Monday, June 7, 2010

Interview: Caribou's Dan Snaith Learns How to Swim (Literally), Has Entertaining Tour Stories and Embraces Electronic Music

Posted By on Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Electro whiz kid Dan Snaith is back with his critically lauded LP, Swim. Catch Snaith and co. tonight at the Firebird with Toro y Moi.
  • Electro whiz kid Dan Snaith is back with his critically lauded LP, Swim. Catch Snaith and co. tonight at the Firebird with Toro y Moi.

Dan Snaith is bored of bands. The 32-year-old musician better known as Caribou is back in St. Louis tonight at the Firebird in support of Swim, the club-inspired follow-up to Caribou's 2007 LP, Andorra. Chillwave demigods Toro y Moi are opening.

Although the Polaris-prize-winning Andorra is full of prismatic psych that calls to mind the sun-drenched '60s, Swim is diamond-cut and danceworthy. Snaith's capacity for genre-blending and bending is limitless, and his unfaltering fastidiousness has been his calling card of sorts throughout his decade-long career. In fact, Swim is nothing short of immaculate. I caught up with him recently to discuss Swim, the upcoming show, his Ph.D. in pure math, and why he's bored of everything but dance music.

After the show, don't forget to head to the Upstairs Lounge for the official Caribou/Toro Y Moi after-party, which benefits everyone's favorite community radio station, KDHX. Grace Woodard of Nomadic Reverie, Kate Estwing of Beep Beep Boop Boop, Josh Levi and Woody Krummenacher of the Upstairs night, Found Future will be DJing. There's no cover, but donations are encouraged.

Diana Benanti: So how is the tour going with Toro y Moi? Are you guys getting along? Dan Snaith: Oh yeah, they're sweethearts! Actually, they're complete assholes, I can't stand them. [Laughs] If I see them another day, I'll quit the tour. They're awesome live. I love their record, but I love seeing them live just as much, maybe more.

So tell me a little about your new album. It's markedly less retro and psychedelic than Andorra. Did the acid turn on you, or what? You know, I've just been more inspired by dance music lately. The most exciting music I've been hearing in recent years is dance music, so that motivated a more club-sounding dance record. I've also been going to more clubs and DJing more. It was just excitement about the music I was hearing. While I was making Andorra, I was already getting inspired by James Holden. From my perspective, it's been the most exciting music I've been hearing, moreso than bands or whatever.

Where do you DJ? Various places, nowhere regularly, various places in London or just around Europe that are easy to fly around to. I do gigs when they come up.

What are some dance music artists you're excited about right now? Um, lots of different people; sort of young, dub-steppy kind of people in London, James Blake, Ikonika, a guy in Germany called Motor City Drum Ensemble, kind of established dance music artists like Neil Parrish...people who are doing exciting interesting things.

Is that what you listened to while recordingSwim? I wanted this record to be the least beholden to its influences, so I was conscious of taking a concept and a certain way of thinking about a song, but not thinking, "Oh, I really like the sound of that synthesizer." I was searching for my own vocabulary of sounds to make the record with.

Do you have a favorite song off this album? It really varies all the time. I'm proud of all of them. I guess there are a few that are really fun to play live, "Bowls" which allows more freedom to improvise than some of the more concise pop songs, but also, "Jamelia" is really awesome to play live. John who sings on it has a really awesome voice, it really takes off.

What's the recording process like for you? You said once that you recorded in bed next to your sleeping girlfriend. Luckily that's not the case anymore, we now have one extra room in the place we live now, so I've got a little room in our apartment. I'm in there all day everyday when I'm not on tour, that's just what I want to do. It's very much trial and error.

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