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February 8th, 2010

Sharon Van Etten records track for Weathervane

Sharon Van Etten recently recorded a single for Weathervane Music, a non-profit organization dedicated to the support of independent musicians. This is the only track where you can hear Sharon without her signature acoustic, and the results are beautiful. You can view some great behind-the-scenes video from the recording sessions for this song too. Head over to Weathervane music to learn more about their mission and make a donation too!

[ download ] Sharon Van Etten – Love More

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September 6th, 2009

Meg Baird & Sharon Van Etten at Joe's Pub NYC


Sharon Van Etten

I’m sitting in the airport looking out over an overcast NY sky, waiting for my AerLingus flight to take me across the pond to London. The travels have begun. While I was in the big apple I was lucky enough to catch an unexpected show featuring Meg Baird and Sharon Van Etten, the latter who I had never seen live. Meg took the stage first, acoustic in hand, and played ten songs — some traditional ballads, some originals — that put her lithe fingerstyle guitar and tremulous tenor on full display. She silenced the room, despite noisy intrusions by subway cars rattling beneath the floorboards. At some points the guttural quakes actually underscored the music nicely, adding a bit of serendipitous texture to an already solid performance (though I highly doubt either performer was pleased). The audience’s attention stood rapt, subway sounds and all, as Sharon took the stage with her electric in hand. Her aura immediately struck me as a bird of paradise. Don’t know why, just something in the way she moved. She played songs from her new album Because I Was in Love, songs which I had never heard in person and consistently brought goosebumps to my skin. Her voice was as clear and mellifluous as ever; but what you never hear in a studio recording, what I had yet to hear but was overjoyed to experience,  was the visceral texture of her voice in a live setting when the emotional core of each song was truly laid to bare.


Meg Baird

Sharon Van Etten is currently touring the East Coast, so if you haven’t seen her either I suggest you do.


May 19th, 2009

Sharon Van Etten: The Naturalismo Interview


NATURALISMO: Through your music, I feel like we’ve already met, like we’ve already talked out the hours over midnight tea. But I don’t know much about your past. Where did your journey begin? What turns did it take before it arrived at the person you are now? What about your past influences the type of music you make today?

SHARON VAN ETTEN: The journey began in the house i grew up in, in Nutley, NJ.  The day we moved into 525 Prospect Street, I got lost under a piano and my parents later found me crying under the piano.
Ever since, I have been playing, writing, singing… And my parents were always supportive.  My parents were greatly influential, musically, as they played me folk and rock and roll growing up.  My first concerts were The Kinks, Jethro Tull, and the Rolling Stones (with my dad) and my mother and I had an annual tradition of going into NYC in celebration of our birthdays and watch a musical together.  (i used to want to be on Broadway and was in many musicals and choirs in high school).
I was in a relationship for 5 years with a rock “guy” in Tennessee who didn’t allow me play music, as he thought I needed improvement.  After I left him and moved back up north I started recording songs in the bedroom I grew up in in NJ.  I shortly moved to New York after.
My friend Kyp Malone took me under his wing and showed me his favorite venues and played me a lot of music that has changed my world.  Mostly Diane Cluck and Meg Baird.

There are some bands that have been truly supportive to me in NY.  Forest Fire, She Keeps Bees, Glass Ghost, Scary Mansion – these are my “rocks” in the city.  A place that is really hard to remain your true self and not get swallowed up by the undertow of the city.  Beautiful honest people that have stuck by me and I have nothing but respect for.

N: How was the recording process for Because I Was in Love? Did you learn anything about your songs while in the studio that you had yet to discover?

SVE: Recording with Greg Weeks at Hexham Head is one of the best experiences I ever had.  He really has taken me under his wing and has really gone out on a limb for me.
I have never played with any one else or collaborated with anyone with my own music.  He had such an open mind and such good ideas.  It was such a healthy give and take process I was never priveledged enough to have in the past… (i don’t think choir counts…)
I had so much freedom.  He let me do all the harmonies – that was something I was very specific on, and keeping it minimal, since I am a solo performer I really didn’t want to disappoint people that bought my record then saw me live… He made songs more complete that I wasn’t too sure of.  He lushed out songs and added a bit more dynamically with keys and bass that I never thought possible.  Still so much to explore.  I am looking forward to work with him again.

N: You’ve said before that Vashti Bunyan and Sibylle Baier are big influences on your work. There is a tragic quality to their backstories — a romance that often outshines the music itself. Some people enjoy their music as a complement to the mystique and some find mystique in the music itself. Why do you think their stories, not to mention those of other female soloists like Linda Perhacs, appeal so much? And why do they appeal today more than they did during their actual output?

SVE: That’s hard to say.  The feminist movement is a turtle.  There are still a lot of hurdles for female artists, I think.  Female singers in general from the 60s really had challenging vocals to me and the scales were so much closer to yodeling and odd intervals almost medieval-like.  I really wanted to challenge myself, in that way.  Females are so much more loving and romantic and calm.  You don’t find these kind of sensitive lyrics often in male fronted bands.  It is usually disguised as a story or fantasy.  I strive for being personal and writing as if I am speaking to someone.  And this is something I feel like I have been learning from Vashti and Sibylle and Linda and the likes…

N: Janis Joplin once said, “Audiences like their blues singers to be miserable.” As a musician that has made her reputation in singing melancholy songs, you explore emotions that are, at the very least, uncomfortable to the average music consumer. Do you think that audiences use performers as human, vicarious vessels to explore emotions that they might otherwise avoid?

