Interview: Sharon Van Etten

I think this will be my last post before Christmas (unless I stumble upon anything terribly exciting), so I hope you enjoy this wonderful musician and all have happy holidays!

Sharon Van Etten

Recently while browsing through the crazy world of Youtube I actually found something good. Great even. I think it is safe to say that for every pearl you find on Youtube there are about ten dozen empty clams. The artist that I found is called Sharon Van Etten and she comes from Brooklyn, New York.

She has a really beautiful, stunning voice and plays lovely folk music. Among her influences she lists Vashti Bunyan, Neil Young, Diane Cluck and M Ward. She actually came over to the UK last January to play some shows with Meg Baird, including a show at the lovely lovely Luminaire. This was pre-me moving to London, but I’m still always made sad when I find out about all the wonderful shows I missed out on. But, fear not, Sharon tells me she had a great time in London and will hopefully be back early next year to promote her first official album.

This is another reason to add to the list of seemingly endless reasons why 2009 is going to be a great year. I’m so excited! She also has a CD of home recordings available on her myspace and some beautiful posters available from her website.

Sharon very very kindly took time out of her vacation to answer ten questions for this blog, here they are. Photo is by Eric Martin For MetroPop Magazine

What was your first musical instrument and where did you get it?

My first instrument was a violin.  I went to a public school in Nutley, NJ that highly encouraged music and the arts.  The school supplied instruments and had free lessons from 3rd grade on.  From 3rd grade through 6th grade I played violin, clairinet, and sang in the choir.

Do you download music or buy hard copies? Or both?

I do both.  My favorite albums I try to find on vinyl.  I have a lot of CD’s… but yes, I buy things from i-tunes time to time when I can’t find it in a store and I need a quick fix.

Favourite music venue to play and why?

Zebulon in Brooklyn because they were the first to encourage me, support, not judge me, invite me, be friendly to me, and in my surrounding community – the same with all of my friends.  They never charge and are open arms with any one that comes in.  That is very rare in that specific neighborhood.

Last book read:
Will You Please Be Quiet, Please by Raymond Carver

Last movie watched:
Ingmar Bergman’s ‘ Thirst ‘

Current favourite thing on tv:

I don’t have tv, but I saw an episode of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ and it was HILARIOUS… but the British version of ‘The Office’ is still my favorite, I have it on DVD, and watch that all the time…

Best moment on tour?

I must say, driving around with a bunch of british folk, hearing the accents with a bit of road rage, listening to great music, seeing the countryside of the UK, getting see Meg Baird every night (not to sound like a dork) but the whole experience was pretty amazing.  We kidnapped a ghost that glowed in the dark and he was our mascot… then we had an excursion to Stonehedge, where meg held up a sign that said fake or real.  Laughs nonstop really…

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be?

That’s a tough one… I guess it would be kind of neat to sing in churches across europe.  Their architecture is all pretty amazing and the acoustics would be so perfect.  Prague, Italy, England, France… hmmm… I don’t know… that’s a good one.  I’ll have to think on that one more!

Favourite band/singer/album you discovered recently?

Hmmm… well locally, I have been listening to She Keeps Bees.  One of the most amazing singers I have a heard in a very long time.  Also,  Glass Ghost.

But one thing I can’t stop listening to that’s kind of old is Richard & Linda Thompson’s ‘Pour Down Like Silver’.  The song ‘Streets of Paradise’ has been my wake up song… giving me motivation in the morning.  I’m well known for being a night owl, so it’s hard for me to get up early – so this song does the trick.  So rad.  I’m a bit far behind in music from that era – so I thank my friend Michael Morley for introducing them to me!

If you could get any two musicians to collaborate with each other, who would they be and why?

Jess from She Keeps Bees and Shilpa Ray from Beat the Devil.  Two of the best singers I know.  Jess plays a dirty bluesy style guitar and Shilpa plays harmonium… I think it could work…

Thanks a bunch to Sharon for answering the questions. Here is that video that entranced me so much when I saw it:

Sharon also sent me a photo of the ghost they kidnapped that became the tour mascot. The picture was taken by the photographer Cat Stevens. Sharon says: “we were sitting around a table with a teacup, pub glass, teabag with a cigarette put out in it, and the ghost we stole – and we said “this about sums up our trip in the UK”

Beautiful music, wonderful voice, and she kidnaps glow in the dark ghosts. What a great find! Keep an eye out for her full length next year and some UK tour dates.

Here are some links:

Website. //Myspace. // The Times featured her song I Wish I Knew as their track of the day recently.

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