Women in Music 2019

Some Experimentation, 'All Mirrors': Inside Angel Olsen and Spotify's Immersive Installation

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Zach Hetrick
Angel Olsen at Spotify's immersive audio journey celebrating her new album, All Mirrors.

This past Saturday (Nov. 23), Angel Olsen teamed up with Spotify to curate a special pop-up event in New York City to give a look at the creative process behind her latest album, All Mirrors. The beloved indie artist, who was in town to play the third NYC show of her tour, intended to take fans through a “a labyrinth of otherworldly spaces and sounds.”

Indeed, before entering the space at Villain in Brooklyn, fans were greeted with a note that helped set the tone for the experiential installation: “The descent into darkness is a trope we find time again across history, literature and film. But there’s also an abyss above.” As the walk began, the group was immersed in what felt similar to the video for “All Mirrors” -- black, white and silver images projected throughout a dark, ominous, labyrinth-like space.

The walk-through -- which was sound designed by Sean Cook -- was guided by a mysterious woman dressed in head-to-toe black. As she presented each stop with whimsical movements and grand hand gestures, guests wore individual sets of headphones that played the album’s gorgeous title track. 

The first image was a winding white staircase that played with our vision, as it was projected on a wall but seemingly went on forever. The neverending effect was so bold it felt almost intimidating, and did a great job of playing with Olsen’s idea of the great unknown. ("The team at Spotify has been incredibly supportive of this record, and it’s been wild to see how one small song can come together in this interactive installation,” Olsen tells Billboard.)

Then guests were led to a space where silver tinsel -- much like the dress she wore for the single artwork -- was dangling from the ceiling. Another dark room projected smoky, psychedelic black-and-white images on a giant wall that continued to move and shift into different shapes, which included the white staircase once again. 

One particularly moving part of the installation, which really encapsulated the concept of “All Mirrors,” was the body-length mirrors set up in the shape of a circle. The guide encouraged everyone to enter the mirror circle together which not only forced us to look at ourselves, but at everyone else in the group. 

As Olsen’s journey came to an end, guests were met with a final message -- a letter from Connor to her “overexposed angel.” It read: “Forever rotating on a platform in space and our dreams of Jean Cocteau and Kate Bush. Being fulfilled by the hardest working (and best) crew. Thank you for bringing me on this journey with you and for always being my mirror.” The note was sitting on a vanity surrounded by other romantic objects -- lit candles, flowers, a folding hand fan, a notebook, matches and small dishes.

The installation, along with the title track, truly brought the record in its entirety to life -- a special treat for fans looking to dive even deeper into Olsen’s boundless world.


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