Sharon Van Etten performs live in The Current studio

Sharon Van Etten - Taking Chances (Live at The Current) (MPR Video / Nate Ryan)
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    Jul 18, 2014 Listen to all 4 tracks:
    Sharon Van Etten In-Studio
    Sharon Van Etten - Taking Chances (Live on 89.3 The Current)
    Sharon Van Etten - Tarifa (Live on 89.3 The Current)
    Sharon Van Etten - I Love You But I'm Lost (Live on 89.3 The Current)

Ahead of Wednesday's show at First Avenue that featured Jagjaguwar lablemate Justin Vernon, Sharon Van Etten stopped by The Current to play songs off her latest record, Are We There. Between songs, host Jilly Riley asked Sharon about the story behind the stunning "Taking Chances" video. After taking a spill on slippery ice and spraining her ankle, Van Etten had a tarot card reading in New York City that inspired the video's imagery. Sharon has had her aura read, too. Conclusion? She needs more sleep, but her heart is always full even when times are tough.

Though rest is hard to come by when you live in a city that never sleeps. Sharon Van Etten — or Sharon Van Halen, as she goes by on early demo tapes — moved to New York ten years ago after Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio fame and other friends encouraged her to move to the city to jumpstart her career as a musician.

And it's her bandmates that keep her going. Guitarist Doug Keith pushed Sharon (in a friendly, not fiery way) when she first stepped foot in Williamsburg, and it was Heather Woods Broderick that first introduced Sharon to the omnichord that has become a key component of her sound. Thanks to her, Sharon is now a notable user on the omnichord Wikipedia page next to Brian Eno, Damon Albarn and Jim James. Sharon has opened up to harmonizing because of Heather, too. Prior to Are We There, Van Etten only harmonized with her own vocals and reveals that this is the first time she's felt comfortable with another vocalist since her Mini Singers choir days in elementary school.

She's come a long way since then. In 2012, after the release of Tramp, Sharon fulfilled a lifelong dream of meeting John Cale. He and Sharon were on the same taping of Later... with Jools Holland. After the show, Cale asked Van Etten to play a Nico tribute, which she of course agreed to. Whether or not John knows Tramp's album art is a homage to the Velvet Underground's Fear is still a mystery.

Listen to the full in-studio to hear host Jill Riley chat with Sharon about how the Everly Brothers shaped her voice, what it was like recording the album at Hobo Sound with Stewart Lerman, who shares the studio space with punk legend Patti Smith, and what is was like playing on Electric Lady Studio's grand piano for the album's ballads.

Songs Performed

"Taking Chances"
"Tarifa"
"I Love You But I'm Lost"

All songs off Sharon Van Etten's new album, Are We There, out now on Jagjaguwar.

Hosted by Jill Riley
Produced by Jade
Engineered by Mike DeMark

Brad Cook
Doug Keith
Heather Woods Broderick
Darren Jesse

Guests

  • Sharon Van Etten

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  • Sharon Van Etten, Live In Concert: SXSW 2012 At NPR Music's showcase at Stubb's on Wednesday night, Sharon Van Etten flexed her songs' newfound muscle without obscuring the beating heart and raw nerves that lie beneath. The wounded acoustic material of her first album has given way to "Serpents" (from this year's mesmerizing Tramp), the bracing and caustic rocker with which she closed her performance. With its rigid, driving beat behind her vocals, the song fully captured many of Van Etten's newfound identities: frontwoman, bandleader, stealth rock star.
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9 Photos

  • Sharon Van Etten
    Sharon Van Etten (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Sharon Van Etten
    Sharon Van Etten (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Sharon Van Etten and Doug Keith performing live in The Current studio.
    Sharon Van Etten and Doug Keith performing live in The Current studio. (Sharon Van Etten)
  • Doug Keith performing with Sharon Van Etten live in The Current studio.
    Doug Keith performing with Sharon Van Etten live in The Current studio. (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Bassist Brad Cook performing with Sharon Van Etten live in The Current studio.
    Bassist Brad Cook performing with Sharon Van Etten live in The Current studio. (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Sharon Van Etten playing the grand piano in The Current studio.
    Sharon Van Etten playing the grand piano in The Current studio. (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Heather Woods Broderick performing live in The Current studio with Sharon Van Etten.
    Heather Woods Broderick performing live in The Current studio with Sharon Van Etten. (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Sharon Van Etten and Doug Keith performing in The Current studio.
    Sharon Van Etten and Doug Keith performing in The Current studio. (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Sharon Van Etten in the Current studio.
    Sharon Van Etten in the Current studio. (MPR / Nate Ryan)
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