The rain started to spit down on an Auckland Hump Day as I hid in a closet (yes a closet, it is amazing how difficult it is to find a quiet space in an office) to chat with Courtney Barnett. Certainly there are way worse ways to escape the damp spring weather then talking to a fast rising star ahead of her upcoming New Zealand tour.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today, I really appreciate it.
I guess to get started are you looking forward to this upcoming tour?
Yea, yea I am actually. It'll be really cool. It will be good to be, to come back
You seem to be finishing back in Australia, and specially in Melbourne. Is it quite nice and comforting to know the final few day are back home?
I've kind of got a bit of time home at the moment and it is nice catching up with friends, and writing a lot.
And are there any home comforts you miss when you're on tour?
Sometimes you don't notice them until you come back but I miss my little cat, obviously, and I think routine. Like getting up and making a pot of tea.
It is funny, I think that is often what people miss is a cup of tea! Are you finding that you still get nervous before performances? Or is it at this stage just so old hat to you now that it doesn't even bother you?
No I get nervous. I always have and I reckon I always will. It is just kind of part of me. I think that energy is good as well you know? A little bit doubting, a little bit vulnerable. I guess if you're not nervous then... (pause)
There's something not right?
That you're too sure of yourself.
Now you've done some pretty awesome gigs,like Laneways and Coachella, and so on. Have you had a particular favourite one to date? Or is that too ridiculous a question to ask?
Um, yes that's too hard. Each one at the time has exciting parts. We just played some pretty amazing festivals in the middle of the bush, and then cool little clubs and everything has it's own charm. I don't know how to pick, a favourite.
Who were your influences early on and have you found that what influences you has changed quite a lot over the years?
My influences really kind of feel like they jump all over the place. It is kind of hard to put them down. I listened to a lot of my parent's music when I was growing up, like jazz and stuff, and my brother was listening to loads of Nirvana and (pause) you just discover music in different ways as you grow up in different stages of your life and then it all comes together.
I hope you're going to say "yes": are you looking forward to coming to the New Zealand shows? Is there anything we should be expecting from you?
Yea I am really excited. We um, we enjoyed the show's we've done there. It's fun to come back and do a couple more like outside of Auckland and it'll be nice to see a little bit more of the place. And yea, we might have some more new songs that we might be playing so that might be kind of fun. I've been writing some more new songs.
Oh well look forward to that!
Do you find that that you've been compared to any other singer or songwriter quite often? One that might annoy you or one that you get compared to that you're quite proud of.
There's definitely a couple of comparisons floating around It's not so much annoying or pleasuring... I mean it's kind of both I guess. I just take it with a grain of salt. I think it is just easy for people to make those comparisons "Sounds like this" and "you'll like it cause you like this". There is definitely a lot of Bob Dylan and Sheryl Crow going around, which is, I don't know, guitar and lots of words in songs.
As you're getting bigger and bigger, and more and more known, do you find at all that you're slightly less enjoying the job? Because as you get bigger and more known what comes with that is the more tedious things, the interviews, show and tell types, media exposure, critics. Do you find that's getting tiresome at all?
Parts of it are definitely tiring. You know, I've got nothing to complain about at all, and I'm doing what I love doing and I made this kind of path. I started my own record label and did things how I wanted to do them so I could make money enough to live and do what I like to do you know, without working for someone else and not enjoying my life (laughs).
Like living the dream?
Yea. I mean I work really hard and do a lot of stuff but it's what I love doing and even the record label is a lot of work but it means we get to do all these art projects which is what I would be doing anyway but it turns it into something, something that maintains the life I want.
Did you find there was a life changing moment where you decided "this is what I am going to do now. I am going to be a musician, I am going to have a record label" or is it something that gradually came together?
I think it was gradual. I know that music and art is what I love doing. I think it was working so many different jobs, working part time, then full time jobs and never being happy. Spending all this time, putting all this energy into a pointless thing, to make money to spend on my rent and then do it again the next month. I just felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. It was a gradual thing that I wanted to have purpose.
And as we're running out of time, there is one final question I wanted to ask. Is there a question you've always wanted to be asked in an interview and never have been?
No I don't think so... Normally it's all kind of covered.... Normally I say everything I want to say in my songs (laughs)
Thursday November 5th: Bodega, Wellington - Tickets via Dash Tickets
Friday November 6th: St James Theatre, Auckland - Tickets via Ticketek
Saturday November 7th: Foundry, Christchurch - Tickets via Dash Tickets
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