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Sonar 2010: Caribou

Floating on the acclaim for his recent album ‘Swim’, Caribou is announced as one of the headlining acts for Barcelona's premier electronic festival, Sonar

Already known as the premier electronic music festival in Europe, this June sees Sonar Festival evolving even further. For the first time ever they’re producing a simultaneous program at second site in A Coruña, at the opposite side of Spain. The Sonar experience always has the right balance between established and future acts; between the avant-garde and the popular; and between the 'multimedia' Sonar by Day and the and outright hedonistic Sonar by Night. Caribou is certainly a musician whose creative output shows a similar balance, in his case between blissed out soul and hypnotic electronica. His recently released fifth album 'Swim' has been praised by all quarters of the music media, even noted by some as an early contender for album of the year, and is a firm favourite with the Dazed crew. Fittingly, Caribou has just been announced as a headliner at this years Sonar festival, sharing top billing with the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Hot Chip, Flying Lotus, LCD Soundsystem and Air. Dazed Digital caught up with the mastermind behind the act, Dan Snaith, during a hectic US tour.

Dazed Digital: This years Sonar Image is a feature length film called 'Finisterrae' based around two ghosts. What's the scariest piece of music you've ever heard?
Caribou: It's a track on the Aphrodite's Child album called '666', a concept album about the apocalypse from the early 70s or late 60s. There's a track on there just called '∞' (just the infinity symbol) and I dare you to sit down with your parents and listen to it all the way through.  Apparently, it was made by locking a woman in a room and feeding her lots of LSD and slipping crackers under the door and it's just like this incessant screaming and bashing on the wall noise and then some musical things going on over the top.

DD: UK acts, both established and new, dominate this year line up. What's your favourite thing about the UK?
Caribou: In the last few years it's been a really fertile time for electronic dance music producers from the UK. Fuck Buttons, James Holden and then also the young dubsteppy producers like Ikonika, James Blake, Floating Points and Burial. London specifically is so good at absorbing lots of different things and the music turns over so quickly. The last few years became really exciting and that excitement carried over into my album.

DD: How does Sonar compare to other festivals?
Caribou: I played Sonar before in 2002 when I was Manitoba. That was the first time I went to Barcelona and I was like 'oh my god, what is this amazing city'. Being in Sonar by Night where Jeff Mills was DJing and there was a glow in the dark go-kart in the arena; I was just racing around at 6 in the morning. It was amazing. It really did feel like a festival from the future.

DD: Sonar is known as the International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art; are planning on incorporating any form of multimedia into your show?
Caribou: That's a big part of our show - to be as spontaneous and improvised as possible while using all this technology. Ryan Smith, our guitarist, designs all the visual projections for the show and performs them live at the same time as he's playing all the guitar parts and doing everything else.  All of us on stage have some kind of control over visuals as well: the drummer hits a drum and it affects what's going on in the visuals, or we hit a button and it affects the lighting. The visuals are just as much performed live as the music is.

DD: What would you say your musical influences were?
Caribou: They're quite musically varied. I guess why is I grew up in this little town in the middle of nowhere and trying to figure out what was going on in the world musically when we were teenagers, we just didn't have any context or any kind of scene so we were trying to figure things out for ourselves. Music that I liked was always based on listening for the ideas in it rather than wondering too much if this goes with this or has a connection to that. A big part of my listening tastes is spiritual free jazz from the 60s and 70s. When I was making this record I was listening to a lot of dubstep producers or people like Theo Parrish (who was DJing at Plastic People every month last year and I was always down at that).  On my previous records I've been listening to older kind of rock music, progressive rock music from the 60s and 70s and that kind of stuff

DD: Everyone always mentions your Maths PhD. Are you going to pursue your academic career further?
Caribou: If I hadn't started releasing records, I'm sure I'd be a maths professor right now and that would be great but I don't want to do anything more than music. That's definitely what I want to spend all my time doing. 

DD: Your latest album has had huge critical acclaim. How does that feel?
Caribou: Getting good feedback is not something that I'm thinking about when I'm making music; I'm just following my nose and doing what I want to do but the fact that the feedback has been good makes me more confident about doing exactly what I want to do next time. It's a great position to be in.

Sonar is between 17th and 19th of June 2010, and Caribou headlines the SonarDome stage at Sonar by Day on Thursday 17th June. For information about Sonar 2010 and to buy tickets, visit: