Feb 2, 201708:00 AM
The sounds that move the Crescent City
Angels and Souls
Angel Olsen talks about moments of serendipity
Angel Olsen at Republic
On Saturday night Angel Olsen will bring her tour to Republic. Olsen’s 2016 release My Woman was easily one of the best records of last year. I was able to talk with Olsen a bit about the record and her current projects for our print issue this month. We talked a fair bit about the videos that she has directed for the record, especially for the track “Sister.” In the course of the discussion, Olsen shared a story about the production that I didn’t have the space to reproduce in magazine but could not leave out of the public eye.
“Well, it was definitely after doing Intern and Shut Up, Kiss Me, which are very upbeat and in your face, kind of slapstick in a way, really shiny, I thought it would be really cool to just take it back a notch and do something that was really raw and natural and not me dressed up as a character necessarily, but me still in the character of myself. I wanted to be in an environment that was desolate and reflective, and then also I wanted to incorporate [lightness]; some of the song is pretty upbeat, and then the beginning and the verses, they have this lightness to them, so I wanted to be in a place where I was just walking around and walking through town and reflecting and not necessarily upset.
“It was a lot. It was a lot to cover. I wanted to cover all of those sentiments, especially at the end this realization. For me that's looking at myself in a pool and crying. Very literal. But jumping into it and then coming out and being a different person or just at a different point. Maybe it's a different pool, maybe it's a different time, or maybe it's a different self. I don't know. But I think I just wanted to cover a lot of ground, and it took a lot of effort, but I went out to California. I went out to LA for a week when we went to Joshua Tree for four of those days. I remember doing some of the scenes in 110 degree heat at Joshua Tree at the cacti gardens, and I'd been to them before, and I didn't realize that they attracted bees.
“We got there, and it was one of the finishing shots. We wanted to get the shot of the moon, and we wanted to get me walking through these, doing tracking shots through these beautiful cacti fields. We get there, and Anthony, who's the producer, is like, 'do you remember about the bees the last time you were here? Do you remember anything about the bees?' I was like, what are you talking about? Let's go out. Let's walk out. We got out of the van, and as soon as we opened the door to the van, all these bees swarm in. These guys are sweating, so the bees are just all over them.
“But we managed to get through all of that without getting stung, which was really nice, but it was a good hour and a half of trying to be as zen as possible to make the shot happen. To feel or to look in the shot very comfortable, even though obviously I was freaking out in my head.
“But then the moon was out and it was still sunny, so we went to the boulders and hung out. We wanted to do a time lapse of the boulders and then they were just having me walk around on these boulders and I was like, 'come on. This is boring. Come up here. It's really beautiful.' They left the camera rolling, and we just walked around and later on we looked at that footage and it was like, we just looked at the end of the day footage and we saw that the moon was rising out of the frame, and just as it left the frame, the footage was over. It was done.
“It was like the camera had died just after that, and so it was like this secret that we had. It was, I don't know how you show anyone that, because that's what just happened, but that was really cool. It was just a really wonderful time, and I didn't view it as ... It didn't seem like work. It seemed like we were, yes, I was the subject of this video. We're trying to get these shots and cover all this ground, and trying to do these different styles, me lip-syncing and some of it me just wandering, me being reflective and it was very esoteric, the whole plot of this video.
“Then when I was editing it it sort of came together. We're just collecting the footage and I'm ... just getting all the notes down and checking that we have everything and after it all I just missed hanging out with these people because I just thought they were so wonderful. I don't know. We just talked about life and where we were…
“When I look back at that experience I don't really think about any specific—Maybe the bees…It was a very natural—like I was going camping with some friends—experience.”
As you can see, Olsen is a natural storyteller. There is something about her rhythm and eye for detail that draws the listener into her world. You can watch her weave this spell Saturday night at Republic. I highly recommend that you check it out. In the meantime watch the video she is describing below.
To Do This Week
Tonight catch Austra at Gasa Gasa with The Range or Vibe Street at the Hi-Ho. Saturday Angel Olsen and Chris Cohen are at Republic. Sunday go see the Joe Krown Trio at the Maple Leaf. Tuesday the excellent punk stylings of The Coathangers will be at Siberia.
To Listen This Week
- Angel Olsen also has a new video for the track “Pops” via Youtube
- The New Pornographers have announced a new record and dropped a single via CoS
- Ryan Adams covered Radiohead’s “Karma Police” for the BBC via Soundcloud