When your muses and your demons spring from the same passion, you’ve got two choices: give in or grit your teeth. You cut your losses with one in favor of the other, or you hold your ground and pray that you’re the one still standing at the end of the war between the two.
Sharon Van Etten chose the latter approach with Are We There. She’s not only standing, but towering above the conflicts and obstacles that had previously shackled the strength of her own voice. Ballad by ballad, beneath a spotlight on a nightly basis, she’s emotionally excavating the toughest songs she’s ever written. Or at least that’s what she’s prepared to do, anyway.
“I’m looking forward to focusing on working to keep my mind off my heart a little bit,” she says, her fingertips skating the rim of a wine glass at a West Village tapas bar. “I feel like I won’t really fully understand the depths of the songs until I tour [Are We There] and sing it and live it for a while. In a way, it’s like going to therapy every day. I know when I wrote them and why I wrote them, but the depth behind each song is something I’m going to be exploring every night.”
Nitty Scott, MC, was a Disney Princess. Before transforming into a talented rapper, she was a 16-year-old character performer at Disney World in Florida. Scott’s diminutive height determined her roles: She would climb inside a fur costume to become Chip (or Dale) or Winnie the Pooh or doll herself up as Princess Jasmine or Pocahontas.
“It was just the cutest job ever,” the 23-year-old Scott says now, having since settled into a different kind of fantasy kingdom at Coney Island, where she has lived for the last three years and where she wrote her new album, The Art of Chill. Stepping into character at Disney gave Scott an early glimpse at the inspirational power performers hold over their fans: She recalls little girls crying with excitement when they saw her as Pocahontas, and a grandmother who was moved to tears after her granddaughter, who had been mute for a year after her family died in an accident, spoke again after she met who, on the surface, looked to be her idol.