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Sharon Van Etten on Her New Album, Upcoming Tour With Angel Olsen and Julien Baker and the Joy of Collaboration

Van Etten says she can't wait "to share a whole tour with people that I've admired for a long time"

sharon van etten interview
Sharon Van Etten, photo by Michael Schmelling/Illustration by Steven Fiche
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    Sharon Van Etten’s enchanting new album We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong is her most fulfilling and ambitious work yet: across ten tracks, the lauded singer and songwriter cycles through one dazzling moment after another, reflecting on parenthood, partnership, and the existential apocalypse that we find ourselves in. But for Van Etten, ever the humble artist, she’s already focused on what’s coming next.

    Following a record release show at the intimate Union Pool in New York City — which was Sharon Van Etten’s hometown venue for many, many years — she’ll head out on The Wild Hearts Tour, a sprawling North American trek with her fellow indie superstars, Julien Baker and Angel Olsen (get tickets here). Chatting with Consequence over the phone about the tour, Van Etten couldn’t be more excited: “Just getting to see my favorite musicians play every night… to be able to share a whole tour with people that I’ve admired for a long time, I can just be a fan and catch the whole set.”

    Rest assured, Sharon Van Etten is still basking in the glow of a new album, and is certainly happy with how it all turned out. We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong features not just brilliant songs, but unforgettable individual moments from Van Etten, whether that’s the soaring vocals on “Born” and “Home To Me” or the vibrant indie pop of “Mistakes” and “I’ll Try.”

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    According to Van Etten, the process was very fluid and intuitive to her. “When I write melodies most of the time, it’s not a conscious decision,” she explains, claiming that she finds herself becoming “possessed by the moment” when crafting these songs.

    That sense of being truly present is unavoidable on We’ve Been…, and it’s clear that Van Etten was operating at a maximum level of attentiveness. “I always pay attention to the sequencing, and the change in keys, and the moods, and the tempo, and key signatures,” she tells Consequence. “I’m constantly thinking about how to tug at people, and push them, pull them, or keep them in an emotional state.”

    The impetus to curate a comprehensive album experience led Sharon Van Etten to release We’ve Been… in full, without releasing any singles from the LP beforehand. “I still believe in the concept of the album,” says Van Etten. “I miss the anticipation of a release coming out and not having any idea what it sounds like, and just running to the record store and wanting to get it at soon as you can, and sharing it with your friends.”

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    These ideas of community are a huge part of both the new album and Sharon Van Etten as a whole — she’s a frequent collaborator and lover of new music, taking the time to share all the new artists and songwriters that have been inspiring her lately. But above all, Van Etten carries an air of gratitude and enthusiasm, and We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong is her most passionate statement yet.

    Below, Van Etten digs into the album, the upcoming Wild Hearts tour, her favorite new artists, and more.


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