Laetitia Sadier | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Laetitia Sadier

A Joy Beyond Definition

Dec 05, 2014 Laetitia Sadier Bookmark and Share

Five years since Stereolab was set aside, Laetitia Sadier has released an album that seems to be a personal peak of sorts. After several albums with Monade and two previous solo releases, Something Shines offers a collection of songs that is not only likely to connect with fans of her earlier work but even moved Sadier herself during its creation to want to share it with friends. From the warm, spacy drift of “Quantum Soup” to the breezy pop of “Release from the Centre of Your Heart,” one can only imagine who might feel provoked to follow Tyler, The Creator as Sadier’s next collaborator. Something Shines is out now via Drag City.

Hays Davis (Under the Radar): When you’re writing and recording, do you ever think about how it will translate to the stage, or is that an important factor to you at all when it comes to your recordings?

Laetitia Sadier: No, I don’t worry about it when I’m writing. I don’t really mind about how it’s going to translate on the stage. But it’s true that it’s important to write stuff that will translate onstage, and it’s important for me that it translates, even if I’m playing solo, so the song has to be quite structured for just guitar and vocal. There are songs which I guess I can’t really play because they rely on a drum machine or they rely on effects, which I can’t replicathem live.

Did you go into your work on Something Shines with any different approaches in mind compared to what you had done with Silencio (2012) and The Trip (2010)?

There are similar approaches which I cultivate record after record such as trying to…not to control it, as in manually control it…try to let songs do their own things and go their own way. And I act as a mere guide to them, so I’m still working on freeing the control mechanisms and let nature take over, in a way. That’s not how I want to put it, exactly…. Let the song take over. And the new approach is that I wanted contrast between very gentle, riveting music contrasted by some kind of vigorous shake. I want to heal and rivet and totally throw over, and at the same time also shake the listener. Some songs observe that idea.

Are there any elements of your solo work that you feel freer being able to pursue by yourself than with Stereolab or Monade?

Certainly, I wasn’t free with Stereolab because I was bound to the job of writing lyrics and singing, which can be the hardest and the more thankless, actually. So, yeah, I’m much freer, and also maybe freer than I was in Monade. Maybe I have more experience, and maybe experience confers a certain kind of freedom, maybe. That’s debatable. No, I still don’t feel completely free. I still feel alienated to certain rules and fears that I have, and insecurities, maybe. I’m still working to reach something, a pure voice, or creating my path that would reveal more of who I am, possibly. That kind of thing.

What have been, to you, some of the most important political points you’ve addressed in your work over the past few years?

They’re always based around the idea that the power is on our side, is on the side of the people, and somehow the idea is completely lost and forgotten. And yet, to me, it’s obvious that we are the creators of wealth and we are the creators of decision. And it just so happens that, in our systems, other systems have taken over that make all the decisions for everybody, and they’re a very small minority. And I really insist each time that, no, it’s not them. They only have the power because we give it to them. Or we let them have it because we are relinquishing our own power. And, of course, with great power comes great responsibility, yes. It does imply more responsibility, which is harder, but which is far, far superior in terms of quality of life when you decide what’s going on, and when you impact your environment, when you are empowered and your thoughts and decisions and actions see a way into reality and impact your reality.

As a majority of the humans, I don’t see a lot of awareness. Awareness is still being a minority. So I’m just trying to help the shift over of awareness so that there’s more of us who feel, “Yes, the system is unfair. It creates injustice and we have to change it, and we have to decide together how we change it. It’s not impossible; it’s actually possible if we want it to.” So that’s been my most important political point, I think, I’ve addressed in my work over the past few years.

Have you seen a particular evolution from what you were doing lyrically and musically from earlier Stereolab days to what you’re doing solo now?

It’s a tough question for me to answer because I don’t ever listen back to Stereolab records or even to my past records, and that’s a bad habit. For years, we were constantly moving and constantly thinking about our next album, but we barely finished one before (we were writing) the next one and recording it. So, it was never any time for reflection and looking back, and somehow I’ve taken a bad habit of not listening to my own work very much, if at all, and reflecting on it. I know that’s bad, because one learns a lot from reflection, from reflecting. So, I haven’t done the thing yet where I listen and where I really analyze the points of evolution, musically, lyrically. As I say, I was trying to work in freeing the form and letting it espouse whatever organic form it will find, [that] it will choose. So, I am sorry. I don’t have any analysis there on that question.

