Courtney Melba Barnett (born 3 November 1987) is an Australian singer, songwriter and musician. Known for her witty, rambling lyrics and deadpan singing style, Barnett attracted attention with the release of her debut EP, I've Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris. International interest from the UK and North American music press came with the release of The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas in October 2013.
Barnett's debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, was released in 2015 to widespread acclaim. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2015 she won four awards from eight nominations. She was nominated for Best New Artist at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards and for International Female Solo Artist at the 2016 Brit Awards.
In 2017 she released Lotta Sea Lice, a collaborative album with Kurt Vile.
On 15 February 2018, Barnett released the single "Nameless, Faceless" followed by "Need a Little Time" on 15 March 2018. The third single, "Sunday Roast", was released on 10 May 2018 along with an accompanying music video. Her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel was released on 18 May 2018.
Courtney Melba Barnett was born in Sydney on 3 November 1987. She grew up in Sydney's Northern Beaches. When she was 16, her family moved to Hobart. She attended St Michael's Collegiate School and Tasmanian School of Art. Having grown up on American bands, she discovered Australian singer-songwriters Darren Hanlon and Paul Kelly which inspired her to start writing songs.
From 2010 to 2011 Barnett played second guitar in Melbourne garage grunge band, Rapid Transit. They released one self-titled album on cassette. Between 2011 and 2013 she was a member of Australian psych-country band, Immigrant Union, a musical project founded by Brent DeBoer (of The Dandy Warhols) and Bob Harrow. Along with sharing vocal duties, Barnett predominantly played slide guitar and is on the band's second studio album, Anyway. DeBoer also played drums on Barnett's first extended play, I've Got a Friend called Emily Ferris. It appeared in 2012 on Barnett's own label, Milk! Records.
In 2013 Barnett played lead guitar on Jen Cloher's third studio album, In Blood Memory, which was released on Milk! Records. Following the release of her first EP, Barnett signed to Marathon Artists (via its imprint House Anxiety). In August 2013, Marathon Artists released The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, a combined package of Barnett's first EP and her second EP, How To Carve A Carrot Into a Rose. The Double EP brought Barnett international critical acclaim, with "Avant Gardener", the lead single, named Track of the Day by Q Magazine and Best New Track by Pitchfork in 2013. It was named the album of the week by Stereogum The track "History Eraser" was nominated for the APRA Song of the Year. How To Carve A Carrot Into a Rose was released on a limited run by Milk! Records as a standalone EP in October 2013. Marathon Artists and House Anxiety partnered with Mom + Pop Music for the U.S. release of The Double EP in 2014.
Milk! Records released a compilation EP, A Pair of Pears (with Shadows), on 10" white vinyl in September 2014, following a crowd sourcing campaign in July that year. The EP included a Barnett track, "Pickles from the Jar", the song was voted in at number 51 in Triple J's Hottest 100 for 2014.
On 30 January 2015, Barnett released details on her upcoming full-length album, recorded in April 2014 with Burke Reid, along with two singles, "Pedestrian at Best" and "Depreston" and accompanying music videos. The music video for "Pedestrian at Best" features Cloher and Fraser A Gorman. Her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, was released worldwide via Milk! Records (Australia), Marathon Artists / House Anxiety (UK & Rest of World), and Mom + Pop Music (US) on 23 March 2015, and was accompanied by tours in the UK and Europe, America, and Australasia.
Sometimes I Sit and Think was met with critical acclaim, The Guardian, The Times, Pitchfork and the Chicago Tribune.
In August 2015, Barnett's UK label, Marathon Artists, in partnership with Mom + Pop Music and Milk! Records, launched a global, guerilla campaign for the release of her single Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party. Billboards and posters bearing the song's title went up in London, New York, LA, Melbourne and Sydney. The campaign garnered a lot of interest online and across social media and culminated in a surprise busking gig in Camden, London.
