Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten

Forecastle Chat: Q&A with Sharon Van Etten

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Sharon Van Etten was one of the standout artists at this year’s Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville, Ky. WOUB contributor Josh Antonuccio caught up with Van Etten on the banks of the Ohio River to talk about her go-to albums, the best music of 2014 and their mutual fascination with Courtney Barnett.

Josh Antonuccio: So–favorite album of the year?

Sharon Van Etten: I’d have to say it’s the new War On Drugs record (Lost In The Dream).

JA: I love that record! Funny, so many other bands I’ve talked with have said the same thing.

SVE: Yeah, it’s just a great driving record; I think we both were in a similar place when we wrote our records. So it’s nice; Adam (Granduciel) and I talked and we’ve both been through similar times so it’s nice to hear people persevere and get through it…

JA: …and process it in different ways?

SVE: Yeah, and process it in a positive way. But I’ve been listening a lot to Glass Candy’s stuff, it’s like really fun and upbeat.

JA: I don’t know Glass Candy. What’s the story with them?

SVE: It’s Johnny Jewel–he did the Drive soundtrack and helps run a label called Italians Do It Better. They do Chromatics and a bunch of really cool, kind of left, electronic, super minimal, post-punk style stuff.

JA: That sounds really cool.

SVE: Yeah, it’s pretty raw. Recently I found this band called Dignan Porch. I’d never heard them before, but it’s just really good beautiful rock, though kind of grunge-y. They’re from London and I’ve been listening to that a lot.

JA: Do they have a new album out or is it just in general that you discovered them?

SVE: They have one that came out a few months ago, but they have a bunch of records out. But I hadn’t heard them. I actually found them through Spotify (laughs). I just joined. Yeah, they’re really fun.

JA: Do you feel guilty about joining Spotify?

SVE: Well, no, because I’ve educated myself about it and they’re learning to compensate artists better. It’s actually not bad. It’s the first music platform that really helps pay artists for streaming, which I think is going to be a huge thing, and they’re really good about it actually.

JA: Did you get a paid account or a free account?

SVE: Paid account.

JA: Very cool, me too.

SVE: Yeah, you know, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. And it’s been fun to find new music, especially when you’re on the road; it’s nice to play in the car. And if you’re in another country, you can save it and still play it. It’s good for that. At home, I like listening to records. I don’t have like a digital setup for listening to music at home, which is nice for me.

JA: So what’s your “go-to” vinyl album when you’re back home?

SVE: Well, to start the day I have Glass Candy’s album Beatbox. I also have Karen Dalton’s records.

JA: Oh my gosh, I’m a huge Karen Dalton fan, too. I read that Nick Cave listened to that track “Something On My Mind” for like a month straight when he was in South America.

SVE: Yeah, Nick Cave is really into her. He’s also pretty obsessed with late-era Elvis Presley.

JA: Wow.

SVE: Another new one that I got that I can’t wait to listen to when I get home is the new Courtney Barnett.

JA: Oh man, that’s a great album!

SVE: Yeah! Yeah! It’s really fun.

JA: The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas! “Avant Gardener” is one of my favorite tracks of the year.

SVE: Oh cool! Yeah, it’s so fun and I got play a show with her in Minneapolis. She’s a total badass and she’s really cool.

JA: Is she? She seems like a badass. I saw her play on Letterman. Have you heard of Angel Olsen at all?

SVE: Oh yeah! She’s great, too! We played some shows together in the same cities and have gotten to know each other. She’s really sweet.

JA: Yeah, all three of you seem like badasses in general. You guys should have jackets made.

SVE: (laughs) They are more badass than me, for sure! I’m kind of like…not a badass, though I appreciate the sentiment.