Katherine and Zaria got to sit down with Barns Courtney at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama 2017! Check out their interview below!
Katherine: You’re listening to WSOE 89.3 Elon Burlington, I’m Katherine
Zaria: And I’m Zaria and we’re here at Hangout Fest
Katherine: And we’re here with Barns Courtney
Barns: Woohoo that’s my name!
Katherine: Yay so let’s jump right in and ask some questions!
Zaria: Okay so to start off can you tell us a little bit about your recent EP The Dull Drums?
Barns: Yeah so I wrote The Dull Drums when I had been struggling for 3 years having been dropped from Island Records. And it’s an EP it’s very much about just being steadfast and trying to get back into music and trying to beat the depression of having been dropped and having nothing happen for 3 years. It’s very thematic in that sense. The EP, I think I finished it like a couple of or like maybe a year before I actually got signed?
Zaria: Oh wow, really?
Barns: Yeah, it took a while for everything to sort of come together and for me to get to a position where I can release music.
Zaria: Awesome, so can you tell us a little bit about your sound?
Barns: The sound of the record is kind of all over the place, the EP specifically is very sort of folksy-blues rock, the rest of the record I got some Beatles like stuff on there, I’ve got some more sort of hard rock stuff, some stuff that’s a little bit kind of in Prince-ish territory, some really stripped back piano ballads. Yeah I’ve never like to write in one genre specifically, I’ve always enjoyed dipping my fingers in all different pies. And I listen to everything, from classical to hip-hop, from Franz Liszt to Kendrick Lamar, so I think a lot of musicians are quite eclectic in their taste though.
Katherine: Also going off you were talking about your music career, how did you first get into music and being a musician?
Barns: I mean my mom is ****ing crazy. So she and I would always sing songs around the house and put on accents together and we’ve been doing that since I was a little kid. So I knew I wanted to perform in some sense of the word. But I didn’t know if whether that was acting or being a musician. I think what really was the deciding factor when my aunt bought me a guitar when I was 14, and the friends that I made at this year of school were all in bands. So we’d go jam out every lunch time and one thing led to another and we sort of started doing battle of the bands and then we did this big televised battle of the bands and I got a manager and my first record label and it just kind of went from there.
Zaria: Awesome. So when you’re songwriting, can you kind of go through that process with us
Barns: I just, often times I have something very personal and a very strong emotion that I want to put out into something visceral. I don’t like to write unless I have something to say, unless I have a feeling I want to convey and I try and be as truthful and honest as possible. I think when you can accurately convey something truthfully, that makes a good song, because that’s what people want and that’s how they connect to music. But it’s hard you know? You get this like nebulous idea sent from whatever dimension they all live in, like this platonic realism sort of world where all the songs lives as complete and perfect entities and then you get like a fraction of it down and you have to use you crappy little human hands and brain to try to fill in all the gaps. And that’s what it feels like. Often times for instances, “Little Boy” off the EP, I was watching TV and this movie came on that I hadn’t seen since I was a little kid at my grandmas house and it just bowled me over because it immediately took me back to this strong desire to perform, that I forgot existed in me at such a young age. I remember sitting on the rug in my grandma’s house and just being fascinated by this little boy who was the protagonist in the movie, and thinking like oh my god, like I want to do that. I want to perform and for that to be my job. And it was such a powerful feeling I wanted to get in down and out into some music, so that’s how that song came to be. But yeah also just struggle has been a huge motivator for me as well. Being dropped, struggling for 3 years, that was actually a very lucky occurrence to have happened. I feel like my first record when I was signed to Island, I didn’t really have anything to say, and I hadn’t really had any life experience other than being in a band and having an awesome time. People often underestimate the power of failure, when you hit rock bottom it’s actually a very very intense and powerful motivator. And I think I’ve realized more and more as I’ve grown up that you can’t have success without failure, the two are hand in hand. There’s this great quote that I love, it’s one of those Confucius says kind of things and I love it but it’s “The master has failed more times than the novice has even tried” and I think that’s very true to life.
Katherine: Awesome, wow. So we’re here at Hangout Fest, can you talk a little bit about playing live, you said you like performing and that’s a big part of why you got involved in it, can you talk about the sensation of playing live at a festival?
Barns: Aw, I love it. I ****ing love it. That’s the whole reason why I do it. I think people often don’t realize when you play a show the audience is just as important a part of that as the performers themselves, and it’s just this incredible connection that you can experience. I think ultimately, all we want as people is to go out and connect with our fellow man. If you boil any desire down it really comes down to having a connection with people. And that is so present when you’re playing a show and doing it right. You know, you’re all singing all dancing, hearts beating glory hallelujah. You’re all there at once together and it’s very meditative and cathartic. And it’s not even an adoration based on something, it’s the fact that you’re there together experiencing something as one. And you come off stage and people want to talk with you after they want to continue on that feeling. The sad thing about that is the moment you step off, it’s gone. And suddenly, you don’t have that connection any more you’re just two strangers. But I guess that’s sort of the wonderful irony of being a performer.
