Jenn Wasner, aka Flock of Dimes, performs at the Ottobar on Thursday night with Sharon Van Etten.

Jenn Wasner, aka Flock of Dimes, performs at the Ottobar on Thursday night with Sharon Van Etten. (Lloyd Fox, The Baltimore Sun / April 18, 2012)

Walk around Baltimore today and you could see Jenn Wasner's big eyes staring up at you. Wasner, who plays guitar and sings in Wye Oak and now by herself as Flock of Dimes, is the cover star for b's latest "10 to Watch Under 30" issue.

In 2011, Wasner, an Owings Mills native, lived on the road, playing more than 200 shows alongside Wye Oak drummer Andy Stack. When she returned home to Baltimore, she was burned out, and even considered moving away from the city.

But don't ever underestimate the power of rest. Wasner's return home (and to normalcy) found her enjoying everyday life, from grocery shopping to waiting tables, and she eventually found her way back to the solo songs she had toyed with for the past couple of years. Now, she's about to release a seven-inch as Flock of Dimes on Friends Records, which will be available on her upcoming tour with Sharon Van Etten. It kicks off Thursday night at the Ottobar.

We had plenty to discuss, and not enough space in b, so enjoy my full Q&A with Wasner. We spoke over the phone on her birthday, two days ago.

First, happy birthday. You turned 26 today, right?
Thanks. Yeah, it’s whatever. The one notable thing about this birthday is I get I off my parents' health insurance. [Laughs]

Have you celebrated already or do you have a special day planned?
I had a show at my house on Saturday night, an unofficial birthday. Nate Nelson played as Afternoon Penis. My friend Lexie Mountain and Shana Palmer played as Speaker. 200 Years and new favorite Baltimore band, Horse Lords, played, too. It was a great time. 

Let's make sure I have the Flock of Dimes timeline straight. You began doing solo stuff in 2010, which resulted in "Prison Bride."
I guess so. Late 2010. It’s been slow getting off the ground with everything else in my life. Unfortunately it has taken a back seat to all the touring [Wye Oak has] been doing. I've been trying to keep up with in my spare time. Now that we’ve been off the road for awhile, I’ve been able to put some more time into it. The [Flock of Dimes] record is still a ways off from being finished. I'm very excited to be doing my very first tour.

How do the other Flock of Dimes songs compare to “Prison Bride”? Are they in the same vein?
"Prison Bride" was one of the first songs I wrote for this project. [Producer] Mickey Free and I put it together. There's a handful of songs from that era, about a year ago, that have a similar vibe/sound/beatmaking style. I was just getting started and I had tricks I was heavily leaning on. Five or six others sound similar.

Since then, in the past year, I’ve been traveling and trying to make songs independently, and I'm bringing them back to Mickey in my spare time. Those songs have been sounding very different. They’ve unfolded in my old personal little travel studio — my laptop, music-making software, a mini-MIDI controller. I’d say generally speaking, it’ll be a little all over the board but there will be that core group of songs that come from the same universe as "Prison Bride." I have eight definites; trying to get 10 filled. 



From reading other interviews, it seems you were really drained from the year Wye Oak had. How much is the Flock of Dimes material a response to the need of being creative on your own terms?
It’s definitely a response to that. I’m actually reinvigorated with what Andy and I are working on. I think there's a place for that in my world but the mistake I made … I can compare it to anyone that has a career, where something steps up a level from just being something they’re interested in. It changes the way you think about it, how you do it, what circumstances. Music isn’t just a job for me. It’s the only thing I love to do. It’s the only thing I care about. It’s the most important thing in the world.

The mistake I made was that one outlet had become a livelihood, and that one thing couldn’t be enough for everything. The goal is to not replace or leave anything behind; it's to invite more into my world so I can feel like I'm still making music for the reasons I started. I have pretty eclectic tastes and a short attention span to the music I make. I want to challenge myself. That requires different projects and collaborations. I'm working with a lot of people. That way, I’m not being complacent anymore. 

Should Wye Oak fans be worried about the band's future?
We’re working on new stuff. We’ve got a tour with Dirty Projectors coming up. Andy and I ... the trick for both of us, is Wye Oak is going to be apart of our world but not our whole world. I'm not just talking about music, but personal growth and relationships and family and friends and things you have to sacrifice. I think we’re learning to be balanced.