Artist Spotlight: Allegra Krieger

    Allegra Krieger is a New York-based singer-songwriter who grew up between Florida and Pennsylvania. She spent much of her childhood in a church, where she also played classical piano and sang in the choir, and various transitions led to her living in Death Valley, Andalucía, and the Blue Ridge Mountains, among many other places. The solitude and instability of that lifestyle informed her debut LP, The Joys of Forgetting, which she followed in 2022 with the striking, ethereal Precious Thing, earning comparisons to Elliott Smith and Joni Mitchell. Once again recorded with producer Luke Temple, her first album for Double Double Whammy, I Keep My Feet On the Fragile Plane, hones in her sharp-eyed songwriting to observe the rushing, paradoxical nature of day-to-day life with a mix of groundedness and mysticism. Her music has always been attuned to the constant cycle of beginnings and endings, but here she finds comfort and levity in the idea of a “fragile plane,” which she describes as “a middle ground in the universe,” gracefully elevating small moments with subtle, evocative orchestration. “Everything’s leaving just as it’s coming in/ Nothing in this world ever stays still,” she sings, inviting us not to linger, but take stock of what does as we move along with the tides.

    We caught up with Allegra Krieger for the latest edition of our Artist Spotlight series to talk about home, her relationship to songwriting, the ideas behind I Keep My Feet on the Fragile Plane, and more.

    Before settling in New York, you spent time living in Pennsylvania and Florida, where you grew up, as well as places like California, North Carolina, and Andalucía. How do you feel like moving around has shaped you as a person, maybe more so than the places themselves?

    I think it’s pretty greatly shaped my current life. I spent a few years really embracing that idea of anonymity. I would spend some time in a place, maybe try and catch some reason to stay for a little bit – if there’s someone I met or a group of friends that I fell into, or a job that I particularly liked. It kind of carried me in this way that felt pretty natural at the time; like, I met somebody here who had a connection for a place to stay and a little work over here, and it kind of ping-ponged for a while. Regarding relationships, I was extremely alone for for a couple years and really disconnected from any kind of community. I would fall into one, and then you have these interactions with people and this small routine, but there was this understanding that longevity isn’t the goal. It was freeing in some ways, but also really isolating in a lot of ways. When I moved to New York, I really started to value deeper relationships, staying in one place and working through things rather than just fucking off to somewhere else. It’s something I’m working on, to just stay and work through things and value roots and community. At the end of the day, that’s really what matters.

    Was there a craving for that way of life when you moved to New York?

    Right before moving to New York, I was working as a tree planter in the South Carolina, Georgia area. We were living in tents work very difficult, worked physically pretty hard manual labour, like 11-hour days. And I feel like during that period, I was like, “What am I doing?” [laughs] I look back on that time with a lot of fondness, but it definitely took me to this place of, “Where is this leading me?” Not that everything you do has to lead you somewhere, I don’t really look at life that way. But I just felt like I wanted to make a change. And that was sort of tied into me being like, “I have these little songs, so maybe I’ll go to New York,” because I had a few friends and family members that live there.

    I basically had zero cost of living for a while and had saved a little bit of money, so I made that album, and then I just fell into New York and slowly but surely started to embrace the idea of staying here. I love New York so much, and it kind of satisfies that itch to travel because there’s so much life and there’s so much movement, but then, if you’re lucky, you have the luxury of going to your little room or your little place. Because I’d spent so much time before New York where I was living in a tent or like a cold little converted chicken coop, I was like, “Oh, this is my personal space; these are my things.” It felt really satisfying initially, and it sort of grew from there.

    A lot of the lyrics on this album seem very much anchored in the present moment and your routine, but I’m curious if you get nostalgic about the memories you gathered elsewhere, and if writing offers a way to cling to them.

    There were a lot of moments in those years that were pretty difficult for me from some experiences. I try to be present, and I do think that this album is actually pretty rooted in the present tense. I think that came from a place of just looking around at what’s happening now in my life, and when I wrote this album, I had ended a relationship and I had moved into an apartment that I really loved. It felt like the first place where I was home, in a way. I was working a lot. When I first moved there, I had two jobs, just to keep myself busy, and I was like, “I just want to write about this and the things I’m feeling now.” I think that comes more naturally than reflecting for me, but those memories and a lot of those relationships definitely still affect the way that I move through the present.

