Courtney Swain

Vocalist / Songwriter
“Delivers emphatic, enigmatic lyrics in a manner that can evoke Björk, Alanis Morissette, or Joanna Newsom while sounding like no one but herself.” — The Boston Globe
a dark-haired woman in her 30s wears a black poncho and an enigmatic expression

Courtney Swain is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, and sound artist from Japan, currently living outside Providence, RI. A friend recently described her as "one of the most creative, artistically fearless folks I’ve met, and I love the soundscapes she conjures, always filled with surprises.”

Courtney's artistic output reflects a broad range of influences and inspiration. Recent highlights include:

  •  arrangement of Philip Glass’s Mishima string quartet for the Fox animated series Bob’s Burgers S13.E10 “The Plight Before Christmas”
  •  notes to myself, an album of improvised introspections, recorded entirely within Habit, a Chase Bliss effect pedal, released from Chase Bliss Records
  • Noisefloor, an upcoming evening-length piece commissioned by Palaver Strings and Little House Dance of Portland ME (Premieres December 2023) 
  • 2022 Artist in Residence at Akiyoshidai International Arts Village in Japan
  • 2021 Fellow for the Rhode Island Foundation’s Robert & Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship

Tied together by her unmistakable voice, Courtney’s discography includes six studio albums released with Bent Knee, and a prolific collection of albums, EPs, compositions, and multimedia pieces. Beyond her own work, Courtney’s voice has been featured in Mortal Kombat 11 (listen for the Fatality cue!), Bob’s Burgers, as well as studio releases by HAKEN, Car Bomb, Childish Japes, Gatherers, and others.

A decade of touring has taken Courtney to perform all over North America, Europe, and her native country, Japan. Bent Knee has shared the stage with Leprous, HAKEN, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Thank You Scientist, and has performed at Audio Tree, Day Trotter, Campbell Bay Music Festival, Gouveia Art Rock, FIMAV, BeardFest, ProgDreams, Burg Herzberg Festival and more.

After training as a classical pianist in her youth, Courtney graduated from Berklee College of Music as a vocalist with a dual degree in Classical Composition and Contemporary Writing & Production. A Rhode Islander since 2015, Courtney also works as a pianist/keyboardist and music director for Trinity Rep, Brown University, Theater by the Sea, Wilbury Group, University of Rhode Island, and others. Splitting her time between touring, composing, teaching, and more, her interests beyond music include plants, gardening, mystery novels, home improvement, photography, drawing, meditation, yoga, cooking, fermentation… a list that is always growing!