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“Some people are so talented it can make you angry. George Barnett is one such person but I’ll forgive him because he certainly knows how to write a tune or two.” — Tom Young of BBC Introducing on George Barnett. George Barnett may not yet be a household name when it comes to music, but he is certainly making waves in the UK. From Herefordshire, England, Barnett was only three when he caught the music bug. He started out with the drums, then along the years picked up the piano, bass, singing, as well as a little trumpet and harmonica.
You can hear all these instruments in his two albums: ‘Sierra Planes’ and ’17 Days’. George released ‘Sierra Planes’, a home-recorded debut EP in 2010. ‘17 Days’, a full length album, came two years after that. What’s special about these albums is that every track, instrument, and words that are played were all produced, played and written by the lad himself.
His break as a musician came when he won the UK Young Drummer of the Year Competition in 2008. It gave him the opportunity to open the UK Drummer Live show, the International Music Show in London, besides touring with Drum and Bass ace Jojo Mayer.
A year after the win, he was interviewed by Mike Dolbear, and showed great maturity even at 16. He was determined not to rest at his laurels of the Young Drummer of the Year title, but resolved to work to rightfully keep his name recognized as a proper musician. Back then, playing drums was his immediate focus. His ability to play other instruments had made him a more rounded drummer, and he sought ways to venture into other projects. One look at him, and you’d say, “This lad absolutely loves making music.”
This is where the ‘side project’ came about. “I’m set on becoming a professional drummer, but I also play other instruments, maybe I’d like to do something on the side with those,” he mentioned in the Mike Dolbear interview. Well eventually he did venture in that direction. And he didn’t take his ‘side project’ lightly; Barnett is an immaculate planner and technical artist. Most artists just starting out would put up original recordings on the Internet that leak amateurish quality, which is understandable given their limited gear and experience. Here Barnett shines. His debut EP ‘Sierra Planes’ was an impressive one, with a decent blend of instruments, well-thought arrangements and insightful themes throughout the album.
Initial critics may have labeled ‘Sierra Planes’ as a fluke, but the release of ’17 Days’ has certainly proved otherwise. Barnett showed much improvement in every aspect: recording quality, mixing and arrangements. By the end of ’17 Days’, you could sense the uniqueness he had to offer. The manner in which he released the album was unique as well: a 17 year old from the UK, releasing a track off the album through his website for free downloads every seventeen days.
During the release of ’17 Days’, BBC Radio took notice of Barnett and featured a live interview with him. His audience grew from the exposure. Music websites such as the Music Ninja and ReadBuzz featured him and gave reviews on the album. Once again, George did not lean on his success; he continued to strive to grow his audience even more. He set up his band: ‘George Barnett and the Ninth Wave’, hired a photographer and manager, and now plays shows across the UK on a regular basis.
Being a multi-instrumentalist, one would imagine that would be squeezing the towel dry already. But wait up; he makes his own music videos too. His first ever music video: ‘Silent Sound’, a reflective song from ‘Sierra Planes’ was an exceptional effort. And that was not a fluke either. His production for ‘Lone Rose’, a hit from the ‘17 Days’ album, showed much intricacy and garnered 100,000 views within a few months of release. ‘Cassi’ is the latest to be released, a delightful compilation of youthful exuberance and nostalgia.
If you haven’t already listened to his songs, go and grab them. Both his albums are available on iTunes. His next show is a Headline Show at Ludlow Castle, Shropshire, UK on 23 September. There is more to come from Barnett, watch his website to keep up with his latest shows/projects.
Image Courtesy of George Barnett