Leslie Feist blasted back into our lives in the early hours of Friday morning with “Pleasure,” the opener and title track from her first album in six years. Now she’s joined Zane Lowe on Beats 1 for her first interview about the album. In the process, she also commented on the forthcoming Broken Social Scene album, on which she’ll feature.
Here’s an excerpt in which she explains her headspace entering the Pleasure recording process:
I write on my own pretty much and in 2014 or something I don’t remember I had been done touring Metals and I’d been sitting kind of in that sort of airlock after tour where you’re just kind of taking a deep breath and trying to remember the scope of normal life and yeah now what. And some wise part of me decided I needed to do a solo tour, like a little remembering where I came from kind of tour. Because Metals was a big record with a lot of people involved, like seven of us on stage. They’re so heavy. That was a rare moment too because they are not Mountain Man anymore, they’ve split off and become many other amazing musics. But it was a kind of an albatross, like a really satisfying one, but something about that moment after the touring was done…
I remembered I toured solo for so many years and I would just sort of yank my guitar and suitcase with the amp in it and I would just get on people’s buses and open for them, and I cut my teeth doing that for years and I wanted to sort of fess up and make sure that I could still do that. So doing a little solo tour I kind of inhabited doing things alone and was intending to make a solo album. But Mocky being the brother that he is, and the songs being as kind of boney and simple as they are, it was really natural to be kind of like, “OK, no, it’s a performance album.” Because Renaud Letang produced it with Mocky and I and all of us kept that intention, that the song should never get so arranged that they need more than me to hold them up. Like my musculature, my skeletal frame should be able to hold up the songs and there’s a feeling in that of a real flamethrower, just one, something simple.
Multiple times Feist mentioned her fascination on single notes as opposed to chords this time around. Here’s her take on the riff that gives “Pleasure” its bluesy bluster:
There’s something about just letting one string do its thing. I mean it’s a bar chord but if you just let it restrain itself from the full bar there is something kinda super binary about it just a little laser beam of simplicity. Mocky is the drummer on that track and it’s only the two of us on that track and we were saying it’s just a couple of human bodies just moving, bashing things. The whole record is pretty much Mocky and I in that face-to-face of — it’s pretty stark instrumentally. It’s the two of us and at the end of the day our motto is kind of “how to hit what and how hard,” that’s the motto. You have to attribute it to Mocky.
The same line of reasoning explains Chilly Gonzales’ lack of involvement this time:
We were joking that we have to fabricate a beef because why was he not involved? All that classical music so irritating. No, he is a deep brother for me, and the two of us both recognize it with those 10 fingers of his and that intuition and that heart and all of that musical understanding and like humanity and what he does is like 10 fingers and I kinda wanted just two. I wanted not full chords, just like tiny voicings, nothing rich, nothing full. A little bit more like a pencil drawing than a full expressive water color. But he did come and we presented him the album when we were pretty much done tracking it in Paris and he came and spent a few days at Fairbairn on the couch and we played them through everything and invited him, like, “Anywhere or anything, where you want to speckle your DNA here?” So he has couple moments that pretty much only me and Mocky and Renaud can hear, just to have his presence.
As for the Broken Social Scene business:
I think it’s a series of meals and emails and it’s sort of the five core, at this point, the five core guys who have been holding it up all these years so the rest of us could come and go. And it just bizarrely worked out that the whole original family were all able to come and be a part of the record. I haven’t quite stenciled the schedules together to see if there’s going to be windows where I can join Broken [Social Scene] on the road but there’s no doubt I’m really excited about that coming together again.
Hear the full interview below.
Pleasure is out 4/28 on Interscope.