Sharon Van Etten - Photo by Dusdin Condren

Photo by Dusdin Condren

SHARON VAN ETTEN is known for her raw and intimate music style, stellar collaborations with an eclectic mix of musicians from THE NATIONAL to THE WALKMEN and ability to create beautifully haunting melodies that you won’t soon forget. With 3 critically acclaimed albums under her belt, Van Etten will be releasing her latest, Are We There, on May 27th through Jagjaguawar.

The songstress’s upcoming album is part of VAN ETTEN’s continual exploration of her life and also working with her band. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION met up with VAN ETTEN at Berlin’s charming Michelberger Hotel to talk about her latest projects, tour and 90’s girl rock.


Reflecting back on ‘Are we There’, said to be your most polished to date, how do you feel about the evolution of each one of your albums?
So, the first album I did was solo, and on the second one I got a couple of friends and tried to have a band, which I did from Epic into Tramp, and that was the biggest production I had ever done. So, for this next record I had decided that I wanted to produce it myself but also have a band who I have been touring with for the last two or three years.


What makes ‘Are We There’ stand out from your other records?
I like pushing myself every time, because I don’t want to make the same record. So, if you give yourself same scenario, the same setup and the same content (even though I usually write about the same thing) I would just write the same record. The heart of this record was really the live tracking with the band, who are people that I am really comfortable with.


What can be uncomfortable when cutting a record?
Well, when you are working out the songs it can be intense and it is hard to be open and not feel restricted. When I am working with a stranger I don’t want to open up as much, but I felt so comfortable with this band that it has worked out.


How was it when you met your band? Did it all just fall into place like a love at first sight kind of thing, or did it take time?
This actually makes me think a story. A friend of mine that got pregnant with someone she didn’t know very well, but they decided to get married and raise the child together and through the ups and downs of raising the kid they fell in love. So it was a backwards process, but in the end they really saw who each other were when it counted. So for me, I think in some ways I was afraid to have a band.

Was there anything that really brought you together with your current band?
My current bandmate Doug was the one who pursued me and encouraged me to have a band, because I honestly didn’t know how to do it.

I came into playing music really late and I wasn’t playing shows until I was in my twenties. I mean, to go from playing classical guitar to picking up an electric and having a drummer … it was another world. But with the encouragement from Doug, I met the others and so forth. In some ways it was really like the first day of school. You put all these strangers in a room and you’re like …‘well, good luck!’

Now that you have an established band, what keeps the dynamic strong?
A lot of it is working together and going through those ups and downs of touring. And learning how to communicate and it can be an emotional roller-coaster, but everyone has risen to the occasion.