Thursday, May 30 2024

Welcome to our exclusive interview with Barry Muir, a seasoned musician whose career has taken him through the ranks of major label bands like The Payola$, Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts, and The Blue Shadows. Now an independent artist based in Toronto, Canada, Barry is here to discuss his latest album, ‘Bakersfield,’ marking his tenth release in over a dozen years. With a diverse mix of themes ranging from relationships to deeper topics like drug addiction and phobias, ‘Bakersfield’ showcases Barry’s evolution as a songwriter. Let’s delve into Barry’s journey from the major label scene to independent artistry and the creative process behind his music.

Hi Barry, thanks for joining us and congratulations on the new album, ‘Bakersfield.’ What inspired the diverse mix of themes on the album, from relationships to deeper topics like drug addiction and phobias?

I think the more you write, the more you want to expand on your themes. I’ve always been drawn to relationship songs, after all that’s really what pop music and even blues music is based on. It’s easy to be inspired by your emotions and nothing seems to play on your emotions more than your human relationships. I feel I have to be careful not to branch out too far because in order to tell a story in a song, I really want to know what I’m talking about and I don’t want to offend anyone with a different perspective. 

How has your transition from major label bands to an independent artist impacted your music and creative process?

The record companies I was involved with spent hundreds of thousands of dollar$ recording us and sending us out on the road. Even though we sold a lot of albums, you basically have to sell boatloads in order to pay back the record company before you as an artist see any profit. As an independent artist, I do a lot of recording at my own home studio and I seek out inexpensive ways of completing the project and getting the word out. You do that by developing relationships with friends, musicians, studios, etc. 
Either way, you do it for artsake and not money. Everyone hopes the money will come and for some it does. But, I’ve never known a musician who gets into this for the money alone. Being an independent artist works just fine for me. I can go at my own pace, set my own goals and control every aspect of my art. I like that. 

As an independent artist, how do you navigate the changing music industry landscape and connect with your growing fanbase?

It’s not easy. There’s a lot of artists out there these days all competing for the same listeners. You have to be out there playing live to really get the word out. Even if it’s just you and your acoustic guitar, being able to connect with your audience and create new fans is crucial. It’s not enough to just release your music. 

Can you share insights into your songwriting process with collaborators Joanne Stacey and Lucy LeBlanc, and how it has evolved over the years?

Ah, good question. After co-writing with Joanne and Lucy for so many years we certainly have a system down that has evolved nicely over time. Basically, every two weeks we get together on Zoom. We always start with a few chords and a basic melody, usually something I’ve played around with beforehand. That inevitably inspires a few words and before you know it, a verse has been written. Once a verse is written we get a sense where we want to take the song and once a direction is formed it’s a lot easier to come up with a chorus. The chorus of course is the most important part of the song. So to get to that point is where the magic happens.

Barry Muir

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to emerging artists dealing with the challenges of the industry today?

First of all keep writing songs. The music business continuously evolves so there’s no point in trying to guess what’s next. I believe the cream will rise to the top so my goal anyway has always been to keep improving in all aspects; writing, singing, playing and recording. I think if you’re really serious about music you’ll find a way to make it work. We all can’t have the success of Taylor Swift but she’s not really doing anything that different from the rest of us. So, just try and be in the right place at the right time once you’ve got to a point where you feel you could be relevant. 

Now ‘Bakersfield’ is out, what can fans expect next? Any future releases, collaborations or tours on the horizon?

I’m working on an acoustic album at the moment which is a lot of fun. It’ll be my second one. The first I released in 2016 called ‘This Guitar and I.’ It’s actually one of my favourite albums of mine. Yes, I’ll be out playing this summer around the Toronto area with a three piece band. Hopefully, it will turn into something more.

And, finally, a question for fun… If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I’m such a big fan of Elton John. I think it would be so cool to write a song with him. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.’ His melodies are so contagious and I’m pretty sure his writing style has rubbed off on me.

Thanks Barry 🙂

And there you have it, folks, an insightful conversation with Barry Muir, shedding light on his musical journey and the making of his latest album, ‘Bakersfield.’ From his days with major label bands to his current endeavours as an independent artist, Barry continues to navigate the industry and offer his own wisdom to newcomers. As he sets his sights on future projects, including an acoustic album and live performances around Toronto, we can’t help but anticipate the next chapter in Barry’s musical journey. Don’t forget to check out ‘Bakersfield’ and stay tuned for more from this talented artist.

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About Author

Matt Warren

Matt Warren is a Cheshire based musician who studied contemporary music and composition. When not writing for The Indie Grid he enjoys watching 'Breaking Bad' on continuous loop and going to gigs. Since a youngster his fave band have been 'The Beatles' (with 'Cardiacs' in at a close second)... and this still applies to this day.

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