Today, I was honored with the opportunity to interview a local talent, Phil Barnes, a musician that I had recently seen on the “Stripped” Tour which was launched by one of my all-time favorite bands, We the Kings. He has performed alongside some equally talented artists, including but not limited to Austin Mahone, Kelly Clarkson, and Jessie J! He has not only performed hundreds of shows in his time as a musician, but he has also managed to build his success from its very roots while still remaining humbled by his journey to stardom…. er…. more like stagedom.
If you’d like to check him out, navigate to PhilBarnesMusic.com for updates on future concerts, to access his online merch store (the shirts are pretty nifty if I do say so myself!), and much more. Without further ado, here’s our one-on-one interview.
Mandy: “What got you started on music in the first place? Was it a skill you developed from watching someone else, or was it something you pursued on your own?”
Mandy: “At the time, which artists were you looking to for that extra push to move forward in your music career?
Was there a specific genre of music that guided you into the musical direction you’ve found yourself in, or were there several that compiled into your current style?”
Phil: “I’ve gotta tell you, I’m looking to a lot of my friends. Emily Kopp and Wes Harllee are fantastic songwriters and performers who I’m lucky enough to have in my phone book. Mainstream-wise, I look to Ed Sheeran for his grind, John Mayer for his musicality, and a ton of hip-hop acts for phrasing. I think hip-hop acts, along with jazz-cats, have incredible concepts of timing and word placement. I try to bring those elements into my side of the field.”
Mandy: “So your music is essentially a compilation of all of those elements, brought together in a single style. The fact that you’re surrounded by so many talented people must be such an incredible motivator to continue to advance your own musical career, but it can be intimidating at times, I’m sure, to be standing side by side with artists that have been established for many years prior to your own career.
How do you personally maintain your confidence in the ever-changing, growing music industry?”
Phil: “It can definitely be intimidating. But as an artist, you get the immense liberty to be yourself and I think as difficult as it may be, it can be reinforcing to know that you get a stage to be yourself on. That time on stage is my favorite part of the day. And the confidence just grows as you keep on. Being in front of a mic starts to feel like home.”
Mandy: “I commend you for having such a strong presence on stage. That was part of the reason I enjoyed your performance so immensely last night at Culture Room during the “Stripped” Tour. You manage to exhibit your personality in such a genuine way, which is difficult to do, especially if you’re someone like me who finds being on stage to be a daunting experience.
How did you overcome the initial jitters of being on stage?
What was your first experience as a musician in the spotlight like?”
Phil: “Ah, thanks! First experience on stage… wasn’t much of a stage as much as it was the corner of a Starbucks. Haha. But I was as nervous as could be. Shaky-voice, shaky-hands and all. But I got through it and people still wanted to come out to another show. I think what builds confidence is just continually doing something that scares the hell out of you.”
Mandy: “Transitioning from a Starbucks to a venue like the Culture Room is such a massive step up. We all start somewhere though, right? It must’ve been a dream to be able to display your talent in such a large-scale way next to none other than We the Kings.
What has your experience with touring been like?
Do you have a favorite venue that you’ve performed in so far that you’d potentially want to return to?”
Phil: “Exactly! The manager, Patti, at that Starbucks was so kind to let me set up my gear and do that. Touring has been a blast – there’s nothing better than getting to see a new city or hitting a new coffee shop every day and getting to meet new fans so often. If I get a little extra time before I show, I try to visit a restaurant that the folks at the venue are raving about it hit a coffee shop for a bit. There’s a venue up in Nashville called the Listening Room that I always love to play. Great crowd. Great room. Great sound. And I’ve gotta show love for the Culture Room. Such a cool spot and I’ve seen all of my favorite artists there.”
Mandy: “I could imagine that getting to visit new cities is a major plus as a musician, especially getting to meet your fans! It must be so humbling for you.
How would you say touring has affected your personal life away from music? What are the pros and cons of being on the road?”
Phil: “It’s definitely an adjustment being on the road – but I feel very comfortable with it as of right now. I really enjoy being piled up in a van or flying solo in my Ford Focus, as odd as it sounds. Haha. Not so much a con, but sometimes it’s tough to get used to a super, super tight schedule when you travel. Every so often, we’re grabbing two hours of sleep after a gig and driving 12 hours to the next one, straight into load-in and sound check. For the pro-side, my girlfriend goes to the University of Alabama, and since the majority of my touring is currently through the South, on the off-days I’ll shoot over to Tuscaloosa and spend some time with her. That’s definitely a plus.”
Mandy: “Thank you so much, Phil, for taking some time out of your day to answer my questions! I wish you all the best in your future endeavors as a musician and look forward to hearing more music from you in the future! Keep doing what you love, and the opportunities will continue to follow! Thanks again!”
I hope you guys enjoyed my interview with Phil Barnes! If you’d like to know more about this incredible artist (I insist you get on that), go ahead and give him a follow.:
xo Amanda Cramer