A dream-pop song all about insomnia, the new solo track from the It’s Jo & Danny and Green Man festival founder is one filled with paradoxes and peculiarities.
Written during the heatwave of last summer, “Floating Through” completes a trilogy of new releases from Bartlett, including “I Don’t Want To Hear Any More Music” and “I Waited A Year”; all of which were driven and inspired-by a bout of sleep deprivation. As Jo explains:
“My insomnia is something I wear like a badge of honour now. It started when Danny and I were starting the Green Man Festival – in those days it was along the lines of, sitting bolt upright at 4am going ‘Have we got enough toilets?!’. These days, it just comes along and pays me a visit seemingly for no apparent reason every now and again. Like an old friend who gets on your nerves a bit but you know them well and take an odd solace in their company… The lyrics for “Floating Through” were inspired when I asked someone I work with if they noticed I hadn’t been sleeping. She replied ‘Some days it did look like you weren’t all there.’”
While “Floating Through” was the first of these three new songs to be written, Jo returned to it in 2023 with a revitalised perspective and big ideas for how to finish it. Reworking the original demo from her laptop, she added new microphones, synths and guitars to transform it into the complex, multi-layered single it is now.
From the sleepy basslines and twitchy nocturnal synths of its beginnings, Bartlett builds-up a kaleidoscopic track with inception-like arrangements. There’s subtle shifts through dream-pop to indie to disco to soul. Momentary bursts of glittering electronics, calypso percussives, or funk-spoked guitars. Echoes of Warpaint to George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby” come and then go, like a radio has been left on in the waking world. As snapshots of sound and genre drift subconsciously in and out, “Floating Through” creates a unique listening experience that will evoke that feeling of passing from dream-to-dream and the wonderment of how it all happened.
Artist, producer, festival organiser, promoter, plugger and more; Jo Bartlett has worn many hats during her long and winding career in music. Initially inspired by the classic C86 Cassette, Jo cut her musical chops in a string of indie-pop bands throughout the 80s and 90s. Beginning as a teenage dreamer in The Essential Extras and The Service, Jo would soon find her first taste of success in established acts Go! Service and Bluetrain, both of whom released 12”s on Dan Treacey’s Dreamworld Records. Forming It’s Jo & Danny in 1999 with her long time partner Danny Hagan, the pair would release their debut album ‘Lank Haired Girl To Bearded Boy’ to rave reviews, with Q Magazine praising it as “unexpected and exciting” (⅘) and The Face comparing it to “Spiritualized fronted by Carole King”.
Before finding success with It’s Jo & Danny, the pair had worked as pluggers for Surrey’s infamous music haunt The Buzz Club (booking The Stone Roses, Blur, Suede and many more) and also as employees of the renowned indie labels Ultimate Records and Cherry Red respectively. Deciding to utilise their knowledge of the inner workings of the industry, Jo and Danny moved to Wales in 2003 to found the now legendary Green Man Festival; watching it grow from a 500 person grassroots event to 15,000 capacity major UK festival under their tenure. In more recent times, Jo co-founded The Yellow Moon Band (earning praise from Liam Gallagher and touring the world in the process) as well as her own label Indie Through The Looking Glass, by which she is now releasing her own solo material.
Whereas traditionally Jo has always created songs with Danny Hagan (with the latter taking the lead on the lyricism), her trio of 2023 recordings mark the first genuinely solo music of her career. As Jo says:
“These are the first real songs I have written the lyrics to since I was 17 and my debut single by my band Go! Service, ‘It Makes Me Realise’ was released on Dan Treacy’s (The Television Personalities) Dreamworld Records in 1985. I honestly think I have at last found my voice! I’m so loving writing and recording everything myself. I played all the instruments and recorded and mixed the songs. I haven’t yet played them to Danny as it feels too personal. He has heard me blasting them through the house in my studio / living room plenty of times though!”
New single “Floating Through” swiftly follows the previously released “I Don’t Want To Hear Any More Music” and “I Waited A Year”, with her solo work to date receiving praise and plays from BBC 6 Music, Radio X, BBC London, Louder Than War, and many more.
Currently writing songs for her upcoming debut solo album (planned for release in early 2024), standby for more news and music soon. In the meantime, Jo Bartlett has announced what will be her debut solo live show at The Cabin in Camberley on 24 May. Teasing what to expect, Jo says:
“It’s the first time I’ll be playing these recordings live. I’ll play bass and sing on a few, guitar on the others. I’ll have the beats and synths playing from my laptop. I have a loop pedal but have never worked out how to use it. I might now.”
JO BARTLETT – LIVE DATES
Weds 24 May – CAMBERLEY (SURREY) The Cabin – Free entry