INTERVIEW: Caribou “That Song Created Some Of The Most Special Moments Of The Summer”
Early next year, the amazing CARIBOU (a.k.a Dan Snaith) will be returning to Australia to play as apart of Laneway Festival, alongside a massive bill which includes FKA TWIGS, BANKS, FLYING LOTUS, FUTURE ISLANDS, JUNGLE, MAC DEMARCO, LITTLE DRAGON and many, many more!
We managed to get in touch with Dan in between his band rehearsals and it appears as though he’s almost as excited as us to be coming back! Here’s what the brilliant musician had to say!
How does it feel to be reunited with your band to perform brand new songs to large crowds again?
It feels amazing actually! We tour pretty much all the time but building up to this record there were two years that we didn’t tour at all. The last shows we did were with Radiohead in 2012. It has been years and years since we’ve done our own headline shows and played longer sets with a broader collection of our music. It’s really, really exciting. Also, because we’ve been playing the songs off Swim so much, we felt like we had visited everywhere and played those songs. It’s good to get back together to play new music again. Immediately after I’m done talking to you I have to run off to the rehearsal space. We’re still learning the last few songs on the new record and then next week go off on tour. It’s really exciting!
‘Can’t Do Without You’ has such a euphoric build to it and must be a treat for you to play live. Do you notice a significant change in the audience’s reaction just after the one and a half minute mark when the song really starts getting going?
We started playing that song almost the day after it got premiered, at festival spots around Europe in the summer. A lot of people probably hadn’t heard it the first few times we played it, but the whole idea of that song for me was imagining playing it at a festival. The whole song is just a loop. The point of it is to build tension. I could see when we met as a band that we could make it sound different everytime we play it. That song created some of the most special moments of the summer.
That track has opened up a huge remix opportunity for producers. Which artists have stepped up to have a go at remixing it?
We had zillions of remixes for Swim and I wanted to turn it down a little bit this time. I wasn’t even thinking of getting any remixes to be honest but then a day or two after that original track was released, I got an email from the Tale Of Us guys saying “We love this track, is there any chance we could have the parts for it, not necessarily to do an official remix, but just to do one we can play in our DJ sets this summer? We really, really would love to be playing this track and doing our own take on it, to fit it into our DJ mixes the way we want”.
That seems very much in the spirit of my other alias Daphni, which is more kind of dance music orientated. It was lovely coming personally from them and I thought it was in the same way I was approaching remixing as Daphni, to make my own variations of things to play in a set. That’s the only remix that has been done officially so far and released already, but it’s nice that it came out of that personal angle, rather than an A&R move or plan, or whatever.
During live performances, you and your band are positioned extremely close to each other. Is this to create a more intimate atmosphere throughout your set?
I hope it does that. The main reason we do that is because we are all attached together by cables. All of our equipment is attached together. We have a setup where I can change something on the instrument that Ryan, our guitarist and synthesizer player is playing or somebody has a peddle and can change the structure of a song. Everything is wired together so we have spontaneous control over how songs develop. In all honesty, that is the reason we’re close together.
Also, eye contact, we rely so much on eye contact in different points of the set. We give each other a nod and it ends up heading in one of the two directions it could go, so we couldn’t be far apart, it wouldn’t work. I think you’re right though, it sends that message that this is what is going on here, we’re generally creating some music together. It’s as though the reason we’re close together is because we’re physically connected together and the music is connected together.
You are all also typically dressed in white on stage. What’s the purpose behind this choice of colour?
We used to have a screen and video projections which responded to the music. The idea was, we were in the flame, in the front of the screen and the video was watching over us. If you want a projected image the best colour for that is white. We also have a lighting designer so that’s all a big part of it. He has worked for us for a long time now so I guess it makes sense for the same reason. If we are all in the same clothing, he can have the most control over how things look when he projects lights on us. Plus, when we’re off stage we dress like a bunch of slobs so I think it’s better that we’re not just wearing our normal street clothes because that would be a bit of a let down for people.
Recently you performed at the Dimensions Festival Opening Concert, in a 2000 year old Roman amphitheatre. Can you please describe to us what that was like?
When we arrived at that show I was thinking is this for real? Are we really playing here? This is incredible. It’s such a special place. This is going to make us sound so pretentious, but this actually wasn’t the first Roman amphitheatre we have played in. There’s this one in the South of France in Nimes which is an equally amazing place to play. The Dimensions show was more of our own thing. When we were playing with Radiohead we were obviously the support band for them. Getting to play in this special place was one of the best gigs of the summer for sure. I’ll always remember that show, it was wonderful.
