Through her three solo albums and work with Peaches, Broken Social Scene and Chilly Gonzales, Leslie Feist (who releases records under her last name) has established herself as the soulful queen of Canadian indie rock. Her new album, “The Reminder,” released this month in Japan, is a collection of bruising, beautiful songs filled with melody and mystery.
The Japan Times woke Feist up with a phone call during her ongoing tour of the U.K., a week and a half before her appearance at Fuji Rock Festival ’07 this Saturday.
One of the bands you play in, Broken Social Scene, played Fuji Rock last year. Did you play with them?
No, I missed that one, but I got all the reports, which is why I wanted to come this year. I mean, it’s by a mountain, I’m sure it’s gonna be gorgeous.
It’s nowhere near Mount Fuji, actually.
Are you joking?
No — the very first one was, but the stage blew away in a typhoon, so it moved.
Oh man, that’s so funny. I guess it’s just become legend and everybody spreads the word that it’s at Mount Fuji.
It usually gets kind of wet. How are you with muddy festivals?
I either take my shoes off and roll up my pants or I give up my shoes to the mud (laughs). But Canadian festivals are usually in some farmer’s field, with mud up to your hips, you know?
Are you happy with how your new record turned out?
It’s one of the few things I’ve done where I didn’t wrack my brain afterward wondering whether it was the right thing to have done. It all came off without a hitch, recording live without loads of overdubs. For the most part it was like a toboggan ride — a lot of momentum in the moment of playing together.
Being on tour definitely affected me in terms of production. I toured for three years between ‘Let It Die’ (her second solo album, released in 2005) coming out and ‘The Reminder’ being recorded. At a show, you’re untangling the songs live, everybody’s playing together, and the moment it’s over, it’s over. The only way it remains is in the collective consciousness of the people who saw it happen. Except for the people who have their cell phones recording it (laughs). So I kind of wanted the recording to be more like we were making this balance of the arrangements in the room and just have microphones around to capture it.
Was there any theme behind it lyrically?
No, but in general I’m more interested in quicksand than concrete. Lyrically, I’m more interested in leaving little blind spots. More like fable than fact.
A lot of people are saying it’s an album about heartbreak.
Well, I’m sure there are aspects of that in there. I view love like a mountain or a lightning bolt or an ocean, the sun, the moon — just enormous symbols of nature. They’re not benevolent, or out to get us, but they have an enormous effect on us. The ocean kills people, but it’s just doing its thing, and love can have the same simplicity to it. But singing about love, for me, it dates my lyrics, whereas ‘Once upon a time’ never gets old.
Feist plays the Orange Court stage at Fuji Rock Festival ’07 on July 28, 5:50 p.m.
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