Interview: Caribou

From its humble beginnings with the theft of a sampler gathering dust in his high school’s music department, through several acclaimed albums and an absurd collision with a litigious wrestler, Dan Snaith's (aka Caribou) musical life has followed anything but a predictable trajectory. His new album ‘Our Love’ is a masterclass, so naturally we wanted to catch up and ask him a few things about it.

A Year back Daphni felt like a side wards step to the middle of the dancefloor. Now alongside ‘Our Love’ it feels like a stepping stone to somewhere all together more soulful. Did you know where you were going? Where does this lead? Is that the point?
Both of the things reflect the things that have been going on in my life in the past few years - Swim both allowed me to get out and do more djing again - which resulted in me making all the Daphni tracks - and also its reception and also more personal things like having a child put me in the reflective and outward looking mode that led to Our Love. For me it feels like the Daphni music captures a very specific interest and part of my life whereas the Caribou records are really somehow supposed to document my entire life. It’s very hard to know where it’s leading - just as it is to say where my life is headed.

The crystalline production of ‘Our Love’ feels distant from the psychedelia of your earlier work. Has your approach changed?
The technical side hasn’t changed that much - everything is still recorded at home in a reasonably similar way - but at least in the case of this new album the intention is very different. Those earlier records were me getting lost in a constructed world of sound whereas Our Love is both an attempt to document the more everyday textures of my life but also to reach out to the people who are listening - hence the directness and care taken to keep things in focus.

What has inspired you in the making of your new album?
Definitely the things going on in my personal life - the feeling that swim had connected with people in some special way and being at a naturally reflective point in my life had a big impact on the sound and the sentiment. Originally I thought sonically the record would sound more glassy/ glossy/digital/unreal in the way of lots of the exciting R&B production that is everywhere these days - i’m glad it didn’t in the end as that sound is so omnipresent both in the mainstream and independent music these days - but in the end a lot of classic soul records that I was listening to with my daughter - Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Curits Mayfield etc ended up unexpectedly playing a big part in the sound.

How did the Jiaolong label come about and have you enjoyed being a label?
It was started on a whim to release my Daphni stuff as easy as possible and to see what it was all about running a label. I both have and have not enjoyed running a label - I’ve enjoyed the immediacy of it but it has made me realise that the last thing I want to do is run a business where I have to constantly account to people etc. That is not my idea of fun.

Who did you work with on the artwork for this album? You have also just released a pretty powerful video for the title track...
Jason Evans who has done my artwork (amongst others - Four Tet etc) for over a decade always does an amazing job with the artwork. That is one of the things I enjoy most - allowing Jason - who is a very musical person - to interpret the music visually as he sees fit. Yes - I have mixed feelings about music videos in general but when I saw the pitch for Ryan Staake’s Our Love video I knew that it was the one and related to what I was thinking about to the music.

Do you approach playing live as a different experience to the studio? Are you reinterpreting the songs?
Very much so - the live show is entirely a collaboration between the 4 of us onstage and we take the songs apart and put them back together in the way that makes sense for a live performance. As we tour for months the songs change dramatically which is one of the best pleasures of touring.

The response to ‘Our Love’ has been universally positive. The consensus is that the album is about love. Have people picked up the right message? Do you feel like you have conveyed what you wanted to with the album?
I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to ‘Our Love’. It has been amazing and affirming. I hope people - and it seems like they have - read my intention in the music but also one of the things I have learned to embrace in the last few years as my music has travelled perhaps more broadly than before is that it’s not necessarily about people getting what I want from the music - rather that they get what they want. And that I enjoy that happening


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