Child’s play tunes

Cari­bou’s new al­bum, the follow-up to ‘Swim’, re­flects Dan Snaith’s home life right now, equal parts eu­pho­ria and melan­choly, he tells Jim Car­roll

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

In some ways, Cari­bou’s new al­bum is all down to Dan Snaith’s daugh­ter. When the man who has been re­leas­ing records as Cari­bou (neé Man­i­toba) since 2001 talks about what went into the mak­ing of Our

Love, play­time ses­sions with his three- year-old are one of the first things to mind.

“When I started work­ing on the al­bum,” he says, “I was lis­ten­ing to a lot of clas­sic soul records be­cause I’d be sit­ting play­ing with my daugh­ter in our liv­ing room and I’d put on Marvin Gaye or Sly Stone or Ste­vie Won­der. Lis­ten­ing back to the record now, those things re­ally in­formed ev­ery­thing, from the pro­duc­tion to how I was singing to what I was singing about, but I didn’t re­alise it at the time.”

There were other in­flu­en­tial irons in the fire. “The record started out and ended up in two dif­fer­ent places. It started out with me think­ing that all those hy­per-dig­i­tal r’n’b sounds and tex­tures that are re­ally glassy and glossy were quite fas­ci­nat­ing, and I was work­ing with those ideas. But I could never get it to breathe or feel in the way I wanted; it didn’t pack as much emo­tional punch as I wanted.”

Our Love cer­tainly packs that. It’s an al­bum of em­phatic and eu­phoric highs, full of rap­tur­ous mo­ments when Snaith’s grooves and heady at­mo­spheric hits come beau­ti­fully to­gether. As a follow-up to the much ad­mired

Swim, it’s a good one.

Big themes

The emo­tional tugs ev­i­dent in the songs are im­por­tant to the Cana­dian.

“One big theme with this record is what is sub­stan­tially im­por­tant to me. I’m in my mid-30s and I now have a child, so it’s a re­flec­tive time in my life. I wanted the record to be about all the love re­la­tion­ships in my life, be that my wife or daugh­ter, my friends, my fam­ily or my au­di­ence.

“My ex­pe­ri­ence of all of those things is that they’re quite com­plex and not the same as the love we had as teenagers or what our con­cep­tion of love was back then. It’s far more com­pli­cated be­cause you get happi- ness right next to sad­ness. In the last few years, my daugh­ter was learn­ing to speak at the same time as a friend of mine passed away. Th­ese two huge things were hap­pen­ing right on top of one another.”

Snaith is fas­ci­nated by how eu­pho­ria and melan­choly can co-ex­ist in one piece of mu­sic.

“Club mu­sic is a per­fect place to do that be­cause peo­ple go to clubs as a form of es­capism. When you lis­ten to the best club mu­sic, that sense of melan­choly is cer­tainly there. My favourite mu­sic cap­tures both of those things. I mean, house mu­sic has al­ways been where many marginalised groups have gone to ex­press their feel­ings and talk about their ex­pe­ri­ences.”

For him, clubs re­main places where mag­i­cal things can hap­pen. The al­bum he re­leased un­der the Daphni name last year was a prod­uct of that think­ing.

“A lot of my ex­cite­ment around con­tem­po­rary mu­sic comes from clubs and play­ing in clubs, be it with the band or as a DJ. The Daphni record came about be­cause I was DJing more and wanted to have mu­sic that no­body had heard to play to peo­ple. I wanted to make tracks quickly to play in the clubs and it was never in­tended for re­lease.”

It was also about do­ing some­thing that was not Cari­bou, with all the ex­pec­ta­tions that come with that.

“When I re­leased the Daphni record, Swim was still this mas­sive jug­ger­naut go­ing on, with more shows and press and at­ten­tion, and I wanted the Daphni record to be the com­plete op­po­site – no plan, no PR, no ad­vance plan­ning. It was very spon­ta­neous and a nice con­trast to how Cari­bou records have be­come such a big thing in my life. I plan my fam­ily life around the band now.”

Mak­ing a splash

Snaith still sounds as­ton­ished at how well the pre­vi­ous Cari­bou record per­formed. Swim ac­cel­er­ated him up the fes­ti­val billings and sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased his fan­base.

“I didn’t see it com­ing at all. It just hap­pened grad­u­ally after

Swim was re­leased. I was so proud of that record be­cause it was so per­sonal to me. I made no con­ces­sions what­so­ever when I made it and I didn’t think for a minute that this was go­ing to be a crossover record, which made it all the more amaz­ing and af­firm­ing when it hap­pened.

“A big part of the im­pe­tus for mak­ing Our Love was think­ing about how those ex­pe­ri­ences with Swim changed my life. I’d never thought about that be­fore in the stu­dio, about how it would “Hands down­the best gig we’ve played this year was the one at Body & Soul in June.It was such an amaz­ing show for us.That was a crazy day be­cause we lost our lug­gage on the way. We had to bor­row bits of equip­ment and try to piece the show to­gether an drigh tup to the last minut we went on stag were work­ing ou would go.

“Af­ter­wards were driv­ing bac­the ho­tel past al those fields, Igo think­ing about what an amazin ex­pe­ri­ence it ha been. We were so lucky to have donethat.It moved me be­cause it was some­thing we couldn’t have do five years ago.” be re­ceived, but that flipped com­pletely. I wanted to make a record which was about me shar­ing my­self and know­ing it was go­ing to travel and hop­ing it would con­nect with peo­ple in the same way. The most won­der­ful thing about mak­ing mu­sic is hav­ing peo­ple hear it.”

It’s rare to hear an artist talk about a new record so openly in terms of his au­di­ence. “Peo­ple avoid it be­cause they k it some­how com­pro­mises r artis­tic in­tegrity to con­sidhe pub­lic re­ac­tion, and they ht end up mak­ing pop­ulist es. But I didn’t feel that tenat all. I felt more like the way you make a hand­made gift for some­one.

“You put your love and af­fec­tion and at­ten­tion into some­thing with the in­ten­tion that it is for some­one else.”

State of eu­pho­ria Cari­bou on­stage at at Body & Soul in June.

Pho­to­graph: Allen Kiely

Our Love is out on City Slang to­day. Cari­bou play Dublin’s Vicar Street on Novem­ber 5th

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