Feist takes Twitter questions, talks Red Rocks and Bon Iver ahead of her show at the Zoo
The music of Leslie Feist is expansive. For a woman whose unique alt-pop vocals exploded into the music world with 2007's The Reminder (and, consequently, the worldwide domination of her hit single "1234"), Feist holds no allegiance to a concrete formula of songwriting. After a four-year hiatus, Feist came back with Metals (October 2011)--a brooding album that eludes the fairy-light pop sounds found on her previous work and which lyrically lends itself to more open interpretation.Not that the Canadian born-and-raised songstress has lost her sense of humor. Between a cameo on The Muppets and collaborating with Mastodon for a truly unique Record Store Day release titled Feistodon, it's safe to say that the last thing to be expected from Feist is dourness. In an interview with Gimme Noise, the singer's smile could be heard in all her responses, as she talked about everything from wanting to work with Wayne Coyne to battling Bon Iver in a last-minute softball game.
Gimme Noise: So, you're coming to Minneapolis on June 2, and you're performing at the Minnesota Zoo Amphitheater. How do you feel about performing at a zoo?
Feist: I actually just found that out, and I guess I didn't know that it was right in the zoo. I hope it's not bothersome to the animals. Has anyone ever asked about that?
Oh, I imagine it's fine. The theater is kind of tucked away, on the edge of the zoo, and I don't think anyone's complained so far. In fact, I think the animals will love you.
[Laughs] Oh, good.
Tell me about the collaboration with Mastadon for Record Store Day. What was it like working with Brent Hinds?
Actually, we didn't really work together. We met at the Jools Holland show [in October 2011] and were like, "We should do something together!" And then we covered each other's songs. We literally haven't been in touch at all, and everyday I kind of think, "Aww, I should write those guys and tell them how much I love it." I really looking forward to meeting again someday and high-fiving.
In an interview with HitFix last October, you mentioned your enthusiastic desire to work with Wayne Coyne [of the Flaming Lips]. He's kind of a crazy guy. What kind of collaboration do you think would come out of that partnership?
I would follow his lead, like being his musical little sister. Like when I was working with Beck and Wilco [in 2009 as part of Beck's Record Club series]--they're total innovators, and I love packing myself into their world, and I think being in that world with Wayne Coyne and his crew would just be like, hailing the seniority. It would be fun.
You had a recent cameo on the Muppets last October (2011)... before that, you were on Sesame Street in 2008. Today is the 22nd anniversary (May 16, 1990) of Jim Henson's death. Anything in particular you'd say to the creator of the Muppets were he still around today?
Oh, man. I would probably just be one of those people who doesn't know what to say. I would probably just be like, "I just love you! You shaped my childhood, and created my ideals and my morals. Thank you." That's probably all I could say.
In a radio interview with The Weekly Feed last December, you talked about how the most interesting thing for you as a songwriter was "not trying to be too literal and not trying to be specific," and I see a lot of evidence of that in Metals. If you had to name the biggest motivator in your songwriting, what would it be?
That's a good one! Heavy... [pause] I suppose that there's some motivating kind of mysterious battering power in my songs... It's really unclear why and what triggers the need to write a song or the curiosity to, and I really love not understanding that. Every time I write a song I'm convinced it's going to be my last. It's just this mystery. It's like being an archaeologist, like brushing sand away to see what is going to rise up. It's really not something I have control over, you can't force it, but that curiosity is the motivation.
I got a note from my editor not to ask anything about "1234" or the long break you took, and I know why--that's all been covered pretty extensively. But are there any questions you wish reporters would ask you?
Hmmm... I like when someone observes something that I maybe hadn't noticed, and puts together a theory that's so far away that they're convinced it's right. Like, "You said this thing in this song and this other thing in this song and that means this, right?" And I think, "Well, I didn't notice that, but if you noticed it, maybe there is a connection." I just like being surprised.
So, I definitely just Twitter-sourced some questions from your fans, and as expected, tons of people from around the world have suddenly infiltrated my feed... Someone wants to know if [cover art for] The Reminder was influenced by Dark Side of the Moon?
Ha! No, it was influenced by 1920's art nouveau photography from Europe.
Okay. Another Twitter question: Of all the outdoor festivals this summer, is there one in particular you're really looking forward to?
I'm excited to play at Red Rocks. I've never been there, and it's supposed to be one of the most beautiful outdoor amphitheaters in the world. It's a natural sort of old Greek style amphitheater, and I'm playing there with Bon Iver, so that's exciting.
Oh, cool! Have you ever seen him live or played with him?
Yeah! We just played together in Tucson... and then we were playing this show a few weeks ago in Marfa, Texas--this tiny town in the middle of nowhere--and Bon Iver was there. We borrowed some softball equipment from the radio station and played a crew vs. crew softball game in the evening in the high school baseball diamond. People were there with beers and snacks, some playing and not playing, and it was just this perfect "first night of summer" thing.
That is so awesome. Who won?
[Laughs] Well, we quit, but we were tied 12-12. We thought it's best if no one wins.
Okay, just one more question is all we've got time for. A lot of people want to know if you have plans to tour Asia or South America soon, anything you can tell them?
Yeah, I think we're going to South America in the fall... and Asia we just came back from. Well, we were in southeast Asia, and I think we're gonna try to make it to Japan at some point.
Awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, it's been great--
Oh! I also wanted to mention--one of my back-up singers--Alexandra Sauser-Monnig from Mountain Man, this all-female group who were also back up singers for this record--is from Minneapolis, so this show at the Zoo will be kind of a nice homecoming one. We're excited.
Feist and the Low Anthem play the Minnesota Zoo's Weesner Family Amphitheater on Saturday, June 2. Tickets are $47, and showtime is at 7:30 p.m.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.