Sharon Van Etten on The Morning Mix

Sharon Van Etten talks to Cindy Howes about her new album Are We There on The Morning Mix.

Van Etten’s new album, her fourth release, was a chance for her to take charge other than having people holding her hand through the recording process. “I hate being the boss,” she said, but the rest of the band is keen to her way of producing. “Even though I don’t know technological terms, they understand what I mean when I talk about vibe and feel and just play chords and show rhythm — they’re really responsive to my weird language.”

Van Etten’s songs get pretty personal on this album, Howes says, and Van Etten responds by saying playing them live on tour will be like “going to therapy every day.” The material reflects very new and current feelings of Van Etten, she says. “Even though most of the content is pretty heavy, it’s still something I find cathartic when I perform even though it might be hard to do.”

Just to write about herself, Van Etten says, would have been “self-indulgent,” so she can help others through these songs. “One of my fears is that my songs are way too personal for other people to be able to relate their own lives to. So it means a lot that even though they’re personal and heavy that they can walk away feeling that it was still for them too.”

Van Etten goes into detail about how the song “Your Love is Killing Me,” from Are We There was written out of a time when balancing family and work was getting to her. While at the airport waiting to go to Europe for a tour, she was offered a new tour she couldn’t turn down. “I had to choose touring with Nick Cave over being home.”

Van Etten said she started writing the song after a late show in Europe at one or two in the morning back at the hotel.  “I was feeling so much angst and confusion and hurt that I just had to get it out.”

Van Etten will perform June 19th at Mr Smalls.