SPREADING THE LOVE: Jen Cloher and Courtney Barnett are using their success to help promote fellow Milk! Records label mates. Picture: Hilary WalkerJEN Cloher is under no illusions. She knows the vast majority of punters on Sunday night at the University of Newcastle’s Bar on the Hill will be there for her partner Courtney Barnett.
Barnett is the Australian alternative music scene’s “IT”girl right now. Her debut albumSometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit -withitsobservational lyrics,deadpan vocal delivery and 1990s-inspiredguitar -has attracted an audience around the globe.
The 28-year-old from Melbourne has earned Grammy and Brit Award nominations and on Wednesday she became just the second woman to win the prestigious AustralianMusic Prize in its 11-year history.
Rather than enjoy her success in isolation, Barnett has opted to share the ride with her musical compadres from her boutique label, Milk! Records.Last month they released a compilation record Good For You,which featured new tracks from Barnett andCloher andlesser known actsFraser A. Gorman, Ouch My Face, East Brunswick All Girls ChoirandThe Finks.
Courtney Barnett – “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party.”Last week they kicked off their tour in Adelaide, beforetheparty of 24 begantravelling around the east coast “old school style” in a bus. Cloher said the shows are a combination of separate sets and collaborations and were about giving emerging artists an avenue to have their music heard.
“It really comes from a place of being fans of the bands we have on the label,” Cloher said.“Every fanwants people to know more about the bands they love, so Milk! Records is our way to show people new music that may not be as accessible and maybe doesn’t get as much air time on radio. When you get to see them up there doing what they do, it’s pretty exciting.”
Barnett started Milk! Records in 2012 when she released her first EP,I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris.Cloher followed with her third album In Blood Memory.
“It just grew from there,” Cloher said.“With Courtney’s success, getting bigger by the year, I just saw that the label had an opportunity to grow with what she was doing and shine the light on the community of artists that she plays and hangs out with.”
ACCLAIMED: On Wednesday Courtney Barnett received the Australian Music Prize, which followed Grammy and Brit Award nominations.
Barnett and Cloher were hanging out with an entirely different crowd last month when they attended the 58th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Barnett received a surprise nomination for best new artist, but lost to American pop starMeghan Trainor, famous for her song All About That Bass.
“It’s a very different world, the world of the Grammy’s, perhaps to the one I’m used to,” Cloher said.“I don’t think many Australian musicians imagine finding themselves sitting in the first few rows from the front at the Grammy’s next to Patti Smith and Kendrick Lamar. I was actually like, ‘is this happening’.”
Cloher said they avoided going all “fan girl” by attempting to meet any major celebrities at the Grammy’s and enjoyed relaxed celebrations following the showin a bowling alley bar upstairs from Lamar’s after party.
The musical couple were also nonplussed aboutmissing out on the Grammy to the bubblegum pop ofTrainor.
“We were happy she was nominated,” Cloher said.“There was definitely no sadness on Courtney’s behalf or mine. It’s just great to be nominated and recognised. You just look at the long game and let’s hope she’s back there in 20 years time. I think that’s true success.That success that lasts from continuing to make music and put out great albums.”