Catching Up With Angel Olsen :: The AD Interview

Like the Biblical angel, the Siren of Greek Mythology is often portrayed as a winged human with an arresting voice. The former might use the gift of song to guide a weary traveler through a harrowing pass towards the Promised Land; the latter, to wreck a sailing ship straight into the jagged rocks guarding the shoreline. When Angel Olsen sings, she straddles the line between shimmering beacon and dark temptress. Will Oldham remarked in an interview that a part she sang on “Time to Be Clear” from Wolfroy Goes To Town raised “a mixture of apprehension and satisfaction at the same time.”

Oldham took the Chicago-based chanteuse on tour with him back in 2010, enlisting her talents in both his backing band and the opener, the Babblers, a punk rock tribute to Kevin Coyne and Dagmar Kraus' 1979 album, Babble. The following year, Olsen lent her voice and her instrumental prowess to the aforementioned Wolfroy album. 2011 also saw Olsen release her first solo record, Strange Cacti, via Asheville NC’s Bathetic Records. It’s a peculiar and rewarding batch of songs that invokes the black and white Kansas of Judy’s Garland’s Dorothy.

Auarium Drunkard recently caught up with Olsen via the World Wide Web. It came as no surprise that when prompted with questions about ideal touring partners and favorite records  she mentioned Francoise Hardy and Candi Staton. Not only does she strike a resemblance to the former, especially on the cover of “Comment Te Dire Adieu”, Olsen feels the touch of both of those luminaries on her second LP,  Half Way Home, released by Bathetic last year to much acclaim. Listening to that record, one might also hear the influence of Nick Drake or  In My Own Time-era Karen Dalton. But it’s all Olsen when it boils down to it.   As for the Angel-Siren debate: following her singing might cause you to crash a time or two, but it’ll lead to salvation in the end.

Our conversation after the jump. . .

Only the good shit. Aquarium Drunkard is powered by its patrons. Keep the servers humming and help us continue doing it by pledging your support.

To continue reading, become a member or log in.