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Feist: WXPN's July 2005 Artist To Watch

Being this month's WXPN Artist To Watch comes quickly after Feist's April 2005 release of Let It Die on the Interscope Records label.

Let It Die is very much a voice album in close up, "eye to eye and ear to ear". Carefully pieced together around Feist's seductively honest voice, the album forms the missing link between ye old folk (storytelling), the Brill building era (the quest for the hook), doo-wop (melody and mood) and minimal modern pop arrangements. Like line drawings as opposed to detailed paintings, these songs leave you space to fill in the emotional blanks. Its lack of complication makes Let It Die standout from much of today's musical offerings; put simply, a beautiful slice of sonic escapism to illustrate and interrupt the little moments that together tell us stories.

A history not lacking in variety, the Canadian born singer has accomplished much in her few tender years, so for those inquisitive journo types, here are the last few years in a nut shell...

"My first proper gig was supporting The Ramones at an outdoor festival when my high school punk band won a battle of the bands contest. We played together for about five years. I moved to Toronto from Rodeo/Olympic town Calgary to see a musical injuries doctor, after losing my voice on my first cross-Canadian tour when I was 19. Not knowing a soul in Toronto I spent six months in a dark basement apartment with a 4-track, and having been told not to sing, I got a guitar to do it for me. A couple of years later I was playing guitar in a rock band that toured for six months opening for a big Canadian band (The Tragically Hip) in mostly in front of stadium crowds of around 20,000. The same year (1999) I put out my first solo album which I sold off the stage, though somewhat smaller stages."

"Then in 2000 my roommate Peaches made her soon to be cult-fodder album Teaches of Peaches, I sang on it a bit, and played in her seminal shows in Toronto and later in Europe. I was called Bitch Lap-Lap, and I rapped badly with a sock puppet in poor Spanish wearing Cuban aerobics outfits. The house Peaches and I lived in was called the 701 and keys were cut for Mocky, Taylor Savvy, Gonzales and The World Provider. We've all been playing together in various forms for years."

"I later sang on Gonzales' first European release in 2000 (Uber Alles) and started touring with him in Europe in between working on a new generation of solo songs. Around this time (2001) some old friends and I wanted to find a way to endure the brutal interminable Canadian winter and so booked a show for a month later with the idea to write all the songs for it in that time. This show took on the name Broken Social Scene, because two of the guys had made an instrumental album by that name the year before, and they figured they'd never play those songs live. In between touring with Chilly in 2001, I added my vocals to the ever growing Broken Social Scene album, (Fact fans: this album, You Forgot It In People, was finally released in the UK October 2003 some months after its North American release on its self-created label Arts and Crafts), and we began touring North America."

"On odd weeks off during touring Europe with Gonzales during the winter of 02/03, he and I began recording some of the songs from my home demos (The Red Demos featuring Pete Elkas, Matt Murphy and members of Sloan,) together in Paris with Renaud Letang (Manu Chao). Later we started writing together and also tried to reinterpret some covers we loved."

A total of 3 of these sessions make up Let It Die.

So here we are in the present day, with eleven tracks (depending on what country you're in) to soundtrack your days and narrate your nights. Let It Die is cinematic, expressive, sensory and incredibly fun - yes fun!

In recent collaborations she can be found on the new album, Republic of Two, by the Kings Of Convenience, singing a duet with Mocky on his new album Are and Be, has written a duet with Jane Birkin for her newest release, is featured on Arts and Crafts labelmate Apostle of Hustle's newest opus and work on the new Broken Social Scene album is just now beginning.

So there you have it - Let It Die and Feist - the breakup and the makeup. This is an album that will follow you easily from the bath to the bar and soundtrack your mood for both. This is an album that seems to reach nostalgically to a time when singers crossed all styles whether they were old fashioned or in fashion. This is shared privacy, and it's your own life you're looking at.

Excerpted from official bio

Feist Q&A

Conducted by Bruce Warren

For a "singer and songwriter" in the acoustic sense of "singer-songwriter" you have some pretty broad musical interests. Let's start with the rap side of Feist. You did some rapping with Peaches. How did you meet her?
We became roommates right around the time she bought her first MC505 groovebox and starting making beats. I heard the making of Teaches of Peaches happen through our bedroom walls. The antics that happened later on stage were cooked up like our meals were, and me singing on her record the little bit that I did happened because I was there and we were us.

You collaborated with Peaches on her cult classic Teaches of Peaches. How was that experience? And what was your "rap" name?
Oh, I took the name Bitch Lap-Lap. I had been in Cuba for a month and learned the all important words for "bitch" and "rich" which roughly become Puta Rica (a play on "puerto rico") which then in the cold north became Bitch Lap-Lap (as in "lap it up"). Yo.

You've also collaborated with the indie rock band Broken Social Scene. How did you come to know those musicians?
Broken was born in the collective sense one long cold winter. We booked a gig at a local club with no songs written with the idea that we would write them all in the month before the date. We all had played with each other in various bands for years before that and Broken was the accumulation of all the best van conversations and collaborations from all of our years together. The family only keeps extending, like octopus' arms into each of our pasts. Metric and stars are old high school friends of Kevin Drew. It was one thing in the beginning, but like anything truly alive it's ebbed and morphed over the years. The five in the middle hold down the fort. So those swinging saloon doors will stay open to the rest of us who join when we can - Emily and James from Metric, Amy from stars.

Name a couple of your musical (or otherwise) influences and why.
Surprising turns of phrase, red cotton over a window, freshly cut grass, intentions behind the songs that are as audible as the sound.

What was the last great book you read?
1001 Arabian Nights , The 4-Chambered Heart - Anais Nin

There is so much amazing Canadian music that Americans never get to hear. Name three artists from Canada whose records - other than yours - we should go out and buy.
Great Lake Swimmers (any album), The Constantines' Shine A Light, Apostle Of Hustle Folkloric Feel

There is something so beautifully nostalgic sounding about the record yet so forward leaning. Is that a feeling you intentionally went for in recording the record?
I love simplicity. I love hearing in someone's playing the moment they listen to the instinct to stop themselves rather than play just because they can. It wasn't so much conscious as instinct that has the record so sparsely arranged.

What's the one great song someone else has written that you wished you did write and why?
"Pull Up The People" by M.I.A. - only because I don't have the instinct for writing banging beats. I always write slow 3/4 time ballads and try and speed them up. I can't imagine having the ease with melody and beats the way she does. Arular is such a good album.


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