Our Love: Caribou’s Dan Snaith on the new album

The last Caribou record “Swim” put Dan Snaith and friends on top of the festival billing. The new album “Our Love”, he tells Jim Carroll is about reflecting his life now, including playtime with his three year old daughter

For Dan Snaith clubs remain places where magical things can happen

For Dan Snaith clubs remain places where magical things can happen

 

In some ways, Caribou’s new album is all down to Dan Snaith’s daughter. When the man who has been releasing records as Caribou (neé Manitoba) since 2001 talks about what went into the making of Our Love, playtime sessions with his three- year-old are one of the first things to mind.

“When I started working on the album,” he says, “I was listening to a lot of classic soul records because I’d be sitting playing with my daughter in our living room and I’d put on Marvin Gaye or Sly Stone or Stevie Wonder. Listening back to the record now, those things really informed everything, from the production to how I was singing to what I was singing about, but I didn’t realise it at the time.”

There were other influential irons in the fire. “The record started out and ended up in two different places. It started out with me thinking that all those hyper-digital r’n’b sounds and textures that are really glassy and glossy were quite fascinating, and I was working with those ideas. But I could never get it to breathe or feel in the way I wanted; it didn’t pack as much emotional punch as I wanted.”

Our Love certainly packs that. It’s an album of emphatic and euphoric highs, full of rapturous moments when Snaith’s grooves and heady atmospheric hits come beautifully together. As a follow-up to the much admired Swim, it’s a good one.

Big themes

The emotional tugs evident in the songs are important to the Canadian.

“One big theme with this record is what is substantially important to me. I’m in my mid-30s and I now have a child, so it’s a reflective time in my life. I wanted the record to be about all the love relationships in my life, be that my wife or daughter, my friends, my family or my audience.

“My experience of all of those things is that they’re quite complex and not the same as the love we had as teenagers or what our conception of love was back then. It’s far more complicated because you get happiness right next to sadness. In the last few years, my daughter was learning to speak at the same time as a friend of mine passed away. These two huge things were happening right on top of one another.”

Snaith is fascinated by how euphoria and melancholy can co-exist in one piece of music.

“Club music is a perfect place to do that because people go to clubs as a form of escapism. When you listen to the best club music, that sense of melancholy is certainly there. My favourite music captures both of those things. I mean, house music has always been where many marginalised groups have gone to express their feelings and talk about their experiences.”

For him, clubs remain places where magical things can happen. The album he released under the Daphni name last year was a product of that thinking.

“A lot of my excitement around contemporary music comes from clubs and playing in clubs, be it with the band or as a DJ. The Daphni record came about because I was DJing more and wanted to have music that nobody had heard to play to people. I wanted to make tracks quickly to play in the clubs and it was never intended for release.”

It was also about doing something that was not Caribou, with all the expectations that come with that.

“When I released the Daphni record, Swim was still this massive juggernaut going on, with more shows and press and attention, and I wanted the Daphni record to be the complete opposite – no plan, no PR, no advance planning. It was very spontaneous and a nice contrast to how Caribou records have become such a big thing in my life. I plan my family life around the band now.”

 

Making a splash

Snaith still sounds astonished at how well the previous Caribou record performed. Swim accelerated him up the festival billings and significantly increased his fanbase.

“I didn’t see it coming at all. It just happened gradually after Swim was released. I was so proud of that record because it was so personal to me. I made no concessions whatsoever when I made it and I didn’t think for a minute that this was going to be a crossover record, which made it all the more amazing and affirming when it happened.

“A big part of the impetus for making Our Love was thinking about how those experiences with Swim changed my life. I’d never thought about that before in the studio, about how it would be received, but that flipped completely. I wanted to make a record which was about me sharing myself and knowing it was going to travel and hoping it would connect with people in the same way. The most wonderful thing about making music is having people hear it.”

It’s rare to hear an artist talk about a new record so openly in terms of his audience.

“People avoid it because they think it somehow compromises their artistic integrity to consider the public reaction, and they might end up making populist moves. But I didn’t feel that tension at all. I felt more like the way you make a handmade gift for someone.

“You put your love and affection and attention into something with the intention that it is for someone else.”

Our Love is out on City Slang today. Caribou play Dublin’s Vicar Street on November 5th