Melbourne based Courtney Barnett is a 24-year-old singer songwriter who has just released her first UK CD, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas.
Are you a self-taught guitarist? How long have you been playing?
I started playing when I was about 10. My brother and his friends taught me a few songs, then I got lessons from this legendary guitar teacher called Matt who taught me Hendrix and Beatles stuff.
Your lyrics are incredible. What inspired you to be so quirky and witty with what you write?
I don’t try to be particularly quirky or funny, they’re mostly just matter of fact. I play with ideas and see how far i can stretch them, or see how many syllables I can fit into one sentence or whatever. It’s a kind of creative exercise I do to keep it interesting for me.
How prolific a song writer are you?
Prolific is such an epic sounding word, I would never use it to describe myself. I try to write consistently, every day I make notes of things I see. but songs sometimes don’t have a certain start or finish. I guess in the last few years, I’ve released 12 songs, recorded another album of 10, and in between that have written a handful of silly songs that will probably end up nowhere. I’m not sure if that’s a lot, or if it’s not much at all. Sometimes it takes me years to finish an idea. I like to think it’s quality, not quantity. If Leonard Cohen only wrote one song in the space of 10 years where a million other s*** songs got written by other people, his would still be better.
What is the meaning/inspiration behind the name A Sea of Split Peas?
I was listening to Keith Jarrett, and drawing a picture; an appropriation of The Great Wave, and I was eating some lentil soup. I said out loud “this soup is so good I would happily drown in a sea of it” then, as I finished my drawing, I added the title, and then I used it for the album cover.
Will this be the first time you’ve been over to play shows in the UK?
I did a few solo shows last October, then earlier this year we played some band shows around London, but this will be the most extensive trip we’ve done so far. I am super excited to see some countryside on the drive!
Do you plan to check out some of the other acts on at Live at Leeds?
Totally. Can’t wait to see Yuck again. and F*** Buttons sound like a good name.
Courtney Barnett plays at Leeds Metropolitan University on May 3 at 5.30pm. www.liveatleeds.com