Jason Barnard, a former punk musician turned blue cartoon dog voice actor, shares his inspiring journey of reinventing himself as a musician in Paris, creating content for children, and becoming an expert on Google in his 40s.
Jason's story is a testament to the power of persistence, learning from mistakes, and trusting your instincts.
Today we have a guest who has a truly fascinating story to share. Joining me on the show today is Jason Barnard, a multifaceted personality known for his diverse experiences ranging from being a punk band member to playing the role of a blue cartoon dog.
In this episode, we dive into the tales of Jason's life experiences that have helped shape his unique perspective on the world. We discuss his journey of discovering his passion for music and how he turned his love for the art into a successful career as a musician.
Jason also shares with us some intimate moments of his traumatic experience and how he overcame it with the aid of his double bass. We discuss the influence of music on a person's identity and how it plays a role in shaping an individual's persona.
He then talks about his phenomenal success in podcasting and making music and the challenges he faced throughout his journey. We talk in detail about the importance of teamwork and perseverance in achieving one's dreams.
Later on, we dive into our mutual interest in creating content for children and how important it is to trust your instincts over expensive tests. Jason also describes to us a heartwarming moment of kindness he experienced during a drunken night that left him abandoned and alone.
In this episode, Jason Barnard dives deep into his life experiences to share with us some truly inspiring stories. We discuss everything from navigating the challenges of living on a tropical island to the complexities of managing your personal brand on Google.
So join me and Jason as we explore the powerful stories that shape our lives in this episode of Between The Before & After Podcast. And don't forget to hit that subscribe button to catch more uplifting stories and inspiring guests on this podcast.
00:00:00 The Fascinating Life Of A Blue Cartoon Dog Actor And Island Dweller
00:01:15 A Complimentary Wrestling Introduction And A Proposal For A Podcast Introduction
00:06:57 Childhood Dreams And Regional Accents In The Uk
00:11:18 The Influence Of Music On A Person's Identity And The Question Of Nature Vs. Nurture
00:14:57 From Trauma To Music: How A Terrifying Experience Led To Becoming A Double Bass Player
00:18:19 Abandoned And Alone, A Drunken Night Ends In Kindness
00:22:02 Man Searches For Woman Who Saved His Life 35 Years Ago
00:27:05 A Multicultural Folk Punk Band And The Importance Of Teamwork
00:30:54 The Reality Of Making A Living From Podcasting And Music: A Rare Success
00:33:46 Creating Content For Children: Trusting Your Instincts Over Expensive Tests
00:37:07 Conversation About Being In The Garden And Natural Voice
00:42:11 From Success To Stranded: Lessons Learned On A Tropical Island
00:44:24 Cleaning Up Your Digital Footprint With Cube
What would it be like to spend 10 years of your life in a punk band touring around Europe?
10 years of your life acting as a blue cartoon dog and maybe 10 years of your life living on a remote island and that's only part of his life. This is the fascinating story of a gentleman with a funny accent, hailing all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Um In fact, we were just talking about pro wrestling and I feel like I should always give him a pro wrestling announcement. Go ahead, please, please please go.
Ladies and gentlemen introducing on the right side of the screen in his trademark red shirt, clean shaven on the top of his head with a little bit of hair on his chin. This man, a former punk musician, a, a blue cartoon dog and a Google brand surp guy. We don't know what that means, but that's ok. Put your hands together with a big round of applause for the one, the only Jason Bar.
No, I didn't even ask if I was going to pronounce your name correctly and that was absolutely perfect. I'm so pleased to have had a pro wrestling introduction from coach John mclaren. Well, you know, I think what, what, what you could hire me to do is do your podcast introduction or something like that. You know, we need to talk to Maria about that. But yes, that was a great introduction. And the question is, yes.
What is it like to have been a punk folk musician playing the double bass, then a blue dog. Now a Google expert of all things. Like when you were, when you were busy, like touring Europe as a, as a punk musician, a punk folk musician.
I don't, I don't think you were thinking I'm going to be an expert on, on Google, you know, like that, that didn't come to mind. Yeah. So I, I actually thought like, I think all musicians when they're playing in a band think is we're going to be huge. We're gonna be playing stadiums, we're gonna be the two of tomorrow and you're absolutely convinced that that's going to be the case and of course it isn't, the probability is so tiny, but you're, you're innocently and naively sitting in the van doing 100,000 kilometers. That's what, 60,000 miles a year thinking this is all gonna work out and of course it doesn't. This is. Yeah. Yeah. Um, well, I very much want to dive into, into your, your story, uh that part of your story, in fact, because your life is just a series of fascinating stories really. But before we dive into that, I just want to give people a quick heads up where you're at now because you mentioned, you know, you are a Google expert.
I don't even know what the word. Surp means. S er P for those who are listening.
