London-dwelling rapper Barny Fletcher has proven abilities behind the mic and the video camera alike, and he’s gotten to demonstrate both of them with the recent release of ‘JETPACK.’
Stream: ‘JETPACK’ – Barny Fletcher
The apple doesn’t fall from the tree, as they say.
But the bird’s gotta leave the nest some day, as they also say.
Barny Fletcher exemplifies both of those expressions quite well. He grew up in the county of Somerset in southwest England, to two creative parents who were highly devoted to both photography and videography. Fletcher is currently living over 100 miles east of his folks, over in the heart of London, but he’s maintained their passed-along passion for visual imagery all the while, especially as a complement to his greatest love of all: hip-hop music.
Fletcher has been rapping for a good number of years and released a pair of debut mixtapes, BOZO and CANVAS2033, both in 2019. Much of his subsequent material came to fruition during lockdown when, like many other artists, the young emcee had to find ways to be resourceful throughout the limitations of the moment.
“During COVID, studio sessions weren’t really possible, so I found myself writing to beats from the Internet, just how I used to when I first started writing,” he has said. “The process was refreshing, actually. I’ve worked with Platinum producers and Grammy winners, but nothing compares to writing a hot song to a beat which has been hiding in a corner of the infinite labyrinth which is the Internet.”
Much of that youthful free-spiritedness is channeled into Fletcher’s latest record, JETPACK, which emerged this past October.
Before the first of the ten new tracks, “Die Another Day,” is through, it’s clear that Fletcher has plenty of hunger (“I don’t got shit to lose, I got shit to prove,” he raps), as well as the emcee skills to match (there are several passages of impressively nimble speed-rapping here). These positive qualities are maintained across the rest of the mixtape; combined with a series of melodic, R&B-tinged beats and some singing-slash-rapping, it makes for a highly enjoyable listen.
In addition to the new tunes, JETPACK comes with a good number of music videos which— and this is where the parental influence clearly comes in— Fletcher largely filmed and directed himself in various spots across his hometown of London. He was also fortunate enough to score a spot on BBC 1xtra x BBC Introducing, a Tiny Desks-style program that allows young artists to gain some extra limelight via the famed broadcasting service.
Atwood Magazine spoke to Barny Fletcher shortly after the release of JETPACK and heard more about how he managed to steer his mixtape trilogy towards a successful conclusion.
Stream: “90’s Baby” – Barny Fletcher
A CONVERSATION WITH BARNY FLETCHER
Barny Fletcher: I really didn’t listen to any UK rap growing up. It never resonated with me, to be honest. I’m a melody guy, a fashion guy. US artists just did it better. That being said, there I was, stuck in the countryside surrounded by fields and potholes, so my only proper connection to US hip-hop was via the internet. Odd Future wore cool shit and had weird songs, and I loved that. I think I watched the “Oldie” video, like, 20 times. Early Kanye stuff was always on repeat. Pharrell. Mick Jenkins’ The Waters mixtape. The US stuff just had more colour to it.
In 2019, you got things going by putting out two mixtapes (BOZO and CANVAS2033). What sort of introduction did you want to make to your audience with these two early projects?
Barny Fletcher: Those tapes both contain a lot of energy. In 2019, I was brand new in the music world. As far as the industry was concerned, pre-2019, Barny Fletcher didn’t exist, so it was my intention to step into the game with something that felt exciting.
It seems like you have had a lot of creative inspiration from both of your parents. In what ways have they been most influential on your own craft?
Barny Fletcher: My mum was a videographer and editor. My dad is a photographer. I guess that’s why strong visuals are so important to me. They inspire and dictate a lot of what I do. I wrote “Breakfast At Isabel’s” because when I heard the beat, I instantly envisioned how the music video should look. Even in the writing process of a song, all the voices, skits and ad-libs that I add are characters. I can see what they look like. It’s not something I acknowledge whilst doing it; it’s joist part of the songwriting process. But yeah. I think that’s probably my parents influence on my craft.
Is JETPACK a thematic extension of your pair of mixtapes from three years ago? Conversely, are there any key ways in which it's taking your musical ambitions in new directions?
Barny Fletcher: With all these mixtapes, I’m really just putting out songs I love. They’re not conceptual albums with a big message or deep underlying meaning. There’s freedom to it— some fun. When I wrote JETPACK, it was the tail end of COVID, which meant I didn’t have access to studios, producers or engineers. It was just me, my laptop and a “YouTube to MP3” converter app. I’m super proud of the tape. It’s the last of the mixtape “trilogy.”
You give Drake a lyrical shout-out in your song ''Weakness.'' Is he one of your main creative influences? What other artists would make your list?
Barny Fletcher: I’m a longtime Drake fan, but I wouldn’t say he’s a main influence. I admire his ability to remain relevant. Every move is executed with clinical precision. He’s consistent with the hits. He co-signs the right people. His career is like a military operation. That’s why he’s one of the biggest artists of our generation. But no, not a main influence. The earliest artists I remember listening to that influence me to this day would be The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Bonzo Dog Band. Melodies, Storytelling, Creativity. Aside from that, my influences are ever growing and changing as I meet new people, hear new music, and see new places.
It looks like you grew up in the countryside of Somerset and now are based in London. Has the combination of urban and agricultural experience influenced your creative identity in any key ways?
Barny Fletcher: Damn. That’s a great question. Hmm. No. No key ways.
Barny Fletcher: Haha yeah I just love shooting in London really. It’s a beautiful city and the perfect backdrop for my music. I also like reminding people where I’m from. My music doesn’t sound quintessentially British. I’ve had people think if I’m from Canada, Australia, America, New Zealand, etc etc. Nope. London, baby.
Anything you'd like to add?
Barny Fletcher: JETPACK is out now. You can’t just read this far through the interview and not listen to it. In 3-5 years, I’ll be a platinum-selling artist, so get onboard now so you can brag to your friends later down the line.
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📸 © Darren Filkins
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