Behind the scenes, David Barratt always has his hands full. He has written songs for Robert Plant and Jeffrey Osborne, among others; he creates music for a variety of advertising campaigns, from Revlon to Hawaiian Punch; he has remixed songs for David Bowie and many others; he has worked on films, notably “Sister Act” and “Forces of Nature.”
When he’s not wearing those many hats, he’s assuming his alter ego, Yellow Note, an emerging figure in drum ‘n’ bass circles.
Barratt’s second full-length album, “Yellow Note vs. The Daleks,” was released Oct. 5 on Liquid Sky Music. A witty mixture of genres, from hip-hop to electronica, the album is essentially a pop record that’s unafraid to touch on all the bases. Barrett, a native of Britain, attributes the album’s broad-based appeal to the many sounds permeating from his new home, New York.
“One of the nice things about living in New York,” Barratt said recently, “is that you’re exposed to so many things at ground zero, like tons of Latin music, and it’s impossible to live in New York without being aware of hip-hop and all its manifestations. There’s lots of dance music that cross-pollinates here. I’m not influenced by any particular records or artists, it’s the overall mix of genres that I find exciting.”
Barratt says his Yellow Note work keeps his creative juices flowing, which ultimately benefits his other projects.
“They all feed me in different ways, obviously,” he said. “Working in advertising generates more income than doing a record for Liquid Sky. However, working with Liquid Sky is incredibly rewarding. It’s great to do something experimental in the long form.
“If you’re working on advertising or film, you’re pretty down low on the food chain. Things get changed without your consent, which is fair enough, but you have to get used to it. But working with Liquid Sky is pretty simple; I’ve got to deliver a piece of work that’s timed to fit on a CD or vinyl, but that’s basically the only constraints they put on me.”
His advertising work even creeps onto the Yellow Note album.
“There’s germs of ideas were some advertising things that got dumped, for whatever reason,” Barratt said. “The nice thing about having my own recording studio is that pretty much any day I can come in and knock down a few ideas and sometimes they end up used in my things or something else. If I’m doing a remix for someone, I might approach it from three different angles and deliver one but the other two may work in another context. There’s always a stockpile of stuff.”
It especially came in handy for “Yellow Note vs. The Daleks.”
“The main difference between this and the other project (‘We’re Not the Beatles’),” Barratt said, “was that the first album was just a CD; this one’s vinyl and CD, and I wanted very deliberately to make the CD and the vinyl very different from each other, because they have different uses.
“The CD you tend to use in the car or at home, for a particular environment, and you tend to leave it on for the whole 60 minutes, at least I hope so, so I was concerned with making it a complete piece of work. It flowed at different tempos with different atmospheres but holding together as a cohesive work.
“The vinyl, on the other hand, was never going to be listened to that way. It’ll probably used to DJ with, so the tracks are stripped down a lot more; I deliberately made them more club-friendly. That’s an interesting process of going through that, using the same piece of music in two different ways. It’s very challenging.”
BWF (before we forget): The Yellow Note album discography – “We Are Not the Beatles” (Jungle Sky, 1998); “Yellow Note vs. The Daleks” (1999); “We Love Everybody” (immergent, 2003).
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