Interview: Upbringing: Little Scream

Upbringing: Little Scream

Laurel Sprengelmeyer opens up on her influences and inspirations.

Under the stage name Little Scream, Laurel Sprengelmeyer crafts elegant art-pop - the kind where if one element were to vanish, the whole thing might just topple over. Latest record ‘Cult Following’ is the perfect foundation from which to build, though. A masterful collection of finely tuned - at times explosive - bouts of musical exuberance.

With a UK tour on the go (dates below), we nabbed Laurel for a quick run-down of the bricks, mortar and memories behind her own personal musical development.

JULY
01 Manchester, Gullivers
03 Bristol, Start the Bus
04 London, Sebright Arms

Default ad alt text goes here

What was the first gig you ever went to?

My dad brought me to a Laurie Anderson show when I was 12. It was way over my head and I think I slept through half of it! But it was also liberating and intriguing. It was only when I was a few years older that I realised how cool it was that I got to see that.

Were there a good supply of venues in your hometown?

Not at all! I lived in a relatively small town. As soon as my friends and I could drive we would go to the bigger cities on the weekend to hear music - Chicago, Millwaukee, or Minneapolis.

Can you remember the first song you ever developed an obsession over?

There was this song that played on country radio stations when I was a kid called ‘Teddy Bear’ by Red Sovine. It was about a crippled boy whose dad was a truck driver. His dad dies, and then all these truckers come to ride by his house, flashing their lights in a sort of funeral procession. I think because I was a kid and it had a kid theme it really gripped me. I remembered waiting by the radio at night for it to play. It rarely did. But when it did come on, I wept.

Red Bovine - ’Teddy Bear’

“I learned to play guitar from an Aerosmith guitar tab book.”

What was the first song you purchased with your own money, and why did you choose it at the time?

‘Ritual de Lo habitual’ by Jane’s Addiction. It felt exciting and sexy and rebellious and I didn’t know anything about sex or rebellion and it intrigued me.

What’s the story behind you getting your first instruments?

When my parents got divorced all my mom got in the settlement was a green Chevy pick up truck. One day it got sideswiped, and when she was on her way back from picking up the insurance check a few weeks later she passed a music store that was going out of business. She spent the insurance money on a Fender La Brea guitar and a Washburn banjo. I played that guitar in all my first shows up until a few years ago, and my sister still plays that banjo in her band Driftless Sisters.

Little Scream - ‘Love As A Weapon’

What’s your worst musical habit?

Bar chords. I learned to play guitar from an Aerosmith guitar tab book and it was mostly all bar chords. To this day I’ll always unconsciously choose a bar chord when I’m writing and I think it’s made me lazy as a guitar player.

What kind of inspirations outside of music have an impact on your songwriting?

Literature and painting are probably the biggest two - the more I read the more natural the flow of writing is. And the more time I spend painting or looking at painting the more it feeds the unconscious well of narrative that feeds songwriting.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as a musician?

That there are no rules. People will always tell you what you need to do to make it, but ultimately there isn’t any one way. The game is chaotic and changes constantly. You can look to the people who inspired you, but you ultimately have to be your own reference point.

If you could be any band from the past two decades who would it be, and why?

Radiohead, because they were massively successful doing sensitive art music, and they managed to make intimacy and fragility translate on such a large scale.