What do Jeff Buckley and Joseph William Bernie of Burnz have in common? The love and desire for making music that moves their audiences, easily, and while one has influenced the other's writing and approach towards the same, chances are quite high that both will share common ground once more in terms of entertaining a crowd with the sweet sound of 'So Real'; Jeff has back in the day, Joseph might do so tonight.
In order to find out if the soulful singer/songwriter and frontman of london-based soul-pop outfit Burnz ventures on covering a song originally written by Jeff Buckley on a night that honors the latter's very musicianship, you gotta be one of the few lucky ones who were able to get hold of a ticket, in time, for the 'Grace' tribute event in London this evening. Promoted as well as highly recommended by Massive Arms and with none other than award-winning Gary Lucas, who has co-written 'Grace' and 'Mojo Pin' with Buckley, on the bill (among further great music talents such as Rory Doherty and Scott McFarnon on show), this gig will sure not disappoint anyone attending. But before you rush to get ready for it by putting on 'Grace' and indulging in its staggering musical finery, take a few minutes to learn a bit more about one of the performing artists at Upstairs at the Ritzy tonight (7pm-1am): Burnz.
Let's talk festivals. carpe carmina has interviewed an indie band (writer's note: the long overdue interview with October Drift will be on the blog very soon) earlier this year who happen to have played Glastonbury in 2017 too. Would you say it's some kind of 'I made it'-experience for an indie artist to play a festival so prestigious and well-covered on media such as Glastonbury? And how has your Glastonbury experience been?
It was definitely a huge moment for me, when I was asked by James Barnett to play for Greenpeace. I actually didn't believe him! I said 'F**K off!? You're making my dream come true'. Haha. However rather than a 'made it' feeling, it was more of a real confidence boost towards the belief that I can make this my full time career, if I work hard enough.
What has been your favourite festival moment as a festival-goer and as a festival-performer yet?
Both are at Barn on the Farm festival; 2016 as a punter, playing round the campfire and Gavin James (writer's note: there might be a gig review coming for one of his concerts in october) telling me he loves my voice and song - that guy can SING so it was a huge compliment. And 2017 I opened the first ever intimate Thursday, then met the secret headliner JP Cooper at the end!!
What do you find harder ...
... finding the chords or the lyrics to a song?
Both can be challenging, there are many ways to write a tune of course although I find writing music comes more naturally to me than writing lyrics. I write melodies but not necessarily words more like gibberish that I bend into lyrics. I walk around town and the tube singing into my phone like a weirdo. Haha.
What do you prefer ...
... playing festivals, or intimate gigs, e.g. those for Sofar London?
I love playing at festivals, I thrive talking to the audience because everyone just wants to have a good time, crowd interaction is key and the great thing is it's usually an entirely new audience who have just turned up on the off chance.
Sofar Sounds are so special, the only place comparable is Spiritual Bar in Camden. People listen to your music in both of those scenarios, and that brings out the best in your performance. With Sofar too it's a guaranteed audience, that doesn't exist anywhere, we're very lucky to have played so many. I would say the intimate gigs take it as my favourite at the moment.
... playing solo or with your band?
I love being able to do both, but the band is where my heart is. Making a soundscape with Lucas (lead guitar) and the guys, bouncing off each other's energy is so exciting. You never know what can happen ...
... tweeting about your music (gigs, releases etc.) or about current events in your life and/or in public life?
I enjoy being part of the social conversation, the way Facebook works however can be hard to truly engage with other points of view as it surrounds you with stuff you 'like' and acts an echo chamber. Twitter does allow you a more direct access to seeing other points of view and instant engagement. I've been learning more about twitter recently and starting to love it.
... performing on the same bill as artists you know and like or playing a gig with musicians whose music you don't know?
Both, as musicians we learn from everyone we play with. I always do my best to watch other artists on the bill, you're all sharing something and the whole shows a story so it's good to understand where you need to begin or end. Plus I love watching performers give it there all, it gets you so fired up and I like finding the natural nuances that makes every musician unique, the way they phrase their melodies or move to their rhythm. It's cool 😎
Now let's move on to upcoming gigs. What is your motivation behind participating in a Jeff Buckley tribute event?
The guy was a genius and it's an honour to be asked to be involved by Dave and the 'Massive Arms'-gang.
Do you intend to play a cover of one of his songs on tonight ? Why or why not? And what is THE Jeff Buckley song that had most of an impact on you and your songwriting?
Yes I'm going to attempt 'So Real', whether it goes well or not. Haha, we'll see!
I learnt about the way Jeff constructed his chords at uni, he dropped certain notes out of each of them, creating unconventional tone which is super interesting. With that he helped push our writing, the passion he played with taught us to make every line count.
What is the gig of your Indian Summer Tour you look most forward to?
Wouldn't be right or easy to pick a favourite. Haha. All the shows are with friends and I'm so grateful to them all for having me play with them, crash at their houses and see parts of England I am yet to visit, I love how everyone's got their own bubble with their own scene in each part of the country.
You're gonna perform with Martin Luke Brown (a welcome guest on carpe carmina) on the 20th this month. What do you appreciate most about his music and songwriting? Given you both have a souly, ardent tone in your voice, carpe carmina can easily imagine you covering a song of each other. So what song of his would you like to do a rendition of, what song of yours should he do one of?
Haha, I don't think Martin knows but I have been a secret fan of his for a while. The guy's just writing honest music from inside his huge heart, his knack for a turn of phrase too, just super classy and he reminds me of Bon Iver a lot. We met at Barn on the Farm and 110 above festival this summer where we had some nice hangs. He is one of the most genuine guys I have met in the music world. I asked on the off chance if I could support him, I was surprised he said yes!! Haha, I was like 'Really? Are you sure?' I found out my friend Bjorn's (sick photographer) artist Nick Wilson was supporting too, it's gonna be a banging evening with some great music. Nick's also just dropped a new single everyone should check.
I would love to cover 'Shadow and Light', it's a raw tune that is super soulful and simple. Great chorus. I think Martin would cover a song of mine called 'Weather' quite well, I'd love to hear that on piano. x
When can people expect a record to be released and what can they expect from it? Are there any songs to be featured that haven't been shared online or played live yet?
They can expect a name change from Burnz, they can expect new songs, some old with our first release towards winter.
And to wrap it up, here's a question everyone interviewed is asked: what is it that you appreciate most about carpe carmina (the music showcased on here, the writing style applied, …)?
Thanks for such lovely words and for agreeing to do an interview with carpe carmina. Good luck with your tour (especially with the gig tonight!) and with the EP making. carpe carmina sure can't wait for it to be finished (as it's quite certain it will be souly, heartfelt and invitingly melodious music delicate but catchy at core still).
Reach out & listen to Burnz on ...
.. twitter ...
.. facebook ...
.. their official website ...
.. soundcloud ...