Surp, it sounds like a, it, it sounds like almost like a derogatory term for like, I don't know something or other that, that guy over there, he's a total surp like whatever, whatever that means, you know, it, it definitely could be. Um yeah, is a search engine results page. And as you say, that's a huge leap from being a punk folk double bass player, which is what I was 30 years ago. And I love the fact that you say you never would have imagined it. No, I didn't. I thought I was going to be a huge rock star. Retiring. Um the, the, the money that I had made from selling 25 million albums of my amazing rock music never happened. So now I have a for basically building business cards for brands on Google, which is, is hugely interesting.
Strangely enough, yeah, something you wouldn't necessarily think. And for those who are again listening SAS is an acronym for software as a service and uh is quite popular. So, yeah, here, here's just an image of uh basically representation of what it is that you are doing. You're teaching people uh and, and maybe, maybe developing four people, their Google business card. Um Yeah, I mean, the idea that when people are talking to you, they will immediately search on Google or that perhaps on Microsoft Bing your name or your company name that is effectively now your business card. And that's where I've ended up. And one of the reasons I ended up here is because of the blue dog you mentioned earlier on and we dig into that and mystery intrigue, mystery.
This is Jason, the man of many stories, the man of many mysteries and for those watching, you'll see behind him to his, uh just above his, I think it's his right shoulder. Um There is, there is a, a photo of a, a winding road that sort of describes the journey he's on and of course, hanging over your left shoulder again, I feel like I should like to drink, hanging over his left shoulder. There is a, an amazing guitar Guitar. Now, that's the first guitar I ever got. And I'm actually not a guitar player.
I'm a double bass player. That's the fiddle, that's the big one. Uh but this guitar is my 18th birthday present from my father who is an incredible literary intellectual. And he said to me, you can have whatever you want for your 18th birthday. And I said, I want a huge hi-fi with big speakers that's gonna play punk music in our house very loud. And he said that's not gonna happen. But his works of Shakespeare is on the table. And I said, well, I really don't want the complete works of. And the compromise was me getting this guitar. That is funny. Um, I can't imagine why an 18 year old wouldn't want the complete works of Shakespeare nuts, isn't it?
Oh, I'll tell you another story about that is every year I got a present from my dad and it was always this shape and I'm showing a shape of a, a small rectangle and I always thought every year it's gonna be a football that hasn't been blown up yet. So, it's this deflated football that I will then blow up and I will get a football on my birthday or Christmas. And it never was, it was always a book. Yeah. And that was this, this, this kind of naive idea over 15 or 16 years where every year I thought this year it's going to be different and this year it was never different, uh, of those books. Did you read all of them? And did you have a favorite?
I read almost none of them. And I did have a favorite and it was the one that I actually did read and it's the Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. And the irony of all ironies in the entire universe is my daughter is now doing a doctorate and Thomas Hardy.
Well, let me, that was a little bit, uh, a little bit prescient there. So, um, growing up you, you're getting books for your birthday and you're not, you're not entirely thrilled about this fact. Um, but you had this idea that, you know, you kids usually have an idea. This, here's what I'd like to be when I grow up. And what, what, what do you sort of picture where exactly in the UK? Because the UK, you know, I, I can't quite place your accent but there's, you know, you travel around the UK and there's just like 100 and 50 different accents just around this little island here.
Um, if you look right at the top, there's a, a sheep and a cow which you can barely see. And I lived in the countryside. We, we were all brought up in the countryside. My mother left the family home when I was four, leaving my father to bring up the Children in the countryside in the north of England. She ran off with a jazz musician, scandalous, scandalous and romantic and delightful. But when you're a four year old child, it really, really isn't delightful at all. Um, so I, I was brought up in an intellectual world in the countryside with a musical background, which is hugely confusing and probably explains why I am where I am today. Right? So your mum runs off with a jazz musician? You're four years old. What do you recall? Like, maybe like what you felt or what you thought? Like, did you, did you wonder if you like, I don't want to actually put words in your mouth but like, do you remember what you, what you thought or felt about that happening?
I actually don't remember anything and that's one of the huge problems is my sisters were older or, yeah, are still older than me. But, um, they actually remember what happened and I don't, and I'm not sure whether it's because I was too young or because I blanked it from my memory, but I have no idea how I felt what happened. And, you know, I, I'm still not there But I know the result of it was that number one. I, because I was living in the countryside, I had to create a world of my own and I think that's what's driven me to be where I am today. And you are your youngest sibling? Yeah, I'm the very small one. Right. Right. So, youngest sibling out in the countryside also, I think without internet, definitely. This is 19 7, the 1970. Uh Absolutely. No internet and huge loneliness, huge isolation.
Uh, as a small child that's hugely difficult to deal with. And I spent most of my childhood just inventing ways of creating some kind of, Uh, world around myself. I mean, if I look at the isolation, the village was hun, sorry, it was 25 people. My nearest neighbor was a mile away and my nearest neighbor used to shoot my cat with their air rifle. So he wasn't friendly and he wasn't somebody I would hang out with. So it was, oh, no kidding.
