JH_signing.jpgphoto: Kylie Carlson

Word wooing author of Get Up Mum and Funemployed. In 1980 he was shortlisted for the second prize. He lives in his head.  

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

Read the full Life Story.