The worlds of indie and club music are hardly irreconcilable, either in difference or distance, but it can often be hard to spot crossover success that extends beyond one-off hits or remix packages.
Step forward Dan Snaith, aka Caribou. The Canadian musician is a respected DJ, often showcasing his crate-digging talents alongside musical contemporaries Floating Points and Four Tet at (the now sadly departed) Plastic People in London, where Snaith is based.
Away from the dancefloors, Snaith is equally revered by indie fans. Performing with a full band, a Caribou live show is equal parts intricate and hypnotic. The audience at Hostess Club Weekender on Saturday was treated to a set packed full with crowd-pleasing favorites, drawing heavily from 2010’s “Swim” and last year’s “Our Love.”
The positive reception to the latter’s release inspired Snaith to thank his fans with the most unconventional of gifts — a YouTube playlist spanning a marathon 1,000 tracks.
“It’s a story of my life,” Snaith says. “I thought, ‘What a wonderful thing to be able to share all the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years.’ I picked 1,000 just because it was a ridiculous number — more than anyone could have ever wanted or be interested in. It took me five eight-hour days, constantly searching through my records, and then searching for the track (online). But some people have been in touch saying they’ve listened to the whole thing.”
Here’s Snaith talking about five of the tracks from the playlist:
William Onyeabor — “When The Going Is Smooth And Good”: Onyeabor is a Nigerian musician who, in a vacuum, was a pioneer of sequencing and synthesized music in Nigeria in the 1970s and early ’80s. Six years ago nobody had heard of his music apart from the most elite record collectors. I sampled it (as part of side project Daphni) on a track called “Ye Ye,” which became a big thing for me; it got me into DJing places that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I’d often mix in the original track — at first nobody knew it, and now it’s like it’s bigger than “Ye Ye,” people know it so well. It was reissued by (record label) Luaka Bop and it became enormous. For me it represents the best of how really obscure but important music from the past can have this whole new life now.
Cos-Ber-Zam — “Ne Noya”: This was another one that I sampled for a Daphni track. I made the tracks on the Daphni album to DJ with initially, not to be released. So I would just take other tracks and start riffing off them and splicing in my own ideas, like a kind of collage or a DJ sample of it, and I never intended to release them, so I never thought about clearing them or anything — although both of these samples that we’re talking about now have been cleared. This was a 7-inch — I think the band is from Togo — but it was released on this amazing label Analog Africa. The guy Samy (Ben Redjeb) there is one of the best collectors of African records all over Africa, and the band only recorded this one 7-inch. It’s the same story as the Onyeabor track — when I play this track now people know it because I sampled it, but they also go and check out the compilation it was on. There’s a wonderful culture of people legitimately reissuing — Luaka Bop, ZudRangMa (in Thailand) and Now-Again Records — they all go to great lengths to ensure that everyone’s properly cleared and compensated.
Floating Points — “Vacuum Boogie”: I probably would have put more of his and Kieran (Hebden; Four Tet)’s music in there, but I had to choose a couple. This was the first Floating Points track I heard and I heard it at Plastic People, where he was a resident. His sensibility about music is just so amazing. I think it does him a disservice to say that he reminds me of my younger self — he’d just finished a Ph.D., he’s studied jazz and classical piano, we’re both record collectors and so on. He, Kieran and I, we’re always discussing music together, always searching out old records together. I also appreciate the way that he conducts himself responsibly with music — he thinks about his fans, he thinks about what he should be doing ethically; it’s nice to be surrounded by musicians who feel a responsibility for what they’re doing.
Four Tet — “Love Cry”: I’m the first person to hear the music that Kieran’s working on — apart from maybe his wife! — and vice versa. I can’t begin to estimate the number of hours Kieran has spent listening through different versions of all the tracks on all my albums and saying things like, “Maybe there needs to be eight bars less here because it drops the momentum.” Kieran asks my opinion on various things, but he’s much more perceptive; it would be the worst use of his time ever, but he’d make a wonderful A&R person because he hears the things that make music unique and make it special. He played me this track out of the blue when we went down to Plastic People, before the doors opened one night. It was around the same time I’d made “Bowls,” and I remember him playing both of those tracks. It was the first time I’d heard one of my own tracks in Plastic People — it was so exciting, thinking I’d just made this track today and people are freaking out over it right now. It was such a cool experience and really fed into the whole energy of making that album.
Timeless Legend — “I Was Born To Love You”: This was one of the last tracks at the last night at Plastic People. I was there that night, and it was such an amazing evening. This is a “Sam (Shepherd; Floating Points) track” though — I’ve got to give credit where it’s due! With this whole playlist, the only danger is with people having made tracks “their own,” having played them so many times over the years, and being the first person to find it or whatever. There are lots of tracks that I didn’t put on there because they’re too much Sam’s track or Kieran’s track. But this one’s just a killer, that evening was so special because it was like all the anthems, all the tracks that have been played loads at Plastic People by the residents there over the years. People wouldn’t leave at the end! People had to be forced out the door — people really identified with that place, it was such a special place.