Singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett talks pizza toppings and her new album

The Australian musician plays Modern Sky Lab this week

Photograph: courtesy 247tickets (Courtney Barnett) 
Courtney Barnett is an Australian singer, songwriter and musician who puts a lot of effort into sounding effortless. Her songs are winding and discursive, with plainspoken lyrics delivered like she’s making them up on the spot. Courtney Barnett started Milk! Records in 2012 to release her first EP I've Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris.

In 2015 Barnett released her debut album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, to worldwide critical acclaim, proceeded by a collaborative studio album with Kurt Vile, former lead guitarist of the American indie rock band, The War On Drugs. Tell Me How You Really Feel (2018), Barnett's sophomore album, is her most revelatory to date. Ahead of her July 24 gig at Modern Sky Lab, Barnett talks pizza toppings, her new album and her 2019 playlist.

I read online that you worked as a pizza delivery driver before finding fame. Do you think pineapple on pizza is blasphemous or chill?

Ha, yeah I'm not a fan of pineapple on pizza. I wouldn't go so far as to say blasphemous because to each their own, you know?

Were you a writer before you became a musician or did those two skills develop together naturally?

I think I developed them at the same time. I was always writing poems as a kid, around the time I started learning guitar. The two just blended together. I do try to learn different tools and explore different methods and experiment with different things. I really try to make the writing process a bit more methodical. You’ve got to always try different things and grow. Still, I never quite know what I’m doing.

Photograph: courtesy 247tickets

Is there a reason Tell Me How You Really Feel is such a self-reflective album?

I think it's important for us to constantly be analysing and reflecting upon ourselves – always learning, always listening and always un-learning bad behaviours. My writing process is a long and slow game of articulation and this album has been my own personal introductory study into human behaviour and Psychology 101.

What does exploring and amplifying life's mundane moments achieve for you?

There would be no big moments without small moments so we gotta celebrate them. They're beautiful in their own tiny, weird way. My goal has always been to incorporate every experience, good and bad, and spin it around until it makes something interesting or something useful. I try to draw inspiration from anything and anywhere. You just have to open your eyes. If you’re open to people and open to situations, there’s always so much more going on around us than we realise.

What are some albums that arrived this year that you can't get enough of? Are there any 2019 releases that you're anticipating?

I can't get enough of... Palehound, Black Friday; Lizzo, Cuz I Love You; and Joan As Policewoman, Joanthology. And I'm looking forward to... Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won't Hold and Vagabon, All The Women In Me.

So now China: Do you prefer Beijing or Shanghai more? Not to go all partisan but we're all curious.

I've never been to either so I'm excited to see both!

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