Now, I suppose we all cry. I know. I'm just like, oh, my goodness, this poor little lonely boy with no mom. So, after your mom left and, and, and ran off, when was the, like, how old were you when she, she first came back to visit? Or, or make, make a connection? Oh, no. And that's the thing is kind of, it's terribly romantic Because then we used to go and see her every half holiday. Right. And I used to go on tour with her. So I went to Italy on tour with a jazz band when I was 14 years old. So the downside is spectacularly bad. But the upside is I got to tour with the jazz musician band in Italy in the 1980s, which is usually fun. Right. Right. Ok. Um, but the first time you, you, your mom, I guess, or you would have seen your mom again after she ran off. Um, do you, do you remember anything about that interaction? Like what she might have said or, uh, no, do this. And once again, I'm not sure if I don't remember because I was too young or simply because I've blanked it. But I remember a lot of positive things like going to see Elvis, the, the movie.
Uh, sorry, it wasn't a movie, it was a theater play, Bugsy Malone movie. She used to take us to lots of things which had to do with music. And that was hugely interesting. And people say to me today you're a musician because of your mother. And you're saying, well, actually am I she left when I was four? Did it really have that much effect on me or is it part of my genes? And that's a huge question.
I have no answer to. Right. Yeah. Uh, well, nonetheless, and maybe she left because she didn't want to live in the countryside with 25 people, the neighbor who shoots at cats either. And, uh, maybe didn't want to get books for her birthday either or, you know, and that's the thing is in retrospect. You going? Yeah, I get you. Yeah. Yeah. I don't, I don't entirely fault you.
Um, you know, and I don't know your mother or your father. I don't even know if they're still alive at this stage in life. But, uh, um, you know, did you ever have any sort of like, later sort of adult conversations with them about it? And what, what took place or is it just one of those things that just kind of got buried in the past? Well, I think what we don't necessarily realize today is that we are often very open And that wasn't the case in the 1970s, so very much buried in the past, unfortunately. Yeah. So after, after, after going on a few concerts and with, with a, you know, touring jazz band and getting to do some fun things, um, with, with your mom, uh, as a teenager, what are you sort of picturing you were going to do with your life?
You know, again, 1980s. Yeah, 1980s. Not a lot of Internet, in fact, none. Um, you know, all together. Well, 100% and 1976 1977 was the birth of punk. I was 10 or 11 years old.
I had older sisters who bought these records and brought them into the house. The Clash the Sex Pistols. Um, I listen to this stuff and that changed. My point of view is saying, yeah, I'm a punk and I think the important thing about punk is that it isn't just the music of the sex pistols. The Dead Kennedys. I was huge fan of the Dead Kennedys.
It's not just the music, it's an attitude and it's an attitude you can still have when you're 56 years old like I am. So, I've got punk attitude and that's the point is it appealed to me when I was 11 And I was lucky enough to have sisters who would allow me to listen to that stuff. But it also created enormous friction around my teen years from let's say 11-18 where I was constantly fighting the establishment and constantly losing. Right. Right. It was, was the first line of the establishment like your father or what was my father, my teachers, my sisters, my mother, Everything. And I, I would basically revolt against everything and anybody, whatever you said to me, I would just say no. And that was hugely problematic and it really doesn't make for a peaceful teenage period. But it, and it does mean once again, very isolated. But once I hit 18, I then moved to Liverpool and Liverpool is really cool. It is. It is. Yeah. And if you live in Liverpool, you're a liver, I think. Is that right? Yeah. That's exactly it. And they, they, I turned up in Liverpool and You were talking about accents earlier on, I turned up and they didn't understand a word I said, and I didn't understand a word they said because the accent was so different. It's only like 60 miles apart, 100 km. Yeah. And yet they accepted me, I accepted them and I integrated incredibly quickly and it was really, I hate to say the word empowering, but it, you know, football music going down the pub.
That's about the limit of what happened. To me in Liverpool and it was beautiful. It was wonderful. So, how did, how did that lead you into being a, a double, double bass player of all things as well? Because maybe that's not the first thing you think about when you're thinking of like a, a punk sort of musician. Yeah. Well, I got into a lot of trouble in Liverpool, um, which kind of culminated in me being held hostage and beaten up, uh, through a night in Liverpool on New Year's Day. And it was hugely hugely, um, terrifying say, traumatic is a word that comes to mind getting held hostage and beaten up. Yeah, It lasted maybe five or 6 hours.
And, uh, I was, I was really struggling after that and I moved to Paris because I just needed to get away and I moved to Paris, which is where I become the bass player. And I, when I moved to Paris even more than Liverpool, it was liberating in the sense that once I got to Paris, I didn't know anybody so I could be whoever I wanted. And I reinvented myself completely and said I want to be, I mean, I was a musician in Liverpool already.