Katherine: And how would you say performing at a festival like Hangout compares to other performances you’ve done or other smaller venue kind of things?
Barns: This is hands down equivalently my favorite festival that I’ve ever played. Oh my god it’s so much fun. I did not expect to get naked for that performance that I did, but it happened, I did it.
Katherine: It was hot out!
Barns: The people asked for it and I delivered. And i did not get where I am today with not getting naked for a few record label executives. It’s just something that -and it was great, they just want ****! Those guys were crazy! I said to them, look I’ll do it, but you gotta bust out some sweet moves. I need to see some serious action in the audience and they brought it. I made a big ceremony of it, I got a drum beat going, everybody’s chanting, I had these two girls up on stage to hype the whole thing and uh-
Zaria: Well it worked!
Katherine: It happened!
Barns: It was sweet! Kind of wish I wore my Calvins that day, but hey
Katherine: Next time, definitely
Zaria: Next time
Barns: Aw man I was wearing the nastiest pair of underwear they were all saggin and my *** was saggin up a storm.
Zaria: Well now you know, always wear good underwear
Barns: Always expect to get naked
Katherine: You never know when it’ll happen!
Zaria: Always you never know!
Barns: You never know. They were alright, like they weren’t the worst they were H&M, it’s like
Katherine: Oh that’s good
Barns: It’s okay
Zaria: It’s okay it’s not the worst you could
Barns: It’s not like Fruit of the Loom bull****
Zaria: Yeah no like packets that you got it in
Barns: **** that
Barns: Kohls, yeah yuck.
*lots of laugher*
Zaria: Awesome, well we’re really looking forward to you in the future, can you give us a little taste of anything that might be coming up?
Barns: My next single is going to be Golden Dandelions, it’s a song, weirdly it’s a very happy song but it’s actually about death.
Katherine: Good, good
Barns: There’s this really famous movie in England, it’s like an animated movie and the introduction is done by David Bowie cause he just loved it so much and it’s about this Snowman that comes to life and he like takes this kid and they fly over the cityscape. So kinda imagine this scenario but like the angel of death comes and takes this guy away and flies over the city and all of the colors start to saturate and burst and um he makes this transition into the afterlife. And lays him down in a field of golden dandelions for his eternal rest. I guess that’s why the song is so happy. It’s about death but kind of a nice feeling. There was this poet who said if death is uh-what did he say-if sleep is pleasant then death must be the ultimate form of sleep, and therefore the most pleasant thing you can experience. So I’ll see how it goes down
Zaria: Wow sounds like maybe a cool music video
Katherine: Yeah we could have some cool music video ideas for that.
Barns: Aw man I’ve had such bad luck with music videos. It just keeps happening I keep like being so busy that by the time the video comes around they’re like you have three days and no directors are free, so my last three videos are just me walking around in between promos and gigs
Katherine: That’s like a cool-like that’s a normal music video thing
Barns: Classic Barns walking around
Zaria: Maybe this time you can hire some angels to come in-
Barns: You guys up for it? That’s all I want
Katherine: I think we could arrange something
Barns: Okay sweet. Well I’ve got a **** ton of Nylon rope just sitting around
Zaria: There you go!
Barns: Not in a pervy way, I’m saying like I could lift you up, you could fly around, Peter Pan! More Peter Pan, less rape van.
Katherine: Okay perfect, I think this is going to happen now
Zaria: Well I’m looking forward to it
Katherine: We’ll be in contact about this
Barns: Deal alright let me know
Katherine: Awesome, okay another fun question about Hangout overall. There’s obviously so many amazing artist here, if you could collaborate with anyone,whether at Hangout or just any artist in the world, who would you want to collaborate with?
Barns: At Hangout? I’d love to collaborate with Bishop Briggs. I’ve been wanting to do sort of a male female thing for awhile and I love her style, it’s very percussive very tribal and she’s just ****ing hilarious so I feel like that’d be a lot of fun. Any artist in the world? Like living or dead, I’d love to do a collaboration with like Led Zeppelin just so I could meet all those guys. They’re phenomenal
Katherine: Good answer, good answer.
Zaria: Awesome well thank you so much for talking with us today, any last, anything you want the listeners of WSOE to know?
Barns: I love you all deeply, please come see my shows, I’ll turn your every Orpheus into a treasure trove. I’ll kiss each of you passionately on the mouth, you will not be disappointed. And I might get naked.
Zaria: You never know! And with the Calvins on!
Barns: With the Calvins this time oh I’ll bring it!
Katherine: Pefect! Alright that was Barns Courtney and again you’re listening to WSOE 89.3 Elon, Burlington