An Interview With Joe Barnes of Born In a Barn!

The Isle of Wight is home to many musical talents, and one especially has been pulling in crowds at clubs, bars and festivals all over the south coast of England for the last few years.

I’ve managed to catch these guys a couple of times (a Black Sheep gig and supporting DJ Format) and have also had the good grace to whore them all over my radio show on!

This interview is with Joe Barnes, lead vocalist of one of the Island’s biggest Hip Hop acts – Born In A Barn.

Joe, how did BIAB come into existence?

The Barn was formed because we needed a name for the music we were producing and performing. Seeing that my surname is Barnes and we recorded all of our songs on a farm next to one of the oldest barns in the UK we thought it seemed relevant! Everything from there onwards went a bit rural!

Did you always want to be an MC?

Well not exactly… I loved hip hop from the age of about 10 but I thought rapping was just for Americans! Then came along Mike Skinner (The Streets) and I thought if this guy can do it ‘I CAN TOO’. Around the same time I got put on to some other really good UK hip hop MC’s by DJ ‘Mewtant‘. I still listen to all of those MC’s he put me on too. Since then I haven’t looked back.
How did the Isle of Wight mould you into the MC you are today? Surely there isn’t that big a Hip-hop scene to be found?

You would be surprised how big a scene there is! The Isle of Wight still makes up a massive part of my influence, and at the start it was my only source of inspiration. One of my first songs was called “2 Get Where You’re Going, You Need 2 Know Where You’re from”, and I believe this in every sense. There are so many things I could say about our Island but actions speak louder than words.

Who are the biggest names that you have supported or starred alongside?

When we started out we were lucky enough to become friends with Jeremy ‘Jez’ Court  and Rick ‘Rickus’ Stanbridge  of Happy Feet Productions who booked us and put us up on stage with American acts such as Ugly Duckling, Halfway House Emcees, Giant Panda, Charlie Chase & Prince Whipper Whip and Renowned UK battle MC’s – Stig of the Dump & Dr Syntax. If you know hip hop you will know these artists. Since then we have gone on to star on flyers alongside acts such as Rob Da Bank, Kid British and The Correspondents along with hosting our slot in the come dancing tent every Friday night at the Bestival for 3 years in a row.

Tell me more about the Black Sheep album you have soon to be released.

The Black Sheep was named back in early 2009 because I felt – at the time – like an outcast musically in that our stuff was really unlike most grimey UK Hip Hop MC’s, and also personally because it seemed like people thought I was trying to be something I wasn’t. Now I have come to realise how much people relate with our music and I feel very grateful for all the encouragement from all our fans, old and new, we do it all for you lot!

Also, if anyone out there wants a copy of the promo they can join our mailing list on our website where we send all our subscribers our promo tracks amongst other things.

What are your future ambitions for Born In A Barn?

We are currently working on our first digital release – Rustik Records: Vol.1 – which is being sub-released by Munch Records in Plymouth, going out on all major download sites. If you’ve ever seen us on stage you’ll know we always bring friends along and these friends are all working with us on our new label. We have a reggae project (One Stone) a hip-hop act (Ambush Tactics), Myself (Born Ina Barn) & my partner-in-crime (1Lung). Once this first release goes out we can officially publish our own releases through Munch Records personal publisher. So keep your eyes peeled! It’s only the beginning.

Where do you see BIAB being in 5 years’ time? Further afield than the island and south coast – possibly Europe? Head-lining the Bestival? Your hardcore following are such that I saw a LOT of the crowd when you supported DJ Format singing along with you, and on my radio show you boys are often requested every week. Surely BIAB have the potential to become even bigger?

We’re flattered by the support of local radio, and especially our loyal fans; they’re hardcore and we love it! We do fell we have something to offer all people in all walks of life and I think with the right financial backing we could bring our music to Europe and all the corners of the UK. As for headlining the Bestival… we’re all allowed to dream aren’t we?

Tell me more about your website. I know you’re facebook page is popular (with almost 1000 fans already), but are you on twitter? Do you feel that in todays’ age social networking is important to spread the BIAB word? Or do you rely on people discovering you through word-of-mouth and live performances?

Our website is still under construction at the moment as we’re so busy with performing and putting out our new release, we are on twitter but I don’t use it all that often.  I think social networking is perfect to spread your new songs around and keep people informed on shows, etc, but eye to eye still wins people over a lot more! Most of our successes have been down to word of mouth! Only this year have we started getting real online interest/bookings after performing for 4-5 years.

Now Joe, can you tell us any scandalous/interesting stories about your gigs with/without some of the acts you’ve mentioned above?

I could tell you some scandalous stories! But I’m not going to! *Laughs* we’ll save those for the stage. Over the years we’ve met a whole lot of interesting and semi-famous people. I had quite a funny incident with Suggs from Madness at Camp Bestival last year – normally when meeting your peers you’re quite shy and bashful, but I was half-cut and ended up interrupting him while he was chatting to a mate by saying “Oi, Suggsy!” He wasn’t impressed… but we all still crease up about it now.

Finally, Joe, what would you suggest to any budding hip-hoppers on the Isle of Wight to enable them to get a foothold into the music scene?

Don’t take yourself too seriously; don’t take no for an answer; enjoy your music and work hard at being the best you can be. Most importantly, be yourself.

Thanks Joe. You can catch Born In A Barn at these following confirmed gigs this summer 2011:

15th April, The Black Sheep (I.O.W)
10th May, The Underbelly venue (Hoxton, London)
24th May, Sixty Million Post Cards (Bournemouth)

27th May, Dex fm Live (Ryde)
3rd June, The Black Sheep (I.O.W)
16th July, Legends in the park (I.O.W)
22nd July, The Black Sheep (I.O.W)

23rd July Rhythm tree Festival (I.O.W)
29th July, Camp Bestival, Black Dahlia tent (Dorset)
12th August, Boomtown Fair (special location)
19th August, V-Dub Island (I.O.W)

26th-29th August, Aeon Festival (Exeter)


And finally, MY own personal favourite BIAB track:

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