WORDS AND FASHION SOPHIE EMMETT - PHOTOGRAPHY EVA PENTEL
Spencer Barnett is definitely someone we all should know by now! And if you still don't, well, let us be the ones to introduce you to this absolute gem. You might not be familiar with his catchy tunes just yet, but trust us, by the end of 2020 you will know all about this California native who is indeed a star through and through. An alt pop-tastic musician, with a knack for story-telling through lyrics of youthful love and its trials and tribulations. He may only be 19, however, he is humble in his talent, with a self-assured attitude that is rare and sophisticated. Starting his career at the young age of 14, Spencer was guided through by major producers, who helped this young artist move away from covers and into creating and honing in on his unique voice and catchy melodies.
Last year was a big one for Spencer as he released his first EP titled 'Reckless', which was quite the hit and cemented a cult following across the globe. Although he has a carefree and super cool approach, having spoken to him we can see that he is on an endeavour to share his truths through his lyrics, as he saw himself growing up along with his music. He has been fortunate to record in amazing places from Joshua Tree to our very own Abbey Road studios here in London, a place we could conclude has brought a lot of inspiration to him.
As Barnett's music video for 'Reckless' saw him with a lovely lady travelling on the tube and his last trip of seven days saw him in a week-long recording session that led to his breakout hit 'Waste My Time', that features on his new 2nd EP 'I’m Fine' we are left in awe of this young musician who seems to have cast a spell over us.
Spencer's new work is a truthful reflection on that of having a crush and figuring out if they feel the same way as you. A self-prescribed catalyst for his next evolution of sound, the six songs on 'I’m Fine' have a strong sense of prosperity as Spencer continues to cultivate his sound alluringly captivating his audience with similar but mature tones of hazy textures and hypnotic tones. We spoke to Spencer as we sank deep into the things that make him such a captivating character, both through his music and personality.
Sophie Emmett: So Spencer, you've been in London for a few days; right? What have you been up to? Spencer Barnett: I’ve been able to catch up with some of my British friends, check out some shops in Shoreditch, and just walk around and absorb the city. London is such a beautiful place. Oh, and I also went to Printworks for the first time which was such a vibe. I highly recommend it.
S.E: You’ve mentioned that your creative process is unprecedented, as you seem to create organically and often in remote places. I heard you wrote your tracks 'I’m fine' and recent release "Waste My Time" here in London; how did this come about? Was there something in particular in our city, perhaps an observation or an event, that lit the creative ignition? S.B: Having written music only in California, it was such a shift in perspective to make my project in England. I worked with British producers Hoskins and the 23rd. Also, I collaborated with my friend Jackson Lee Morgan on the top line. So, not only did the place affect the music, but the team killed it. I’m a huge fan of the London music scene, so it was great to be able to be a part of it in my own small way.
S.E: You and your team are a close-knit collaborative; correct? How did you find one another? S.B: Yes, we are. I’m so lucky to have such talented friends who I can collaborate with on my projects! Being able to work with people you genuinely really like not only makes the process that much more fun, but I believe it yields the best results.
S.E: You started your career at the young age of 14 doing covers, around this time you were performing and working with Third Eye Blind's singer Stephen Jenkins; what was this like as a young teen and how did this collaboration evolve? S.B: I owe so much to Stephan who has been the most incredibly generous mentor and friend for years now. He saw something in me way before I ever did in myself and has guided me, artistically, throughout the last couple of years. He’s the man.
S.E: What do you think has been the biggest lesson you have learnt over the last few years as you’ve developed your own unique sound? S.B: Patience. I was always in a rush to make music and put it out, but I ultimately realized that as I grow up, so does my music and my confidence in my direction and sound.
S.E: “No one falls in love at 17”; now that you are 18 have you since fallen in love? S.B: Laughs] No comment.
S.E: Your second EP, 'I’m Fine' drops today and we are so excited about this! Tell us more about it. What does it feel like to have finally released it to the world? S.B: Incredible. I am so excited to share these songs after months of perfecting and finishing them! But of course, a little part of me is always nervous when putting out music.
S.E: What would you say were your best 2019 highlight? S.B: 2019 has been the craziest year of my life. So many happy memories, but working at Abbey Road tops the list. Even though I didn’t feel worthy of working in the same room as the Beatles, the energy in the studio was incredible. We ended up doing an acoustic version of my song 17 which you can check out on YouTube somewhere.
Spencer wears suit DANIEL W. FLETCHER; shoes G.H BASS
S.E: That's incredible. Alright, let's do a quick 'Fire Round Five': S.E: Festival you would love to headline at? S.B: Outside Lands! I have been going for years and it has always been a dream of mine to play my own set there.
S.E: Can you share a childhood memory with us? Something people don't know yet. S.B: My friends and I used to go across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin where the highway was extended over the water and we’d walk down the shoulder of the freeway and jump off into the freezing bay. In hindsight–a terrible, terrible idea, but at the moment, it was fun and there were relatively few injuries caused by the jump.
S.E: What did you have for dinner last night? S.B: My all-time favourite food – chicken curry.
S.E: If you could fly anywhere tomorrow; where would you go? S.B: Definitely, Columbia. Never been, but have always wanted to go.
S.E: You're Favourite F-word? S.B: I've got two. Failure and fun!
Spencer wears jumper MAISON KITSUNE; trousers WEEKDAY
Spencer wears full look WEEKDAY
Spencer wears jacket SCOTCH & SODA
Spencer wears jacket SCOTCH & SODA; trousers FRENCH CONNECTION; shoes DR MARTENS
Spencer wears full look FARAH
Spencer wears suit DANIEL W. FLETCHER; shoes G.H BASS
Jacket ALL SAINTS