photo: Kylie Carlson
Justin Heazlewood is a word-wooing writer, musician and humourist. Born in Burnie, he attended University of Canberra before chasing some girl to Sydney and then basing himself in Melbourne. In 2002 he scored a songwriting segment on Triple J’s Morning Show. As The Bedroom Philosopher he has released three albums including the ARIA-nominated Songs From The 86 Tram which he deserved to win but was beaten by the Chaser.
In 2012 he self-published his first book The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries, which he printed and collated on a vintage risograph which is pretty hip. In 2014 he launched his first non-fiction book Funemployed, about being an artist in Australia through Affirm Press. In 2018 he unleashed his childhood memoir Get Up Mum, about growing up with a Mother with schizophrenia. It was commissioned into a 10-part radio series for RN’s Life Matters in 2019. It has been described as “Angela’s Ashes meets The Castle” and Benjamin Law says he is cool.
“Justin Heazlewood is nothing short of one of Australia’s most versatile and important storytellers. Music and comedy fans know him best as the ARIA award-nominated Bedroom Philosopher, a moniker under which Heazlewood has released several albums of incisive, brutally funny and often heartbreaking songs.
However, it’s Justin’s written work that really hits me in the guts. In his journalism and personal essays, Heazlewood demonstrates a remarkable capacity to not only make the reader laugh, but think critically about important issues often poorly discussed, such as mental illness, unemployment and the frailty of human relationships.
In 2018 he released his childhood memoir Get Up Mum. I think he’s written something so bloody important and special with this book. One of the most big-hearted—and heart-bruising—books you’ll read.
He has also written two critically-acclaimed books: the memoir The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries (2012), followed by Funemployed (2014), which focused on the ecstasies, horrors and realities of being a working artist. The book earned praise from Tony Martin, Dave Graney and international writer Neil Gaiman, and featured interviews with over 100 local and international artists including Gotye (Wally De Backer), Clare Bowditch, John Safran, Tony Martin, Amanda Palmer, Christos Tsiolkas, Tim Rogers and Adam Elliot.
It’s a testament to Heazlewood ambidexterity that Funemployed found new life on other platforms. Soon after the book’s release, it was commissioned into a radio series for ABC RN (Radio National) under the same name. Heazlewood also recorded the Funemployed LP, described as “a soundtrack to life as an artist in Australia – from rejection to fame to selling out and giving up”.
He has written for Frankie, JMag, The Big Issue and literary journals such as Voiceworks, Sleepers Magazine and Going Down Swinging. Heazlewood is also accomplished in the world of television. In 2013, he was commissioned to make two station ID’s for ABC2, then he won ABC’s Fresh Blood competition in 2014, allowing him to produce three episodes of Crazy Bastards – a parody of Mad Men set in mid-80s Australia.”
– Benjamin Law, author of Gaysia & The Family Law.