    There’s some memories that I think of very fondly with a lot of nostalgia, and then there’s some memories that I just don’t think about or try not to think about. I think I can be a little black and white in that way. But every once in a while, there will be images from that time in my life that I think really do carry forward – just that action of motion and that feeling of ending up in the same place that you started after all this time has passed, which has greater themes, I think, in the essence of life. I also think it was a pretty unstable time in my life and I didn’t function very well as a writer – or maybe a person either – but this record is rooted in stability, if you can even say that.

    You write in your bio that you don’t have any proof or reason as to why you took to songwriting. Is the timeline of it clearer?

    Basically, I started playing guitar because I was moving around a lot and I didn’t have piano – I initially started playing piano when I was young. I really saw music, guitar, and songwriting as like a friend to me, literally just something I could do when I was alone in some weird-ass place. [laughs] I just developed a relationship with it over time, and then it started to become like a release, some catharsis, and a means of processing things. Then whenever I moved to New York, because I was so distant in all of my relationships with people, I think that music felt it was like one of my closer relationships, and I just wanted to like develop that more. I started playing a lot of shows, and it gave a sense of structure outside of my day jobs that even now is super valuable to me.

    Something that struck me about listening to your music, and especially I Keep My Feet on the Fragile Plane, is that it seems to be striving for a sense of relief, maybe even more than that release or catharsis. You write about easing the ache that the body bears, singing “for the lightness of everything.” Are you conscious of using songwriting to let go of some weight?

    Yeah, a hundred percent. Definitely that lyric, “easing the ache the body bears,” is something that for me, music, or just writing and sitting alone with my guitar – it really does bring a lot of lightness to my life. I think I express myself in a clearer way, at least regarding relationships or communication with other people; maybe like anybody, I just feel way more vulnerable with myself than I do with other people and I can express myself in an honest fashion, whereas with others I get really tense and my sentences come out pretty fumbled, maybe they’re nonsensical in a way. So whenever I feel those waves of emotion, I just take a beat – I really do, when I feel upset, go, “Okay, I just need a moment,” play some music, and it’s a way for me to tap into feelings of peace, getting whatever is weighing on right here out of my body.

    How does that feeling vary between writing a song, recording it, fleshing it out, and playing live?

    I’m really not disciplined as a person, so the songs that I end up holding on to are the ones that come to me in a moment. I’m bad at writing songs, but I feel like write pretty often that, you know, a couple work out. I think I feel that sense of relief catharsis after it’s done. Once I’m recording it, I’m kind of letting go of control, and then it’s just the fun part of the sonic crafting of the album. That feels way less emotional to me compared to actual writing. And then playing live, I feel like I tap into those emotions again. I don’t really listen to the albums once they’re done, but definitely the writing and performing are when I feel closest to the song.

    “Easing the ache the body bears” – that’s an internal shift, but you can also hear it influencing the way you look at the world around you, like with the line, “I’ll take stock of the love lingering above me everywhere.”

    My apartment at the time was influenced the album a lot, and being in Manhattan, I remember just walking down my block, and just feeling like there are all these families and all these people in the buildings literally above me. There was someobody waving to a friend or somebody across the street from their apartment building, and I just like felt that transference of love – maybe too weirdly literal. [laughs]  In that moment I was like, “Look at all these people with their own emotions and love to give.”

    I found it interesting that the idea of the fragile plane doesn’t come up until the last track, which made me feel like it brings a different kind of peace or freedom than the kind you hint at throughout the album.

