Hi Sarah, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey! Thanks for having me. Today I’m doing great honestly. Most days I’m good. I love this time of year and have enjoyed sinking into some creative projects and spending time in the woods.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “What I Love The Most”?
Sure. I like that this ended up being the first single off the record because I brought it to the studio as an idea and finished writing it on site that same day. I told the guys to take 5, and they went on a walk while I cranked out the rest of the verses and polished up the chorus. They came back a half hour later and we played through it a couple times and it really gelled. It has an easiness to it that feels pretty authentic and not overworked. I think that’s pretty exemplary of my preferred flow in the studio – very loose and in line with the vibe that’s unfolding in real time.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The song itself is about realizing you’re harboring hidden resentment toward something that you love and learning how to identify those feelings of discontent and work toward eradicating them. I think this is something that a lot of people might struggle with, but for me personally I found myself resenting both small and big things in my life even though those things were also what brought me joy – whether it be something as simple as a garden or something bigger like a relationship. This song was written pre pandemic, so in that time I’d also put playing shows into this same experience. The lyrics “some days I spend all my time hating what I love the most”… its about stepping back and saying, hey wait, I actually really love this thing and I need to work toward not letting one small dischord overshadow the love that I have for this person or this experience. I was also a teacher for years, and the lyrics “some days I’m a martyr, some days I’m a ghost” come from that place of feeling like you’re giving so much of yourself and feel invisible somehow in the wake of it all – I’d definitely say i ended up leaving teaching because of the martyrdom that is expected of you, especially as a woman.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
I knew that we’d be filming the video during a pandemic, so the production had to be safe and simple and not involve a lot of people. I wanted the imagery to feel easy and warm like the song, but also wanted to include aspects of my life that inspired the themes behind the song to be present. We filmed in the community garden that I have a plot at and spend a lot of time in right across the street from my house in Duluth, and we also filmed at the beach on Park Point on the shores of Lake Superior here in Duluth. Both locations have a lot of significance to me – Duluth in general. Damn, a lot of people leave this city because it can start to kinda close in on you, but for me, at its core, I love it here and whatever small dischords come and go I always choose to stay. It opens itself up more and more if you let it. Also, you might notice in the video that some of the shots on the beach are bright and sunny and a few are grey and foggy. It was just Zoe Prinds-Flash and myself on both days of the shoot, and when she first got to town in typical Duluth fashion, the entire city was covered in a dense and cold fog in the middle of August. We went to the beach and filmed some shots and you couldn’t see the city or even the open water while crossing the lift bridge. The next day was hot and bright and sunny – I love that both were featured in the video. Not only is it a perfect representation of Duluth, but existing in the harmony between the two extremes is metaphorical to the song as well.
The single comes off your new album – what’s the story behind the title?
The album is self titled, and Lanue is the title of a poem that kind of kept finding its way back to me throughout my adult life. I’ll frequently pick up old books and collections of poems from thrift stores, and this particular book of poems by Allen Seeger wound up in my collection and every couple years when I’d page through it, La Nue always stuck out to me. I always thought the poem itself was beautiful, but every time I’d revisit it it would take on a different meaning. At first I made the assumption the speaker was writing about a woman, then years later it seemed the poem was an ode to the moon, and now I see it maybe as both or as something different altogether. After this record was recorded and all polished up, the pandemic put any release plans on hold or me. It was then that I made the decision to release this under a different project name than just Sarah Krueger, and that poem came back to me again during that time. I like the idea that a text can change over time as you change, and I thought that was emblematic of where I was at creatively. So, I chose Lanue as both the project name and the name of this first album under this project.
How was the recording and writing process?
Very smooth, very chill. I was able to do the recording in two separate chunks, the first in November of 2018 right on the edge of winter with the first dusting of snow and the second in June of 2019 just as summer started to zing into view. I love the energy behind both of those times of the year, and I think you can hear that energy in these songs. That chunk of time in between allowed for me to finish up writing a few more songs that I thought would fit well in the collection. It was my first time working at Hive in Eau Claire, WI (which is the town I grew up in) and Brian Joseph -who owns and runs Hive and did the engineering and mixing- he really just allows for so much space and openness which allowed for these songs to unfold in a way that felt pretty effortless. I really admire that about him and his space and my experience recording these songs there.
What was it like to work with Steve Garrington and Sean Carey and how did those relationships develop?
Man, both of those guys are just stellar humans and musicians in general. I know Steve from my time in Duluth and Sean from my time in Eau Claire. It was great working with them both together because they both have an authentic way of bringing their tastes to the table without stifling my own. Both know intuitively how to support a song and help it to bloom. Steve has been a longtime friend, someone who often plays bass with me live, and always is 100% on and able to lead a band so well. Having him at the studio allowed me to feel comfortable and right at home, which I’m really grateful for. I looked to Steve a lot for production direction in the studio and I looked to Sean to do a lot of the post production work from his own space after we recorded everything live in the studio. He added the finishing touches and lush layers that I was looking for to give them a warm vibe and help them all really gel into an album.
How much did they get to influence the album?
They influenced the production behind it quite a bit. The songwriting itself rested solely on my shoulders, but really the arrangements and production came to life with Steve’s help and Sean’s as well. Honestly, looking back at our time in the studio, there was a lot of what felt more like group production than any one person calling the shots. I’d bring a song to the table and explain what vibe I was hearing, and we’d play through a couple times and after each take we’d listen and make suggestions as to what needed to change as we went. Between Brian, Steve, Sean, Ben, JT, and myself there are no excessive egos to tame so it just felt pretty easy. I like being able to say, “What do you guys think?” and have everyone feel good about where the song is at and what they’re playing. Steve and I generally would end up making the final calls on when to move on and what needed to be added or taken away while in the studio. After the sessions, Sean and Brian really called a lot of the shots in post production and mixing to get the songs in a good place while Steve and I would give the final thumbs up.
What role does Duluth play in your music?
Duluth allows for a lot of quiet reflection and solitude. Even just the landscape in general is unique and lends itself well to songwriting- a wide open horizon over the lake in front of you and a post industrial moon-scape hillside city behind you all bordered by what feels like endless forest and a river with an incredibly abundant history. But when you need that spark, that energy- a crowd of misfits, a series of strange but enlightening interactions, a group of adults playing kickball in a soggy field every spring – Duluth has that too 🙂 I think there’s just enough strange and just enough lonely here to find its way into my music, and those qualities bordered by the light can come through in my songs in ways that surprise me but that also just feel like home.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Being in the woods, swimming in the lake, getting old, learning not to think in absolutes, leaving and then coming back, forgiveness and openness, wide open space on my eyes, time and the shape of it, seasonal rhythms, what makes art good and what makes it work on us and why
What else is happening next in LANUE’s world?
I’m writing more and planning on working on the next record here this spring. I don’t forsee a lot of shows or touring in the near future so I’m looking forward to using this time to continue creating and connecting.
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