Sunday SOS Interview: Courtney Barnett
28-year-old Aussie on caring less what other people think
Courtney Barnett's full-length debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, dropped only last year, but the 28-year-old Australian was already well on her way to trademark aesthetics following the fusion of two extended plays on 2014's The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. A few loud, fuzzy chords into any of her tracks – even before her sing/talk voice hits – and there's no question who's playing that guitar.
Accessible lyricism delivered in her accented deadpan has been her biggest asset, somehow casual and relatable even when she's at her cleverest. The self-effacing "Pedestrian at Best," for example, fills with internal rhyming: "Erroneous, harmonious, I'm hardly sanctimonious/ Dirty clothes, I suppose we all outgrow ourselves." Other tracks simply re-tell the mundane in almost Lou Reed speak.
"I do take notes and they're all over every different possible thing – in my phone or on a piece of paper or in my actual notebook, or I just try to remember them," says Barnett of her writing process. "Normally it's just little scraps of nothing that at the time seem really interesting, just scraps of sentences. I think it's a good way of doing it. It jogs your memory and turns into something else."
On the phone earlier this year, ahead of her not-yet-canceled stop at Levitation, Barnett proved sweet and humble, unable (or unwilling) to divulge any information about a potential follow-up to Sometimes I Sit. Whatever its status, she's keeping a level head in the face of rapidly mounting attention.
"I try to separate it, but realistically, I think that's kind of a hard thing to totally eliminate. It's always popping up, or people are always saying things that get me thinking about it," laughs Barnett. "I don't think I really care that much."
"Well, I don't know, that's a weird thing to say. I think I'm starting to care less about what people think about me."