Caribou Interview


I spoke with Daniel Snaith (Caribou) just after it was announced that he and his band will hit the road with Radiohead. We talked about a number of interesting subjects including curating the ATP and what’s happening musically these days.

CB: Congratulations on your upcoming tour with Radiohead. In the past you have used complex visuals as part of your live show. Will you be doing something similar with these shows?

DS: No – we’ve actually jettisoned the video projections aspect for all of our shows. On the other hand we’ve started working with a lighting engineer for the first time and I’ve been amazed at how much difference that makes – he’s an incredibly talented engineer named Brian Kelly from the wilds of Ireland and it makes an enormous difference having someone who knows all the details of the music design a show from scratch. Especially on the scale of these shows – our old projection screen would look like a postage stamp up there.

CB: You were involved as a curator for All Tomorrow’s Parties last year, how much fun was that?
Were their any bands which really stood out for you?

DS: It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. It’s a music nerd’s dream come true to be able to choose a whole lineup of your favourite acts like that. Predictably my favourite acts were our trio of octogenarian free jazz saxophone players – Pharoah Sanders, Getatchew Mekuria with the Ex and Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra.

CB: What can we expect musically from Caribou in the days to come?

DS: That’s a good question. I’ve just now started working seriously on a new album meaning there’s a while yet before it will be finished or released. I don’t know what the next record will sound like. That’s always a process that takes a lot of trial and error to work through – to make sure it doesn’t sound like
a previous one.

CB: I read that “Swim” is the record you really wanted to make since you started making music, it’s described as “your masterpiece”, what are your feelings about that?

DS: Yes – it’s the one I’m happiest with. I’m proud of all of them – there are no albums I regret releasing. However, if I listen back to any of them (which for the record I never do – I’m not that much
of a megalomaniac) I immediately start tearing my few remaining hairs out over things that I should have changed.

CB: Do you still come up with many musical ideas while swimming?

DS: I have failed to find the time to swim very much recently. It’s one of my deep regrets.

CB: Are you much more comfortable playing with a backing band, or do you prefer the solitude of
performing on your own as a DJ.

DS: They are distinct experiences. I wouldn’t want to give up either. So many of our live shows have been highlights of my life and incredibly the same is also true of DJing. They fulfill different purposes.I would take exception to the term ‘backing band’ though – although I make the albums alone the other guys in the live incarnation (Brad Weber, John Schmersal, Ryan Smith) are equally a part of creating (and obviously performing) the live show as I am.

CB: Do you enjoy the fact that people find it difficult to describe a Caribou record? Your sounds and influences aren’t exactly obvious, you really make the listener think about what their listening to.

DS: I certainly would be less happy if it was trivial to pin down my influences. Pastiche is to be avoided which isn’t something I’ve been entirely successful doing in the past. That’s part of the idea –
to find a sonic palette that’s unique and then to express something with it. That’s the aim, anyway.

CB: As a bit of a tie-in to the last question, which five records could you really not live with out?


There are many more than 5 but here are some examples:
Albert Ayler ‘Spiritual Unity’
Neutral Milk Hotel ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’
Arthur Russell ‘World of Echo’
Daft Punk ‘Discovery’
Shuggie Otis ‘Inspiration Information’

Interview by Charles Brownstein

Credit photo to Nitasha Kapoor

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