Neko Case Hates Auto Tune, Not Babies

There are great revelations (so that’s what “Star Witness” is about!) in Ryan Dombal’s PFork’s Q&A with New Pornographer & solo artist Neko Case. But this being Stereogum, let’s focus on the folk rock singer/songwriter’s hilarious barbs at Shania, Celine, and Madonna.

PITCHFORK: You seem like somebody who would be especially annoyed by the American Idol-ization of modern pop.

CASE: You mean the horrible singing?

PITCHFORK: Yes.

CASE: When I think about Jackie Wilson or the Platters and then I think about modern, Top 40 music that’s really horrible, it makes me mad. … It’s not to do with the people who are doing it as much as the people who are producing it. There’s technology like auto tune and pitch shifting so you don’t have to know how to sing. That shit sounds like shit! It’s like that taste in diet soda, I can taste it– and it makes me sick.

When I hear auto tune on somebody’s voice, I don’t take them seriously. Or you hear somebody like Alicia Keys, who I know is pretty good, and you’ll hear a little bit of auto tune and you’re like, “You’re too fucking good for that. Why would you let them do that to you? Don’t you know what that means?” It’s not an effect like people try to say, it’s for people like Shania Twain who can’t sing. Yet there they are, all over the radio, jizzing saccharine all over you. It’s a horrible sound and it’s like, “Shania, spend an extra hour in the studio and you’ll hit the note and it’ll sound fine. Just work on it, it’s not like making a burger!”

PITCHFORK: She’s pretty busy making videos and shit though.

CASE: It’s rough, I know. She’s so rich she could get somebody else to do the other stuff while she spends that extra hour in the studio. Or Madonna! Just hit the note! Don’t pretend it’s William Orbit being crafty — we know you’re not hitting the note because you have other shit to do. You can do it, I have faith in you. But don’t leave the studio before you hit that fucking note. And you know what? When you do hit it you’re going to feel so much more valid that it’ll come through in all the other shit you’re supposed to be doing later in the day. Seriously!

And if Celine Dion is supposedly the great singer that she says she is why is there auto tune on every fucking word in her songs? Can’t you just hit it, Celine? Do you have another baby book to shoot? You gotta paint your baby to look like a pot of peas? What are you doing that you can’t be singing in the studio? It’s your fucking job!

PITCHFORK: Hey, that baby book is beautiful.

CASE: You know that’s the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. That was so nasty I almost had to hate some babies for that. But babies came back and said, “I’m not responsible for this, they made me do it.” So I decided that I still love babies.

PITCHFORK: You seem to be following this book closely.

CASE: It’s so easy to follow! I don’t even have a TV or a radio in my house and it’s easy to follow.

PITCHFORK: Anyway, I take it you’re not a fan of auto tune.

CASE: I’m not a perfect note hitter either but I’m not going to cover it up with auto tune. Everybody uses it, too. I once asked a studio guy in Toronto, “How many people don’t use auto tune?” and he said, “You and Nelly Furtado are the only two people who’ve never used it in here.” Even though I’m not into Nelly Furtado, it kind of made me respect her. It’s cool that she has some integrity.

[Pick up Neko’s excellent, non-pitch shifted Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. You won’t be disappointed: Amazon | iTunes]