words by Erin Wolf
It can be a tough job being the main lady behind the mic (and guitar) of a band and it’s a select few who can pull it off with solid skill, grace and intrigue (think PJ Harvey, Marnie Stern, Jenn Wasner, Elizabeth Powell, Mary Timony and the like). Without a doubt, Little Scream’s Laurel Sprengelmeyer has got that role down, and despite her claim to shyness (read on), she’s getting her sea legs on those stage-whitecaps, fueled by the strength of her own music. Sprengelmeyer’s debut release along with her band, The Golden Record [Secretly Canadian Records] is equally full of strong rockers as it is sprinkled with ethereal moments of layered and reverbed vocals, and Sprengelmeyer has enough savvy to take both on with ease and have a natural coalescence. We recently spoke with her about her new music, becoming ART and interesting collaborations along the way.
In your last web post you wrote, “On September 2nd I’ll be doing an audio-visual collaboration with Ian Cameron (of national parcs) at the Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal. Jamie Thompson (ex Unicorns, ex Islands) will be Djing between my two sets. I’m gonna have stuff projected all over me, and I’m gonna be ART.” How did that all go? Would you be kind enough to give us any exciting turn-outs?
Well, as anticipated, I totally turned into ART, and I haven’t recovered since. Ian and I put together lots of visuals and I recreated sounds from my album in sample form that I triggered through this ridiculously large foot pedal thing. It was a one-off show for the museum, but hopefully Ian and I will be able to work on it more and mount it again. Ideally, we would mount it in a traveling geodesic dome with wheels, kind of like an old circus car, except in dome format. It would be powered by solar panels and a little garbage converter, like the DeLorean from Back to the Future. The shows would be small out of necessity (because only so many people would be able to fit into the domes). But that would make it a bit like those awesome Theatre For One shows Christine Jones came up with. We could travel all around and serve everyone tea.
Your songwriting for The Golden Record is pretty epic versus introspective in sound — makes me think you are a bit of a daydreamer (in an absolutely good way). Is this true?
(See answer to above), you are absolutely right. Most of the time the ideas I have are kind of absurdly grandiose compared to my circumstances. If I were an artist as big as say, Bjork, I could spend lots of time and resources actually making them happen. But since I’m not, most of what is out there in the world representing me feels like giant sketches for what I imagine and wish things to be like. So part of my art is really innuendo. The nice thing about that I suppose is that I can invite people to imagine along with me. The downside of that is that I sort of just come off as sketchy, which is completely true. I am a sketchy daydreamer.
How was performing for and working with the folks at Le Blogotheque?
Really fun, both times (the first time was in a little portrait of Montreal Vincent Moon did; just me all shy and solo). For the last one we did in Toronto (me all shy with a band) we had it scaled down for the acoustic version and just figured we would leave out keyboard. We hadn’t decided on location or concept or anything and as we were meandering around with the awesome Derrick Belcham (of Blogotheque) our keyboard player literally ran into us, jogging. So on the spot we decided to add a fitness element, and instead of playing keys, Kaveh did a rhythmic workout routine along with the songs. I had wanted for them to title those clips “Very Serious Workout Videos by Little Scream”.
What’s your musical relationship like with Sharon Van Etten and how did you become introduced?
We have some mutual friends and I think somewhere along the line, someone suggested we should tour together. So, we got in touch and set that up, but didn’t actually meet each other until we toured! Sharon is so musical and talented and inspiring, and also very generous with her work and invited me to sing with her on tour. So we did that, and she also sang back up for me at a festival we did together, recently. She really feels like part of my extended musical family and I hope we get to work more together in the future.
What does playing the guitar mean to you?
Well, I’m mostly self-taught, and I guess I developed my own approach to playing that wasn’t based on ‘proper’ technique. I learned a couple tricks and generally have applied those over and over again, which is a creative limitation I’ve tried to use to my advantage. But I’m learning more all the time. Touring with Marcus Paquin has helped on that front a lot; he’s an awesome guitarist. It might be strange to say it, but I feel like I’m really only just now learning to play more consistently.