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On Flock of Dimes, Bon Iver, and Wye Oak’s Every Day Like the Last


JUL 04, 2023 | ISSUE 12

Jenn Wasner - Photo by Graham Tolbert

“The rub is that nothing activates our shit and pushes our buttons more than being in a relationship.” Jenn Wasner

Jenn Wasner - By Ella Mazur for smART Magazine



sM | What was the creative space you were inhabiting around the time you created the Flock of Dimes project? 

JW ─ Not only do I remember it, but I am in the thick of it once again. It’s so funny, I’ve been doing this for long enough that I’m starting to be humbled by how much having a creative practice is just forgetting and relearning things you thought you already knew.

I had never really experienced the freedom of being outside of Wye Oak and understand a little better who I am and what I have to say, so I felt this call to step outside of that. And in the process of making that first Flock of Dimes record, If You See Me Say Yes, I had a total fucking meltdown. That was the first time in my career that I felt like I learned a lesson that I’m learning again now.

Being alone, you have all this power, this autonomy, this freedom. But you forget, or I forgot, all of the support, assistance, and inspiration that comes from being in a relationship. There has to be space for you to be this separate autonomous artist, but to try and create in a vacuum forever and to try and hold the reins too tightly is doing your art and yourself a great disservice.


sM | You said previously that, “music is a force that is capable of circumventing the barriers we create to connection.” What do you think those barriers are, and how is music uniquely capable of breaking them down? 

JW ─ I think people, all across generations, have used the act of singing, or the feeling of creating vibration in the body, as this way of soothing the nervous system. I know that I’ve done that without necessarily realizing that that was something I was doing my whole life.

A barrier for me has been just not understanding how to have boundaries, so my only option at that time feels like a cutting off or a separation. Knowing how to say “no” is really important. That’s also a reason why I am really particular about who I can collaborate with because if I don’t feel comfortable enough with you to be able to say “no,” then I’m not gonna feel like I’m in a position to put myself on board behind whatever’s being created in that space.


sM | “Awake for the Sunrise” is a cathartic song to listen to, and cathartic things tend to be cathartic for the creator. You wrote this in the morning after a sleepless night; what do you recall about that morning? 

JW ─ It was the beginning of April of 2020, it was just sort of a crisis on every level of my existence, and I decided that I was gonna do this song-a-day club. The body sensation that I associate with that time is this constant clawing in my chest, like there was a thing inside of my heart space that was trying to get out. It was unrelenting. And I wasn’t sleeping.

The song itself happened really fast. It came, not from an intellectual place, but very much from a “I need to sing something that’s gonna make my body feel better.”

Jenn Wasner in Flock of Dimes - Photo by Shervin Lainez


sM | What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of solo creation? 

JW ─ It sounds really good on paper to just be like, “I can do whatever I want!” It sounds great to be completely in control of your domain, and there is a peace that comes with that. But we’re built to relate to one another. We’re built for collaboration. We’re built to connect, and that comes at a cost, and that cost is worth it. Compromise is essential. Also, it doesn’t really feel good as a person or as a creator to exist totally in a vacuum.

I think that there’s this weird cultural myth of the creative genius who just is pulling all the strings and has all the ideas. I love to push back against that idea as much as I can because no one exists in a vacuum, and everyone’s picking up inspiration from everyone around them all the time.

Jenn Wasner in Wye Oak - Photo by Spence Kelly