Valiantly braving the rain (a rarity for Los Angeles), and a broken elevator, Sharon Van Etten and her band loaded into KCRW’s basement studio to deliver a dynamic set from her new album, Remind Me Tomorrow. A couple of those songs had previously not been available, including my personal favorite “Memorial Day” which we are thrilled to share with you here.
Though the melody of the song feels dark and moody, the backstory is very sweet. The chorus, “you will run,” was written before Van Etten became pregnant with her son who is now just under two years old. She described sitting down one day to work on the lyrics as her child was napping, and realizing that soon he would be able to run. It brought her to tears, and helped her to create that juxtaposition between the music and the lyrics.
“We love drama and we love KCRW,” Van Etten said as Jason Bentley described the ordeal involved in getting the band set up this morning. Given how much she appears to be managing on a day to day basis, a little weather and a few extra stairs probably don’t seem like that much drama in the grand scheme of things.
In addition to raising a toddler with her partner she’s pursuing a degree in psychology, and venturing into the worlds of acting and film scoring. Van Etten’s first professional acting gig was in 2016 on the Netflix series The OA. She told Morning Becomes Eclectic how much she related to her character on the show, and the fascinating differences between mining personal experiences to create a character vs. mining them to write songs. “I think the main difference is I’m drawing from a personal space to be somebody else whereas now for my music I’m drawing from a personal place to be myself,” she said.
Exploring the self, and enabling others to do the same is clearly very important to Van Etten. Her goal of becoming a mental health professional was sparked by interactions with fans who would share their stories with so much emotion, and ask her for advice. She said she wants to be able to help people find their outlet.
Morning Becomes Eclectic has long been an outlet for Sharon Van Etten, and the confidence that she’s gained as an artist over the years did not go unnoticed. When asked about it she gave us a perfect description, “It’s like when you go to karaoke and you pull out that Pat Benatar song and you own it.” Van Etten is obviously owning it across the board.
Remind Me Tomorrow comes out January 18th via Jagjaguwar.
Photos by Elli Lauren