"Me and Dave [Mudie, drummer], we were on a plane and we touched down and turned our phones on and Grammy [nomination]!"
Courtney Barnett topped two categories in The Music Writers' Poll 2015. We firstly congratulate her on being voted our Artist Of The Year. "Oh my god!" And then Best Australian Live Act. "Holy shit!" How exciting!? "Amazing! I didn't know that!" She bursts into fits of shocked laughter.
So has Barnett been an avid reader of street press in her time? "Shit, yeah!" she enthuses. "I actually used to go and get it every Wednesday and read the industry page when I was, like, 20 [laughs]. And then I would just read it back to front." We did wonder whether she would've grabbed a copy off the top of the bundle during quiet times while working behind the bar at Northcote Social Club. "Oh, yeah," she confirms. "And I worked in retail before that, and when it would get quiet you'd literally read, like, every fuckin' advertisement that was in there," she laughs. Her name often comes up inside Northcote Social Club where she's always spoken about very fondly. While having a beer in this pub's front bar on the night of the ARIAs, NSC's cleaner told this scribe he was looking forward to watching the telly 'cause he was sure Barnett would collect a few. "Oh, bless him," is Barnett's reaction. On the shiny, pointy statuettes, Barnett opines, "They're fuckin' dangerous. Apparently they stopped giving 'em away at the ARIA Awards show, because people would get drunk and, like, drop them and stuff." She's received four ARIAs plus a heap of other awards this year. Does Barnett have a pool room? She laughs, "Nah, there's lots of window sills."
"Apparently they stopped giving 'em away at the ARIA Awards show, because people would get drunk and, like, drop them and stuff."
During a previous interview, Barnett admitted she dreads public speaking, but it turns out she's not bad at acceptance speeches. Barnett chuckles, "Ooooh, I hope I never have to watch that back... I was just so nervous I don't even remember what I said." When asked what time it was in the UK when she had to deliver said acceptance speech, Barnett says, "Oh, it was morning... We played a London show the night before and then had to get up at 7am or something to cross town to a studio to do the thing. And I was sitting there and I watched, you know, Tina Arena's speech before me. It was fucking great and I loved what she was saying, and she's such a good speaker, you know? She was so eloquent and just, like, she made some very strong points and I was just like, 'Oh my god, I can't.'"
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
Barnett is the first to admit her music has taken her on "a crazy ride". She supported Blur at Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden and says, "We only got to talk to some of [Blur] briefly at the Hollywood Bowl show... You never wanna, like, get in anyone's personal space or anything. But they seem like cool guys." And we're also interested to hear how it was recording a single [Shivers/Boxing Day Blues (Revisited)] with Jack White at Third Man Studios in Nashville. "That was great," Barnett extols. "It was just one day, when we were on tour... We pretty much just, like, played the songs, recorded them, listened to them, and then hung out, chatted and then left."
Having just returned to our shores the day before our chat, Barnett's last stop was Paris. When asked how the atmosphere was post-attacks, Barnett offers, "Well, I think it's still a bit weird, you know, but people are, like, hungry for music and we got to talk to a whole bunch of people after the show, and everyone was just really full of love and it was really nice." While Barnett was in the air en route to Melbourne, some more fantastic news dropped. "Me and Dave [Mudie, drummer], we were on a plane and we touched down and turned our phones on and Grammy [nomination]! Ha ha. Dave found it. I think he saw it on Facebook probably; or somewhere, I dunno." So will they attend the 58th Grammy Awards ceremony in February given she's nominated for Best New Artist? "Yeah, I think we might go," Barnett reveals. "I'm pretty sure." We'll be tuning in to see how her flannelette frock scrubs up on the red carpet. Barnett chuckles, "Yeah."
After gigging around the country — including an keenly awaited appearance at the imminent Woodford Folk Festival — Barnett will mentor at Australia's first Girls Rock camp in Canberra. The first of these camps, which are designed to empower women through music, took place in Portland, Oregon back in 2001. On how she got involved, Barnett says, "I met some people — like, they interviewed me at a festival in America — and they were from one of [the camps]... I just think it's awesome." Although nothing similar was around when Barnett was cutting her teeth, she "did one of the Push FReeZA Central Mentoring things and, like, that was awesome". And after that? "A coupla tours and just writing, maybe recording - not too much crazy shit," Barnett tells.