One might imagine you seeing every album that you’ve worked on as having its own character as it takes shape. What did Something Shines seem like to you as it was coming together?

Well, Something Shines... It was a slower process, so it was nebulous for a longer time, and I didn’t always like that, actually, because I like certainties. But I did it on purpose to let it really form slowly and let time do its thing, its bit of fermentation. So, yes, it was really nebulous for a really long time, but I know that when I work like this I have to stay really centered and not get discouraged by a form that’s not really making much sense to begin with, and trust the process and see it through until some form emerges at last that is looking like something I like, or something that I can present, at least.

For a long time I couldn’t really see it. I put a lot of light in there. I wanted it to be very luminous and very healing in a way. I don’t like to use that word because it sounds hippie and it sounds like it has connotations that we’re all ill, we’re all sick or something. But maybe we are, a bit.

Was there anything on the album in particular that you were really looking forward to having people hear? Did you email a friend and say, “Hey, stop what you’re doing and listen to this song”?

[Laughs] No, I never email my friends and say, “Listen to this song!” because… Well, actually, no, that’s not true. I did email my friends, and I did say, “Listen to ‘Then, I Will Love You Again.’” I did make people listen to that. I was particularly proud at how it came out and how it was a single for the U.K., what it sounded like, and the poppiness of it, the immediacy of it. I did tell people to listen. And then there’s that first track, “Quantum Soup,” which I’m also quite proud of in a sense that it’s a track that doesn’t really have a form and is well and truly defined by all the formats that are breathing in the world. It’s really a quantum soup. And I was very happy with that. I thought it reflected well on the album. I didn’t necessarily want to make songs that respond to a pre-defined format, that I could also make my own formats and affirm that this is not necessarily going to be pop and sweet and digestible, because in life and in reality not everything is, and we have to accept that reality. And there are songs like “The Milk of Human Tenderness,” where things are out of time because we didn’t go through the harassment of putting everything in time because sometimes, in fact most times, things are a bit staggered and scattered and not in perfect order. This can also be a form of order, an acceptable form of order. So, there was a lot of that going on in the record which I felt quite happy with, that I wanted to put out there. And then, some people slag it off. But I did it on purpose. This is it. It’s deliberate.

It’s funny that you initially sounded very much like you never reach out with enthusiasm when working on recordings but remembered that you did this time around. You must have been happy with this album.

Yes, I must have been happy with this album. I’ve done three albums with Monade and this is my third under my own name. I don’t know. I felt that this one would be a special one, and it had to be kind of special because all other albums have had their own raison d’etre. The Trip was about my grievance for losing a family member that was very dear, and Silencio was just really political, this kind of epiphany about silence that I had. And this one, there was no…I was just doing it, and I had to cultivate it and make it extremely special somehow. Otherwise, it’s like, why make an album when there are billions of people making albums out there? It’s a crime if you’re not going to make it special. Normally I was always naturally driven by something to make an album, and this time, no, there was no particular drive upon me. It was, ‘well, this is what I have to be. I have to be really involved somehow.’ I mean, I’m always involved in my work, but there was no real drive, other than it had to be very luminous and special and capture some kind of essence. Go out there and look for it.

How did you come to work with Tyler, The Creator (on the song “PartyIsntOver/Campfire/Bimmer” from 2013’s Wolf album)?

He just asked me through Martin, my manager. I had heard of him. He sent me a song and he said, “Do what you like.” And I like that. I like the idea of doing what I like. Plus, I like the song. That’s how it came about.

Do you like the idea of collaborating more with artists who are a bit outside of your sphere?

Yeah, totally. Much more, in fact. Much more, because it gets a bit tedious, you know? Stereolab fans and High Llamas fans want to recreate that. I find that actually a bit tedious, so I’m much more excited with working with people who don’t have this direct family blood and who are outside of that but have an appreciation. We can expand on that.


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