Angel Olsen has long written in such a way that the listener is drawn in. On Big Time, that’s especially true. With a hushed tone that contrasts with some of her synth-driven work, these songs feel intimate, confessional, and relatable. She recorded the project with co-producer Jonathan Wilson in Topanga, California, while still reeling from a couple of major life moments. First, coming out to her parents at age 34. Second, the death of her father three days later. And third, the loss of her mother just weeks afterwards. The emotional undercurrent that runs through Big Time is authentic, particularly on “Through the Fires.”
Upon releasing a lyric video for the song, Olsen stated, “‘Through the Fires’ is the centerpiece statement of this record. It’s a song I wrote to remind myself that this life is temporary, the past is not something to dwell on, that it’s important to keep moving, keep searching for the people that are also searching, and to notice the moments that are lighter and bigger than whatever trouble I’ve encountered.”
In our upcoming feature, Olsen enthusiastically tells BGS about her Dolly Parton obsession over the pandemic and how classic country music shaped Big Time. In the cinematic music video for the title track, Olsen channels her own personal and musical history to bring the lyrics to life. More than 80 percent of its cast and 50 percent of its crew identified as nonbinary and non-gender conforming.
The video’s director Kimberly Stuckwisch stated, “For ‘Big Time,’ we set out to celebrate how humans identify and to subvert the old-fashioned gender binary and societal/internalized gender roles of the past through choreography, color, and wardrobe. To exist outside strict definitions is powerful and often not given a place in cinema. This was our chance to hold a positive reflection in the space and to shout to the world that you are more than who you are told to be.
Stuckwisch continued, “‘Big Time’ is what happens when we do not express our true identity but find freedom when we step out of the shadows into our most authentic selves. In the first rotation, the lighting is drab, the clothes are monochromatic, the dance is monotonous…gender-conforming roles present. However, with each rotation, something magical happens, both our cast and Angel begin to come alive, to feel free. We see the clothes brighten, the dance heightens, and the bar that was once devoid of emotion can barely contain the joy bursting out of each individual.”
Speaking with BGS from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, Olsen explains why she loves living in among the mountains. Meanwhile, she’s touring across the U.S. with her equally remarkable friends Sharon Van Etten and Julien Baker on the Wild Hearts Tour. After a stop in Nashville for Americanafest, Olsen heads to Europe for a month’s worth of shows behind Big Time. You can explore her expansive discography with the Angel Olsen AO Mix playlist below.
Photo Credit: Angela Ricciardi