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
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.
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