SVE: Definitely.  I think it starts as a child when you don’t know how to feel or how to express yourself and you can’t explain why a song touches you, but it does… it hs taken me years to look back on music I listened to, but it saved me many times, when I didn’t know how to communicate my emotions to people.  I don’t know what I would’ve done without music.

N: A lot of people are suffering these days. When the outside world isn’t offering answers to the problems of life, people turn inward and sometimes find themselves in the process. Do you think that, at least artistically or spiritually, the current socio-economic meltdown might prove more boon than burden?

SVE: It doesn’t take much money to be home and be creative.   I think that with stress levels high and challenging economic situations music might get more political, or relationships might get more stressful, and it could be read into in music… only time will tell, I suppose.  I can say, personally, the music I have been writing is a bit more agressive than I have ever written before.

N: You’ve spent a lot of time playing music in both the United States and Europe. How would you describe the artistic atmosphere of a city such as New York versus a city like, say, London or Paris?

SVE: New York is challenging.  I have often felt like the annoying little sibling trying to demand attention… but I have found a couple venues where I always feel at home and try not stray from them. In London, people are very attentive, quiet, polite, and much more responsive to folk music than in New York… Unfortunately I have not yet played in Paris… but that is a dream of mine.

N: As a performer of introspective, intimate songs, how do you get your message and your music across to audiences that are probably more accustomed to bass lines, drum kits, and synth loops? How does any modern soloist achieve this feat?

SVE: I try to be honest in my music, sing my best, enunciate my lyrics, and not let my frustrations of talkers in the crowd affect my performance.  I think keeping your cool is very important. I believe in my music and people see that, and that is what they seem to be responding and relating to.

N: Which contemporary musicians are getting the most airtime in your life right now?

SVE: Diane Cluck, Meg Baird, Glass Ghost, Forest Fire, Beirut, Great Lake Swimmers, Hologram, She Keeps Bees, Hundred in the Hand

N: If Because I Was in Love came with a plane ticket, where would that flight take me…and what time would it land?

SVE: A field in the middle of nowhere, no specific time, no specific place…


Because I Was in Love will be released on May 26 through Language of Stone. Sharon is currently touring Europe with Great Lake Swimmers, so if you’re on that side of the pond be sure to check her out.

[ download ] For You from Because I Was in Love

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[ watch ] Sharon’s Music Video for “For You”


March 20th, 2009

Sharon Van Etten announces new album, new track

Sharon Van Etten is set to release her second album, Because I Was in Love, on Greg Weeks’ Language of Stone label at some point in May, according to her MySpace. Even better, she’s  kind enough to share one of the tracks from that record, entitled “For You.” She’s also playing some shows at SXSW in the coming days, so don’t miss her if you’re in Austin.

[ download ] For You from Because I Was in Love

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February 17th, 2009

Arthurdesh aka Chapter XIII


via Arthur

Desh is a hindi suffix that denotes a sense of home or country. This special chapter of The Story literally themes as a benefit for the magazine, which in the current depression has been forced to go out of print and take it online. This is unacceptable to myself and many other Arthur readers, as Arthur is the only great American publication to currently be seeing print. The days of Rolling Stone are over, the high-era of rad zines has passed; Arthur stands alone as a sole halcyon of rugged American individualism and the timeless values associated with nature, consciousness, and evolution into higher human potential. Their struggle today is as much a part of The Story as the metaphysical concepts we’ve been discussing up to this point with the series, and we hope that this show will directly turn around real funds to get the mag back on earth.

About the bands…

Read the rest of this entry »

September 17th, 2008

Forest Fire – Survival

Forest Fire are friends, but often they are not in the same city. When they are together, they record at The Apartment. “Survival” is the result of a long process of the potential energy of apartness building to the point of kinetic connection, of togetherness. Some tracks thump and wail. Some softly crash in waves until the bubbles on shore have built up and up and can’t help but to burst into riffs of thick sonic bubbling sand. Others just seem like home. Familiar and intentional and warm.

The group’s offered a free copy of “Survival” here for your listening pleasure. Or grab the album’s bookends below.

[download] I Make Windows and Slow Motion from “Survival”


August 4th, 2008

Language of Stone hits the road

[ stream ]

Festival – Blown Light

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Sharon Van Etten – Wish I Knew

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Also, check out two fantastic videos of Sharon shot by the hooves on the turf blog!


June 2nd, 2008

Noa Babayof: From a Window to a Wall

With a resonant, sonorous voice that recalls Nico’s early early chamber-folk, Language of Stone’s Noa Babayof makes her first steps out of the gate with a confidence that’s both refreshing and rare in a debut recording. Based out of Israel, Babayof’s inflected English also draws comparison to the aforementioned singer, with equally engaging results. The songs of From a Window to a Wall are of both the breeze and of the soil: washed in atmospherics yet structured and mature.

From a Window to a Wall is released on June 17, and catch Noa’s east coast tour with Sharon Van Etten in the upcoming month!

[download] “Marching Band” + “At Your Death

April 30th, 2008

Sharon Van Etten

The sun is hiding. The air cools, just enough. And the clouds are ripe. They seem intent on rain but never quite commit to it; the whole world seems overcast. Sharon Van Etten’s music is that milky light spilled through half-drawn curtains, borne in the heart of October wind.

[download] “have you seen” + “you didn’t really do that

[Sharon Van Etten myspace]

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