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Angel Olsen: "A depression has been the inspiration for many of my subjects"


Billie Eilish, Weyes Blood, FKA twigs, Sharon Van Etten ... The lists of the best albums of 2019 have been filled by female artists. To that group we should add Angel


The American singer-songwriter presents her deepest and most magnetic work

Billie Eilish, Weyes Blood, FKA twigs, Sharon Van Etten ... The lists of the best albums of 2019 have been filled by female artists. To that group one should add Angel Olsen (St. Louis, 1987). With All Mirrors (2019), her fourth album -if we don't have her debut EP, Strange Cacti (2010), or her collection of oddities, Phases (2017) -, the Missouri singer-songwriter has billed her deepest, magnetic and ambitious A marvel of dense orchestral pop and very dark synth pop that addresses the traumas produced after a toxic relationship. He presents it on Saturday, January 25 in Madrid (But) and on Sunday 26 in Barcelona (Razzmatazz), months before appearing in the next editions of the Mad Cool Madrid festival and the Vilanova i la Geltrú Life Festival . We located her, by telephone, in her home in Asheville (North Carolina), where she moved five years ago.

In 2019 you completed a decade of solo career. How do you remember your first years? They were very exciting, but I also remember them as something very hard. I have always had confidence in what I was doing, but at the same time I never knew if people who were interested in my music would understand my lyrics, if someone was going to tune in to what I was saying. At some point everyone listens to music without paying too much attention to the lyrics. And I was then very interested in the literary part. Now maybe I wouldn't write many of my first songs. I no longer need to be so poetic all the time. Have you never lost confidence in yourself? From a very early age I knew I could sing well. I also know that I will always find something to complain about and write about. But what I have never just sensed is if a composition is going to mean something to another person. That is always a surprise. And above all it happens to me when I'm touring Europe. Emotionally it is very complicated for me, because they are many cultures and totally different, with different experiences and perspectives. And you go from one to another in a matter of days. Many times I wonder why what I do works so well in Portugal and not so much in France. But the best thing about going to Europe is that you realize the amount of different realities that exist and how diverse a single continent can be. Would you say that All Mirrors is your most vulnerable and painful album? I guess so. Too many things have happened in my life in recent years and that has affected my songs. I was fighting a depression for some time and that has served as inspiration for many of these new issues. It has been like discovering myself again. Are you already recovered? Yes, totally. Now I just want to forget what happened. Then it won't be easy to interpret those pieces live ... When I'm on tour I just think about how to perfect the live, putting everything I have in my performances. Yesterday when I arrived home after my last tour I started thinking about how far these new compositions are from me. I felt like everything I talk about in the album was gone. It was like celebrating that I have already managed to overcome all that pain. All Mirrors is one of the best elepes of 2019 for dozens of specialized media such as Pitchfork , Spin , NME , Mojo or Rockdelux . What does that mean? It's great when you get a good review, but being the best of the year, honestly, is very relative. Some albums have had more time to circulate and be heard and that is why it is impossible to compare. But I love that people value it. I loved recording My Woman (2016) and getting that more rock'n'roll sound. But I also like to experiment and try different things. Everyone around me tries to grow and things are going well for me, but you never really know what can move people. For me it has been very rare that the public liked these new songs so strange and errant. I didn't expect it. Is there inspiration or is it all a matter of work? A bit of both. You start with an idea that inspires you, but then you have to work and shape it. And try that those around you do not take that idea in another direction. For me that is the most complicated part. I don't like anything to have to organize the recording sessions and have that kind of conversation with the musicians, but the more I make it easier, it is easier for me. You also have to be aware that your classmates are comfortable. It's like having a business: from time to time you have to talk to your employees and verify that they are well and that they feel involved. And that means a lot of emotional work. Do you remember having suffered some creative block? Well, that happens to me when I'm on tour, especially at the beginning of the tour. I don't even want to listen to music. I'm only interested in those concerts going well. That takes up all my time and I have no energy to write anything at all during those first days. But once I get home and recover a little, there are a lot of memories that come back to my head. It is that when you are outside you do not have time to reflect too much on anything. There