There’s no denying Angel Olsen’s sound is a compelling force. It’s unabashedly present in the electrified offerings of 2016’s My Woman, but even her most sonically simplistic, folk-based compositions, like those found in Phases, resound in their capacity to move you. Olsen’s honest and profoundly yearning vocal ability just can’t be ignored.
This September saw Olsen embark on a solo tour that embraced this latter charm, and on September 28 the folk singer will grace Tarrytown Music Hall before rounding out the circuit in Massachusetts at the end of the month. Called Tiny Dreams, it’s Olsen’s first solo tour in the states since 2014, so to miss conversing with the sublime songwriter simply wasn’t an option.
The tour for My Woman was a large production requiring a full band. Tell us a little about the direction you were aiming for with this Tiny Dreams Solo Tour.
I have a lot of material that I wrote and released that I never toured because I was playing with a band. I put out a record called Phases earlier last year in the fall and I just kind of wanted to share with my newer fans my earlier work, and this year work on writing again and revisiting that old material. This is actually the third solo tour I’ve done and the first one in the states.
It’s old songs, new songs, things when I did the first solo tour I didn’t know my audience knew that material. In a way it was kind of a test for me, but now at this point I know there’s an audience for the solo work, too.
I can only assume even a solo tour can be hectic for an artist. How do you take time to decompress while out on the road?
It’s been a really relaxing and mellow tour. I’ll go on a walk, or I’ve been reading. Just going out to see a movie on a day off, stuff like that.
This tour you’re partnering with Plus1, so that $1 from every ticket sold will go to support Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization. Where do you stand when it comes to artists using their platform to take a political stand?
I think it can be overwhelming if it’s happening all the time, and less effective. But I feel like when an artist is in a position like I’m in, or a bigger position, or any position where there might be money and they’d like to do something, but they’re always on the road, I think it’s an option.
In the past I used to be a lot more protective about making big statements and supporting or doing political events. But at this point I feel like it would be pretty stupid not to try, anything.
I don’t think I’m ready to make my music career a political platform completely, but I think we do need to be a little more open as artists. That’s how I feel.
NextGen America is also on board at these shows to encourage voter participation, registration, and volunteering ahead of upcoming midterms. Why do you feel this is an important cause to support?
Because people need to fuckin’ vote! And I feel like if there’s any way to get that word out, might as well do it.
What details can you spill about the upcoming show?
I know the show is going to be three people, instead of two. It will be Mark Trecka of Pillars and Tongues opening the show, which I think will be a nice surprise. And Julianna Barwick is playing after. These people are like my oldest friends and it’s going to be a really special unique night in comparison to the rest of the tour. I’m really looking forward to that. And I’ll be playing new material, so I think people will get an opportunity to hear what I’m working on.
Can you tell us a little bit about this new material?
I don’t really know yet, so I guess if you buy a ticket you can find out.