Make Canoe my Homepage

Sharon Van Etten on rocking out, drinking bourbon, and being a nerd

- July 28th, 2012

Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten, who’s been compared to likes of other strong female rock singers like Cat Power, PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, and Kristin Hersh (although I think of her as a modern day Grace Slick), said she prefers performing in rock clubs over more formal theatre settings.
She plays Mavericks in Ottawa on July 30 and the Phoenix on July 31.
Despite being put in the folk category – “I started off being solo, I’m a female who plays guitar, no matter what king of song I play, I’m going to be categorized as folk,” – she thinks of herself equally as a rock ‘n’ roller, a direction she might pursue further on her next album.
“It’s definitely hard to get out of the folk thing right now,” she said. “But my aim for the newer songs is to take collaborating a step further and have my band help me finish writing songs that I’ve started and also bring them into the studio and have a set band for the record. ”
The naturally shy singer, who used to suffer from “really, really bad social anxiety,” says she warms up backstage by listening to music and doing a shot of bourbon with her bandmates.
“We do have a pre-show ritual, where we each take a shot and we have a little cheers, we just say, ‘Boom, Boom, Boom,’ in our fake East Coast accents,” said Van Etten. “I don’t know. There’s one day where it just came out by accident. We just put our firsts in a circle. One day for no reason we just said it and it just stuck. We like the nicer bourbons but we’ll drink anything.”
And she’s not the sad sack you might infer from her heartbreak-laden material.
“I’m a total nerd. I write when I’m feeling really intense things. I get rid of those demons and what remains is this little joker.”