My short and cosy interview with Angel Olsen at the Michelberger Hotel on a moody Tuesday evening left many topics uncovered. Due to flight delays and a busy schedule, Angel only just arrived in Berlin from Paris and already found herself in a cloud of interviews and photo-shoots. Good thing she manages to keep a level head and sense of humour.
With her textured, vintage sound, her music is infused with melancholy. Today it really suits the weather. With her new album “Burn Your For No Witness” she is breaking new ground with her powerful songwriting and intricate melodies. Expect her back in Berlin at HAU1 on March 29th!
ib: What are the 5 last things you listened to?
AO: Bowie (Ziggy era), Ted Lucas, The Nerves, Mazzy Star, Guided by Voices and my friend’s band Esoteric Tapioca
ib: What was your earliest connection to music?
AO:When my uncle gave me a Yamaha keyboard
ib: Prefer recording or performing?
AO: Recording is all about perfecting a song and a sound for ever, a definitive record of my ideas. I like to work on a low-fi, vintage sound. When it’s too crisp and clean I find some of the vibrancy of the music is lost. And actually, it is probably more difficult to get this interesting sound than to make it sound really perfect.
Live performances, well it’s completely different. Being in front of people, there is much more spontaneity and humanity. I guess I like them both and they are just as important to me.
ib: Are there issues or themes that reoccur in your songs?
AO: Ideas, expectations, the deconstruction of ideas. Simple concepts that are important to us, like noticing the little things around us. Hope, sarcasm, disappointment. The Michelberger Hotel is pretty cool though.
ib: Have you seen much of Berlin yet?
AO: I only just arrived, and it’s getting dark, so not really… Unfortunately I’m only staying for one night
ib: What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you on tour?
AO: When one of my band-mates had to order woman’s products in French. I won’t go into details
ib: How do you relax?
AO: TV, films, exercise.
ib: Where can I find you in 10 years?
AO: Not sure. Probably still writing. I would like to have a family some day but it depends on a lot of things. I’d like to still be in Asheville, in the Appalacian hills. I like having a balance between city and countryside, the business and movement of Chicago versus the peace and tranquility of Appalacia.
ib: What do musicians nowadays have to fear?
AO: People will feed the artist bullshit, and it’s easy and tempting to go along with it – except then you end up being more of a cardboard cutout. It’s important to be aware of these manipulations going on around you. We have a certain responsibility to stay level-headed.
ib: Nico, Björk or Joni?
AO: Not Joni. Probably Björk, I like the animalistic things she does with her voice.
Interview by Lucas Frost