Exposure: Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett
The Milk! Records boss has recently toured with Billy Bragg, Kurt Vile and Honeyblood
Australian singer/ songwriter Courtney Barnett has the kind of lackadaisical drawl that suggests she's constantly thinking about going back to her bed. However, her career is on the up, preventing her from spending too much time under the duvet. She's recently been supporting Billy Bragg and Kurt Vile, is booked for a Glastonbury set and is about to parade a debut album on her upcoming UK tour. Not bad for someone who admits – on her excellent single ‘Avant Gardener’ – she 'much prefers the mundane'. The List caught up with the Melbourne-based singer recently to talk Honeyblood, writing poetry, and her new album …
There's been the suggestion your music is beautifully… nihilistic, but what beautiful things give meaning to Courtney Barnett's existence?
I don't think life is meaningless… Well, I'm up and down. I'm not sure. I just feel like we need to find our own meaning; not latch onto someone else's. I find nature beautiful, simple things: art, music, people being kind to each other. I think we're so often told what is beautiful, that we tend to overlook some other equally special things.
You supported Billy Bragg recently, whom we presume you spent nights sipping bourbon and going on political rants with. What did you get up to when you met the Honeyblood girls?
Ha. Yeah Billy and I drank some beers and talked about crazy things. I only got to meet Honeyblood once in London and they were super cool. We played a show together and didn't get to hang out for long, but long enough to know I'd love to tour with them [they support Barnett in the UK this month]. We'll have plenty time over the next few weeks to brew up some stories to tell you next time...
You set up Milk! Records a couple of years ago. If you could select a handful of artists to release their music via Milk!, who would they be?
Ha. Well at the moment I've got some of my favourite bands on the label, I'm lucky that way. Jen Cloher, The Finks, Fraser A Gorman and Royston Vasie have all been releasing quality stuff recently. There's bands I totally adore but I don't know if I'd wanna’ jump straight into bed with them in that way, I like just letting Milk! take its natural course.
Your lyrics are distinctively yours, with many a wonderful or peculiar line jumping out at us. Is there a method behind 'saying it how it is'?
I'm not sure. I think the less I 'think' about it the better. When I try to write clever or peculiar lines they end up sounding like the poetry I wrote when I was 13. The best lines are the ones that you accidentally say at a dinner-party and one person laughs and then you're like ‘wow that could sound weird in a song completely out of context'.
Finally, what type of wonderful things are set to surface on the debut LP to follow the two EPs released last year?
We just finished recording an album. It should be out later this year, pretty exciting! Not sure what to call it yet. Well, I've got a few ideas. It's pretty varied; loud, soft, angry, happy, wild, calm, but I'm really proud of it. I can't wait to release it.
Courtney Barnett plays the 02 ABC, Glasgow on Sun 4 May, as part of the Stag & Dagger Festival.