On the Couch with Barb Jungr

Barb Jungr Arts Review On the CouchWho is Barb Jungr?
A singer, songwriter and theatre practitioner, based in London but working around the world. I like yoga and the sea and dancing and smiling faces and the moon rising through the trees, cycling with my nephew and walking.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
More. There’d be more coastal path walking time and there’d be more hours in the day and I’d record three times as many records as I do and work on the piles and piles of songs I have lying round in heaps around my bed and head… I’d be a better piano player, or indeed, a piano player. I’d speak better french…

Who inspires you and why?
Dylan for his clarity of vision and complete fearlessness in moving forward to whatever he wants to do. Almost everyone I work with because they always teach you something. Laurence Hobgood has taught me to be fearless in jazz improvisation and John McDaniel has taught me to be attentive to the composer’s original thoughts before spreading my wings phrasing wise. Julian Clary inspires me as always as a friend and mentor for example, from him I learned never to walk back on a stage after an interval in the same costume… you get the picture – this list is endless. I think the day you stop being inspired is the day they start singing around your hospital bed.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Good question. I always think “not enough”. I am actively involved in the UK housing debate for affordable housing for all, and in the equal rights disability debate and so on. In ecological terms I try to live well and be sustainable and not use too much or take what I don’t need. I try to do something pointlessly good daily and to pay it forward. You got to go for it all. Essentially I believe that we are here to make life better and be better and live better and be kinder and do better. I fail at this on a minute by minute basis, but the aim is there…

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I bloody love the Isle of Skye. How can anyone begin to find a more glorious landscape? I’ve walked up Ben Nevis – I still feel the pain in my legs. Of course its all a bit damp and cold… Scotland, I adore it. I think the west coast of Scotland is heavenly and possible as good as it gets. Then I also love Dartmoor and the South Hams in Devon very much and then last year I fell totally in love with the Isle of Wight. I love Norway and the desert in Arizona and New Mexico. I love Byron Bay and the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are stupendous. I could live in the Blue Mountains. They’re hauntingly lovely.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I take people to Primrose Hill at night to see the London skyline from a height and to see the magnitude of this beautiful city. It’s always a winner. It’s especially good when there are fireworks somewhere as loads of people gather there as they have for hundreds of years.

What are you currently reading?
I am reading about 20 books simultaneously. One is the Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, one is Owen Jones’ book about The Establishment, two are Julian Clary’s children’s books which he gave me, there’s a pile of Japanese detective novels my Japanese sister in law gave me…

What are you currently listening to?
Recently I discovered pianist Les McCann and I love him, and then I heard Eddie Harris so that. I like a lot of new folk in Britain and I’m listening to a lot of classical music and instrumental jazz. I love Laurence Hobgood – with whom I’ve been working – I love his new piano trio album. I’m listening to that a lot.

Happiness is?
Being, not wanting; happiness is breathing and smiling and singing.

What does the future hold for you?
Lots, I hope. I’m in the middle of a bunch of new theatre pieces both for children and adults and I’m writing lyrics and book and so on, for. I have new album ideas and the Beatles collection is coming out and I’m touring with Laurence Hobgood in the USA and the Beatles in the UK and doing the Hard Rain material in Australia. It’s terrific.

Barb Jungr will be presenting Hard Rain – The Songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen at the 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival on 12 & 13 June. For more information, visit: www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au for details.

Barb will also be appearing at the Brisbane Powerhouse (3 June); The Byron Theatre, Byron Bay (4 June); The Basement, Sydney (7 June); The Street Theatre, Canberra (8 June); and Bird’s Basement, Melbourne (15 & 16 June).

Image: Barb Jungr – photo by Steve Ullathorne