The Mel­bourne mu­si­cian on pizza de­liv­ery, her ad­dic­tion to two-minute noo­dles and mak­ing Obama’s playlist.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Oct -

Court­ney Bar­nett on pizza de­liv­ery and her ad­dic­tion to two-minute noo­dles.

What kind of food do you eat when you’re on the road? Yes­ter­day, I ate a bur­rito from a 24-hour bur­rito restau­rant. I eat mostly veg­e­tar­ian. I love veg­eta­bles and of­ten there are no veg­eta­bles or sal­ads. I’d be happy with a big plate of broc­coli, but I find my­self eat­ing hot chips a lot as a sub­sti­tute. It takes a bit of ex­tra ef­fort to eat well and find out where the good places are. A lot of the time, I don’t like to eat be­fore I play, be­cause I get too ner­vous, so I find my­self not hav­ing din­ner un­til one or two o’clock in the morn­ing when we fin­ish play­ing. Ob­vi­ously, by then, ev­ery­thing is closed and the only op­tion is a Domino’s.

You used to de­liver piz­zas. What was that like? I re­ally liked it. It was fun. I’d get to drive around in my car and lis­ten to the ra­dio. I prob­a­bly drove back to the shop a bit slower than I needed to. On my first night, I be­came lost – this was be­fore iPhones, and I didn’t have a road map. There was one place I went to that was like a scene from a hor­ror movie with a flick­er­ing flu­oro light and blood on the stair­case. I was young, and by my­self, so I was re­ally scared. But oth­er­wise, it was great – peo­ple give you tips.

You started play­ing mu­sic at age 10. How did you first get your hands on a gui­tar? It was tricky. I kept ask­ing for one, but they’re ex­pen­sive, and I had to bor­row them off fam­ily, friends or neigh­bours. I had a next-door neigh­bour who had a gui­tar and he’d some­times let me bor­row it for a day or two. A fam­ily friend gave me a long-term loan of a half-bro­ken gui­tar and I learnt on that. Af­ter I proved to my par­ents that it wasn’t just a phase that I was go­ing through, we com­bined a cou­ple of Christ­mas and birth­day presents over the years and I got one.

Your first gigs were open-mic nights in Ho­bart. What helped with your nerves in those early ap­pear­ances? I’ve al­ways been a ner­vous per­former. I get bet­ter the more I do it, and over­com­ing that chal­lenge is quite sat­is­fy­ing. I did my first open-mic night in front of friends, but some­times that can be more nerve-rack­ing than play­ing to strangers. I just kept on per­se­ver­ing.

Prior to your first Amer­i­can tour, you’d never left Aus­tralia. What’s it like now to travel the world play­ing sell-out shows? It’s great. I con­sider my­self in­cred­i­bly lucky to be able to travel. In the last few years, I’ve been to so many places that I never thought I would go to. You know af­ter school, when peo­ple would do gap years and go back­pack­ing? I didn’t do that. I al­ready had a job and went to univer­sity. Trav­el­ling seemed like such a far-off thing.

“I’d be happy with a big plate of broc­coli, but I find my­self eat­ing hot chips a lot as a sub­sti­tute.”

What was it like dis­cov­er­ing you’d made Pres­i­dent Obama’s sum­mer playlist? It just popped up in my so­cial me­dia feed – just a news ar­ti­cle about it. I think he’s in­cred­i­ble so it’s very flat­ter­ing. And I would love to be­lieve that it was him that put the playlist to­gether. If he does lis­ten to my mu­sic, I’m in­cred­i­bly hon­oured.

Is food some­thing you think about a lot? I have a lot of songs about food. It’s just there in our lives, and in a way, our days re­volve around it. It’s one of those top­ics that’s al­ways on peo­ple’s minds.

You started the award-win­ning Milk! Records la­bel with help from your grand­mother. Did you have a strong mu­si­cal re­la­tion­ship with her? A lit­tle bit. My grand­mother was more into jazz and she en­joys a lot of clas­si­cal mu­sic, so we’d talk about that.

You run the la­bel with your long-term part­ner, mu­si­cian Jen Clo­her. Years be­fore your re­la­tion­ship, though, when you were in high school, you saw her play at Falls Fes­ti­val and yelled out “will you marry me?” I did do that. I was a fan and I was ex­cited. She’s in­cred­i­ble and has now taken over as la­bel man­ager. She’s su­per busy, writ­ing her own songs. She’s an in­spir­ing per­son.

Now you’re an award-win­ning mu­si­cian with in­ter­na­tional hit records. What kept you go­ing when suc­cess seemed far away? I didn’t think there was an­other op­tion. Mu­sic is what I like do­ing. I wasn’t re­ally think­ing about “suc­cess” suc­cess. I wanted peo­ple to hear the songs I was singing. But ev­ery day is an­other step in some di­rec­tion. So I just kept mov­ing for­ward.

You once wrote a song called “Three Packs a Day” about your ad­dic­tion to two-minute noo­dles. How’s your re­la­tion­ship with in­stant ra­men these days? It’s like a spe­cial treat, which I have ev­ery now and then.

Court­ney Bar­nett’s lat­est al­bum Tell Me How You Re­ally Feel is out now on Milk! Records.

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