Excluding Roman amphitheatres, what has been the most unique venue you’ve ever performed in?
Well, to go to the other end of the spectrum was the one time we played in Bogota in Columbia. We played in an active brothel. We were on a mirrored stage in the middle of the room. They had closed the brothel for that one night so that we could do a show there. The stage was surrounded by LED palm trees and our dressing room had a heart shaped bed with a mirror on the ceiling. That was a pretty surreal venue for me.
You’ve mentioned before that there is no such thing as a Daphni live show. Have you ever considered turning it into one or will you strictly only DJ under that name?
I used to play a laptop set as Manitoba at the very beginning, but I always found it frustrating. For me the live experience is the best with the four of us on stage. As a musician I’ve always loved playing live as Caribou. I also really like DJing. Daphni will always be a DJ thing and Caribou will always be a live band. I have no plans to change it so at the moment there won’t be a live show for Daphni.
‘Second Chance’ is quite different to all of the other tracks on your new album. What inspired you to create this particular song?
It was made different I think by the involvement of Jessy Lanza who co-wrote and sung it. I love her music and I’ve known her for a while, we’re good friends and having heard her record while she was working on it I thought, we have to do a track together. I made the instrumental loop for that track and I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t really imagine turning into a popish song the way that it has. I sent it to Jessy and I said, do you want to try doing anything with this one and she sent back this amazing pop rnb vocal with a big melody. It’s probably one of my favourite moments on the record. I think collaborating is when people come up with something from a different angle. Jessy and I have lots of things lyrically in common but she sings slightly differently than I do or would ever be able to do. That’s what I love about it. When I hear it, I hear our two sensibilities complimenting one another.
On October 31st, you and Kieran (Four Tet) are curating a night for The Warehouse Project in England. How did you decide which artists to include on the bill?
We did one last year as well. We both DJ’ed and Thom Yorke and Madlib played, as well as a bunch of other people. We’ve been lucky enough to do this a few times. The Warehouse Project has so many different parties so we’re always thinking who could we take, who has never played it before, who can we get that won’t be on the line up for another WHP night. In the obvious way, we also choose who we love and who we’re excited about playing alongside, our friends and all of those kind of things.
The last time you toured Australia was back in 2011. Can you share with us some of your memories from that tour?
First of all, I had my first great surfing experience on that trip. I’ve tried to surf before and it’s been a failure. I sort of got the hang of it a little bit there. One of the guys in our band is also a keen surfer. That was before the tour started, then we met up with Kieran. It was just wonderful. The shows had a level of excitement which I wasn’t anticipating. It was great because we were playing together, Four Tet and myself. Also, when we were traveling, a few friends happened to be in Australia and they came along for the whole trip with us. It was such a fun, party atmosphere the whole time. I really, really loved that tour. We’ve always had amazing times when we’ve come to Australia. We can’t wait to get back!
You’ve just been announced to perform at next year’s Laneway Festival. Are there any acts on the bill you’re really excited about touring with?
I’m super excited to see FKA Twigs play, because her album is definitely one of my albums of the year. I thought we’d end up playing at various festivals with her this summer but that didn’t happen so I’m excited to see her play. We have friends on the bill as well. It would be great to see Flying Lotus. I’m friends with Jon Hopkins, so it would be great to see him play and hang out with him. That’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to because it’s like a traveling circus so it’ll be great to hang out with all of the people and travel together.
Do you have any plans to do some Daphni DJ sets while you’re in the country?
The only question is, when? We’re pretty busy while we’re down there. I’d love to but I’m not sure whether I’m going to be able to make it happen yet or not.
What are you most looking forward to about returning to Australia?
We’ve got lots in friends living in various places in Australia. That’s a big part of it. Not only the shows which are going to be wonderful and meeting people at the shows, but seeing friends that I don’t get to see very often.
CARIBOU AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Saturday 24 January
Singapore – The Meadow, Gardens By The Bay
Monday 26 January
Auckland – Silo Park
Saturday 31 January
Brisbane – Brisbane Showgrounds, Bowen Hills (16+)
Sunday 1 February
Sydney – Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), Rozelle*
Friday 6 February
Adelaide – Hart’s Mill, Port Adelaide (16+)
Saturday 7 February
Melbourne – Footsgray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) and The Rivers Edge
Sunday 8 February
Fremantle – Esplanade Reserve and West End
* Subject to DA approval
Words by Tony Kingston