A darker shade

Feist ready for the next chap­ter with her fourth al­bum Me­tals.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY

AS the singer Feist cel­e­brated her 35th birth­day this year with an in­ti­mate din­ner among friends, she was dis­tracted mo­men­tar­ily by the in­tense flick­er­ing of a tele­vi­sion in a nearby room.

The im­ages were bizarre: mo­tor­bikes on a stage ac­com­pa­nied by py­rotech­nics and mu­sic. What­ever it was seemed out­landish and jar­ring. What, she won­dered, could be the spec­ta­cle?

It wasn’t un­til she got closer to the tele­vi­sion that the fre­netic, chore­ographed com­mo­tion made sense. It was the tele­cast of the Grammy Awards. Only three years ear­lier, she was part of that scene, per­form­ing 1234, the song that would make the former in­die artiste a global sen­sa­tion in a dif­fer­ent, out-of-con­text per­for­mance.

Now, watch­ing the awards, the im­ages she saw con­firmed how sur­real that ex­pe­ri­ence had been and how she just does not fit into that poppy, mu­si­cal world.

“The Gram­mys, and the mag­ni­tude of that spot­light, it wasn’t a place where I felt at home. Like what I do doesn’t re­ally hap­pen there,” said Feist dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view as she sat on a quiet pa­tio at her down­town Man­hat­tan ho­tel.

“It’s such a po­tent and brief mo­ment, and it doesn’t re­ally speak to the truth of what tour­ing and be­ing a mu­si­cian is. It’s mostly fan- fare, in­flated and very in­tense. I wasn’t feel­ing very com­fort­able in that kind of set­ting.”

Now that Feist is re­leas­ing Me­tals, the fol­low-up to her break­through, her­alded 2007 al­bum, The Re­minder, she is back in her com­fort zone. Her fourth al­bum has a darker tone, but still has that other­worldly, mys­ti­cal qual­ity that has made her one of mu­sic’s more orig­i­nal voices.

“It’s just head­ing into a much more per­sonal and bold and more un­com­pro­mis­ing di­rec­tion, tak­ing all kinds of risks, which I re­spect,” says her long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor Chilly Gon­za­les, one of the al­bum’s pro­duc­ers and song­writ­ers. He com­pares her new al­bum to ter­ri­tory oc­cu­pied by Kate Bush and PJ Har­vey – am­bi­tious, dar­ing, but most im­por­tant, a new di­rec­tion from The Re­minder era.

“She’s in a great po­si­tion to push,” he added. “I wish more peo­ple would be more like her ... take those mo­ments when they have those brief lit­tle mo­ments and say, ‘Let’s not repli­cate that.’”

It would have been tempt­ing to try. While the Cana­dian singer al­ready had a name and crit­i­cal ac­claim, it wasn’t un­til she de­cided to let Ap­ple use a clip of her video for the whim­si­cal 1234 for an iPod Nano com­mer­cial that the main­stream pub­lic be­came fas­ci­nated with Feist. The clip, which fea­tured dancers in brightly coloured out­fits, sway­ing with a sparkly dressed Feist as if it were a scene from a Broad­way mu­si­cal, en­tranced mil­lions. From The Col­bert Re­port to Sesame Street, Feist and her video made the rounds, and the song be­came a pop hit.

Look­ing back, Feist is un­sure that she would agree to let her video be used in such a com­mer­cial way now.

“When I made that de­ci­sion, I was in a re­ally dif­fer­ent place, and I re­ally didn’t know; like, no one could imag­ine that would hap­pen. It was in­cred­i­ble in a lot of ways as well, but it’s put me in cir­cum­stances now where I wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily feel that that is some­thing that could be help­ful,” she said. “I landed some­where dif­fer­ent than I started, so now I would have very dif­fer­ent perspectives on all of that, for sure.”

When the whirl­wind was over, Feist had hit a wall. In­clud­ing her tour for The Re­minder, she had been on the road for seven years, with al­most no time to sit and con­tem­plate new ma­te­rial, or spend time with fam­ily and friends.

So she re­treated, tak­ing about two years off – although she col­lab­o­rated with friends like Bro­ken So­cial Scene and put to­gether a doc­u­men­tary of the ex­pe­ri­ence of The Re­minder, last year’s Look At What The Light Did Now.

“It’s so funny, I al­most don’t even re­mem­ber hav­ing time off,” she said, laugh­ing. “I didn’t do any­thing spe­cific ex­cept not go to a dif­fer­ent town ev­ery night. I just did every­thing you can’t do while you’re mov­ing. I planted a lit­tle gar­den and I adopted some dogs. I got a place in the coun­try and just like hung out in the woods a lot. It took about a year and a half of just float­ing be­fore I got in­ter­ested in re­fram­ing things, which is ul­ti­mately what song­writ­ing is.”

Mu­si­cian Mocky, an­other long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor who worked on both The Re­minder and Me­tals, said he was grat­i­fied that his old friend re­mained in­tact, per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally, af­ter the whirl­wind that be­came The Re­minder.

“She’s still the same amaz­ing mu­si­cian, amaz­ing per­former,” said Mocky, who is a pro­ducer and song­writer on Me­tals.

“She’s not a cookie-cut­ter kind of artiste. I think more than peo­ple re­alise, she’s like a very gritty, ex­cel­lent gui­tar player, singer – that’s where her fo­cus is. She’s just fo­cused on the mu­sic, and I think the way that she han­dled that was great.”

Some of the al­bum frames things in a pe­riod of tur­moil and loss. Songs like How Come You Never Go There and Com­fort Me seem to de­scribe the end of a ro­mance. Mu­si­cally, she veers some­what from The Re­minder with songs that seem weight­ier. There is no mag­i­cally de­light­ful song like 1234. It’s a dif­fer­ent chap­ter, by de­sign, even though she worked with many of the same col­lab­o­ra­tors, this time in a re­mote com­pound in Cal­i­for­nia.

“It was like be­ing taken out of our daily lives and plopped into this to­tal time­less place, and Feist sort of at the helm ... tak­ing us on a jour­ney,” Mocky said. “When we came out the other side, this al­bum was there, and just had this solid­ness to it, this re­al­ness to it. It’s beau­ti­ful.”

And it’s the new jour­ney that Feist, who’s em­bark­ing on a fall tour, is fo­cus­ing on. While she’s ap­pre­cia­tive of the new au­di­ence The Re­minder brought to her, she knows what most peo­ple dis­cov­ered was a frag­mented ver­sion of her­self. With Me­tals, she is hop­ing to fill in the pic­ture.

“I made the record that I wanted, so yeah, I couldn’t be more rooted right now; like I kind of re­gained the grip on the steer­ing wheel again,” she said. – AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.