My very last interview of SXSW 2016 was also one of the most memorable conversations I had during the week in Austin. Up-and-coming alt rocker Barns Courtney played a blinding set on the NME in association with UK Trade & Investment showcase at the British Music Embassy, and afterward I spirited him off into the alley outside for a chat. As it turned out, his fast and furious pace on the stage was matched by a quick wit and a ready sense of humour after the spotlights were off.
Courtney’s American accent rather took me by surprise, and when I asked him about it, he explained that he’s a British citizen, though he spent most of his youth in Seattle before moving back to England. His career is currently based in London, but he cited an eclectic mix of musical influences, including the White Stripes and Kanye West. That conversation led to discussion of Courtney’s own music, which he describes (very accurately, in my opinion) as “raw” and “percussive”.
Courtney’s early tracks ‘Fire’ and ‘Glitter and Gold’ have already gained traction on both sides of the pond, and he has tentative plans to record an album in the near future, having signed with Virgin EMI in the UK and Capitol Records in North America. He hopes to put out some new music in the EP format ahead of the full album, and I must admit that it struck me as funny that he described the EP approach as “old-fashioned”, but the success of his early individual tracks is nothing if not a testament to how quickly a single song can take flight in the digital music age.
SXSW was only the beginning of Courtney’s American tour, and he played an exhausting 10 shows during the week in Austin. Be sure to listen through to the end of the interview clip, where he describes losing his voice at one point, but miraculously managing to bring it back to life. Barns Courtney has a lengthy list of UK dates on the horizon; you can find details of those on his official Facebook.
Thanks to Jason for his assistance with setting up this interview.