I was in a band and we played the Cavan Club where the Beatles played, which was really cool. But I think I turned up in Paris and I said, I'm a musician first and foremost. Whereas in Liverpool, I was an economist who was doing a degree who came from an intellectual family. I turned up in Paris and I said, actually, I'm just a musician. That's it. And I'm not going to talk about anything else. And again, the pre internet days you didn't have, people couldn't just look you up on linkedin or something like that.
To me, look at your history. But I, I just want to rewind a second here. How did you end up like getting taken hostage and getting beat up? Like, what, what was the situation here? Because it's, you know, it's not an everyday thing that right now I, I worked in, in one of the seed bars in Liverpool and people presumably followed me home.
Um, I have no idea why they thought I might have any money. I was a poor bartender and they turned up and they were basically beating me up and saying, give me the money and they're saying there isn't any money and they wouldn't believe me. And you're going, what on earth makes you think? I've got any money.
I'm a student and a poor bartender and they wouldn't give up and they beat me basically to a pulp because they thought I was hiding huge sums of money when I was just put and, and for them right on me, obviously. Right. And, but eventually they just, they kind of give up and where did you find yourself?
Um, well, they, they, they, they gave up after putting a knife to my throat, crushing my toes, punching me in the face, taking a hockey stick and smacking me on the head with it. Um And this was all in my own home and the, well, the police came and took me to the hospital and the doctor said there's no proof he didn't do it to himself and you're going, what the fuck? But I, I was, that made me drink a whole bottle of Ethiopian milk liqueur. And I was so drunk by the time I'd actually got to the hospital that I couldn't reply.
I couldn't think all I could do was hear what was going on. So I was this kind of secondary character in this entire situation. And the doctor said there's no proof he didn't do it to himself, send him home. And the police took me back to the place that they had just picked me up from and just threw me out of the, the car into the garden and I was lying in the garden thinking, what the fuck am I gonna do? I'm so drunk. I've got no idea what's happening and I'm in a pitiful physical state and I can't possibly imagine staying in this house because it's so scary. So I, I actually went and knocked on the door of a friend of mine who wasn't a particularly good friend, but who incredibly kindly invited me in and, and gave me a huge hug. And if you know, Charlie Brown. Uh Yes, I do.
There's a, a moment in Charlie Brown where he says when you're riding home from the cinema with your parents in the back of the car and you go to sleep because you know that you have no responsibility, then they're looking after everything. That's the safest thing you can possibly imagine as a child. And I remember going to see this. It was a friend of mine.
She gave me the hug, she put me in bed. She said you're safe, you're with me. I felt like Charlie Brown.
I was 22 years old and I thought this is what this is the feeling of security and safety that you don't ever get if you're not a child. And if, if I may cry on my own um world is my mother lesson when I was very young. I never had that as a child. It was a huge moment. No kidding. Did that. Uh So I'm curious um was there, was there any way in which that positively affected their or fostered a friendship because of this gesture?
I can't even remember her name so absolute shame on me. Um Shout out to wonderful caring kind friend who, who brought Jason to a feeling of safety. Um And if you happen to by some random happenstance, maybe the Google guy can make, make this episode you so prominently on Google that she listens to this episode and goes, I remember that moment and then she reaches out to you and says something, you know, this is all imaginary story I'm making up. But No, But the thing is I can't remember her name, but I can picture her face.
I could reproduce a photo of her because it meant so much and, and the name I'm not sure why I can't remember it, but I think it was hugely hugely hugely traumatic. Um, fair enough and she, she saved me from a really, really difficult situation. And, yeah, I can remember a face. I can, I could produce a photo of them from my own mind's eye, but that doesn't actually really mean anything.
Yeah, that's quite remarkable. And I was just thinking with, with A I and A I image generation today, you could probably describe something and A I would draw it and, and you can make some tweaks and adjustments and so on. I mean, I, I don't know a lot about A I visuals but I just know that the whole A I thing is really, is really taking off in, in a sense. And so It would be I, I get now, now it's, it's one of those stories would be fascinating, you know, like reunited 35 years later. Well, um, actually, really, strangely, I remember her best friend's name. Ok, who's Judith and she married The lead singer from ACC who were a huge 80's band. OK. So, shame on me.
I remember the best friend of the person who saved my life, but not the person herself, which is terrible. But now you could go down the Google rabbit hole. I mean, you look up who's, who is the, it was the lead singer of the, of the band ABC in the 19 eighties. And you could look at so, so, um, who that is? And then Judith and then if her name had changed, then you could find a way to contact her and say, do you ever remember your friend? So, and so who lived at this address in, uh, in, in Liverpool? I, I've forgotten her name but she saved my life and, uh, I'd love to be able to thank her 35 years later. That's brilliant. Actually, you're right. 100%. And I think part of it is also the same thing as my mother is.
I'll just put it into this blank memory where I just going. Let's not remember that part of this too, but the human going on. Absolutely. But, but it's beautiful to have someone just, just that level of human, human kindness. It's something that everybody should get to experience at some point in time in their life.
