A Little Interview

Little Scream Gives a Taste of Iowa to Pop

Little Scream playing Washington D.C. Photo mikekatzif (via Flickr)

Laurel Sprengelmeyer, better known by her musical alias Little Scream, arrives at the sleepy coffee shop in flurry of activity.

Parking her bicycle, she smiles and sits, her elegant fingers cradling a crisp porcelain cup. Her eyes are inquisitive beneath the brim of her knitted hat.

“Bad hair day,” she grins. “That’s why I love fall.”

An Iowa native, Sprengelmeyer moved to Montreal nearly 10 years ago. In 2011 she produced her first album, The Golden Record, which featured a vibrant community of artists including co-production by Arcade Fire’s Richard Parry and guitar tracks by The National’s Aaron Dessner.

While her move from Iowa certainly proved life-changing, it was not without its difficulties.

“Within the first month of moving here, I was almost ready to call it in and move back, but then I ended up at this party where I met half of the people that I hang out with today,” she said.

“I just got plopped into this group of amazing artists,” she continued. “The better parts of my life have unfolded by falling into my lap.”

Though she played piano and guitar as a child, Sprengelmeyer recalled that she was “quite private” about her musicality before coming to Montreal, where she was blown away by the diversity of the music scene.

“There’s just so much going on in music here,” she said. “There’s not one sound that comes out of Montreal, but I think the community encourages people to find their own little worlds in a way that becomes somewhat analogous.”

Her sound is an exotic mix of poetry and harmonies that is at once unique and achingly familiar, framed by echoing guitar and dreamlike melodies. The lyrics, however, are always clear.

“I often focus on writing first. For me it’s having the idea that’s at the heart of the song, the word, the feeling,” she says. “In general I relate my stuff to folk—because I focus on words.”

Citing American singer-songwriter Patti Smith as an influence, Sprengelmeyer explains that she loves how Smith’s music is raw and unyielding in its expressions.

“It’s so vulnerable,” she says.

When asked about her second album, Sprengelmeyer is elusive, but the late evenings at the recording studio are reflected in her avid consumption of coffee.

“I have about a dozen possible titles at the moment but I’ll try and narrow it down,” she laughs, adding that she may be playing some new songs at POP this weekend.

On her creative process, she is eloquent.

“I think it was Joel-Peter Witkin who said we all only have four or five ideas and we’ll spend the rest of our lives trying to articulate them, through any art form. If you open the door, the idea will tell you where to go.”

Little Scream will be playing alongside Patrick Watson, Sarah Pagé, and other musical acts for her POP set.