Progress Report

Progress Report: Caribou

NAME: Caribou
PROGRESS REPORT: Mixing his still-untitled followup to 2007’sAndorra. Recorded at home in London.

“I’m not able to make music based on what people like. It’s a very selfish pursuit, in a way,” Caribou’s Dan Snaith says. And for Snaith, it’s also a very obsessive one. Unlike other easily distracted Progress Report subjects, Snaith says it’s hard for him to get pulled away from work — he usually has to be persuaded to leave the house. And he works very slowly. So even though he started working on the album over a year ago, he’s put in full days every day since. Right now his Andorra followup is 80% completed, and will probably be out by the spring.

In a way though, Caribou’s new album will be based on what people like. “I was so happy with the way people reacted to Andorra, people seemed to love it by and large,” he says, “But I just don’t want to be pigeonholed as the guy who makes a pastiche or homage to ’60s music.” Just as that record was a left turn away from Snaith’s earlier, IDM-influenced tracks, so his next album will be in a different direction, he hopes. Rather than planning and writing out structures as he did with with Andorra, Snaith this time has recorded bits of pieces of things he likes to see what sticks and what doesn’t. One thing that’s emerged: Snaith has decided to combine the dancier tracks from his Daphni project (he recently completed a Courtney Tidwell remix) with the songs he’s been prepping as Caribou. “It just happens that some of the tracks that were supposed to be dance-y were the most interesting to me. They had elements that dance music wasn’t supposed to have, or had sounds dance music doesn’t traditionally have in it, or some beat or tempo that wasn’t characteristic of dance music or whatever,” he explains. “I’ve never been successful at being rigid and saying, ‘Okay, this track is going to be in this genre.’ I always follow my nose and throw in any elements that appeal to me.”

Part of what’s drawn him in this direction is London’s Plastic People, one of the few things he’ll leave the house for. Both Theo Parrish and Keiran Hebden put in regular DJ appearances at the anything-goes club night: “They both play really eclectic music, but in a club setting. That made me excited about that idea … taking an influence from club music and putting it in a context where people aren’t supposed to dance.” It’s changed the way he approaches the samples on his new record, too, though, because of his ATP appearance with the Vibration Ensemble, he was also able to record new samples with exactly the sound he wanted. Nearly every other aspect, from the recording to the vocals, which Snaith will do all himself, sounds intensely personal. “I’ve always felt very self-conscious about trying out music in front of people. Part of making music in this very lonely way is, when I take a song and play it for somebody, I’m very nervous,” Snaith says. All of Snaith’s other obsessive interests — right now it’s swimming, and recently was a type of hard-to-find Chinese tea — are actually meant to take him as far away from making music as possible. But even those interests can find their way back to his main pursuit; he and his wife traveled to southwest China to find out more about Pu-erh tea, but Snaith bought instruments along the way. They’ll show up on the album, in some form. “I think I have this personality where I get kind of obsessed with the things I love doing or learning about,” he says. “It’s not a chore doing the things I love to do. I’m lucky I get to be in a position where I spend my time doing them.”

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