INTERVIEW: Bay Bryan –
Hi Bay, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hi there! Thank you for having me! I have been doing pretty well thanks —it’s a crazy time in the world so I’ve just been trying to make love and art.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Sweet Joan”?
Absolutely. Sweet Joan is very near and dear to my heart. I wrote it over 6 years ago and have played it live many many times, always with people coming up and asking where’s the recording! So, years later, with this amazing production featuring the incredible talents of my friends, I am very proud to finally be sharing Sweet Joan with the human web, world wide.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Every year I go to a cabin in the middle of the woods of Colorado with my family. Our friend built it with his bare hands —and it’s this incredible escape away from cell service and wifi, nested in the middle of a mountain meadow surrounded by pine trees. Whenever I’m there I always pick up the guitar, and sometimes a song emerges. For whatever reason, that year, Sweet Joan was the one.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
I’m so glad you have asked this question! I am currently in the process of applying for funding to film a music video for this song. I have an ambitious vision for it that can only be done with the help of quality crew and top-tier talent so stay tuned! I look forward to sharing that when we’ve made it happen.
The single comes off your new album The Meadow – what’s the story behind the title?
The Meadow is a setting/fantasy that has haunted me for a long time. Like a groundhog day daydream rich with the golden sun rays of a waning summer. It’s a safe place that feels warm and comfortable and yet there’s a feeling of knowing that the world beyond this meadow is calling you away —the album is about the bitter/sweet process of letting go of the old and stepping into the new.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was incredible to be honest. I had a friend say to me, “make this a communal garden and invite people in to bring their own magic to it…” And I feel like that’s what happened. By recommendation I ended up working with sound engineer Seadna McPhail of Airtight Studios in Manchester. He was a solid fixture throughout the process and amazing to work with. Then the musicians on this album —I can’t believe the luck I had to have some of the best that Manchester has to offer —top session musicians as well as musicians within the BBC Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestras. As far as the writing of the songs, they were all written at different times within the last 7 years; And it’s either an incredibly laboured and intensive process or it happens in one sitting just like that (the latter is very unusual).
What made you want to approach this record as a conceptual album?
It just sort of happened really. I had these songs that I had written previously, and I had songs that I was working on. And I realised that they were all connected by this idea of the meadow either directly or indirectly. So it just became a matter of bringing it all together to hopefully offer something that is coherent, meaningful and cathartic.
How has Donovan and Laura Marling influenced your writing?
Donovan is an artist that I was not too familiar with —but when a few people mentioned that I reminded them of him and that age of songwriting I was of course flattered. Laura Marling is someone I came across not long after she released her first album. A video of her performing her song Ghosts live is what first drew me in —I think it’s her overall mood that I resonate with and am surely influenced by at times. I also really appreciate how her music is produced —her work with Ethan Johns is just incredible —I hope to work with both of them some day.
What role does Manchester play in your music?
It’s the supportive singer-songwriter scene that centres around The Whiskey Jar Open Mic in the northern quarter, run expertly by the legend that is Joe McAdams. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be here in this city. I felt supported, seen and celebrated —and I still do.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I don’t know if this is how it will always be, but often in the past I would sit down to write when I was struggling with a feeling or a situation. Many of my songs follow a journey of getting from one troubled headspace (or heartspace), and into a more grounded at-peace one. Many of these songs are about escapism, about wanting to be free whilst feeling stuck, and about knowing that I’m the one who’s standing in my own way —and that it’s time to move on.
What else is happening next in Bay Bryan’s world?
I’m looking to gig more with the musicians that I vibe with —and to keep discovering my live sound as well as the experience that I want to bring to people. I’ll be releasing more tracks from the album and of course the album itself when the time is right. I’m also excited to continue to meet and to get to know the gorgeous creatures that resonate with my music!