Transcription of Interview with Syd from 1967
SYD: Well I'll, I'll say.. for example, painting at an art school. Or
painting, say, in infants school. The initial desire to paint or
initial suc-first successes at painting arised, I think, out of a very
genuine basic, um, drive one way or another. So, an-and because of
family and social set ups are channeled into success or otherwise and,
er, er, through schools and such like and one gets different things.
And I think un-and, course, one comes across teachers and people like
that, teaching and, sort of, instruction and to talk to and there
came, and I feel now that having left art school that there are a lot
of things...um. ..that I could do. A lot of things I see now, a lot of
things went in to me, into my head and thinking that these would,
perhaps, changing and altering things. For instance I made a painting
the other day...and... it's I could I see and hear very clearly, sort
of, different instructions and different criticisms going in to the
picture which were in fact p-um-criticisms that I could relate back to
art schools and teachers and various things that'd come at that time.
So...maybe.. .this would be very valuable, this break. I don't
know..and, er, sort of, to... try painting again after a break of
going in to pop music and going to.. playing this sort of
music....just might work out that, get more, sort of, basic freedom. I
don't know, it's something to d-, just things like shape of the paper
and, er.. seem to be a lot of assumptions taken place.
INTERVIEWER: When you were saying criticisms you had, criti-, your own
criticisms of your work is that what you (??) outside other people?
SYD: Um, criticisms that I, I, I, really, d- yeah..
INTERVIEWER: Of your own criticisms of your own work...
INTERVIEWER: ...that were, sort of, put in to you by teachers and so on.
SYD: They were what I was channeling into my own criticisms, yah, they
were wh-, they were what were governing what I was doing, in to
pai-,er, why it was happening.
INTERVIEWER: Do you ever... get... I don't know... frightened by, I
use this word because it's, it applies to me by, er, the systems that,
I mean this, in a sense, I don't know, could be better worded, this in
a sense, you know, is a system, when, when you're, realise that the
criticisms that you're using... on... have been put in to you, y'know,
sort of, conditioned. But, but when you realise more and more what it
is that controls all the systems that, you know, system upon system,
sort of, working your way through one in to another and another..does
this really...bother you...or even frighten you? The feeling that
you'll never be free, that you'll always be a prisoner? But, maybe you
don't have that feeling?
SYD:......Yeah I do!....
INTERVIEWER: Do you think that you can be free if you can realise, I
mean, get to a point where you realise...you know, more and more and
more systems (??)
SYD: Er yeah. I think, er, m-maybe, maybes...
INTERVIEWER: The realisation's, sort of, freeing you on and that..
SYD: Yeah, well, yes, in slowly in time, ya know, it's-ss, well it
happened with this painting, I mean-er, I finished a picture I got
through... a lot of things...I wanna, it's quite enjoyable, you
know...and the idea is, to, I would like to get hold of that and be
able to assimilate the, um, the system as it comes in, rather than..
um..ss-you know, see it as it goes out.
INTERVIEWER: Yep..... Do you find yourself in patterns and constantly
repeating the same patterns over and over?
INTERVIEWER: What are you.. working on at the moment in... inside
yourself?... Do you know?
SYD: (Pause) Yeah.
INTERVIEWER: Do you care to say?
SYD: Umm, I carn- er, sort of... I can't really say, because it's
obviously taking too much time to think about it. I don't, I,
ss-um.....(pause) It's not really difficult.
INTERVIEWER: Do you ever feel when you see people, or do you often
feel when you see people that you could tell them something about
themselves that they don't already know (??)? Or do you look at people
that way?... I feel you do, that you really sort of observe people...
SYD: Nah I think it's something about... um.. wow, really gets...
pretty... involved... this stage.. I can't.. see... yeah there is a, I
certainly do get a ss-feeling of what people are like and, er... it
really, the really, the, the complication comes out in talking, but
this only comes out at certain times because of a feeling that talking
is, in fact, a much, a far less, er, valuable thing than, er, and it's
almost superfluous, to...wha-... to... to everything else, you know,
to sort of, general, as-s, I don't know, sensing people (??) value of
people...But the same time, it's a contradiction that the wor-, that
words and talking to the people should be difficult in any way. So
one... goes, one is hesitant to say 'No I can't say anything', you
know... An- an I know as well this is something that occurs only at
times, ya know, other times it doesn't.. and it's cool.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah maybe that I think more in terms of words when I, ya
know, see someone and have an impression. I mean like, your impression
of me.. which you must have... on... would you care to tell me? And be
like absolutely honest... Do you have one?
SYD: In words?
INTERVIEWER: (Laughs)... I mean really be honest. And I'm asking this
cos you may have something to give me, I don't know.
INTERVIEWER: Not the general things, I mean whatever, mean what the
main thing that sort of hits you. And I-I'm not asking for a
personality critique, ya know, cos I know enough about myself that I
don't need that.
SYD: Well... (mumbles) there's so many different things, that on
different levels, that I could... say, that of impressions of you, so
I give us, I don't know, I just, maybe the most strange thing is,
um... meeting you, talk, sort of s-saying... eh... very strange to
meet you... Well it tisn't really strange, it's not many people
that...that sort of... one can...wr-interviewe rs and such like, as,
as, and you came in to that class. Erm... sort of, used to, I mean
generally it just sort of say hello and to get to say the questions
and go again... I don't know... very, I don't know (laughs) Wow.
INTERVIEWER: (Laughing) I see you're holding back.
SYD: Yeah, yeah..er.
INTERVIEWER: I mean, I mean I don't c-, you know, it maybe something
that sends me back, I don-, maybe, you know, probably not anything I'm
going to want, want anyone to hear.. and it's sort
SYD: No- (Laughs) Not at all! I, I understand. I think I learn a lot
from you... and er... (stammers) the thing, th-th-that you see,
there's the... I... I'm not, I know I feel from you that in, you not,
really, that I could say anything and do anything and you would st-,
I mean, you are recording it and that's cool and, er... But I could..
and I know that applies to you, to me and you, you know, cos really I
, I, you are, I assure you, you can do anything you want, but... And
in talking, I mean, that includes if... I want to... if I wanted to
say nothing or if I... I want to act in an extr-extraordinary way...
then I feel that that too is justified
INTERVIEWER: You have your relatives?
(cut in tape)
INTERVIEWER: Because, I don't know, ya know maybe in a sense there's
something I could tell you I don't know what it would be. And the same
thing, ya know, I've done this a couple of times, not, not in
interviews.. . but ya know, when I met someone who, you can see in
their eyes this-s, depth, what am I saying... do you have anything
to tell me?
SYD: (deep breath)
(tape cuts off)
Meatball Fulton interviewed Syd Barrett in London back in 1967. Barrett was considered a creative genius. He wrote and/or cowrote 9 of the 11 songs on the Pink Floyd’s first album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” Barrett also came up with the group’s name, “The Pink Floyd.” Here Barrett talks of his painting, and of criticism. As Meatball recalls in his introduction to the interview, “My impression was that he had been taking a lot of LSD trips. In fact, his eyes were so open it was like looking into a tunnel, there were no barriers, I had to stop myself from tumbling down inside him. I think I now know what it’s like to be Alice in Wonderland.” This is a strange interview. Meatball decided to leave it raw and unedited.
Audio of interview available at:
Thanks to Mark Jones for the transcription.