PHOTOS BY NINA MOURITZEN.
When I speak with Eleanor Friedberger she’s in her old neighborhood, Greenpoint Brooklyn, where she lived for 14 years. Exactly two years ago she moved to upstate New York to spend most of her free time “up, in the middle nowhere.” Which feels fitting, considering in January she’ll release her third solo album, appropriately entitled New View.
“The most different thing about this one for me is I recorded this album with the band that I’ve been touring with for the last couple of years, so it felt more like a true band album. I would present the songs I wrote to the guys in the band and we would rearrange them altogether. Then we played a bunch of shows after that and then worked on the songs some more—which I realize is a more traditional way to do things but it’s something I’d never done. I always made albums and then worked backwards and figured out how to play them live.”
A largely autobiographical record, New View is characteristically conversational for Friedberger. It’s moments she overhears, a bandmate’s dream, a scene from a movie. It’s a sweet girl with a broken heart. It’s a long walk.
“I say 90% of the time I start with the lyrics. I think of it as a script and then I try setting the script to music—that’s really how I think of it. I also get ideas from titles I see, from the book store, from walking down the street and seeing a sign or overhearing a conversation. I’m always pulling lines from various moments.”
“I start with the lyrics. I think of it as a script and then I try setting the script to music. I also get ideas from titles I see, from the book store, from walking down the street and seeing a sign or overhearing a conversation.”Eleanor Friedberger
Eleanor released her debut solo album Last Summer in 2011, after her band, The Fiery Furnaces (one part Eleanor, one part Eleanor’s older brother Matthew) went on hiatus after releasing music together for 11 years.
“I made 9 records with my brother—that’s a long time to do anything with anyone. Especially a sibling, an older brother. For me it felt more like it was now or never—I had finally started experimenting with home recording again which was something I did a lot when I was younger, with four track cassette tapes. I finally started making recordings at home and not even thinking about it as songwriting, just having fun making recordings. And then just being brave enough to share it with a few people and feeling like okay, this could actually be a real record.”
At first, taking her home recordings outside of her bedroom and onto the stage was a challenging part of her process. This time around, she changed the order a bit, not only writing with her band but also recording live to tape.
“We came back to New York last April and recorded in a friend’s studio which he built himself in this barn. I was his first official client so it was fun to be the guinea pig. Because it was in a barn it wasn’t sound proof so we’d have to wait for the rain to stop, and it had a tin roof that would make a lot of noise, so if it was windy we’d have to stop too. I had the guys with me for a couple weeks recording all the basic stuff and then they left and the producer Clemens Knieper and I hunkered down for the next 6 weeks and finished it. It was really a great experience.”
Photos NINA MOURITZEN