2014 Artist Survey: Sharon Van Etten | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2014 Artist Survey: Sharon Van Etten

Van Etten on Her First Concert, Worst Haircut, Favorite Albums and Movie of 2014, First Celebrity Crush, and Which Golden Girls Character She’s Most Like

Feb 04, 2015 Artist Surveys 2014 Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar’s 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Still Corners, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman’s Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Sharon Van Etten.

[A shorter version of this interview ran in Issue 52, the Best of 2014 and January/February 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands. This is the full version of the interview.]

Top 10 Albums of 2014

1. The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

2. Spoon: They Want My Soul

3. Pure X: Angel

4. A Winged Victory for the Sullen: ATOMOS

5. Tiny Ruins: Brightly Painted One

6. Hamish Kilgour: All of It and Nothing

7. She Keeps Bees: Eight Houses

8. Steve Gunn: Way Out Weather

9. Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness

10. Hiss Golden Messenger: Lateness of Dancers

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band?

Recording my first record with a band and learning how to communicate with them in the studio.

What was the low point of 2014 for you?

Being gone from home so much.

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

Taking a break from touring, spending time at home with friends and family and writing and recording for a while. A real break this time.

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

I hope so. It’s bringing the community closer together and raising awareness on unjust violence. Fingers crossed.

What’s your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

Space tornado.

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them “hillbillies” for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

Anyone that has a conscience would not alienate their audience or their peers on purpose. And I do think that there is a responsibility to be someone that is worth the respect. Why would you look up to an asshole?

“Weird Al” Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the “Weird Al” version’s lyrics be about?

I wish “Weird Al” would cover my song and turn it into “Shave Yourself.”

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

It’s too emotional at times.

What’s the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you’ve ever had?

Father-daughter show-goer came and met me and we had a group hug and a cry.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you’re now a successful musician?

My old music teacher from elementary school, Ms. Zitman!

Which musician or celebrity did you most have a crush on as a child or teenager?

Evan Dando.

Which subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?


What was your first concert experience like (who did you see and who did you go with)?

My dad took me to see The Kinks and Aimee Mann opened. It was incredible. It was in like 1991.

In 2024, as part of the Mars One program, four people might be sent to Mars with no hope of ever returning to Earth. Are they completely crazy or brave? Would you ever consider such a thing?

Crazy and brave. No, I would not.

Which Golden Girls character are you most like?


What advice would you give to a musician who is writing and recording a follow-up to a critically acclaimed and successful album in terms of dealing with the pressure and delivering an album that meets expectations?

Just be yourself. You don’t have to think of fans or other people’s expectations, because if you aren’t happy with it, nothing else matters. You are the one that has to perform those songs night after night.

What was your most disastrous haircut experience?

I gave myself a perm when I was 22, right after I bleached my hair, because I thought it would be funny, but it fell out. I had to shave my head. Oops. I never dyed my hair again.

When you can’t sleep, what worry is most likely to be keeping you up at night?

What else should I be doing? Who can I call?

What out-of-date technology do you most miss?

My old Walkman that automatically flipped sides.

In 2014, what was the best movie you saw, book you read, comic book you read, video game you played, and/or TV show you watched?

Movie: Boyhood.

Do you have any other thoughts about 2014 (such as on the World Cup, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, immigration reform, the failed Scottish Independence Referendum, ISIS, Ebola, Winter Olympics, celebrity nude photo hacks, etc.) or the state of the music industry?

Everything will be okay!



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