My guest on this episode is the acclaimed jazz and cabaret singer, Barb Jungr. Those labels don’t begin to capture the myriad of musical styles and personal style that infuse her work as a songwriter and performer. In recent years Barb has been recognised for her unique interpretations of songs by writers such as Jacques Brel, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, but in this conversation we also dig into her own history as a songwriter and as an artist.
[With Barb in London and me in Melbourne, we encountered a technical snafu with the way I originally planned to record this interview. My back up plan resulted in a recording where the audio quality isn’t as good as this conversation deserves. I do hope you’ll be able to put that aside in order to enjoy Barb’s stories and insights. They’re well worth the effort.]
Getting to know Barb and spend some time working with her transformed the way I think about arranging and performing music. She and her work have had a tremendous influence on me and so I’m really thrilled to share with you this episode of Studio Time with Barb Jungr.
In this episode we discuss:
- Barb’s introduction to music via the family radio
- The story of her parents moving to Britain after WW2 to build new lives
- The course she studied as an undergraduate - it certainly wasn’t music!
- How jazz and cabaret might be considered musical “approaches” rather than musical genres
- “I think where the edge is, is where things are interesting...and where you can think and where you can fly or jump off.”
- Nicolas Roeg - film director
- Cal McCrystal - theatre and film director
- Bill Hicks - comedian
- What Barb learned from sharing stages with comedians such as Alexi Sayles and Julian Clary
- Being invited by the British Arts Council to tour to the Sudan, Malawi, Cameroon and the Yemen
- On touring to different countries: “Oh God. It just takes the ceiling off your house! You see the world differently.”
- “I think all discoveries are really just about yourself... People go to Antarctica to find themselves... All quests are the same... We’re all basically just coming to terms with ourselves.”
- Why the term ‘solo artist’ can be a misnomer
- “The thing about your ‘own thing’, is that it isn’t just your own thing. I’m always working with musicians... It’s not like I’m standing there on my own on a stage.”
- When it comes to other songwriters there are many women whose songs Barb loves to listen to and sing, but she hasn’t chosen to record a ‘massive body’ of any of their work the way she has with men such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Jacques Brel.
- “In a moth-like, flame-like way, I’m drawn to disturbed laser-like ways of looking at the world.”
- On what fans enjoy about her work: “There’s something in the flavour of what any of us do that other people relate to.”