Angel Among Us: An Oral History of Angel Olsen's Time In St. Louis

AngelOlsen_byZiaAnger2.jpg
Zia Anger
Angel Olsen

Grace Woodard (ex-KDHX host): Angel and I met sometime in early 2006. We were both dating guys who were in the same band. We bonded while writing notes back and forth across a table at Joe's Cafe one night. I believe we were nineteen and twenty, respectively. The guy and I broke up later that evening, but Angel and I only grew closer from that point on. The first time I saw her play was while we were all hanging out in the living room of her Maplewood apartment. Someone handed her the guitar, she started singing and everyone fell quiet. She had some songs on MySpace, and hearing those songs was really what made me start to appreciate her songwriting.

Olsen: Grace interviewed me once on her show [Nomadic Reverie, in 2009]. It was funny being interviewed by someone who was a friend -- it was like, "Are we cheating?"

Woodard: She was actually already living in Chicago by the time she played on my show. I think she was cultivating some fans through her MySpace page while she was in St. Louis. I seem to recall a story about her corresponding with [singer-songwriter] Bill Callahan that way, but she's never been the type to actively pursue "industry contacts." Luckily, she's the type of artist who doesn't need to aggressively self-promote, because her talent speaks for itself.

Olsen: I moved to Chicago in 2007. I was at a place where I didn't know what I was going to do. I didn't want to be in St. Louis any longer. I wanted something else to happen. It just seemed like the easiest thing to do and still be away.

Woodard: I had actually considered moving to Chicago with her, but I wasn't ready to leave St. Louis. We frequently e-mailed and talked on the phone, and saw each other whenever we were in the same city at the same time. Sometimes she would send me new songs when she was experimenting with a new style and wanted feedback. I was a huge fangirl during that whole time.

Olsen: I'm really psyched that [my band and I] are allowed to do this for this period of time. You never know, when you're making art, how long it's going to last.
Majchrzak: Angel was way more mature than her age at the time. She had seemingly been through more life experiences than myself and was shaped by them quite a bit. I always thought of her as an old soul.

Woodard: I've loved seeing Angel evolve over the years. I'm proud of her because she's my friend, and I want good things to happen for her, as with all my friends, but also because I've seen her grow into a confident artist and an assertive, independent gal who inspires me on the regular.

Levi: I last saw her in Washington, D.C., last fall. She blew everyone away, and it was really cute to see a teenager get really nervous about asking if she could take some pictures. She's really knocking it out of the park.

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