Golden screams

Little Scream brings the experimental sound of The Golden Record to Kingston

Little Scream has had some special guests on her tour, including a sword swallower at her show in Portland, Ore. in March.
Little Scream has had some special guests on her tour, including a sword swallower at her show in Portland, Ore. in March.

For folk singer-songwriter Laurel Sprengelmeyer of Little Scream, guitars are more than just an instrument.

“I think guitar is a genre,” she said.

The Iowa-born Montreal-based artist only sprang onto the scene in 2010, but has already toured Canada, Europe and America, making a recent stop at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Texas.

Her latest tour took her across North America, but despite being close to home, Sprengelmeyer was still surprised by the cities she visited.

“Some of the cities where I had really low expectations turned out to be like, some of the best audiences,” she said.

Despite the busy tour schedule, Little Scream and her band would always find time to appreciate nature’s landmarks. She recently tweeted a photo of Dinosaur Valley in Drumheller, Alta.

“[There was] this awesome, weird landscape where it looks like an alien landscape and there’s a big dinosaur museum, we totally did a little hike in the weird alien landscape,” she said.

She ended her tour last week at a festival in her hometown of Iowa City.

Although there’s a strong base of family and friends in her hometown, Sprengelmeyer considers Montreal home. Iowa has given a solid “rootsy Americano” feel to her music but Montreal is ultimately the place where she can “find her own thing and go for it.”

Little Scream’s music is often described as folk, rock and experimental, but Sprengelmeyer sees her sound as “guitar and mixed tape.”

“[Soprano singer] Maureen O’Hara is probably my main [inspiration], especially vocally,” she said. “From really early on, when I came into contact with her music that totally opened up a new world for me. That was like a real starting point for me in terms of what I really wanted to do.”

Sprengelmeyer released her debut full-length album The Golden Record in April 2011. She played violin, guitar and keyboards for the record.

“I am not an amazing violinist,” she said. “Violin is a really hard instrument and I played it all through school but I am like, definitely the least confident on it.

“I feel like I can play enough to do what I do of all the instruments that I play.”

Sprengelmeyer is not only a multi-instrumentalist, but an artist too — one of her oil paintings is featured on the cover of The Golden Record. The painting was the final product of several months of work, without the thought of music in mind. She likes the idea that it doesn’t look like an album cover, but it fits with the theme of the album.

The mysterious cover shows four people looking towards the water.

“You don’t know what quite is going on,” Sprengelmeyer said. “It’s like grounded in reality, but there’s also like a dream-like quality to it. I think in that sense that really reminds me of my music, how I feel about my music and how my music sounds.”

Sprengelmeyer is currently working on a new record that she said focuses on the cruelty of children and people preparing for death.

Little Scream plays the Grad Club on April 14. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m.

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