And, you know, I have, I have a little toddler. He's, he's two. And so, um, try to create that for him, you know, uh, just make sure that he knows above all else even after he's been corrected.
That he is loved and he is safe and he is, you know, secure and so on and so forth. So, um, brilliant and, and that secure and safe and loved is hugely important and I think many, many people grow up without truly feeling that, um, and it isn't a question of saying it, it's just, it's a question of living it as a parent or as a friend. Um, and I certainly feel that that it's not something I've had and it's something I've suffered a great deal from. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I was just thinking about 11 little ritual I have with, with my little fella.
Um, because we, we rough house because that's what dads and dads and sons do. Um, so he calls it flying and that's why I take him and I kind of chuck him onto the bed so he can land on a stack of pillows or mattress or whatever. And he thinks it's the greatest thing.
He can't quite pronounce his LS yet. So he says fry, fry and, uh, he's asking me essentially, he's asking me to chuck him on to a stack of pillows or something like that. And he knows that he's going to be safe when he lands.
You know, there's a soft landing kind of waiting for him. But, uh, I, I have 11 of the sort of ritual with him is when I, when I change his diaper on the change table after I'm done changing. I stand him up and at that height, he's kind of like head and shoulder height with me. So I say hug and he gives me a hug while standing on the table. That's, yeah. And, and hugs are huge and I think we forget that hugs are huge. And I, I'd like to point out to everybody who's out there in the world is virtual. Hugs are huge. Uh I have loads of friends in Ukraine and I was thinking, what can I possibly say to support them as human beings? And the answer is virtual hugs. Hm. It means loads more than we think, saying, sending you a hug. It absolutely, absolutely helps. And obviously a real hug is better, but a virtual hug is still pretty cool, just, just some type of human connection, you know. Um So carry on with the, the story of Jason's life here. Um You, you uh had found yourself into a punk band and then, but uh punk folk band, but at this point in time now you've gone to Paris to reinvent yourself. Um Did your band follow you or how, how did you remain connected to the band? What was the story there?
Oh, right now, I was in one band in Liverpool and then I joined another band in Paris in Liverpool. I was a lead singer. So I stood up on the stage.
I sang like this and I was really thin and people would come and see the band simply because they couldn't believe that somebody that thin had a dude voice like the ra, ra ra Yeah. And that was this whole concept of the band, is this tiny, thin white guy with him, incredibly huge, deep voice, singing blues songs all day long. I woke up this morning and I got my baby out of bed And then I went to Paris and they went, we don't care about that.
We need a double bass player and I didn't play the double bass, but I bought a double bass and they said, If, if you can learn to play the bass in 30 days, you can play in our band. And I got a place in the band simply by buying a double bass and figuring out how to play it in 30 days. And I turned out to be a very good double bass player. If they said To learn to play an instrument in 30 days, like a double bass.
four was very bad. I wasn't very good. Right. Right. Because the double bass is referring to its, its size and its height. But it's, it's a four stringed instrument. Is that correct? Yeah, it's a four instrument. It's huge. Stand up. Yeah, it's a stand up bass. And, Uh, was it Charlie Mingus who's a double bass player who said it's 80% physical domination of the instrument and 20% musical talents. Me fine. That's really good. Yes. So you find yourself in this band now in Paris? And now do you speak French? Um Did it, was this band a French band or was it, did you find some British expats in Paris? Who said, let's be a band in Paris or?
What was the, you know, what happened was French English, German and at one point, some Danish people in the band, but it was a huge mixture of different people from different cultures. And we played any folk music, hugely punk style. And if you look up today uh on Google the Ace of Spades by the barking dogs, you will find the hugest folk punk version of The Ace of Spades you will ever hear. And honestly, I'm incredibly proud of what we did because as a group of four at the time, we were so solid and we played such good music And it wasn't me, it was a group of four people and it's a team and that's what I've learned in the last 30 or so years is we all need a team even if we think we, we can be independent.
Well, let, let me see. Now, now I'm curious, I'm like, let me see if I can find uh the Ace of Spades performed by the barking dogs because now it now because I mean, now, OK, I like this, this, this is something we got to see if we can locate here. Um Does this look like that's Chris on the violin.
He is the most nuts musician you've ever seen in your life. He is the most singular talented human being on a music instrument you will ever see. And if you play the video you'll see the singer who is nuts and the best singer you'll ever see the drummer who's absolutely nuts and the best, I just want to make sure that I actually shared it correctly. Um, it, in order to, uh in order to actually play the sound here because now, now that I'm like, now I'm committed, we're, we're gonna, we're gonna share this. We're gonna share a little clip of uh Yeah. Share the audio. OK. Beautiful. Here we go. As of Spades by the barking dogs with uh Jason on the double bass. Uh Let me hit play here and let me know if you can hear this. Yep. Is that you there playing the mason singing? Oh man. And he's nuts. Uh That is funny. There you go. There you are. This is, this is the first time I think in, in this podcast, a youtube video of a double bass player singing a song of space.
