I was able to catch Little Scream, aka Laurel Sprengelmeyer immediately after her set at Music Hall of Williamsburg, just before The Antlers went on. She was wearing an outfit that I suspect was made specifically for her, thus no one else has it, and she makes music that no one else makes Basically, she’s a one of a kind person with one of a kind friends who make endless amounts of one of a kind things. She also seems like she would be really fun to hang out with. Anyway, she was great to talk to, and more than happy to answer a few questions.
Laurel Sprengelmeyer: Oh ok, when I was solo.
KK: Yeah, I got there right at the last song, which I think was also the last song you played tonight, and when I walked in I was like, whoa, who is this? And I was bummed that I had missed the whole rest of it.
LS: Oh cool, that’s awesome!
KK: Now you have a full band! How did that come about?
LS: I still play solo sometimes; it depends on the show.
KK: You were saying that you had just played three shows together with this lineup I saw tonight.
LS: Yeah, I’ve been playing with different people, depending on what the shows are that I have, and especially since I’m mostly opening for people right now, like sometimes the budgets are pretty small and sometimes the time commitments are kind of crazy, and I don’t feel good about making people quit their jobs and come on tour with me and make barely anything, so how we’ve been doing it is just getting a bunch of different friends I have to learn my stuff and then as it works I can take them on short tours when they can commit to it.
KK: So if they can come, cool. If not, cool.
LS: Exactly. And it’s totally a rotating thing like that and it makes it easier for the musicians to be able to commit, and it also makes it more fun and interesting too, although it’s less predictable sometimes. So this band – this particular makeup of the band – we did a couple shows in March, we did a couple shows together in Canada, and then we did SXSW together, but we haven’t played together since then. Literally, they picked me up from the airport, we went to the venue, we didn’t get a sound check, and we played a show. After like, two months, which is really fun. That was our DC show.
KK: That’s cool and spontaneous!
LS: I actually like that. I’d always rather be more interesting or feel live than to be too polished. Even if I stayed with the same people all the time, which I hope as things move along that will definitely become more stable. Just so it always feels like keeping the things that need to be consistent solid, and then everything else…just letting it be fun and live, because I feel like everybody has a much better time that way. When I invite musicians to play, I like to be like ok, this is the song, this is how it goes, but you do what you think sounds awesome on it or what you’re good at, and I’ll tell you if I don’t like it or something, but do your thing, basically. I just think it’s always better that way and people have more fun, and you can feel that when people are having fun.
KK: And that keeps the audience coming back when they’re like, oh she does something different, and it’s not the same exact thing every time.
LS: Yeah it’s never been the same thing so far.
KK: How would you describe your music?
LS: Some people call it experimental or art rock. I don’t even think it’s that experimental; I feel like I have a mixtape aesthetic, but I feel like it’s got it’s own consistency within that. I realize how I like to play sets and how I like my album to sound is based on the fact that I grew up super influenced by mixtapes. One song would be here, the net song would be there. I love consistent album aesthetics, but I feel like when I do my own stuff, I always like it to have that kind of variety.
KK: So it’s kind of varied but it still all fits together.
LS: It all fits together. It’s kind of like different paintings at the same show. I think it’s most important that each song has it’s own universe and it’s own world that’s really solid, because then they fit together. It’s not just a pastiche or random or cut and paste. Each song has to have it’s own little world, and then you just get to go from world to world to world. I like that. That’s what I want. That’s what I wanted the album to sound like.
KK: And you’re a painter too.
LS: Exactly, and I think that’s why I think of it that way. But that really doesn’t describe my music, I guess…but it does.
KK: And your latest release is The Golden Record, and you had a myriad of people on that, like people from The National, people from Arcade Fire, Thee Silver Mt. Zion. It’s like a little indie supergroup.
LS: I guess so, yeah. It just kind of happened to just be people and friends that I (knew). Montreal is a really small and artistic community, especially on the more English side of it. It’s pretty small. Everyone knows each other or are friends with friends, and so when I was putting this record together, I was like oh, who do I know that plays cello? Becky Foon. Who do I know that plays slide guitar? Snailhouse: Mike Fuerstack.
