For a man who has amassed more than a billion global streams, Barns Courtney finds inspiration in unlikely places. 

Take his kimono, bought years ago down a backstreet in Hampstead Heath. Courtney could barely afford rent at the time but the charms of the wizened shop owner persuaded the young musician to fork out cash he didn't really have. 

Today, the garment is a symbol of harder times, if not necessarily worse ones. "It reminds me of walking around London with holes in my shoes and shopping bags tied round my socks to keep the rainwater out."  

That's the beauty of a beloved item of clothing or jewellery: the memories that will come to adorn it. 

Having spent the past five years touring, Courtney will doubtless make many more. 


What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?

I’m working on a concept album. I don’t want to say too much while it’s in its embryonic stages, but I expect it’ll be quite a departure from my earlier work in many ways.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

When I look back over the last five years, I have nothing but happy memories.

Endless adventures sailing upon the concrete waves of oblivion, flying up into the ether spread eagle in the back of a splitter van.

I played Skyrim for three months straight on one tour.

If I could travel back in time and tell the troubled young man, hastily scrunched over a writing desk that his future would be like this, I could’ve saved a lot of sweat.

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

I’d have released Glitter&Gold as a single! Five years as a B side and it’s still my top streaming track!

What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?

I’ve always had a passion for the live side of music. Building the shows is hugely important to me.

I want to increase the size of the band, create enormous stage sets, and push the boundaries of the separation between audience and performer.

Outside of your family, who is / was your biggest inspiration?

I used to watch Steven Tyler perform for hours when I was a kid. The way he moved so effortlessly across the stage was so utterly captivating. I’ve always been a sucker for a good frontman.

As I got older I discovered Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant, but Aerosmith opened the door.

Tell us something nobody knows about you…

I prefer playing shows to writing music. The music is a catharsis.

When it’s in me, it’s got to come out. But I find the process of recording and tweaking to be very dull.

Weeks and months spent inside dark studios is a hard path to tread for me.

View on Instagram


What’s your favourite item of clothing – and what does it mean to you?

I’ve got a kimono that I bought years ago down an unmarked backstreet in Hampstead Heath.

The owner of the shop was a wizened old lady who stitched them together from scraps of antique silk. Each one was totally unique and totally out of my price range.

Having been dropped from a label three years prior I could barely afford my rent let alone strange regalia. But despite my better judgement, I blew my savings and bought it anyway.

Those days gave me the inspiration to write my first album. It reminds me of walking around London with holes in my shoes and shopping bags tied round my socks to keep the rainwater out. Prince of Paupers.

Favourite accessory – watch / jewellery / etc – and why is it special to you?

I’ve got a silver eagle ring that my ex girlfriend gave me five years ago one night in Melrose.

I remember shaking my hand to test its grip on my finger and nearly losing it down a storm drain.

I’ve worn it every day since.

What items do you take on holiday and why?

I haven’t been on holiday for five years! I don’t even rent an apartment! Touring has been all consuming.

When I do it’ll be a guitar and some flip flops.

Is there an item you threw away – or lost – that you really miss?

I’ve lost countless items on the road.

A royal green Letterman’s jacket from a vintage shop was stolen off the stage in Texas.

A great floating poet’s shirt disappeared in London.

My favorite Rockins scarf evaporated in St.Louis.

I don’t unpack anything I’m not wearing these days.

What’s next on your shopping list?

Clothes. An ungodly amount.

Two shirts and a jacket have survived the rigours of my travels. Many have been lost to simple wear and tear. Eroded over time, by salt sweat and cigarettes of a thousand shows.

What would you buy if money was no object?

An E Type Jaguar.

My Grandfather built one in his garage over the decades. Piece by piece, part by part. He was almost finished when he had to sell the whole lot for a little extra cash.

My dream was to turn up unannounced at his house in Saltburn, ring the doorbell and hand him a set of keys. Sadly he passed away before I got the chance, but I always wanted to drive one in his memory.