6 Questions with Sharon Van Etten


By Alex Schaaf

If you missed Sharon Van Etten’s 2009 release, Because I Was in Love, then you missed out on an album that got a lot of year-end nods. In addition to her own album, she contributed guest vocals to The Antlers’ Hospice, which landed at #9 on our list of favorite albums from last year.

Sharon Van Etten has two upcoming Wisconsin shows that we highly recommend. She’s supporting Bowerbirds at the High Noon Saloon in Madison on Sunday, January 17th before landing here in Milwaukee for a show we’re presenting at Cactus Club on Wednesday, January 20th.

You are clearly identified as a “solo” artist, recording all of the backup vocals yourself on your album, performing alone, etc. Do you always envision yourself as a solo artist? What are the advantages or disadvantages of always performing by yourself?

Well, right now I am a solo artist… although I have just started collaborating with other musicians/singers… so hopefully soon I will have a bit more of a “band”… but unorthodox. Pluses to being solo is that there is not much gear, I don’t have to check with the band to confirm a show or go on tour…BUT

Minuses are that it’s more fun to travel with people, write with other people (as I’m learning…), and the financial weight of releasing an album and touring is split up…

How did you get together with Peter Silberman (The Antlers) to be able to contribute vocals to Hospice?

I found a song of his posted on a blog

I read that you are going to be recording a new album in 2010, if I’m not mistaken? Will the new album contain all brand new songs, or will there be any reworkings/re-recordings of old songs, as you did on Because I Was in Love?

There will be all new songs on the new album.

You seem to be very active in the creation/upkeep of your official website. How do you see the Internet as a tool to reach fans and to spread your music around?

The internet is amazing. There are so many great blogs, and so many great bands that grant permission for usage of songs… you can find anything. I am a huge fan. More people have exposure on the internet to put out what they do and voice opinions on who they are and what they believe in. Whether or not we agree with them, we have minds to think for ourselves and decide what we like based on the endless information we come across.. I love it.

What is on your bookshelf at the moment?

Woody Allen’s ‘Without Feathers,” Ray Bradbury’s ‘Dandelion Wine’, and The Letters and Journals of Paula Modersohn-Becker.

We’re always on the lookout for new artists — any new discoveries that you’d like to share?

Movie Star Junkies, Hologram, Shilpa Ray, She Keeps Bees, Scary Mansion, Forest Fire, Glass Ghost, Here We Go Magic, The Wooden Birds, Telecopy, Skogar, and Natureboy… have been in my rotation for the last year.

Tickets for Sharon Van Etten’s Wednesday, January 20th show at the Cactus Club are $7 and are on sale now.

Buy: Sharon Van Etten – Because I Was in Love
Myspace: Sharon Van Etten
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”