The general consensus seems to indicate that once a person has listened to Sharon Van Etten’s voice, there is no going back to any other music for a while. The Brooklyn resident has crafted albums so intimate and personal, yet filled with so much universal emotion, it’s as though she were singing a page from all of our diaries.
At some point or another, we all experience heartbreak. Van Etten knows it, or at least can voice it better than most. Both her debut album, Because I Was In Love, and the recently released Epic are beautifully sung stories of love lost, betrayed, destroyed and hearts on the mend.
We spoke with Sharon about her musical beginnings, getting help from TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone and being inspired by Ani Difranco.
AfterEllen.com: You played at CMJ this fall. Was your experience different than years past? Did you have to get used to being noticed a bit more?
AE: Is it fun looking out into the audience and seeing people singing along?
AE: I think it’s interesting because when most people describe watching you play, the most used description of the audience is that they go silent while listening to you because they’re just awestruck. Has that now changed a bit?
AE: When you first started out, before meeting Kyp Malone, did you always keep copies of your demos on you just in case?
AE: What was your state of mind after handing over your demo to Kyp?
So afterwards I saw him hanging out at the bar and introduced myself, but then groups of people started crowding around him and I left. Later, he found me sitting on the other end of the bar and we got to talking about music and he told me he’d like to hear what I do. That’s when I was like, “Actually, I have a CD on me if that’s not weird,” and he said, “No, that’s not weird at all,” and so I gave him my CD.
AE: So when he played one of your songs on NPR when he was a guest DJ for them, did you freak out a little bit?