Thursday, May 10, 2018

COURTNEY BARNETT: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A






TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL:

An EXCLUSIVE Q&A 
with
 COURTNEY BARNETT


STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your album, TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL, is just about to be released.  How are you feeling about the way the project turned out and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
COURTNEY BARNETT: I feel a weight off my shoulders, I feel proud of the album. Reactions seem good but it’s hard to say, not many people have heard it yet. It’s hard to ever really assume to know what someone else is thinking anyhow. I’ve enjoyed hearing people’s stories as they listen and connect with the songs.

SPAZ: While this is your second solo album, you’ve certainly been busy since your 2015 debut full length. Last year, you released a collaboration album – LOTTA SEA LICE – with Kurt Vile.  When it came time to put TMHYRF together, did you approach the writing and recording of the album differently than any of your previous releases?
COURTNEY: It’s good for the brain, keeping active. I also worked on the new Jen Cloher album (recording and touring) last year. The recording of TELL ME was quite the same as I normally do (last minute, rushed, mostly-live and semi-natural). I feel like I might’ve spent more time banging my head against the wall working on lyrics.
 
SPAZ: TMHYRF still feels like a Courtney Barnett album yet it still takes chances while not losing sight of where you came from, musically. What inspired this particular batch of songs?
COURTNEY: Everything inspires everything. I tried to keep myself open to everything. All pain and all happiness. I don’t know where I come from musically - it’s always been a variety mixtape that inspires and excites me.

SPAZ: As a songwriter, do you write from your own experience or do you often prefer to write from the position of an observer?
COURTNEY: Mmm... I think the two things can’t help but blur. I study other people and in turn have to explore myself for certain parts to make sense.
 
SPAZ: “City Looks Pretty” is fantastic, taking the listener down a few different avenues before the song’s end. Did you piece a few different songs together to create that track or did the song write itself that way?
COURTNEY: I wrote the first half in my early 20s. Then I re-visited the song on piano and wrote the second verse and the outro. I love this song because it’s basically time-travel yet it doesn’t lose its way. Somehow, the story remains solid and meaningful.
 
SPAZ: You worked with your live rhythm section – Bones Sloane (bass) and Dave Mudie (drums) – on the album. Were these songs that you’ve tested on the road or were they fresh compositions when they came into the studio to record them? And do they understand where you are coming from, musically?
COURTNEY: I wrote and demoed all the songs in my own little cocoon like I normally do. Lots of the extra parts I had figured out so when we finally got together, I showed them loosely what I had in mind. But they get me. They always get me and they get the songs. They never over-play, they never go down the wrong path. We feel very in tune.  We had only played one song live, “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch.” I had that one written a while back and it was ready to rock when we did a handful of shows last year.

SPAZ: With all the success you’ve achieved over the last six years, do you still feel similar to the same person that wrote and recorded the 2012 EP, I’VE GOT A FRIEND CALLED EMILY FERRIS?  Or does that seem like another lifetime ago?
COURTNEY: It feels like a lifetime ago to me. But so does last week. I’ve got no concept of time over here. Nothing seems to match up. But I still feel connected to the songs, I understand them. In fact, I think I understand them even more now.


SPAZ: What’s next for Courtney Barnett?
COURTNEY: I just spent 20 hours on a plane and now I’m in Austin. Doing a bunch of touring in the USA this month and playing the new songs which will be great. Then another month around UK/Europe. I’m reading a couple of different books. I’ve been watching lots of crime shows - just finished the new Bridge, and I watched Star Wars on the plane. Next is peppermint tea and bed. 
 
SPAZ: What are you currently spinning on your CD or record players?
COURTNEY: I just got a little portable record player. I’ve been spinning The Breeders - ALL NERVE, Elliott Smith - EITHER/OR, and Gillian Welch - THE HARROW AND THE HARVEST.  On the digital platforms, I’ve been doing Staple Singers, Evelyn Ida Morris, Kamasi Washington, King Tuff, Janelle Monae, and Totally Mild.

Thanks to Courtney Barnett
Special thanks to Steve Dixon and Dave Rayburn


COURTNEY BARNETT

TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL

5.18.18

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