In concert, Dan Luscombe (of The Drones) has often played lead guitar, having featured on both, How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose and Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, the latter of which he also co-produced. When Luscombe was not available, the band performed as a trio, with Barnett handling all guitar duties. Luscombe did not play on Barnett's 2015 tours, however, and she now refers to the band as the "CB3" on her Facebook page. The CB3 moniker also features prominently on drummer Dave Mudie's bass drum.
Barnett was nominated in eight categories at the ARIA Music Awards of 2015, and won four trophies: Breakthrough Artist, Best Female Artist, Best Independent Release and Best Cover Art for Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.
At the end of 2015, Barnett was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category. She was later nominated for Best International Female in 2016 for the Brit awards. On 21 May 2016, she was the musical guest on the season finale of Saturday Night Live's 41st season, hosted by Fred Armisen. In January 2016, Barnett appeared on the cover of Australian music magazine, Happy Mag. And on 27 May 2016, she was the musical guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
In 2017, Barnett and Kurt Vile recorded the collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice, released via Matador Records, Marathon Artists and Milk! Records on October 13. Some of the album collaborators include Stella Mozgawa, Mick Harvey and the Dirty Three's Mick Tuner and Jim White. The lead single "Over Everything" was released on August 30, 2017 accompanied by the music video directed by Danny Cohen. "Over Everything" initially sparked the pair's collaboration, after Philadelphia-based Vile wrote the song with the Melbourne-based Barnett's voice in mind. The second single "Continental Breakfast" was released on 26 September 2017. In June 2017 Vile and Barnett announced a North American tour. The duo will be backed by the Sea Lice, a band featuring Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag), Rob Laakso (The Violators, The Swirlies, Mice Parade), Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), and Katie Harkin (Sky Larkin, touring member of Sleater-Kinney and Wild Beasts).
On 12 February 2018, Barnett teased a new album on her social media accounts, featuring Barnett trying out various musical instruments with the clip ending with the tagline Tell Me How You Really Feel. To date, Barnett has released the singles "Nameless, Faceless", "Need A Little Time", "City Looks Pretty" and "Sunday Roast", her sophomore solo album was released on 18 May 2018, titled Tell Me How You Really Feel. About the album's title, Barnett told Exclaim!, "It's just anger that's always there within me. It's maybe just been politely restrained or something."
Barnett plays left handed, using mostly left-hand constructed guitars, with standard tuning and string order for left-handed players (low strings at top, high strings at the bottom). She occasionally plays right-handed guitars upside down, but does not prefer it. She learned to play on acoustic guitars, and disliking the sound of a pick, developed her own method of fingerstyle guitar which she later translated to use on the electric guitar. She is capable of using a pick (and claims she could probably play better with one), but prefers to play with just her fingers, strumming with both her thumb and index finger on rhythm parts, and using her index finger as one would use a pick for lead parts. She prefers to play in standard tuning, even when playing alongside other artists using alternate tunings.
Among her guitars she uses for performance and recording are a Harmony H59, and a number of Fender Guitars, including Telecasters, Stratocasters, and Jaguars, which she strings with Ernie Ball Power Slinky strings in the 0.011 − 0.048 gauge. She plays through Fender Hot Rod Deville and Fender Deluxe amplifiers, with a number of effects pedals, including a Fulltone OCD overdrive pedal, a "cheap delay pedal", and a chorus pedal.
Barnett is openly gay and in a relationship with fellow singer-songwriter Jen Cloher. The song "Numbers" was co-written by Barnett and Cloher about their relationship. Barnett's song "Pickles from the Jar" also details their relationship, and Cloher is mentioned by name in the first line of "Dead Fox". Barnett admits to Cloher being a "huge constant influence" on her music. Barnett also plays guitar in Cloher's band.
• Bones Sloane – bass, backing vocals (2013–present)
• Dave Mudie – drums, backing vocals (2013–present)
• Dan Luscombe – lead guitar, backing vocals (2013–present; Australia/New Zealand touring only)
• Katie Harkin – lead guitar, keyboard, backing vocals (2015–present; North America touring only)
• Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)
• Tell Me How You Really Feel (2018)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Courtney Barnett in the news
|Songs by Courtney Barnett|