Courtney Barnett, Interview, Pitchfork

Spotify, The Beatles, and Sockeye Salmon: A Conversation with Courtney Barnett

By Randy Nieto
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Courtney Barnett has been the up and coming darling of the indie rock scene, and was arguably one of the highlights of Pitchfork 2015. Stealing the show with classic rock star moves and ear bleeding guitar solos, Courtney has cemented her place in the annals of rock ‘n roll and in our hearts. Her new album, “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” is an amazing sophomore effort, a time when most bands don’t always pull through. I had a chance to speak with Courtney at Pitchfork Festival 2015.

TMB: I was just kind of curious how you would describe your own music.

CB: I just don’t do it, because then everyone will quote me on it, and it’s kinda hard, I‘m inspired by a bunch of different stuff. It’s kinda hard to pin it down to one little word that’s supposed to describe you.

TMB: Did you think “Alright, I’m going to set out to make this kind of music” or did you just plug in and were like, “Okay, this sounds good, let’s do it.”

CB: I think that’s kind of the beauty of it, you don’t know what it’s gonna sound like and you just kind of do it.

TMB: Do you see your music evolving? Is there going to be an electronic Courtney Barnett album coming out?

CB: Yeah, well, I’m only 27, so I hope I go through every phase, til I’m like 80 something.

TMB: The acoustic lumberjack phase?

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Photos by: Stina Kaczmaryn

CB: (laughing) Yeah, I’ll probably do like a folk album, I’ll do it all.

TMB: So what kind of music have you been listening to on tour?

CB: I’ve been listening to heaps of Speedy Ortiz, they’re so cool. Gosh, I don’t know, I’ve been listening to Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg and Wilco.

TMB: Have you ever thought about collaborating with anybody?

CB: I don’t know, I play with lots of different people. In Melbourne I started a record label called Milk! Records. I play guitar in my girlfriend’s band, we kind of all make music with each other, I play drums in this other band, we started writing songs together. I don’t have a wish list of famous people.

TMB: So if Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth)  was like “Hey, let’s make a record together” would you be up for it?

CB: Well obviously I’d say yes to that, but you know, I think you just kind of make music and you meet people. It’s nice to make music with friends. It’s a pretty vulnerable kind of thing, and it’s hard to just meet someone and be like “Okay, let’s write a song about our feelings”. (laughing)
TMB: My friend says there are two kinds of people in this world: People that love Taylor Swift, and there are liars. Which one would you consider yourself to be?

CB: (laughing) I actually just got on the wagon! Yeah.

TMB: You’ve played Chicago in the past. Have you had a chance to explore it?

CB: Yeah. Not that much, a little bit. We’ve played a bunch of shows here, it’s cool, we kind of wandered around, looking for somewhere to eat dinner, but that’s about the extent of the exploring.

TMB: What has been your favorite thing to eat on tour?

CB: A home cooked meal is pretty good. I had some nice fresh sockeye salmon in Washington. That was pretty good.

Minimal Beat: Are you a Beatles fan? Do you have a favorite Beatle?

CB: (before I could finish my sentence) George!

TMB: Any acts you are looking forward to seeing while you are here today?

CB: I’ve just been watching Viet Kong, and I will be watching The Julie Ruin soon.Minimal Beat: How do you feel about music streaming services like Spotify and Tidal? There’s a whole controversy around that…

CB: That would take me three hours to answer the whole thing, but I just started to listen to Spotify on tour, because I only buy vinyl albums and you can’t really listen to that on tour, but yeah, it’s a long answer.

Minimal Beat: In your song ‘Depreston’, what do you think the woman bought the house for?

CB: Like how much? Cash? Because it’s a bit of a double sided statement…why did she buy it or how much did she buy it for? And I still don’t know what the proper answer is… probably like, 50 grand? (laughing).

Thanks to Courtney Barnett for taking the time to talk to The Minimal Beat! Make sure you check out her new album “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I just Sit” on Milk! Records/Mom+Pop.
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