Nohan – Out Of Reach (Original Mix) – All Day I Dream
03. Hansgod – Vivekananda – 90watts
04. Ezequiel Arias & Artfaq – Polaroid – Replug
05. Acidulant, Dark Arps – Acidulant – Kraknak (Dark Arps Remix) – Tribal Pulse
06. Maceo Plex – Conjure Superstar (Original Mix) – Natura Viva
07. David Forbes pres. Hal Stucker – Celeste (Gai Barone Remix) – Pure Progressive
08. Pascal FEOS – Sounds Like Hollywood – Bedrock
09. Guzman & Karlos – Dakkar (Evolution Remix) – Fluid Recordings UK
10. Michael & Levan And Stiven Rivic – Inborn Voices (Barry Jamieson & Charlie May Remix) – ICONYC