Caribou on Our Love, Dance Music, and "Connecting With People"
That Caribou (AKA Daniel Snaith) is such a singular, idiosyncratic artist with a sound all his own has much to do with his being a self-confessed studio production nerd. It's hard not to agree that the bespectacled 30-something mathematics PhD from Canada perfectly embodies the stereotype of the sonic mad scientist, locked away in his noise laboratory, conjuring quirky sounds from arcane gadgets.
But no artist is an absolute loner. And feeding off the love from his growing fanbase and the exceedingly positive reception of his last release, 2010's crossover tour de force Swim, Snaith has emerged from his hermetic production world with an even more accessible, dance-oriented album, Our Love.
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"There were production things that were different -- different pieces of technology and equipment," Snaith tells Crossfade about the album.
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"But the big thing that was different, right from the start, was my mindset, my outlook. My last record, Swim, crossed over more and it was more successful than my previous records. People were coming up to me and telling me, 'I love your record, it means so much to me.' For this reason, we were playing bigger crowds. That's what made me want to make a new record.
"In the past, that hasn't been the case at all," he explains. "In the past, I've been a studio nerd, locked away, focused on, 'Oh, this sound is exciting,' or whatever -- which is still there, obviously. I still have that kind of temperament.
"But [Our Love] is much more outward-looking, much more about sharing, making it something much more warm and generous than I'd been making in the past. I knew that I wanted to make this record that was more about opening up, sharing, and thinking about how it was going to sound when we played it in a club, festival, or wherever."
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Living and working in the electronic dance music mecca of London for the past decade has also certainly helped steer Snaith's original left-field psychedelic pop sound in the direction of the dance floor.
"[London] had a big effect, even on the last record, Swim," says Snaith. "That's the album where I really started going out to clubs again. I'm in my mid-30s, much older than the people that are going out to these clubs and most of the producers of dance music -- people like Joy Orbison, Floating Points, and all these London bass music producers. But I was really feeding off that energy and the fact that there's so much more going on here. I really felt this resurgent energy in the city around dance music, and that for sure had a big influence on the music I am making.
"It's just a really exciting time for dance music. That's the main reason I'm being drawn to that world, I think, because as a music fan, that's where a lot of exciting things have been happening for the last six or seven years."
Of course, Our Love is not strictly a dance album, also offering plenty of the beatific, contemplative slow burners that fans have come to expect from Caribou.
"I think [dance] is there in this album, but it also kind of marries that with a more personal and reflective side," explains Snaith. "There's the dance music element, but there's also the stuff about my personal life, like having a daughter, and my connectedness with the people that are going to hear the music, and more kind of sentimental things as well."
The album also features a notable collaboration with fellow Canadian, the up-and-comer Jessy Lanza, who shares Snaith's penchant for emotive future R&B, as evidenced by her hotly tipped 2013 debut album, co-produced by Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys.
"I got to know Jessy as a friend through Jeremy," he says. "I was really excited when her record came out -- wonderful record. I guess a lot of my interest around her record is also coming from this kind of R&B world, an area of music she inhabits as well and has her own take on.
"With collaborations," he explains, "one thing is that I be friends with the person that I'm working with, and the other thing is that they be doing something exciting and interesting musically. And those were both the case with Jessy. That's what made it so wonderful and easy to work with her.
"We could be really honest with one another, because we're friends. But also, because she comes from a slightly different angle, similar but slightly different from the music that I love. The result of working with her is one of my favorite moments on the record. I can hear both of our inputs synthesizing together and making a track that neither of us would have made by ourselves."
So it's perfectly fitting that Caribou and Jessy Lanza have been sharing the stage as part of a transatlantic tour that brings them to downtown Miami's Grand Central on November 19.
"We can perform the song 'Second Chance' from the album. That's part of the nice thing about playing together. But I also love her set," says Snaith.
As for the Caribou portion of the live show, he points out: "People who haven't seen us before may be kind of surprised. There's two drum kits facing each other at the center of the stage. Drummer Brad [Weber] plays one of them, and I play the other one some of the time. And then we have synthesizers, guitar, and bass."
It's an approach that allows Snaith and crew to cover any Caribou cut.
"Over the years, I've made a wide variety of music that's more or less dance-music-influenced, so we can incorporate elements of both the live band world and the electronic programming dance music world. It's a hybrid of those two things.
"I'm superexcited about the way the shows are going and the way the live set is coming together. It feels like it has the best of those two worlds."
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Caribou and Jessy Lanza. Presented by Poplife. Wednesday, November 19. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $20 to $25 plus fees via ticketfly.com. All ages. Call 305-377-2277, or visit grandcentralmiami.com.