are artists who prefer not to listen to anything when they are composing. I like to listen to music at the moment, but you have to know how to recognize when you are assimilating too many external influences. the most complicated thing.No, if you know how you want to sound (laughs). I listen to what a lot of friends do, although I always prefer to see them live. For example, I am a very good friend of Julianna Barwick, we are like sisters. And whenever I see her live, she makes me cry: her voice is crazy, wonderful. But I've never been afraid to sound like her because of the fact that I love her voice and her style. If I tried to sound like her, I would get something very strange. How have your musical influences changed since your first EP, Strange Cacti ? I think they haven't changed much. In the end I always end up going back to the guitars, to the pop of the 60s, to Brian Eno, to David Bowie, to The Cars. The truth is that I hear quite varied styles. You can't be listening all day to The Beatles and Leonard Cohen, even if they fascinate me. Now I am even listening a lot of instrumental, without lyrics: new age and things like that (laughs). Sometimes I prefer not to listen to any lyrics. Do you remember your first concert in Spain? I think it was in Barcelona, ​​at the Primavera Sound 2014 festival. Can be. I think he had played in Madrid before as part of the Bonnie "Prince" Billy band. But that Primavera Sound show was very cool. It was during the last day of the festival. I remember the performance of Juana Molina, which I loved. His music is wonderful and very powerful. And I remember talking to Liz Harris of Grouper for a long time. He offered a fantastic concert and then we were having cocktails at the hotel. Days before I had played in Madrid and the promoter took me to have some tapas before the concert. Although, wait, the same was on another later tour, maybe on the second ... In Madrid you have performed at "Charada" in 2014 and at the Calderón Theater in 2018. Do you usually have time to visit the cities where you perform? yes and sometimes no. People would be surprised at how tight the schedules are when you are on tour. We usually sleep while the bus is traveling after the concert. So we arrive at the next city in the morning and have time to have breakfast very soon and take a little walk. Then we have the sound test and at five or six in the afternoon we are already having dinner, to be able to do the digestion before going on stage and before and after we have to wait in the backstage for hours ... Yes, sometimes we are up to five hours there talking, resting or playing cards. Except for the 90 minutes of concert, life on the road seems anything but glamorous. But it's worth it. Sometimes we can take a good walk or go to a museum, but most of the time it is all quite boring. Although it is also true that you have put all your energy in the previous show and you have to rest for the next one. In addition, many times you want to go to see something in particular in a city, but you are really tired to do anything. All you want is to rest and be calm without anyone bothering you, because you have been touring with the same people for five weeks. And almost always we are all in very small spaces. You don't seem like the biggest tour enthusiast. Well, I love the process of making an elepé, but I also enjoy the performances. And my audience is usually very respectful. But it is true that I have a hard time being away from home. It's very hard. Maybe in the future I will perform something less live. In addition, I have thyroid problems and I know that it is not healthy for my body, I have it very clear. And when you finish you also feel that kind of post tour depression? It is rare, because many times you return to your city after five weeks and you have a week off and you don't know very well what to do. You cannot accommodate yourself at all because you know that in a short time you have to leave again, so you are in a kind of limbo. At that time I try to go to acupuncture, go jogging ... Moving always suits me very well, it makes me feel connected. It is a privilege to be able to play so much, I know, but I also try to find a balance and be at home doing other things. Acting and composing are usually two totally opposed, almost bipolar activities. While it is difficult to find space for yourself on a tour, composing is quite the opposite. It is very strange, yes. I love being alone, having dinner alone and doing many things in my own way, so I have no problem with that. So let's say that in this way I save energy for when I have to go on tour. How do you imagine your life in 10 or 20 years? 10 years ago I did not imagine that I would get to where I am now, so I have no idea where I can be in another decade. I am still with someone and I have a family. But right now I would not like to stop working, because music is what I like most in the world. Sometimes I get tired of acting, but I never get bored making new records. Even when I'm older, I can't play so much live, but I will never stop making songs.

Data of interest:

What: Angel Olsen. When: Saturday, January 25, from 7:30 p.m., in Madrid (room But. Barceló, 11); Sunday 26, from 7:30 p.m., in Barcelona (Razzmatazz room. Almogàvers, 122). Tickets: 28-30 euros. Info:

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