Leslie Feist, know to most by surname only, will be at the Egyptian Room with Timber Timbre on Monday, April 30. We were first introduced to Feist as part of the Canadian collective Broken Social Scene, but she’s been making music as a solo artist since 1999. Her latest, Metals, has been the recipient of both acclaim and high sales.
We chatted about her new album and the split 7” that she created with Mastodon for Record Store Day. Feist is currently touring in support of Metals.
NUVO: Metals fits together as an album really well; many of the songs have become popular as singles, but the album as a whole works in a really tight way. What’s the process of constructing a whole album like for you?
Feist: It’s funny how it comes together—it’s a record and it has boundaries, but the songs sort of influence each other. I’ve never written an album in such a short amount of time — you start with one song and another one is born of its labor. It’s kind of like when you see three girls walking down the street and they have variations of the same haircut and clothes; they’re influenced by each other — how could they not be — but they’re very different people.
NUVO: What was the process like for Metals? Were there any differences in process with this release than previous albums?
Feist: I recorded Metals in two or three weeks; a real family of songs was born. A song like “Bittersweet Melodies” might stand out as different from the rest, but it ends up feeling like the same family.
NUVO: Are you ever surprised by the songs that become especially popular singles?
Feist: I was pretty happy to find out that the single that was being bought was “Caught A Long Wind.” That one seems like such an unlikely dark horse to be plucked out from the record.
NUVO: With the popularity of Spotify and iTunes and other sites that allow people to pretty easily pick and choose which songs they want to purchase, do you worry about the album as a form? Does it seem like music buying is changing?
Feist: I’m aware that things have been changing a bit. But sometimes I do wonder how much it’s changing overall. I mean, our parents’ generation had 45s. And then there was the era of “best-of” and “hit singles.” When I create an album, there’s a beginning, middle, and end, the whole thing — I’ve always made albums, and I’m aware that people will tear them apart in iTunes or “genius” playlists, but that doesn’t change how I work.
When I finish an album, I know that it will likely go into the ocean of iTunes, etc., but for those dedicated listeners who buy vinyl, or even just listen to it all the way through once, those people get the full experience.
NUVO: Are you particularly excited about anyone that you’re touring with, or even just listening to?
Feist: I love M. Ward (member of She & Him, and Monsters of Folk), because he has such a mastery of the acoustic guitar. Not a lot of smoke and mirrors, just talent. Also Timber Timbre (joining Feist in Indianapolis) — they just have a real sonic identity. And Grizzly Bear, I’m always listening to them.
NUVO: What are you working on now?
Feist: Right now I’m just plowing through touring. Most hours of the day are taken up by that. I don’t write much when I’m on tour—I try to just be on tour, not really listening to a lot, or reading a lot. I am looking forward to the fall because I’ll stop touring and get back into my shed of writing and recording.
I’m excited about the Mastodon split 7” that’s coming out for Record Store Day. It’s been a long time since I covered a song, so it was a lot of fun. [Editor’s note: Mastodon recorded Feist’s track “A Commotion,” and Feist covered Mastodon’s “Black Tongue.” Both tracks were released in 2011.]