That is funny that, that was, uh that, that's quite something. So now we have the visual of you, of you doing this and this, this is like a mixed, uh a mixed group of people who have different linguistic and musical and cultural backgrounds coming together and saying, you know, music is a universal language. Let's, let's make something happen here.
Yeah, a 100% and, and going out and having fun and we actually made a living from that for 10 years. So we were touring around Europe thinking we're going to be huge stars. And I think we, you know, there's no reason we couldn't have been in the sense that we were actually quite good truth, be told that it's one in a million that you're gonna be you two or, or the Beatles or the rolling stones. And we weren't the one in a million. We were the 999,999. Um It didn't work out. Uh but we had a great 10 years and it was super, super interesting, super fun. And I learned to perform, which is a huge, huge win, Right? Yeah. And so you played, you played over 600 concerts, sold over 40,000 albums and played to more than 200,000 people. Like those are not small numbers like this is quite an impressive feat really. But we, we, we worked at it for 10 years. So if you divide it by 10, it gets smaller. And if you then divide it by the number of weeks in a year, 52, the numbers suddenly get very small. So it depends how you present it. But if you were able to see you think about like even podcasting, for example, um the number of podcasts in the world, the number of people actually make even a living from podcasts or even earn any income at all from a podcast is very, very small, you know. And so I think the same thing goes, if you, if you made enough money that you weren't losing money being a musician and even being able to make a living, you enjoyed more success than the vast majority of musicians and bands that have ever existed in history 100%. And then what happened?
Of course, is that the other people in the band said we're not making enough money, we're leaving. And I ended up standing on my own thinking, what am I gonna do now? Um so I created the blue dog and yellow with my ex-wife. So this is a cartoon that you, you then created. Yeah. Um We, we used to have a joke in the band in the, in the van you get so bored sitting in and you'd have these conversations and saying what's the worst possible concert we could do. And the answer of everybody else was playing in front of six year old Children. And I was secretly thinking, Oh, I'm in a punk folk band, so I can't possibly say I would quite enjoy that. But in truth, I would have quite enjoyed it. So I then created with Veronique in order to do these songs for Children aged 2-6. So I was desperately keeping quiet, sitting in the van not letting on to the fact that their worst nightmare was actually my dream. So now I'm thinking to myself here as you describe that.
Now, I wonder if you were drawn to that because of maybe like the childhood you really didn't get to have. And I don't know if I'm connecting dots that maybe don't exist. But I was just thinking you giving Children something you wish you could have had as a child. And maybe that's why this had meaning to you. Possibly. I would definitely say that's a possibility. I've never analyzed it that way. Uh But definitely something that is a reasonable uh assessment of the situation.
One thing that struck me about Kuala, which is the here, the Blue Dog in, this is the punk folk band. This is the Blue Dog in is that we had huge success with the 10/1000 biggest site in the world. We had 100 million pages, five million kids AAA month coming to the website. We then made a TV series and we created new content every month. And it was always interesting. It was always different. It was always a bit nuts and it always hit the nail on the head. It was always popular and it always worked. And the, the people from ITV International Granada, uh uh the, the, the producers in, in France would say to us, how do you do this?
Do you analyze what Children like and then create content according to what they like. And I said, no PBS famously spent a million dollars figuring out what kids liked by doing these tests on Children. And we beat PBS. We were bigger than PBS just by saying, I think this is fun. And Ron would sit in our garden and say, why don't we do a disco show or why don't we talk about frogs or why don't we talk about this?
That none of it was analyzed. It was just, we think this is fun and it, as luck would have it. What we thought was fun, turned out to be what kids thought was fun.
So, we sagged ourselves a million bucks. Well, now, now that, you know, we, we've shown a clip of you playing bass, uh, with the barking dogs, which is kind of interesting that you then voiced, um, a blue cartoon dog. What, what was the name of, of the show if I was to like, find, uh, uh, maybe an episode or something like that on youtube? So we could play a little clip of it again for people to see, uh, if you look for and Kuala, what color do you get? You probably find a song? Um, B 00 W A K K W A L A and a theme song. Oh, look at that.
Yeah, you might not find a video. The theme song will probably be a record rather than a uh an animation. But what color do you get is a song about how you mix colors to create other colors, right? OK. So we, we're, we're gonna look this up. It's funny that we're, you know, uh what color do you get? And uh what color do you get? Song? Oh There we go. All right. OK. So you found it. This is, this is real live podcasting experience.
Oh Man, this is I, I'm departing from some somewhat of my usual format here, but this is, this is kind of, this is, this is quite fun to, to I I'm indulging in my own, my own curiosity here. And so do we have, oh, we have the uh Oh yes, that's it. I knew you'd get that one.
