Q&A with London-based Singer and Rapper Barny Fletcher
London-based singer and rapper Barny Fletcher released his latest mixtape, JETPACK, on October 19, 2022.
Growing up in a creative household in a small Somerset village, Fletcher explored his musical interests through a number of instruments and genres. With influences ranging from the Beatles to Eminem, it's no wonder he has developed a distinctive, individualistic take on R&B and hip-hop music.
Fans of Dominic Fike, Duckwrth, Chance the Rapper, and Anderson .Paak will love JETPACK. With a title like a James Bond film and super-suave verses to match, "Die Another Day" is the perfect opening track for the album. The song's relaxed groove contrasts harmoniously with rapid-fire lyrical banter. Fletcher's always-witty, sometimes-flirtatious vocals are a staple not only of "Die Another Day", but also throughout the LP.
The infectious energy of "Intergirlactic" has fans over the moon. Starry-eyed romantic raps and a nostalgic-feeling beat (reminiscent of Nelly's hit "Hot in Here") form an out-of-this-world balance between instrumentals and negative space. Fletcher slows things down with "All Figured", a bittersweet sing-along with a minimalistic arrangement. The subtle synths and swelling guitar tracks of "What Happened?" stand out. The tune's earworm chorus melody is one of the strongest on the album–an infusion of raw emotion that leaves listeners hanging on Fletcher's every word. Despite the overall solemnity of the song, a momentary pause and the sound of a phone ringing adds slight humor and a uniquely Barny Fletcher twist.
Three words come to mind regarding "FUN+": playful, disorienting, enigmatic. The dissonant R&B samba confuses both the ears and the brain on a number of levels. The intentional dissonance of the vocals against the clean guitar sound combined with wild audio panning and production choices makes for a mind-bending musical experience. Fletcher comes at listeners from all directions and angles in this wonderfully overwhelming sonic explosion, which is sure to elicit a visceral reaction.
Closing track "Breakfast at Isabel's" is the cheeky, cinematic finale we've come to expect from Fletcher. Booming bass, clever lyrics, and a deep pocket combine in the penultimate moments of JETPACK. With ten hit tracks straight, it's no wonder the artist has gained a reputation as one of the most promising new talents on the R&B scene.
We spoke with rising artist Barny Fletcher about his musical influences, songwriting process, and latest LP. Read the full interview and check out JETPACK below. Let us know what you think.
How are you doing today?
I’m good. I just got back from Sir John Soane’s crib. He had a whole damn sarcophagus in his house... Crazy. At what age did you start playing music? Probably when I was like eight or nine. I was in a school choir–normal kid sort of stuff. My home was filled with instruments, too. I was always intrigued with different sounds. I had a one-off recorder lesson, a one-off trumpet lesson, and even a couple of drum lessons (we didn’t have a drum kit at home, so I’d practice on pillows from the sofa). I just remember trying things out because I was intrigued and I appreciate that my mum made that happen for me. Who are your biggest musical influences?
I’m constantly influenced by the faces and places around me, so I’ll just list a few of my earliest influences that I remember from growing up. It was the Beatles for sure; they taught me to appreciate a good melody. I also appreciated their range. I remember listening to Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and then Rubber Soul, fascinated that both records were from the same band. I’d say that Bob Dylan opened my eyes to great storytelling through music. Eminem showed me how you can have fun with the words themselves, mixing and manipulating syllables and sounds. I love that. All these characters showed me songwriting is a limitless playground and definitely grew my love for the craft. Describe your sound in three words. The current sound? Effulgent. Jocular. Inimitable. I didn’t know any of those words until a few minutes ago... Thanks thesaurus. Those are some good words right there.
"Effulgent. Jocular. Inimitable. I didn’t know any of those words until a few minutes ago... Thanks thesaurus."
Tell us about the music scene in London. The music scene here is bountiful. I’ve actually not dipped into it as much as I would like. Aside from sessions, I’m not part of any specific clique, collective, or anything within this city. What is the best part of being a musician?
Playing Shows and meeting fans. That’ll be my answer for this question every single time. If it’s not, something's not right–you’re speaking to a clone or something. Share a little bit about your latest release, JETPACK.
JETPACK took shape during the tail end of lockdown. Studio sessions still weren’t really in the cards and I hated working over Zoom. As a result, I found myself I scrolling through YouTube beats, which funnily enough is what I used to do before I properly got into music. I kept writing songs over these beats that I was finding, and before long I had a whole tape's-worth of music. I think the first track I wrote was "Breakfast at Isabel's". As soon as I heard the beat, I knew it would be a mad show opener. It feels like a Disney movie. I knew I had to write and release it one way or another.
"As soon as I heard the beat, I knew it would be a mad show opener."
Walk us through your songwriting process.
I always start with structure, cadences, and melodies. Usually, I’ll do that in a studio session. I kind of sketch out the song and get a feel for it. Then, I’ll then take that sketch home and color it in with lyrics. I’ll jump from verse, to chorus, to middle 8, and back again. It’s all over the place. What message(s) do you hope to convey to fans with your work?
There are no rules to this music thing, really. I’m just having fun with it. For this tape, I hope the joy that I got from trying out new shit comes across to anyone listening.
"There are no rules to this music thing, really. I’m just having fun with it."
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
When budget eventually allows, I want to design clothes (properly). I’m talking great materials, interesting designs, cut and sew pieces–stuff that I can wear on stage. I know it’s somewhere in my future and that excites me, but for now I’m restricted to tees and hats.
What’s next for Barny Fletcher?
More shows, festivals, crazy visuals, meeting new people, and maybe a few collabs... We’ll see. Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
Not really. I know very little about some of my favorite artists and I like that dynamic. There's no need to overshare in this day and age. Now go listen to my mixtape or send me a mean tweet or something!