    Once I got the order of the album situated, there were a couple sentiments that stood out to me. I think this album is pretty rooted in reality, but also maybe equally rooted in hope and more mystic sentiments. The idea that we can see the tangible things and we can experience those things, but the potential of there being so much more; the momentary nature of these feelings of love and ecstasy, where you’re just hovering in that little thin part of existence, and we all are dipping into it, and then you come back down and you go up and you come back down. Over the course of this album being written, I was aware of that. Looking back on those moments in my life when I was moving around a lot, that definitely rings true for those moments, too, where you have the idea of momentary bliss. I guess the fragile plane, to me, is just that space in between the grossness of life and the beautiful parts of life. The song ‘Lingering’, which has that lyric “I want to slip into that fragile plane,” I felt like encompasses all of the desire that is present on the album, and also the desire to move through life without the attachment to desire. When I pieced the album together, that lyric, plus the lyric from ‘Low’, “I keep my feet on the ground” – together, that’s what the album feels like for me.

    There’s a cyclical quality to the album, but there’s also a direct lyrical thread from ‘Walking’, the closer from your last album, Precious Thing, to the opening track of the new one, ‘Making Sense Of’. It’s like picking up where you left off with a kind of twist, which seems pretty intentional.

    Initially, it was not intentional. And then, when I was trying to figure out the first song for the album, that’s when I realized it does feel like an extension of Precious Thing. There are some similar sentiments about letting go; this idea of, you’re walking the wrong way, maybe you’re thinking about this all wrong. I think that kind of sets up the album for a sense of openness that maybe wasn’t present in my life before that – I don’t think it’s that black and white, but regarding albums and thinking about how you want to move through life. It’s like, “Wait, turn around.”

    You said you don’t really listen to your albums after they’re done, but when you think about these songs, how have the experiences you’ve since accumulated put them into perspective?

    I wrote this album at the very beginning of this new relationship that is very different from all my relationships prior, and in the time leading up to it, when I was really embracing being alone, having interactions with other people without the intense attachments or whatever. There is a little bit of a guardedness in this album that’s like, “Maybe I can love you,” but also still, “Maybe you stay over here a little bit.” This time in my life was pretty introspective, but I was maybe not fully tapped into why these walls and this guardedness exists, more just noticing that they do exist. I think the songs I’ve written recently, in the last couple of years, have been a little bit more inquisitive on my own, like, why.

    You mentioned going to New York and feeling this sense of home for the first time. What has that come to mean for you, especially when you’re alone and not necessarily tied to any community?

    This is a very pertinent question, because actually, my apartment that I was like, “This is my home” – I painted the walls, I put up selves, I carried an upright piano up five flights of stairs – like, “I’m staying here.” But it was just in a big fire. Four people died. I was, like, middle of the night, just watching everything. I’m living in a hotel now that I’ve been put up in, like a single-room occupancy in midtown. That happened four weeks ago. I don’t have my belongings, also. And then that in relation to, what does a home make? I’ve always had this notion of: I live in New York, and this is my home, and this is my apartment, and I love my apartment. Now don’t have that, so I’ve been asking this question. And I don’t know. I think I’m very good at occupying myself when I’m alone. And when I’m alone, my relationship with songwriting gets a little bit deeper, and that fills the empty space of living alone. But now that I have this other person in my life that I care so much for, I do sort of have this feeling of: a room is just a room. And then you’re in the room, and all of your things are in the room, but those things are so… they’re nothing, you know. It’s just a shelter, essentially. And your piano that you care so much about is not going to come with you.

    I don’t know if I have an answer for this because I’m in the process of like, “What the hell?” [laughs] I’m just living in this really weird – I mean, it’s kind of beautiful – this old hotel. I have my little bed and my sink, and I share a bathroom with people on my floor. I’m also kind of like, “This feels like home now.” But then, when my partner comes to visit, it’s like, “Now it’s–” I mean, I hate to put so much emphasis on the idea that, like, home is where the heart is. But that’s true, you know. For me, New York – I have family that lives here, I have longtime friends, and I actually have an active love for the city. So I do feel like my heart is here, even though I don’t have a home, technically. It’s confusing, but I’m lucky to be healthy and alive and have this place to live.

    This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

    Allegra Krieger’s I Keep My Feet on the Fragile Plane is out now via Double Double Whammy.

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