The Brooklyn-based indie-folk artist Allegra Krieger finds triumph and joy in the act of forgetting. It’s a mechanism through which she both processes and moves past her emotional injuries. She says that memory is never static; it’s a fluid concept that allows her to keep moving forward in her own personal narrative. It’s what led her to center her full-length debut, The Joys of Forgetting, on this idea.
Krieger is set to release her album Aug. 7. So far, she’s released four singles, which range from hushed, folksy ruminations (“Welcome”) to boisterous, electric indie-rock (“Rot”). They demonstrate her dynamics as a songwriter, exploring her life experiences through various sonic lenses.
I sat down with Krieger to discuss her forthcoming LP, quarantining in New York, her future plans, and more. You can pre-order The Joys of Forgetting on her Bandcamp page and listen to her music here.
I’ve just been trying to find different ways to fill the time. I bought a film camera, so I’ve been taking lots of photos and reading and trying to stay active with the protests. I’ve been trying to be present for all of the unrest and do my part, but mostly I’m just finding new ways to be.
I haven’t really been making a lot of music recently. I think I haven’t really been able to center myself enough to do any writing or anything like that. This record was written mostly in 2017 and 2018. Since then, I’ve been writing a lot so I have a lot of music that was written in the last year. In March, there was a shift in that I stopped feeling like I wanted to create in this one sense. There were other things that I wanted to put my energy into.
There was that rhetoric of being in an artist residency, and I really didn’t like that. It felt strange. Typically when I write, I write about my observations and interactions with other people, and all of that sort of flipped on its side. I had to rethink it; it wasn’t coming naturally like it had before.
I’ve been trying to clean my room. I never really used to keep my room clean, but I’m forcing that habit!
It is strange. I think what I struggle with the most about it is just this sense of the promotion that comes with it. It feels strange to focally center myself and advocate for people to listen to my music when I don’t know if there’s space for that right now. It feels strange, but obviously all musicians are dealing with it because you’re planning for tours six months in advance, so I know a lot of my peers are experiencing similar things.
We pushed this record back into August, and it was hard to tell, like there’s not really going to be a right time. Nothing’s going to feel normal, and that’s a good thing in some ways, but it was hard to plan for the future. August is what we decided on back in March, so we’re just going for it for now.
I don’t claim any certainty behind that title. The songs were written in a time where I was feeling very isolated and lonely. Some of the songs were written during then, and then I had this shift happen where I was living with a partner and working on making lasting relationships. I still have a difficult time connecting with people in a way that feels genuine to me.
We typically think of memory as an account of your past, and I don’t necessarily know if that is what it is because it can get so warped, and your memory is an action. So whenever you’re forgetting and you’re in this dissociation, the narrative can get lost and warped. Depending on your past, for me, that forgetting felt really triumphant, like I was moving forward. But in reality, it was sort of neglecting the importance of attending to my inner injuries and certain traumas.
The record was written on that line of uncertainty. I don’t think the joy that comes from forgetting is final or impervious to the realities of history in general. For me, the record has a duality to interpretation. Sometimes it feels really candid and honest, and sometimes it feels almost exaggerated and satiric in a way.
Most of the record was definitely coming out of this self-imposed isolation and the hope that comes with the idea of moving forward and past a thing, but not actually doing that in a real way. I tend to self-isolate, but this time I was isolating with my partner, so I was learning to live with another person.
All of the songwriting was me and my guitar. I knew that I wanted to work with a producer because I’m very scatterbrained, and I have a hard time dialing in on my attention. I started working with the producer Adam Schatz. I was experimenting with different instrumentation and he helped hone the sound that became the record. But all of the songwriting was written in solitude, and the arranging was done with my producer and with my bandmates. There were some string arrangements written by my partner Sam Talmadge on a few of the songs.
The EP has a burst of songs that came out in a couple of weeks and I was about to go on tour. I recorded some of them in a bathroom in my parents’ house. I like the idea of documenting. With Circles, that was my first time playing my original music with a band and playing with a band at all. I had just gotten to New York. Before getting to New York, I was tree-planting. While I was tree-planting, I was focusing on collecting the songs I had written or half-written over the past couple of years. I started playing them with some friends who are just amazing musicians. They really helped shape the record. I had no experience with arranging then. They were recorded mostly live.
As I get older, my experiences change, and it feels a little bit more mature than the other things I’ve made. I feel like I’m already looking forward to continue making records and to continue documenting.
It’s the song with the least amount of things happening, but my favorite song from that record is “Every Once in a While.” That’s the one I like listening to the most. It’s also one of the more recent songs I’ve written. That was written maybe four months before I went into the studio. I think the oldest one is “Telephone,” and that was written back in 2017.
photo: Liz Maney / artwork: Ellen Foster Price
The Joys of Forgetting is out Aug. 7 via Northern Spy Records.