A Year in Music – Interview with Pat Barrett by Killian Laher
We had the chance to talk to Pat Barrett of Hedge Schools about 2016. You can see the results below.
What music grabbed you in the last year, can be new or old?
Such a great year, so varied, I thought it was a bountiful year for Irish music, I really did. The Malojian / ROLLERCOASTER records Kilkenny story was one for the good souls, great people, great story, and a great record to boot, the Lisa Hannigan record was stunning, a real sea change for her, but for me, hand on heart the best Irish record I heard was Tilt of the Earth, the Barry McCormack record. A word smith, a songsmith, a great balance.
On the larger scale, the M Craft record Blood Moon blew my mind, understated, orchestral soundscapes. A wonderful record, the Nick Cave record was astonishing, emotive, heartfelt, the Radiohead record was as expected, flawless, and just got better every listen, the Johann Johannsson record Orpheé was stunning, Aidan Knight’s album Each Other, Mutual Benefit record Skip a Sinking Stone, a joy, Hiss Golden Messenger Heart – Like a Levee I think is his best work to date, so many great records this year. So many.
Anything that fell short of expectations?
The American Electorate
2016 was a year punctuated by the deaths of significant musical figures (Bowie, Cohen, Lemmy, Prince). Any personal thoughts about this?
Look my thoughts on this are just that we are entering that period of time when all those great artists of “A Generation” are always going to be taken, the void that’s left, the sadness when they’re gone is merely perpetrated further by the absolute void of talent that’s left in the industry. The Music “Business” no longer has the capacity or will, I believe to allow Artists create catalogue like Bowie, Cohen, Prince, the bubble gum machine the industry has become, delivering fast, flavourless product with no depth, no substance, no staying power. The fringes of Art is where real Music will still happen, the days of the legend, I fear it’s over. They’ve all left us their joy, their lives on record, their words on paper, and for that I’m thankful to have been around when it was a tangible thing, future generations may never know it .
Have you come across any books or movies or other art forms that excited you in the last 12 months?
I’m not a real book reader, nor movie buff, I’ve read the all Willy Vlautin books across the year, wonderfully written, shades of Kerouac, really hard to put down, the Elvis Costello book Unfaithful Music has followed me on many bus journeys throughout the year, still working through its chapters step by step. A great read.
Do musical formats (records/CDs/mp3s/streams etc) play a part in your world?
Music plays a monstrous part of my everyday. For 15 years I worked as a Music Buyer for HMV so it’s engrained in the genetics I guess, the avarice, the hunt, the searches, never ending. I’ve virtually stopped buying CDs these days and use Spotify for the digging, the research, and simply for the sheer convenience of mobility and still having it in my pocket, but I do buy what I like on Vinyl, that’s certainly become a thing for me the past 2 years and I tend to shop more from bands’ sites, Bandcamp pages, just for the peace of mind of the middle man actually not getting his cut and the cash going straight to the Art and the artist .
At The End of A Winding Day was a really extraordinary album. Are you planning to follow it up? What’s the latest for Hedge Schools?
Thank you, it mattered to a lot of people, that was something that really resonated with myself and Joe, Donagh and Kevin. It really did, and still does.
I’ve had a nicely bound notebook with me as company for the past year and for the most part the words and the basic structures of chords of a new Hedge Schools record are finished. Joe moved to Nice in France earlier in the year and we did a day’s work in Blessington Street, where we did the last record, just before he moved the studio over, templates really. It only ever becomes a Hedge Schools record when we sit in a room together with a Piano and cups of green tea, until then it’s just words on paper and notes on a fretboard, he brings the magic . We will start recording at the end of January 2017 with a working title of ” Magnificent Birds “. I think I’ve written a lovely batch of tunes. We let the fates take flight after that.