Sound & Vision: Angel Olsen on All Mirrors

Sound and Vision
Emily Fox
Angel Olsen // photo by Amber Knecht (view set)

KEXP's Sound & Vision airs every Saturday morning from 7-9 AM PT, featuring interviews, artistry, commentary, insight, and conversation to that tell broader stories through music, and illustrate why music and art matter. You can also hear more stories in the new Sound & Vision Podcast. New episodes are out every Tuesday. Subscribe now.

Angel Olsen’s latest album All Mirrors (Jagjaguwar) finished at number four on KEXP listener’s top 90.3 albums of 2019. In the album, Olsen returned to the song writing techniques of her first album Strange Cacti – recording practically alone in Anacortes, WA and shedding the persona a decade of success created.  Sound & Vision host Emily Fox caught up with Olsen to talk about All Mirrors and how her rising fame has tested her relationships.

On her song “Lark” and the breakdown of some relationships:

For me, ["Lark"] was about having a partner that said that they supported what I wanted to do. But when I was successful and starting to become successful, how problematic that was. I found that to be really eye-opening. Being a female, being a musician and trying to pursue my dreams and not feeling supported. Feeling a more of a competitive vibe with the people that should have been supporting me, people promising that they could care about me and love me and support what I do and how complicated that is for a lot of people.  

On the need to find connection while touring:

It’d be cool if I could relate to my fans on a personal level, but the trouble with that is that fans just hear your voice and your music, and they think that that's your identity. And that's a different identity than who I actually am. That is the balance that is always tricky for a musician – or somebody who does something where they travel all the time – is to find the people that ground you in your life. 

On her song “Impasse” and her friendships after success: 

In “Impasse” I was dealing with a lot of friends thinking that they understood what my life was like and that I had it really easy and that I always had it easy because I was now a famous musician. Just people assuming things about your life because of how things turned out. I had to learn how to not care anymore and it's hard because I really wouldn't be a performer if I didn't somewhat care about what people think – but especially my friends, seeing what they assume about me. It's very easy to talk about a musician being chaotic and to complain about how they’re prima donnas and how they don't think about anybody else but themselves. It's very easy to go there. 

On recording All Mirrors in Anacortes:

It was around Halloween last year and I was there about 10 days and it was rainy and cold and spooky. I think I just wanted to go somewhere. I mean, the material on its own, I want it to be more like Strange Cacti and less produced. I think it did sort of influence the vibe of the solo record. But I also feel like the songs on their own were already kind of moody to begin with and match the mood. It was very introspective. 


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