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 Room 46 @ THE NICE ROOMS presents

"Bark Bark Disco: The Ian Schranz Interview"

Date of Article: 25th July 2017  Updated 12th March 2018

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Ian Schranz is an illustrator and musician. Born on the island of Malta, Ian has been involved in various facets of the music & design world, drawing many album sleeves & making music videos for different bands.  After working with labels such as Rough Trade and Zomba, Ian began ploughing the DIY arena realizing how liberating it can be to have true ownership of his own work.

With Robert Pisani (aka The Suburbanite) Ian  co-founded So Lo-Fi - a small subsection of the alternative music world grouped together under a community and a  label that has no contracts. Ian's band Bark Bark Disco is a major example of this genre.

So Lo-Fi all started when I started making a list of small bars or clubs around Europe that would be good for Bark Bark Disco to play in, and by good I don't just mean in terms of size, but also in terms of musical style and the terms of how cool & relaxed the person running the club was. 

I started sharing this list with other Lo-Fi acts who really appreciated it, and slowly a certain pattern emerged & then (in 2010) I got the idea for So-Lo Fi.

Ian Schranz (2013)

Ian, it's been three and a half years since I last interviewed you for The Nice Rooms. How's things?

Hey Gary!

Everything's been going really well.  

Living life by the sea in the Mediterranean, writing music. :)

OK, now I'm jealous. 

Your name is synonymous with music - just how many bands / projects are you involved with? 

I play in three bands. The Shh, Beangrowers & the So Lo-Fi band Bark Bark Disco.  In The Shh I play bass, Beangrowers the drums and Bark Bark Disco, guitar and sing.

Bark Bark Disco's a fun name related to the fact that a lot of the tracks are fun and dancy :)

The idea to have my own project (Bark Bark Disco) actually dates back to the early years of Beangrowers. I’d come to (Beangrowers') rehearsals and share my ideas for new songs, and Alison (Galea, Beangrowers and The Shh's singer and guitarist) would suss out the ones that weren’t right for the band and tell me I should keep them for a solo project...

With Beangrowers, there’s a certain amount of discipline, a level of professionalism that must be maintained. This project was something where I could work more fluidly, where mistakes were actually part of the process and helped shape the end result.

Ian Schranz (From Times Of Malta 2011)

Beangrowers / "You Are You Are" (2004)

Alison Galea Ian Schranz and Mark Sansone

The last time I interviewed you, I posted this picture of Bark Bark Disco showing you sitting in the middle.

Bark Bark Disco line up as at 2013

The people in this pic. are Antonio and Louise - ex band members. 

Bark Bark Disco is essentially always me.. with revolving members.  But when I have to play solo .. I do that.

Imagine Soft Cell & Daniel Johnston giving birth to a child.

Bark Bark Disco is a Low-Fi pop band.

The songs of Bark Bark Disco have a raw and low-fi immediacy with catchiness befitting a Broadway musical.

Tom Robinson

I believe Bark Bark Disco's latest single "Honey I Love You Now"has already been touted as the next Maltese Summer Anthem? 

It's been played on the radio non stop and will have a US release in October 2017.

Bark Bark Disco / "Honey I Love You Now." (2017)

Extra keys by Yasmin Kuymizakis (Yews) 

Backing Vocals by Daniel Abdilla (Clandestines) and Iz-Zizza (Brodu)

Tell me about the cameos in the song's official video. 

The cameos consisted of Malta's finest alternative musicians, from Mario Vella from the band Brikkuni, to Daniel from The Clandestines to Zizza from Brodu.

There's loads of other bands featured who were kind enough to lend me some time to dance in the video.  Other people were beautiful coincidences of friends from bands who happened to be accidentally walking by and we grabbed them into the video. 

There's also my 2 nieces dancing :)

So what's the story behind Honey I Love You Now?

I wrote it for a colleague of mine.. who's always in a hurry to get laid.
I was joking with him, telling him he needs to take his time.... so the chorus "Honey I love you now, not tonight" is poking fun at his sexual impatience. :)

I take it he knows it's about him? :)

Yeah I told him :)

What was his reaction?

He loved it... the first song dedicated to him :) 

Does an October USA release for Honey.. mean that you and the band will be flying over to USA?

Yes. Playing a few shows in the USA: Chicago, L.A. and New York. (March 2018 Update: Tour has been confirmed)

March (2018) is set to be a busy month for the Maltese trio Bark Bark Disco, who will embark on a US tour promoting their fun DIY sounds around the states. Nine separate performances have been announced, ranging from California and Illinois to Wisconsin and Iowa. It's not the first time that the low-fi band ventured outside of the Mediterranean, but they've been regularly sharing photos of them excitedly getting ready for the upcoming tour.

David Grech Urpani / Lovin' Malta

Bark Bark Disco (2018) courtesy of Lovin' Malta

Moving on to the new Bark Bark Disco album: When exactly is Holy Smokes being released?

It will be released end September. And it will be on CD and vinyl.   (March 2018 Update: Holy Smokes was released 26th September 2018)

Bark Bark Disco's new album "Holy Smokes" released to coincide with the US tour.

1: Honey I Love You Now

2: Never Let You Down

3: Let's Do This

4: Song For The Lovers

5: Stop Making My Life Hell

6: Big Love

7: Place In My Heart

8: No Reason To Keep Hate In Your Heart

9: She's The One

10: Maybe Baby

11: Back To Me Alone

You mentioned earlier that you play  guitar, keys, bass and drums and provide vocals. Does anyone else contribute on Holy Smokes?

On Holy Smokes, I'll have quite a list of people.  Mainly guest vocals and some guest keyboards.  I'd say there'll be around 5 guests including Yasmin Kuymizakis from Yews, Alison Galea from Beangrowers and Rebecca Theuma  and Katryna Storace from Stolen Creep. 

I'm recording it in Malta. Maybe a track in Rome. 

Will the track Never Let You Down be on the album?

Yes, Never Let You Down will be there.

Bark Bark Disco / "Never Let You Down" Unofficial Video  (2016)

Backing Vocals by  Rebecca Theuma

March 2018 update:..and the official video for "Never Let You Down" has been released.

I think it's about time for the "What music are you listening to at the moment?" question...What music are you listening to at the moment?

Mac Demarco.


Regarding So Lo-Fi music .. Lunatics on Pogosticks are really getting their name out there !!

Cue a Lunatics on Pogosticks track...

Lunatics On Pogosticks / "Less Than Sober" (2014)

know Beangrowers have  had success in Germany and New Zealand but want to know why Bark Bark Disco, The Shh and Beangrowers  haven't had more success in UK?

The Shh got a solid release in Japan & Austria and was used in a Roxy advert and a USA film and are releasing a new single soon. Hopefully next month. (August 2017)

Beangrowers.. who knows..? We did a lot of stuff that was released everywhere.. on great movies.. we did 4 albums going on our 5th next month :)

Bark Bark Disco... slowly getting there... :)

The Shh / "Summer" From The Roxy Advert "Fall Inspirations" (2015)

That's great news about The Shh and Beangrowers' 5th album! :)

For anyone going to Malta for the first time on holiday, where are the best music venues where they can catch you  and / or other Maltese So Lo-Fi bands?

The best venues are the Hole in the Wall in Sliema, Zion in Marsaskala and Funky Monkey in Gzira.

I take it the So Lo-Fi Community and scene is as strong as ever in Malta?

I'd like to think it is. :)

Thanks Ian and good luck with Bark Bark Disco's USA Tour!

My grateful thanks to Ian Schranz for the interview.  gR

All drawings of Ian Schranz by Ian Schranz.

Bark Bark Disco: Facebook Page