Barry Jay Hughes is the kind of singer/songwriter that makes me want to throw on the headphones and tune out the world.
His voice is silky smooth and comfortable in my ears. Every song I hear him sing only makes me want to hear more.
The Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland, native is also easily accessible on social media outlets and enjoys talking to his fans.
It was because of these reasons and more that I felt the need to interview him.
He’s been classically trained on piano at The Royal Irish Academy of Music since he was 5 and he’s been playing guitar since he was 12. His first song was written at 13.
His debut EP “This Way Up” was released on April 10 and features the songs “Judgement Day,” “This Way Up,” “Georgie Boy” and “Falling Moon.” Each track is a different delight, but it was “Falling Moon,” the ballad performed on a grand piano, that immediately spoke to me. It is haunting and magical.
It is from here that my questions for Barry began:
As a start, where did the inspiration for “Falling Moon” come from? Was it easy to write?
The inspiration for “Falling Moon” came from arriving back to my apartment after a late gig. Just imagine a clear night sky and what seemed like a massive moon which was quite low. I’m not sure if it was my tired state, but it almost looked like it was slowly dropping from the sky. That gave me the initial idea for the lyric and the rest came after that.
Did you write it on the piano, or with that specifically in mind?
I wrote the entire song the same night. It seemed to just flow out of me which very rarely happens for me. The piano part and the lyrics came simultaneously and I worked on the entire piece until the early hours. “Falling Moon” was written on piano and predominantly for piano. The recording you hear on the EP was recorded on a 9-ft. grand piano which was a dream to play. I have adapted the song slightly for live gigs so I can play it on guitar.
Do you dedicate time to songwriting or just wait for it to happen?
When it happens, it happens. I can’t force it and I can never plan it – it’s as simple as that. I can have weeks where nothing is happening and then suddenly a line will come to me, a lyric or a melody and then it’s a scramble to get to a piano or guitar or record a rough version onto a voice recorder. There’s an app for everything these days!
Where do you find inspiration for your music?
From everyday life, past relationships, present day struggles. More recently I have started to write a collection of songs based around my travels as a musician. The first in that collection is called “Medieval City,” a song written about Kilkenny.
When did you start singing and playing? What all instruments do you play?
I began playing piano at a very young age – 5, I think – and picked up guitar at the age of 12. I started writing songs shortly after that. Guitar and piano are my main two instruments. I also play whistle and ukulele also, but by no means am I an expert in either.
How long have you had your well-broken in guitar? Is it special to you?
I have it about 12 years now. It gets a lot of use. I have other guitars at home but my Takamine is the one that comes out on the road with me. I love the sound and the action on it. It’s just perfect for my style of playing.
Do you have favorite songs or do you love them all evenly?
I love the song that I am working on at a particular time. But I do love them all. Some of my older songs have been shelved for a while and I may revisit them at a later stage but for now I enjoy playing the songs that I’ve written in the last 3 to 4 years.
Do you only play in Ireland?
I play all round Ireland, From Donegal to Cork and Galway to Dublin and everywhere in between. I thoroughly enjoy traveling around Ireland and in the last year or so I’ve visited parts of Ireland that I have never been to before so at times I almost feel like a musical tourist on an adventure. I’ve played some amazing venues, big stages and the smallest stages you can imagine. And I have enjoyed every gig I’ve played along the way.
Have you ever been to the U.K. or the U.S.? Is that a goal?
I haven’t gigged in either country yet but 2016 is the year for that. Watch this space.
You are getting a band together? How is that coming?
I have a band at the moment and love working with them. It’s quite an unusual mix, cello, bodhran, flute/whistle, fiddle and piano. I feel it’s a mix that suits my songs and really suits where I want to take my sound. The band are amazing and I love working with them, it’s just such a pity I can’t have them with me all the time.
Do you like doing the videos, or do you get camera-shy?
I love the camera! And yes, videos are something I spent a lot of my time on this year. Check out my YouTube channel and have a look for yourselves.
How often do you play live?
I’m usually doing two gigs a week. It’s the part of the business that can be tough at times, it can be very unpredictable. Some weeks are good and some weeks not as good. But I’ve been very luck so far and I’ve been privileged enough to play some really cool gigs this year – I just hope that continues into next year and beyond.
What’s in store for 2016?
I am currently working on some material for a second EP which will be recorded in Dublin in early 2016 and released in late spring. After the launch of that EP I will be embarking on a mini headline tour of Ireland. I am also in the process of confirming some dates for Germany France and possibly the U.S.A.
Follow Barry on Twitter @BarryJMusic on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/barryhughesmusic , on the Web at http://www.breakingtunes.com/barryjayhughes, on Soundcloud at http://www.soundcloud.com/barryhughesmusic, at http://www.barryjayhughes.bandcamp.com, his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkz2dq2Ect3POqpNynKx5VQ or on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/barryhughesmusic.