Angel Olsen’s awesome ‘All Mirrors’ was one of 2019’s most profound releases, a wonderful, baroque-tinged tune cycle that spoke eloquently about separate, psychological damage, and the procedure of proceeding.
A few weeks earlier, nevertheless, she shared something unusual. ‘Whole New Mess’ was recorded before ‘All Mirrors’, yet consists of mainly the exact same tunes in a radically various setting.
Written in the instant after-effects of those psychological ruptures, it was recorded at The Unidentified, an American studio housed in a lovely Roman Catholic church.
Pensive and spartan, it’s a chilling experience, with Angel’s feelings left entirely on show– there’s no accessory here, nothing to sidetrack. It’s merely her voice, her words, her guitar, and her experiences.
Out now, ‘Whole New Mess’ is a captivating solo mission, the work of an artist with a profoundly intense sense of function.
Talking To Clash, Angel Olsen reflects on those solo sessions, the lessons discovered, and what might come next.
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Do you view these two albums are distinct entities?
I believe they’re both part of a process, but at the same time they’re both separate.
Did you mean for ‘Whole New Mess’ to even have an audience?
I wanted it to have an audience, for sure, but I wasn’t sure when it would come out, or what would take place. I understood I wanted a variation for fans that was solo. I had actually come home from a solo trip around Australia, and I was inspired to re-visit my earlier things and get back to basics. I wanted to come out with a record no matter what, I just didn’t understand in what context.
Now that ‘All Mirrors’ is out, it became my plan to release in the Fall– with or without a pandemic! That was always the plan! I believed it would be intriguing to look back on how much the songs changed, rather than coming out with the solo record.
It must be one of the rare 2020 plans that actually exercised, then!
It’s wild how things have actually exercised. I feel really charmed in my life. I didn’t plan to become a musician that achieved success, I just intended to be able to play music for a long time. The difference is that I. opened an organization! However I had no concept I could do that.
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It’s an incredibly individual record, particularly in the method it was record. What was your headspace when you began the job?
Well, I was still being in those feelings. They were still there. I was still going through a lot of that things. I was emotionally really open and very vulnerable at the time. I was tape-recording with someone I actually relied on– Michael Harris, who worked on ‘My Female’. I can speak to Michael about anything. And John, too– I enjoy John. I wanted to attempt a version of these songs just solo, without John. Michael Harris was the person! He was the man I wished to talk with. And then John mixed it, so he was still included. Michael is somebody I can be personal with, but also be expert with.
In journalism note you describe the album process as being a mix of long strolls, walkings, and drinking coffee every early morning. It actually sounds very calming …
It really was. I indicate, it was tough to deal with these feelings, and I was going through a lot of changes during the procedure of taping ‘All Mirrors’ even after ‘Whole New Mess’.
It wasn’t about heartbreak– there’s heartbreak therein, but we all as humans put different values of who we are into a job. Whether we’re creative, or whether it’s a relationship. And to put a cash sign or a dollar on your psychological contribution would be impossible. So in the meantime you need to delegate. I need to state to individuals: well, if you feel emotionally purchased a manner in which is taking up all of your life, then I don’t desire this to leave hand! Due to the fact that you can never ever perhaps pay someone for the psychological input that is provided to something.
So it’s such an odd thing to entrust service in the music market, as it’s a market based on art. I was nearly at a point where I thought: I don’t care if anyone relates to this music, I just require to get it out.
The studio itself looks extremely stunning. As a singer, what is it like to record there?
I wanted to continue to play in a manner that was theatrical, and sonically speculative, like I did with ‘All Mirrors’ but I believe that what this has actually taught me is that I likewise want to continue along the course of keeping some songs at their bare bones.
The tracklistings of ‘All Mirrors’ and ‘Whole New Mess’ are a little different– what is that? Do some tunes merely not fit the bare bones design?
Well, it’s due to the fact that I desired those records to be various. We ‘d tape-recorded all of those throughout those sessions and in that design, so there will be releases of those tunes at some point at a later date, however in the meantime when I taped them, and listened back to them, I realised that those 2 songs needed to stand alone.
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When you perform solo you must have a lot more area– how do you approach that?
That’s part of what I missed about playing solo, was being able to change the way things go in the minute.
Were the tunes actually ended up when you began ‘Whole New Mess’, or is what we are hearing the procedure of bringing those tunes into focus?
They were, yes. Well! The way that I make demos, is that I’ll record over and over and over again. This time, I had actually only made one or 2 of the demonstrations for these tunes. I tried to go near to what the demonstrations were, while also experimenting with various types of echo and reverb. Different methods of recording.
Is there a tune on ‘Whole New Mess’ that you found especially challenging to solve?
The entire thing was emotional, for sure. I was still processing a lot. I mean … I was processing things during ‘All Mirrors’. So many people have their hands in the pot! I needed to separate myself enough to actually process the songs. Whereas for ‘Whole New Mess’ no one was around to witness that, so I might simply get truly lost in my writing. There were simply less people around to engage with or perform for, conversationally or artistically.
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In journalism note you talk about the life of an artist, and how being on the road indicates you can’t fully procedure occasions and feelings. But today, we’re all caged inside– has this been a duration of self-questioning for you?
Oh, I suggest I’ve been soaking it up! Music is not my whole life, that’s just a direct point of view of me.
I like sharing music with the world, however I am so grateful to be a part of my neighborhood, and to do things that I have been delaying for many years. I’m really inspired right now! I’m keeping up until 3am and getting up at seven! My brain is like money brain– I have so many concepts that I need to make a note of, it’s practically as though my hands can’t type fast enough for my thoughts to be taped.
I’m at this point in my life right now where I’m trying to use all this energy and inspiration and all those discussions where I have actually had to discuss myself … nearly, in a way, press can be like compressed therapy sessions, where I have the opportunity– if I want to– to go further, and re-examine those same questions and find a sharper way of addressing them. So by doing so I can also convince myself of specific things.
And I have a great deal of energy all of a sudden! I’m sharing, and I’m articulating myself. I’m applying that to other things that has nothing to do with music, and I truly can’t wait to dig my hands into the dirt with that stuff.
So right now, it’s simply been fucking amazing. A great deal of individuals feel tired today, and are sharing all these feelings, but I’m sitting at home like … totally motivated. I have a lot work to do! It resembles, one day I was struck with a flood of things that could have broken me. Instead … I’m about taking the day. Let’s fucking take our time back! That’s where I’m at right now.
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That’s amazing! Is there anything in particular you could offer us some insight into?
So, I’m working on writing something. I do not want to go too into it today. I’m also working with a buddy on beginning a literary chapbook, which will launch anonymous artists and rarities. And there’s a printing press in Asheville that I have a meeting with. I’m doing things, and it doesn’t associate with music necessarily. I have actually been thinking of this chapbook for four years, so it’s incredible to lastly have time to do it.
Finally, do you miss the connection of playing live? Or have you had the ability to cultivate it in other ways?
I have actually discovered it in other ways. I feel for the very first time I’m reacting to fans directly. I’m attempting to re-evaluate and re-examine my newsletter. And that’s partly why I wish to begin the chapbook, so I can have more direct engagement with fans, and find out their stories, and feature them. I think it would be truly fun and interesting. I’m unsure how it would run yet … but that’s simply the pointer of the iceberg.
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‘ Whole New Mess’ is out now.
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