Courtney Barnett: I guess I'm still kind of lost

Photo by Leslie Kirchhoff

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett developed a fast following through clever words and a casually indifferent demeanor. Anticipation since she unloaded the ingenuity of the slacker-noire hit "Avant Gardener" last summer and The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas had its U.S. release in the fall.

The former art-school student has been playing music in different capacities since she was ten years old, most recently psych-folkers Immigrant Union with Brent Deboer of the Dandy Warhols. She never thought her own rambling inner thoughts would travel outside the culture of Melbourne, Australia, but now -- embarking on a huge tour to promote the album in America -- her career has markedly taken off.

Before tonight's show at Varsity Theater, Barnett chatted with Gimme Noise about her narrative approach to songwriting and why she loves David Byrne so darn much.

Gimme Noise: You really exploded onto U.S. radar with the single "Avant Gardener" and you've been out touring for around three months now. Has it been difficult adjusting to a new pace of life?

Courtney Barnett: Yeah. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. Up until a year ago I hadn't even traveled. Going to a new town every day and playing a show every night and then doing it the next day is very different to the life that I live at home. It has not been easy necessarily, but it's been really fun. It took a bit of getting used to but then you get into the swing of it and it's amazing. We played Primavera last night and it was probably one of the best shows I've ever played. The audiences were enjoying themselves so much, which means I was enjoying myself. It was very special.

Some of your band mates are close friends of yours. That must help in processing your personal whirlwind.

Yes. I've never really played music in a different way. I've always joined bands with friends or friends have asked me to join their bands or I just play on stuff. I've never just picked up a leaflet and played with strangers. I really enjoy playing music and normally it just comes around in a natural way, like if a friend is doing something and they want someone to help them. It makes a huge difference being on the road with best friends. You get to experience things together and it makes dealing with change easier.

The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas finally hit the U.S. in October. You've had these songs for a long time. Has it been strange to experience this delayed response?

Yeah, kind of. It's definitely been a very lopsided, things have happened at different times. It's pretty funny that we released some of these songs so long ago but I guess the world is a big place and it takes a while to show it around to everyone. Especially since I never really thought it would reach anywhere beyond Melbourne. It's been good.

You attended art school for a while. How did that environment encourage you as a young musician?

I went to art school straight out of high school. I was a kid and I was kind of lost. I guess I'm still kind of lost because I don't know what I want to do but mostly it was inspiring being around other people who were trying to create things.

At what point did you start writing your own songs?

I wrote lots of songs when I was kid. I started learning guitar when I was 10 and then as I learned more I started writing more songs, well, more making things up. When I started art school I started performing my own songs. I don't know. I never really thought it would get me anywhere; it was more of a try-and-get-better-at-it-as-time-goes-on kind of a thing.

Location Info


The Varsity Theater

1308 4th St. SE, Minneapolis, MN

Category: Film

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