Fertile Times: An Interview with Caribou

The man behind the moniker Caribou is Dan Snaith. As you’re no doubt aware by now, he’s DJing with us this weekend as Mister Saturday Night returns after a longer than planned break.

We’ve been chatting with him on email for the past week or so in anticipation of the party. It was a pleasure to hear that he knew all about us and what we do, and he’s clearly enthused and looking forward to the gig.

He kindly agreed to answer a few questions to help whet your appetite for this coming Saturday.

Mister Saturday Night: Ok, so you’re going to be DJing with us at the party on the 2nd, so lets start in the dance music world. You recently said your interest in DJing and dance music has come back with a ‘vengeance’. Can you explain why that has been?

Dan Snaith: It has a lot to do with how fertile dance music is at the moment. It seems like every week I hear a record by a new artist that is exciting, whereas I can hardly remember the last time I got excited about a new band (except for Orchestra of Spheres from New Zealand). That started me going to clubs more often and specifically down to Plastic People to see Theo Parrish every month, when he comes though London, and that got me excited about [making] music which was dance music in some sense.

MSN: The new tracks that we’ve been hearing from you are under the Moniker ‘Daphni’. Especially in light of all the business of having to change your name from Manitoba to Caribou a few years ago, why did you feel like it was important to come up with a new name for this new music?  

DS: The Manitoba/Caribou name change wasn’t anything to do with the music – there was no change of direction in music between the two names. It was out of necessity because of being sued. I’ve been making a lot of music that’s very much strictly dance music – without any songwriting elements and to me that doesn’t make sense to release as Caribou music so having a new pseudonym made sense. Also, releasing a new Caribou record involves a fair bit of work – interviews, touring, etc. – these days. I wanted something that would be spontaneous and intentionally low key.

MSN: It’s interesting to hear you say that there was no change of direction between earlier projects, because there’s always seemed to us to be changes in your sound from record to record. Swim specifically attracted more attention to your music than anything else you’d done. Why do you think this specific album struck such a chord with people? Do you feel like you hit some sort of pressure point?

DS: It’s hard to say why this record connected. It’s definitely my most personal record – the one that’s the most ‘me’. From my perspective it feels like the one where I’ve most successfully staked out a bit of musical turf of my own. I’d like to think that’s why it’s connected with people but I probably have the worst sense of perspective about my own music, so it’s probably something entirely different.

MSN: Merge, your record label, seems to be leading the pack of indie stalwarts who are finding a way to flourish in a notoriously nebulous music industry. Does their success give you hope for a sustainable music business? And, as they’re your label-mates, was the Arcade Fire’s Grammy Award personally meaningful to you in any way?

DS: Merge are fantastic, and I certainly hope they are the model for a sustainable music industry. The parts of the music industry that are degenerating the most rapidly are the parts that I’m not particularly concerned with – I have lots of friends who have been able to share their music with lots of fans and travel the world and have met lots of other musicians who maybe aren’t touring everywhere but still have been able to start releasing their music because of the new ways in which music spreads. I’m largely speaking [as] an optimist. There is more interest in recorded music at the moment than at any previous time in history. That seems like a positive indicator. About the Arcade Fire winning a Grammy – I’m extremely happy for Merge (I don’t know the people in Arcade Fire personally), but it’s not really relevant to me apart from that.

MSN: Finally, whats your idea of the perfect party?

DS: I used to put on parties when I first moved to Toronto, and they were somehow the perfect ones for me – having all our friends involved in organizing the party, programming the DJs we liked – it was all very naive and exciting. I suppose that feeling of being amongst friends is most important, and I still get that quite often. Last time I played in New York City, the promoter told me to stop playing after about half an hour and put on some dude who was playing Justice over Red Hot Chili Peppers records. Something other than that please!

MSN: We shall do no such thing.

Daphni – Ye Ye by Caribouband

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