Little Scream: 'Just Thinking of Elliot Smith Helps Me Write Better Songs'

Little Scream: 'Just Thinking of Elliot Smith Helps Me Write Better Songs'

Montreal's Little Scream renews my faith in music. Singer/songwriter Laurel Sprengelmeyer (who looks like a young Susan Sarandon, apparently) is touring to support her debut, The Golden Record, a gorgeous set of folk/pop songs that she named after the 1977 Voyager space-shuttle time-capsule recording. Produced by Richard Parry of Arcade Fire, it features instrumentation by members of Arcade Fire and Aaron Dessner of the National, and it's already  one of 2011's highlights.

Little Scream: "The Heron and The Fox" (live) from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.

OC Weekly: Your sound is beautiful; I am so in love with it. How did you develop your sound, and who are your singer/songwriter influences? 

Little Scream: Mostly, you develop your own art by moving toward the things you love, I think. In my case, there are lots of surprising little moments in songs that have shaped my work, even if not songs in their entirety.
For example, there's this amazing major/minor shift with stacked harmonies in the chorus of "Hammond Song" by the Roches and this moment in Ricki Lee Jones' "Last Stop Texaco" in which she sings the sound of a passing car--little details like that have made definite imprints in my work. 
I have a suspicion that just thinking of Elliot Smith helps me write better songs, that just listening to Joni Mitchell makes my voice better. After that, it's a mishmash of influences . . . Cocteau Twins, Elizabeth Cotton, classic rock, classical stuff--it's all over the place.

Why the name Little Scream? 
Well, the Little prefix has a long history in music, from Little Willie Littlefield to Lil' Wayne. But mostly, my little sister and I have always made bands together using either "Little" or "Big" names. Take Big Unit, for example, which was our first band name. It's just a classic tradition, I guess.

What's the Arcade Fire and National connection? How do you know them? Has "having friends in high places" helped you with exposure? 
I know them as friends and friends of friends. Having friends who do great work is inspiring--that helps a lot, just on a creative level. And I'm sure it makes some people take note of what I'm doing by association. But after that, it doesn't matter if the work isn't good. They'll only keep listening if they like it for its own merit.

Whats your ultimate songwriting tool? 
Procrastination. I do my best work when I'm supposed to be doing something else.

Do you think sadness helps you write songs? 
I think sadness deepens your experience in life, and anything that does that helps you make things that reflect the world more truthfully. That's helpful in songwriting.


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