Lights, Camera, Angel Olsen: The Indie Rock Star Seizes the Director’s Chair

Lights, Camera, Angel Olsen: The Indie Rock Star Seizes the Director’s Chair

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“You’re not gonna like this,” Angel Olsen says, leaning across the table ever so slightly. She’s talking about “Intern,” the first single from her new album My Woman (out Sept. 2)—specifically the line, “I don’t care what the papers say/It’s just another intern with a résumé.” Looking me in the eyes, Olsen says, “I’m talking about just another person who did a shitty interview. Like, ‘Don't worry about what they say in an interview—they're just an intern.’”

It’s impossible not to be intimidated by the 29-year-old singer-songwriter—especially when you could very well be just another shitty intern in her eyes. Now on her fourth album, she’s become keen about the questions journalists ask and the narratives they build. This means there’s a fact sheet for journalists listing topics Olsen would rather not re-hash. The first item: “She has never listened to Joni Mitchell."

Olsen, who hails from St. Louis and Chicago and currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, had her breakout moment in 2014 with the release of her searing third record, Burn Your Fire for No Witness. The album, a guitar-driven ode to loneliness, earned critical acclaim (including a spot on Complex’s best albums of 2014 list), but it also boxed her in as the Sad Appalachian-Tinged Singer of Indie Rock. It wasn’t until the release of “Intern” this past June, with its sleek synths and video depicting the singer in a tinsel wig, that the conversation around Olsen became much more nuanced, and much more true to who she really is.

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