“The past couple of years have been crazy,” says Melbourne singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett, considering her ascent from dingy basements bars to the recent primetime slot on the Jimmy Fallon show. “It was unexpected but everything just fell into place, people connected, and for some reason or another it worked. I don’t quite believe it’s real sometimes.”
Courtney’s drowsy garage-pop has earned her global recognition. Critics have crowned the artist with supreme slacker status, positioning her shoulder-to-shoulder with contemporaries such as Jeffrey Lewis and Mac DeMarco. “The turning point was when we went over to New York for CMJ. That was my first show overseas and it was surprisingly busy. I was like, ‘Oh wow! What’s going on?’ I mean, that was kind of like the start, but it felt like a shift in a way.” And as if finding success as a fully-fledged musician wasn't enough, Barnett has also carved a buzzing scene back home with her rambling-shambling crew of creatives, aka team Milk, the independent record label she launched from her bedroom back in 2007. “It can be a juggle, but it’s just a bunch of us friends that do it. So between us all we have the skills to manage things.”
Courtney easily exhales deadpan, conversational lyrics, touching on subjects from gardening to panic attacks and the benefits of masturbation. “There’s never any solid concept or theme,” she says of her writing. “It just follows my life, observations and moments. Things that happen, things I see buried in moods that follow the ups and downs of everyday life.” Her new single, “Dead Fox”, however, takes a more political stance. It’s a summery, pop-laden track that touches on environmental damage, animal cruelty and the destructive impact of powerful corporations. Barnett’s vivid use of language and imagery is captured by animators Rory Kerr and Paul Ruttledge, who have illustrated foxes, emus and sharks taking bloody revenge on humans. Watch it here.
"Dead Fox" taken from Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, is out 22 June via House Anxiety / Marathon Artists.
Text by Nazanin Shahnavaz