That's grandpa koala and I voiced the grandpa in the background and the blue dog. So I did five characters in the, in the show. So we had this situation where koala were these two characters, the dog on the left and the koala on the right. And we did it for two years. And then we realized that just two characters, we can't keep doing this for years and years and years if there's just two characters. So we created these families. But we were living as you said earlier on, on a tropical island, right? And we thought, right, we'll create the family. So Kalla has got a mother, a father, a grandfather and a grandmother has got a sister, a mother and a father. So we ended up in nine characters. Then we thought we need voice talent. And in Mauritius, there was no voice talent on this tropical island. And we suddenly found ourselves in a situation where for two years, their families kept appearing on the show, but they never said anything because we didn't have anyone to do the voice. And the kids started saying, why doesn't talk, why doesn't grandma koala ever say anything? We ended up in a situation where we had to do the voices. So I ended up learning to do five different voices even though that's not my job. So I can actually, I can do it. Now. Is Daddy Koala? Hello? It's lovely to be here.
It's absolutely for being in the garden looking after the beans. Right. Right. Yeah. And kids you get away with it in the sense that that's definitely enough from the voice that it doesn't appear to be problematic. Right. So is the blue dog? Yeah. And this is my natural voice. So has my absolute natural voice. Right. Well, let's, let's play just a little clip of that for people to enjoy orange. Orange. Oh, that's funny. And did you have to learn, um, animation as well? Yes. Yeah. I actually got invited to San Francisco by Macromedia at the time who were at the previous owners of Flash before Adobe, uh, as one of the best animators in the world. Uh in Adobe Flash or Macromedia Flash alongside the BBC and the Prince of Egypt, which was produced by some huge studio.
I can't remember Sony and PBS and it was PBS, Sony, the BBC and Jason and Veronique. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. That's quite something to think.
Having a run like that for, for, for 10 years. And you mentioned Veronique, which does sound like a French name. I'm wondering, did you, did you meet her as a touring musician? And she was drawn to your, your sort of wild punk attitude and zest for life? Yeah. We fell in love in Paris in 1919, and ended up getting married and having a child and created these characters together.
Um, so absolutely wonderful, delightful meeting and coming together of like minded people. And I think from that perspective, um meeting somebody and creating something as powerful as the barking dogs with the other people I was in the barking dogs with and then meeting Ron and creating Kalla. It's amazing. I mean, it's, it's so lucky that I met those people and that we could do those things together and that it worked out. Um And so for someone who's never held a quote unquote, a real job in, in life, you know, how do you transition from, uh, I guess creating a, a children's cartoon to becoming like a master of Google? Right. Well, I, from the very beginning, what keeps happening to me is that I want to do something and companies don't want to do it with me. So the music is that I never had, man, I never managed to sell the group to a record company. So I created my own record company and released the records myself.
I couldn't get a touring organization to put the gigs on for us. So I created a touring organization to do it myself. And that lasted 10 years. And then for the blue, the blue dog and the yellow koala, we tried to sell it as a record and then a book.
No, none of them wanted it. So I then created a company in order to do that. Unfortunately, I chose a business partner when it was working and I could potentially have not Taken a business partner.
I took the business partner anyway, because I got fooled, I would suggest by somebody who was very manipulative in that situation and gave him 50% of the company. And that was the hugest mistake possible in that situation. And so after 10 years of success and making a decent amount of money and really entertaining the world, we hit a moment where he wanted to get as many. Basically, his K P I, his key performance indicator was how many dollars per head? How many dollars am I making out out of each Children? And I need to maximize that. And my key performance indicator was how many Children can I share this with and make a tiny, tiny bit of money each time. But sharing the whole process making, making a difference in their life just by entertaining them with some innocent, sweet fun.
You know, children's entertainment. Yeah, exactly. And I was saying the thing about the Internet and this is 2008 is we can scale this infinitely.
So, if we've got five million today and we're making $40,000, let's say if we get 10 million, We won't make 80,000, we'll make 60,000. But the cost to us is very small. So it doesn't matter. And he was saying, Oh, I want to take the five million we've already got and basically screw them for every penny they've got. And I find that shocking, I find that incredibly difficult to deal with. Um and when you've got something good and pure and lovely and friendly and positive, I just want to share it. I'm really not interested in, you know, if, if, if I've got $10 million $20 million, what the fuck do I care? Right. Right. You don't make any difference on the day to day level, you know, I've got a house, I've got a double place, I've got, yeah, anyway, you understand the point of view and that's when it all fall apart. Ok? So di difference of values falling apart and you know, maybe bad decision making, but some really great lessons that come from that and then, then you just discover that like this, I know Google thing that not a lot of people, a lot about. No. Well, what actually happened is I was on the tropical island and the business fell apart and I was stuck on the tropical island with a family and I had to make a living very quickly because we had no money and the whole business had been taken away from me. And so I then thought, what, what can I do to make money short term? And the answer was going to companies are saying, if I can get a million visits a month for Kuala, this blue dog and yellow koala from Google, just think what I can do for your business when I start working on Google for your business and I got clients that way. So I became a Google expert because I was already a Google expert without even having realized it because we had built our strategy for Kuala online fundamentally and significantly on Google. So I then just went and said to people think what that will do to your business.
