Brief Encounter With … Song Stylist Barb JungrDate: 20 July 2010
Barb Jungr, the UK’s foremost 'song stylist' is heading to the Fringe with her critically acclaimed show The Men I Love, following her sell-out performances at NYC’s Café Carlye and Metropolitans Rooms.
Can you tell us your ideas and inspirations behind The Men I Love?
I was thinking about songwriters whose work has stayed with me consistently and whose songs make magic somehow, and so I made a shortlist; which was quite long, of songs and then worked with Simon Wallace on arranging them carefully, to see if I could bring new or different meanings to them.
All the songs from the Men I Love are written from a male perspective; although many aren’t gender specific, one or two are, and it's impossible to substitute he with she or whatever. How do you approach this issue?
When a song depends on a gendered point of view I leave it as it is, I think it brings so much to the song hearing a male perspective sung through a woman's voice, heart and soul. Now and again, though, I may change something to make sense of a song for myself. But I take a lot of thought on it always.
For The Men I Love you've teamed up again with pianist and composer, Simon Wallace - how involved is Simon in the initial creative process?
Simon is one of the few musicians I trust to understand what I try to do, there are others but it takes so long to build that sense of shared vision. He is really talented, I think, as a pianist and a composer, so he brings understanding of form. He's also done so much work in all kinds of genres, for TV he has done a lot of the French and Saunders’ stuff, and he worked with Clare Teal, and of course writes with Fran Landesman, so he has a real all-round vibe which I like, but his passion is jazz. I like passion in a person!
Performing at NYC's Cafe Carlyle and Metropolitan Rooms must be a great experience. Is there a big difference between a NY and UK audience?
I love playing in other countries, you learn so much! I think on the whole, however, the American audiences are a bit more expressive, in the way the Scottish and Irish audiences are too. If they want to cry, they do, if they want to cheer, they bloody cheer! Having said that, I can't remember when I last came off a stage anywhere and thought "lordi lord they were stinkers!" because, generally speaking, people give so much when they come and listen. But New York has been a blast. I am heading to Australia again after the Festival and next year doing more in Europe which will be wonderful.
The Men I Love will run for a week at the Assembly Rooms. You're a regular performer at the Edinburgh Fringe but this is the first time you've done a week-long run for quite a few years. You must be looking forward to it?
I was at the Festival years ago with Julian Clary a lot actually, and of course with Arnold Brown in the 1980s where we won the Perrier Award; so that was fab, and then I came up a lot and did The Queen's Hall. But I am doing a week again and I am really excited and looking forward to it. Partly because I'm so thrilled about this new collection and want as many people as possible to get a chance to see it, and partly because I'm back at the Assembly Rooms and I've done some fab stuff there over the years.
Also, because I simply love playing night after night, it gets a roll going, and that's fabulous. There's humour in and amongst the songs, so I feel like I'm kind of coming home somehow. I love Edinburgh, too, it’s such a wonderful city and it has a deep place in my heart.
The Men I Love is running at The Supper Room in The Assembly Rooms, 16-22 August at 20:00.
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