Interview with the deli's Artist of the Month: Baby Barnyard
- by Chrissy Prisco
deli: How did Baby Barnyard start?
Baby Barnyard (Amanda Freeman): I started this project almost exactly a year ago (it's a solo project) and I guess I really started it out of a sense of frustration with the music projects I was working with at the time. I played the flute for several years with two different bands (Trials and Tribulations and World's Greatest Dad) and while I loved playing with both bands, they weren't really creative outlets for me because I had very little involvement in the songwriting process, so I started writing songs on my own. I think I just needed the space and privacy to prove to myself that I could actually do it. .
deli: Where did the band name come from?
BB: I'd like to say there's some deep esoteric meaning behind the name, but it's actually the name of the petting zoo at the Tri-County Fair that happens in Northampton once a year, which also happens to be my favorite petting zoo.
deli: What are your biggest musical influences?
BB: This is a really hard question for me. I know the bands that I've listened to in the past that actually sound like they're influences on my music (Portishead, Mazzy Star, Galaxy 500, Luna, etc.), but it makes a lot more sense to me to say my influences are the bands that I've listened to my whole life that are still in heavy rotation. The records that spend the most time on my record player are Creedence Clearwater Revival, Donovan, Fleetwood Mac,The Beach Boys, CSN&Y, early Pink Floyd, Genesis, and The Cars. When I listen to my own music I don't really hear a lot of these bands in what I'm doing, but I think these are the bands that have influenced me the most, musically.
deli: What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?
BB: I've already mentioned a lot of the bands that I listen to regularly, but as far as new stuff is concerned, I've been listening to The Vliets, Trouble Books, Tundra Toddler, Sore Eros, and I've also been on an ESG kick lately (I know they're not new but I actually had never heard them until about a year ago).
deli: What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?
BB: The first concert I ever attended was Bush, The Goo-Goo Dolls, and No Doubt (Please don't judge, I was 13). The first album I ever owned was Thriller, but my parents bought that for me. The first album I ever spent my hard-earned allowance money on was Cypress Hill's Black Sunday.
deli: What do you love about Boston's music scene?
BB: I don't know a lot about the Boston music scene, living way out here in Western Mass., so I'll talk about the Northampton music scene. We have a lot of great musicians living in the area and a lot of collaboration and meshing between the different “subsets” you normally see in a local music scene. You might meet someone who plays with a noise project, a metal band, and an indie pop band and I think it's really neat to see that kind of overlap -- it's something I haven't experienced a lot of in other music scenes.
deli: What would you like to see change in the local music scene?
BB: We have a ton of really great bands in Northampton that have been around for years, but there are also a lot of really great newer bands that sometimes get overlooked and I think it would be sweet to see these new musicians be more motivated to put themselves out there and also getting more support by the local “big wigs” in our music scene. For example, our local independent newspaper has a "battle of the bands" every year where people nominate and vote online for their favorite bands in about 20 different genres. The results from this year's contest just came out and there were a lot of bands that were nominated and/or won the contest in their genres for two, three, or even more years and while I think that's great for the individual bands and artists, I also think it indicates a little stagnation in our scene.
deli: What are your plans for the upcoming year?
BB: Right now, I'm recording an album which will hopefully come out in one form or another some time early next year. I also plan on doing some “mini-tours” in the next few months and hopefully a bigger tour next summer.
deli: What was your most memorable live show?
BB: I guess it would have to be my first show this past January at The Happy Valley Showdown. I had never played guitar or sang in front of a large group of strangers before and there were probably 100+ people there so I was pretty nervous. That kind of nausea tends to be pretty memorable! Afterward, though, I got a lot of positive feedback that really helped encourage me to continue.
deli: Is there someone who has helped your band grow through support?
BB: Ryan Crowley and Steve Yarbro, former band mates from WGD and two of my best buds, have been incredibly supportive -- they help me out sometimes when I'm stuck on a new song and challenge me to become a better musician in general. My best friend Dani O'Brien is amazing and is the person who put the idea in my head to take a year off of my teaching career so I could spend most of my time focusing on Baby Barnyard and taking myself more seriously as a musician. And also all of the guys in Sore Eros are really supportive and helpful in a multitude of ways.
deli: Is there a piece of equipment you couldn't live without and why?
BB: My Holy Grail reverb pedal because I'm really picky about how the reverb on my vocals sound live.
deli: Why do you read The Deli?
BB: I really want to support the local music scene and I'm a really big fan of the lo-fi DIY sound that you hear with bands that are just starting out and you guys do a really good job of putting those bands out there. It's also a great way to find bands to network with in the area.