Feist breaks her silence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 October, 2011, 12:00am


The idea of rest governs all life forms, from humans to animals and even plants. But it's rare for us to think of rest in terms of nature, especially when explained by a musician.

'I read a National Geographic article about soil and modern farming,' says Canadian singer-songwriter Feist, 35. 'Soil does its job, but unless you let it rest, it can't regenerate its own minerals and do the same thing again. You just have to let it lay there under the sun, dry out, get rained on and be still a little while.'

Like her musings on time and nature, Feist is a rarity in the music world. For her, the past decade has been filled with work, work and more work. In 2004, she released her debut Let It Die and began touring right up until her 2007 breakthrough The Reminder. The album notched her four Grammy nominations, six Juno awards (the Canadian Grammys), and appearances on Sesame Street and The Colbert Report. She also put out a documentary, Look at What the Light Did Now, about the making of The Reminder.

That was a seven-year span, a time when she acted like a sponge, absorbing knowledge and experience from everyone she encountered in the industry.

Then came the 'regeneration' stage, like the soil she mentions. It was a time for tranquility. 'I was being still and trying to learn how to be quiet, and remember that silence isn't aggressive,' Feist says. 'Sometimes after being in a lot of noise and movement, silence and stillness can seem completely terrifying.'

Once Feist was ready to get back into the studio, she had developed new ideas to break out of the silence. She wanted to bring a more edgy punk sound to her music.

'There's a lot more chaos, movement and noise than I've had before,' she says about her latest album Metals.

Feist spent three months last year writing the album, her fourth studio release. By January, her long-time collaborators Chilly Gonzales and Mocky had arrived in Toronto to arrange the 12 tracks.

'I was thinking about quiet, raw, dormant ore versus the highly engineered result of forging that into skyscrapers,' she says, explaining the album title.

'There's the way you feel versus the way you wish you felt. The raw material is one thing and what our minds turn it into are completely different states.'

In February, Feist was on her way to finish recording the album in Big Sur along California's coastline, a place she says 'looks completely unfound and yet it's been so perfectly recorded literally'. She was referring to the writings of Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck.

Last week Feist began touring Europe; currently, there are no dates in Asia. Metals peaked at No 1 on the Billboard rock albums chart.