Photo: Bellamy Brewster
Spencer Barnett may only be 18 but his range of experiences and inspirations are enough for a lifetime and then some. The up-and-coming multi-instrumentalist's succinct catalog exists outside the confines of typical genre conventions but more so in the vein of a variety of moods and textures. From atmospheric beats, entrancing vocals, to an overwhelming sense of honesty, Barnett's work, which has been recorded everywhere from the California desert to the French countryside, is nothing short of infectious.
And today sees Barnett adding to his diverse sonic palette. "Waste My Time" marks the first single since Barnett's debut EP, Reckless, which was released earlier this year. "Waste My Time" arrives as a hypnotic pop-leaning track for anyone who has ever found themselves tired of people who sit around and play mind games. We had the chance to not only provide the first look at the gorgeously-shot "Waste My Time" video below but talk to Barnett about his creative process, the realities of Timothée Chalamet playing him in a movie, and much more.
OTW: To be so young with so many talents and skills and to have penetrated the music industry in the way that you have is absolutely impressive! Where did the desire to be a musician start for you?
Spencer Barnett: Even though no one in my family was involved with music, I listened to a ton of different genres growing up. My love of music ultimately led to me getting my hands on a guitar when I was 8 and I've been obsessed ever since.
OTW: What does the creative process behind your music look like?
Barnett: I think my process is a bit weird. A lot of people will do a one-off session and collaborate with a bunch of different people. For me, I have to limit myself with a deadline to produce a project. If I don’t do that, I overthink it too much and don't create the best music possible. Because of that, I've been working in studios in remote places for a week at a time and whatever I leave the week with becomes an EP. Reckless was written in Joshua Tree, I'm Fine in London, and my third EP (title TBD) was made in France.
OTW: What relationship do art and fashion have with your music?
Barnett: I think all art is interconnected at its core. Art and fashion are both extremely important to me and have seriously influenced my songs. My style is a lot like my music - inspired by the places I’ve been and the people I'm around. And just like my music, it's constantly changing.
OTW: What’s one of the more difficult topics for you to write about in your music?
Barnett: To be honest, most topics are difficult to write about because it's scary to share real feelings with people you've never met. But I've come to realize that most of us have similar problems and all go through a lot of the same experiences so that makes it much easier.
OTW: Walk us through the “Waste My Time” music video. Your music is very storytelling/narrative-like and this storytelling aspect seems to have bled into the music video. What story are you telling?
Barnett: Yes! It was important to me that the "Waste My Time" video told a narrative because the song is a story about playing games. So many people nowadays like to play mind games and although they can be fun from time to time, they generally are the worst and a huge waste of time.
OTW: Where did the inspiration for the video come from?
Barnett: I have always wanted to shoot a video on the east coast because I love the scenery there, and when we decided to do a video for "Waste My Time," I knew it was the perfect place to do it. I had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing people from New York and we went out to Montauk for the weekend and shot the video!
OTW: I understand you travel frequently when creating your music. Where was the location that drew the most inspiration?
Barnett: London was a game-changer for me musically. People in England care more about the quality of the song than the commercial value which makes for the best, most unique music. That trip definitely sculpted my sound into what it is today.
OTW: What location do you hope to travel and work in next?
Barnett: I really want to work in Montana or Wyoming, somewhere in the woods. Now that it's winter, making music in the snow would be so much fun.
OTW: You have a great number of people who truly look up to you and what you’re doing in the industry. Did you expect to become somewhat of an icon?
Barnett: I'm not sure I've quite hit ICON status yet, I'm just trying to keep my head down and make songs that people hopefully love! But I really love music and the fact that I get to do it every day is still crazy to me.
OTW: What is your advice for your listeners and fans who are interested in getting into the music business?
Barnett: Never too early/late to start! And practice makes perfect. If you're music/skills are outstanding, you will always float to the top.
OTW: What actor would play you in a movie about your life?
Barnett: Expectation: Timothy Chalamet, Reality: Miles Teller
OTW: If you had to choose one artist to remake one of your songs from scratch - which artist and song would you choose?
Barnett: A Toro y Moi remix of "How to Get Over You" would be crazy.
OTW: Where is your happy place?
Barnett: On Stage, with friends, in the studio, anywhere with a guitar in my lap
OTW: Who are your Ones to Watch?
Barnett: I've been listening to Reaper, Chiiild, Kyle Lux, Djo, Alexander 23, the list goes on.