Carlton Dry Independent Music Awards: Courtney Barnett

7 October 2014 | 1:14 pm | Staff Writer

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Carlton Dry Independent Music Award Nominations: Best Independent Artist; Best Independent Single Or EP (Avant Gardener)

What was the last thing you won? When I paid my first membership for Music Victoria, I won a Gold membership for Virgin Australia. Before that – nothing ever.

You’ve received two Carlton Dry Independent Music Award noms for this year, how did you find this information out? The same place we find out everything: the internet.

How did you finance your debut album? Financed it mostly myself. My grandma gave me some money for CD pressing, I got some funding from Arts Victoria, I got a loan from a friend (which I paid back) and the rest was money from gigs/working/savings etc.

What are the pros and cons of recording in an actual studio as opposed to your bedroom?  It’s so easy to procrastinate when recording in the bedroom. I get too comfortable and precious and tend to do 500 takes of one line ‘cause I don’t like the way I’m pronouncing a word. Whereas in the studio I try to keep everything live and spontaneous and I encourage imperfection.

What are some memories you have of writing Avant Gardener? In a backwards world, I wrote the music first and recorded it with no vocals hoping something might come to me one day. A couple of months later, I was hiding out in Walkerville trying to spot koalas. No phones and no internet to distract me, so I listened to it on repeat until I got it.

What about recording it? With the music bed ready to go, I went around to Dan Luscombe’s house and we did my vocals there. Plus we fixed some guitars and he added his awesome guitar. Then he mixed it there in his bedroom.

And please talk us through the song’s fantastic video clip and how the concept was dreamed up? I had this idea to make a really boring video clip of a tennis match in slow motion with nothing really happening except hitting the ball back and forth. But then I got carried away and it turned into a mini-drama.

How did you find the experience of performing the track on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon? It was like an episode of 30 Rock.

How many people do you have on the payroll these days and what do they do for you? Manager, tour manager, sound guy, bookers, labels, publicists, book keeper, band – my aim is to get a personal chef like Neil. Until then I’ve got a really great small team of people working with me on my level and getting shit done.

What does being independent mean to you? It means making your own decisions and working within your means to make constructive or disruptive art.

Will you pre-prepare a speech or just fly by the seat of your pants? I think last year I panicked at the last minute and wrote something on the back of a scrunched up receipt from my wallet, but I didn’t win so maybe I jinxed it.

What’s been a highlight of your year artistically? Recording another album has been a highlight, touring around the world, a seven-year-old girl telling me she’s learning guitar after listening to my songs.