They took me on and I made a living out of that. Then the irony was that people would then Google me to see if they wanted to work with me. What it said at the top was Jason Barnard is a cartoon blue dog and then they would just not sign. So I then thought, well, if I want these people to sign up to work with me. I need to say Jason Barnard is a super duper S E L digital marketing expert, right? So I set about changing Google's perception of me from being a cartoon blue dog to being a digital marketing expert. And that's where I came into managing your brand or your personal brand on Google is hugely important because you aren't what you think you are to your audience. You are what Google says you are right? Fascinating. And uh boy, I, I need to talk to you about my personal brand, I think, and it's hugely comprehend.
People think it's really simple and they think, oh, my digital footprint is incredibly clean. I'm very clear. We're not, we're human beings.
It's a total mess. Nobody I think as an individual, a podcast or a or a company, it's all a mess. And what we do at Cube is clean that mess up because I had to clean my own mess up. I know what it's like. I know, I think, you know, people, if people like Google my name, um and I'm I'm sure I'm not the only uh it's, it's a relatively unique name. Jonathan mcclean. There's not a lot of them out there.
There are a few, I think I've found eight or 10 on Facebook or something, but it isn't super common because the name itself was changed um to avoid being hung as horse thieves, I guess my my ancestors uh in Northern Ireland did that and then fled to Scotland or something along those lines. Um, that, that was then moved on to America after Scotland because they obviously made a mess in Scotland as well. And the point is you've made a mess, you moved on, you made another mess and you moved on again and on the internet, all that mess is connected and you can't just move on. You have to clean up the mess. Yes. Yes. Well, I think I don't want to insult your family.
Oh, I'm deeply offended by this. That's it. This interview is over.
Oh, no, that's all good. Um, yeah, it, it's so, and, and, and I think the average person maybe doesn't really think about it and, and I think about like digital privacy as well and I'm a fairly public figure, you know, uh, the podcast is seeing upwards of 10,000 downloads a month which I think I'm like, wow, that's huge. Yeah, we're, we're, we're being downloaded in more than 35 countries and, and to me, I mean, that sort of boggles my mind a little bit. I'm like, that's, that's kind of cool.
I just started this so I could have interesting conversations with interesting people and other people are interested in listening to these, which I think is, is fascinating. So, well, you can say something there, sorry to interrupt you, but you are a public figure whether you like it or not anymore, you put yourself in that position. And I meet a lot of people who say, oh, you know, I don't really want to be public. And he said, well, you are public by definition. If you're a film director, if you're a podcast house, if you're a company, ceo you're a public figure like it or not. And it's in your interest to let me help you manage how Google perceives you and therefore how Google presents you to your audience and you need Google to present you correctly to your audience because your brand is what Google says. It is. Yeah. Yeah. Well, Jason, you got one heck of a story and I'm sure we could probably just chat for hours. But uh as we bring the episode to a close, I always like to ask my guests, you know, if there's one sort of maybe nugget of wisdom or one thing that you hope people take away from listening to this conversation today. What would that be?
I think for me, the hugely important part of my life is that I've always done what I want to do, what I am driven to do what I enjoy doing. And the downside of that is that the French government, I've been living in France for 35 years, sent me a letter the other day saying your pension is €250, $250 a year. Well, so the downside of doing exactly what you want is that your pension is going to be nonexistent. The upside is that you've got a smile up to here and you enjoy your life.
Problem is when you hit 60 65 years old, you're gonna have to figure it out. And that's something I'm coming to. But the advantage of learning the double base is that I can still play the double bass or I could potentially make a living playing the double bass.
If my pension doesn't work out, you could, you could be a busker if need be. And you, you, you could probably use your Google talents to make yourself a famous busker on youtube. Should you really apply yourself to it? Because I think you're, you're obviously very driven and you've enjoyed quite a bit of success as kind of a, just a, you know, from a scrappy, uh, a scrappy start in a little village in, in England from a lonely little boy with a big imagination to traveling the world as a touring musician and creating a, a hugely successful cartoon to now what you're doing today. Um You know, it's really been a pleasure chatting with you and, uh, this definitely won't be our last conversation. So I look forward to when we get a chance to, to chat again. Brilliant. Yeah. And I'll come right back to the beginning is right at the beginning when I was sitting in the countryside in Yorkshire, would I ever imagine that I would be one of the leading authorities on how to change Google's perception of a brand.
The answer would have been absolutely not. I'm gonna be a punk. I'm, I'm gonna show the world that I'm revolutionary and different and up against everything. But I, I think kind of as life goes through, you end up moving towards something more peaceful, but always with the punk attitude, it's not about the music, it's about the attitude. I love that. Well, Jason, thank you so much for being on the show today.
It's truly been a pleasure. Brilliant. Thank you so much for tuning in to between the before and after.
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