Jimbo Barry

Jimbo Barry is a songwriter whose work with Irish pop stars The Script has bothered charts across the world. M finds out how he first started writing songs and what keeps him inspired

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 4 Jan 2013
  • min read
Up and coming producer songwriter Jimbo Barry may be a new talent but he has already enjoyed huge international success in his short career. The Irish born multi-instrumentalist has written and produced with the multi-platinum selling Irish group, The Script and helped write global hit Hall of Fame as well as a further two songs on their album #3.

Jimbo has already crammed much into a relatively short time in the business. After learning guitar, drums and piano, he gained a diploma in sound engineering and went onto work alongside a range of established producers including Pete "Boxsta" Martin (Timbaland, Paper Crows) and Andrew Frampton (The Script, Natasha Bedingfield).

In 2011 he co-wrote and produced the solo album of former Blizzards singer Bressie. The album, Colorblind Stereo went to top the charts in Ireland. M caught up with Jimbo to hear how he first started out in music and what keeps him inspired…

I first started writing music because…
I got tired of playing covers in the bands I was in as a kid. They never sounded as good as the originals and at least by playing my own songs, they were the best versions of those around! As I improved on certain instruments, I was also able to take apart songs piece by piece. It was a natural progression to start putting those pieces back together in my own way, with the end result being something original.

I've been making music since…
I was very young, probably since I started school. My dad played piano a lot so there was always music in our house. I was exposed to some great songwriters as a kid like James Taylor, Elton John, The Beatles, Don McClean and Cat Stevens. My dad had all these guys on vinyl. My parents were great at always keeping my interest in music alive with constant extra curricular lessons after class. My mum used to drive me once or twice a week to lessons for piano or guitar or numerous other instruments for years on end. I really settled down once I started to grasp piano properly as it allowed me to understand and translate all the music I was listening to.

You'd like my songs/productions if you listen to…
A wide range of music. I try to work across the full spectrum and not get tied down to any one sound. From hip hop to heavy rock to electro to anything, there should be no boundaries with taste. Variety is essential, especially as a producer - it allows you to constantly grow, change and avoid becoming stale. I guess this comes from listening to such a diverse selection of music growing up, which I'm very grateful for.

My favourite venue is
The Brixton O2 Academy. I recently saw Alexisonfire's farewell gig there and the atmosphere was so intense. It's deceptively big and can hold a lot of people, which seems to enhance the focus towards the stage. The sound was wicked that night, one of the best gigs I've been to. The crowd can get really close to the stage which makes for a really exciting live dynamic between artist and audience.

Music is important to me because
It's been a part of my life for so long. Music is a language that I am lucky enough to have learned when I was very young. I use it to make sense of things around me and it gives me a purpose. I know it's not the same for everyone, as some people don't even listen to music. This really reiterates how lucky I am to be involved in music everyday.

My biggest inspiration is
Everything. I know that sounds vague but it's true. If you look closely enough in your daily life, either on the tube or in the bar or at home, you will see a story. I think songwriters are natural story tellers so it really helps to have an eye for detail. Someone I know once told me ‘There's one great song in everyone’ and I really think that's true. Everyone has a story to tell and if we are lucky we can capture some of the great ones.

My dream collaboration would be
To work on a project with producer Rick Rubin. Ricks way of thinking and making music is so individual it really changed how I look at music. He works hard at keeping things simple and pure, with the focus being on the song. I think it's easy to get caught up in the trappings of production and sometimes that can really hurt the message. I also learned a lot about the purity of song when working recently with The Script on #3. They are especially talented at finding the gold in a song and really focusing on it. I definitely felt like I had been to songwriting school after working with them!

If I wasn't making music I would be
A full time gamer. No doubt about it.

In ten years time I want to be
Lucky enough to have worked on some great albums with some really great people and hopefully not pissed off too many people in the process.