KK: Not a bad network of friends to have.
LS: (It was) just the people that I knew and that were around, and that’s kid of how that happened. It wasn’t like I wanted to be this supergroup and I wanted to put all these impressive names on it. I know that they stick that on all the press releases, because I hadn’t put out an album before, so that helps to draw attention to things, I suppose, but that’s definitely not the way I thought about it.
KK: What was recording that like?
LS: I recorded the whole thing with Marcus Paquin and Richard Perry. Marcus Paquin was playing guitar with me tonight and he’s an amazing engineer. And Richard Perry played a lot of the instruments on the record and helped arrange things, and he co-produced it with me. Richard was just setting up a home studio at the time we started talking about making this record. I was working on these songs and I was like, ‘I want to record,’ and he was like, ‘cool, we can work on this together,’ so we kind of put his home studio together as we were recording it, and we just fit recording times in between his crazy schedule. It happened over a year and a half that’d we’d get together and play stuff, get stuff down, and come back to it months later sometimes, and we’d be like, ‘Ahh let’s put this part on it or this part on it!’ It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but I’m glad we took the time because I like that it sounds like it was thoughtful and careful, and you can hear that I think.
KK: You’ve been touring with The Antlers for…
LS: Just a couple days. We just started this tour. I’ve been on the road for the last two months, but I just started this Antlers tour. Then I have an album launch in Montreal next week, then I’m going to meet Antlers on the west coast again, and be out for just under three weeks with them.
KK: Do you have any really memorable on the road stories?
LS: A big part of the tour that I’ve been on was with Sharon Van Etten and her band, and that was the most amazing time. She’s so sweet and wonderful and I loved hearing her songs every day, and we just had a lot of fun on the road together.
KK: Is there anyone that you would want to collaborate with, or that you wished you could have on the record, or live?
LS: I want to work with Sharon now. I just love her music, and we get along so well, and loved each other’s stuff so much. I just got back from the MusicNow Festival that Bryce Dessner curated, and that was such an amazing weekend. Megafaun did this Sounds of the South thing, and they brought in Justin Vernon and Sharon to sing, and Shara Warden did this amazing thing…I don’t know, I guess I’m not necessarily saying who I want to collaborate with, but it was just such an awesome, beautiful musical experience and for me, it’s less about all these people out there whose music I love – there are a lot of them – but it’s about that heart connection, and when you meet people who you think are awesome and love to hang out with, the music vibe comes naturally. I want to collaborate more just with the people I’ve already done stuff with, and I love doing that. It’s so awesome to vibe out with people on a musical level.
KK: So what’s next for Little Scream?
LS: Lots of touring, because the album just came out this last month.
KK: You’re on tour with The Antlers until Mid-June?
LS: Pretty much. Then it’s a bunch of festivals in the summer, and then I’m going to Europe, then I’ll be back again doing things. I have a pretty solid tour schedule, I guess. And in the midst of that, I’ve been working on a lot of new songs, so I’m really excited. It took so long to finish the album and put the album out, so in my mind this album is three years old already, but it’s new for everybody else, so I’m really excited to get on to the next batch of songs, the next record, and that’s a handful right there.
KK: Anything else you want BestNewBands.com readers to know?
LS: I’m just really happy and touched (at) the way people have been responding to the record, because it’s not like in a trendy this-is-a-hot-new-thing way; people just seem to be listening really carefully – a lot of people – and getting what I was looking to do with it, and I just feel really happy about that, that people have been responding to things like that and just really taking the time to listen and get into it for the right reasons, which is just like that you love music. That’s been really awesome.
And that’s what it’s all about, right there. You can catch Little Scream’s ever changing live show at one of their many tour dates across the US – check our her tour schedule to see when’s she’s coming to your town. You can probably catch her at the merch table after her performance, so go say hello and snag yourself your very own copy of The Golden Record.