Courtney Barnett: “I Use Songwriting To Communicate”

The rising Australian singer-songwriter struggles to comfort bereaved friends... “So I spend ages writing a song about them,” she reveals in the new MOJO magazine.

Courtney Barnett: “I Use Songwriting To Communicate”

“OFTEN I WRITE songs for friends going through a hard time – a break-up, or a death,” explains Courtney Barnett of the creative urge that’s taken her from Melbourne’s open mike circuit to DIY success. MOJO 267, on sale in the UK from Tuesday, December 29. It’s pretty punk rock.

It certainly explains the idiosyncratic, personal and homespun nature of her acclaimed 2015 debut album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, though as she admits in the latest issue of MOJO (February ’16 / #267), while her songs have proved to have a wider resonance, many have been aimed at keeping specific friendships going.

“I’m really bad at expressing myself,” she tells MOJO’s Stevie Chick. “I feel like I’m a bad friend when people go through that sort of thing. You’re supposed to say, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss,’ or whatever. But it feels so… impersonal, and fake. So sometimes I don’t say anything…”

Instead, as Barnett explains, the sentiments she tries to get across end up in song.

“I feel a lot for them, but I don’t know how to express it, so I end up not saying anything, and maybe seeming like a heartless dickhead,” she admits. “So I spend ages writing a song about them. I use songwriting as a form of communication.”

Read the full interview in the current issue of MOJO to discover how these personal communiqués, an obsession with Nirvana and a sprinkling of staunch DIY ethics have taken Barnett to worldwide attention. And/or listen to her album below now...


PHOTO: Tom Oldham