Nov 19, 2021
By Celine Teo-Blockey
Photography by Mia Mala McDonald
Australian indie rocker Courtney Barnett is our guest on the latest episode of Under the Radar Podcast. The 34-year-old released her third studio album, Things Take Time, Take Time, on Milk! Records/Marathon Artists/Mom & Pop last week. Barnett discusses how she wrote and recorded these new songs with fellow Australian Stella Mozgawa, the drummer of Los Angeles-based band Warpaint.
The pair had met in 2017 when Barnett collaborated with Kurt Vile on the album Whole Lotta Sea Lice. At an intimate event at Gold Diggers in Los Angeles this week, Barnett revealed she had enjoyed working with Mozgawa then and hoped that they might have another opportunity to work together again. “Fast forward 23 years,” Mozgawa deadpanned, as the small audience broke out in laughter.
That opportunity came when they both found themselves back home in Australia after COVID-19 hit. They had worked together again on Sharon Van Etten’s Epic Ten, an anniversary album where Barnett contributes a cover. Whilst on lockdown they started exchanging playlists, Mozgawa shared drum machine tutorials with Barnett, who finally shared her musical ideas. Eventually, she asked Mozgawa to produce her new album.
After going through much personal upheaval during the tour cycle of 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel—and scrapping songs that she had originally written for a new album—Barnett reveals in the podcast how she embraced the idea of doing things differently on Things Take Time, Take Time. “It was a fun process,” she says. “That’s like probably one of the biggest lessons for me on the album was just being open to making mistakes. Or taking a path that doesn’t feel like you know the answer or you know where it’s going to end up.”
Barnett, who is famously shy and well adept at side-stepping personal questions, does gives us a glimpse into the connection between her shyness and her songwriting. She also reminisces about her childhood growing up in the Northern Beaches—a collection of suburbs about an hour outside of Sydney that’s famed for its surf, sandy beaches, and national parks.
Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey. Upcoming guests this season will include Julien Baker, Xiu Xiu, and more.
Also check our season 2, episode 1, which is our interview with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne (plus listen to our bonus mini behind-the-scenes episode on The Flaming Lips). Season 2, episode 2 featured Emmy the Great. Season 2, episode 3 featured Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Season 2, episode 4 featured James Yorkston. Season 2, episode 5 featured London Grammar. Season 2, episode 6 featured Lucy Dacus. Season 2, episode 7 featured Adrian Younge. Season 2, episode 8 featured Sleaford Mods. Season 2, episode 9 featured SPELLLING.
On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).