Sufjan Stevens to play Carrie & Lowell in full for Vivid LIVE

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Sufjan Stevens will play his occasionally harrowing new album, Carrie & Lowell, in full.

For this week's episode of The J Files, Sufjan Stevens gave his only radio interview worldwide to Double J to discuss his new album, his Australian plans, and his illustrious career.

During the chat, with this week’s J Files host Zan Rowe, Stevens revealed what he’s bringing to Sydney for the Vivid LIVE festival later this month.

There's a process in performing this music that allows me to lose possession of the experience itself. To give it away.

Sufjan Stevens

He said he would be playing his heartbreakingly beautiful new album Carrie & Lowell in full at all of the shows.

"The band is really small, there's five of us," he said. "It's mostly deliberately simple and austere. We are playing the record in its entirety, which has been really, really difficult. But the show has a lot more dynamic range than the record.

"I've hired a lighting designer and there are moments that are extremely augmented to fill the environment of the space of the theatre. We allow for the songs – especially the kind of ambient, new age moments in the record – we love for them to develop more robustly onstage than they do on the record."

The album is dark and largely focuses on the tough relationship Stevens had with his mother Carrie, who left him as a small child.

While he acknowledges that revisiting these difficult topics each night could be hard on his mental health, he says so far the process has been cathartic.

"We've been doing three weeks now and I feel really relieved," he said. "I feel a sense of catharsis. I think it has a lot to do with a shared experience in a room with other people, with the public. There is a kind of camaraderie that's necessary and fundamental to playing live.

"I think that's necessary in the healing process – to forgive and accept, but also to relinquish your pain into the world, into the universe. There's a process in performing this music that allows me to lose possession of the experience itself. To give it away."

"So far that seems to be working. We'll see if I have a panic attack and a nervous breakdown a month from now. But so far it's been really helpful and cathartic."


Stevens also said that he'd like to return to Australia next year once international commitments around Carrie & Lowell have died down.

"We've been talking about 2016, coming out for the summer and playing in the other cities," he said. "I had such an incredible time travelling around to Adelaide and Melbourne and Perth during the Age Of Adz tour, it was one of the highlights of my touring life, so I definitely want to come back."

Hear two hours of Sufjan Stevens on The J Files