Since her 2009 debut, Because I Was In Love, and its stunning follow-up, Epic, Sharon Van Etten, 30, has been wooing intimate crowds with her sultry, honey-crisp alto over harmonium and guitar… and couch surfing. She spent her vagabond time well, developing a taste for fine wines, memorizing lines from Kicking and Screaming, and recording in the garage studio of the National's Aaron Dessner. Van Etten's got her own permanent Brooklyn address now, but she's not getting too comfortable. Earlier this month, she headed out on a tour of 46-and-counting not-so-intimate spaces in support of Tramp, a gorgeous collection of sparse confessionals and wavering feedback rockers that celebrates the simple pleasures — and complex anxiety — of life in the flux-lane.
Favorite New Artist:
Lower Dens from Baltimore. They're really good — they have a new record coming out soon [Nootropics, due May 1].
Favorite Not-So New Artist:
I've been getting into Nick Cave lately. The Boatman's Call is amazing; it's an album of love songs, really beautiful.
Favorite Karaoke Song:
Blondie's "Hanging on the Telephone."
Favorite Song for Crying:
Sibylle Baier's "Forget About."
My guitar, a 1965 Fender Jaguar.
Favorite Piece of Musical Gear:
I really like this distortion pedal I have right now called Box of Rock. It's really loud and noisy.
Favorite Stage-Fright Remedy:
I close my eyes and sing, and I usually forget about it, but sometimes I totally freeze up where I talk in a weird jerky voice. Then I tell an awkward joke and keep going.
Favorite Way to Pass Time on the Road:
I like to read, catch up on music, and I like to knit sometimes.
Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Kicking and Screaming — it's one of the best quotable movies. Favorite line: "I'd like to fuck her on the tennis court if you get my meaning."
A 2008 Carignane from Mendocino, Calif., made by Coturri. In 2008 there were a lot of wildfires, and at the peak of the harvest the smoke was infused into the grapes. If you can find it, it's amazing.
Favorite Hangover Cure:
Sleeping in, taking my time, drinking water.
I'm trying to learn how to cook. I just learned how to make tom yum gai, a really awesome spicy chicken soup.
Mashed potatoes and real white gravy, Southern-style, maybe with toast.
Favorite Piece of Clothing:
I have this red cardigan that my friend Coco gave me that has holes for thumbs. It's my cozy sweater. I wear it a lot.
Favorite Place You've Lived:
For sentimental reasons, my first apartment in New York. I was on Broadway and Marcy by the JMZ [line]. You could hear the train all day, and I had a huge bay window in my bedroom overlooking a park.
Favorite Place to Escape:
The beach… any beach really. Anywhere where no one's around, it's hot, and the water is cold and salty.
Everything will be okay. I have a sticker on my laptop that says that.