Caribou

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

Wednesday, December 01
Show: | 8pm // Doors: | 7pm
$26
The originally scheduled show with Caribou has been moved! Your previous tickets will be honored for the new date. You do not need to do anything different — just show up with your ticket(s) on the night of the show!

Caribou

In 2014, Dan Snaith aka Caribou released Our Love to overwhelming critical acclaim and top-five Album of the Year positions from the likes of The Guardian, Mixmag, Loud and Quiet, and NME. Now, five years later, Caribou returns with his new studio album Suddenly, a warm, untamable, and constantly surprising record about family and the changes we go through as those relationships evolve. Our Love was an open-armed exploration of the concept of love in its grandest form, both as an expression of gratitude to his fans and as an examination of the one thing that matters most in life. Suddenly, however, takes that concept and winnows it down, directly applying it to real life and the people to whom that love means the most.

“It used to be easier to make music that existed in my imagination only,” says Snaith. “That sense of exploration and discovery, the visceral excitement of creating something, is still there, but it doesn’t seem like it’s possible any longer to have the changes in my life not make an impression on my music.”

On this album, the exploration of love for the people in Snaith’s life is deeply personal and direct, little snapshots of his own life seeping into his music. In fact, many of the tracks are written through the eyes of others; Snaith puts himself in the shoes of his loved ones and tackles what they’re going through head-on.

Even the album’s title stems from his home life. Towards the end of the lengthy process of this album’s creation, Snaith’s youngest daughter added a new word to her vocabulary with dramatic effect: “suddenly.” She began saying it non-stop, which led to Snaith’s wife suggesting it as a title. “Then I started hearing it everywhere, and it resonated on all sorts of levels,” says Snaith.

Most prominently, Suddenly refers to the moments of dramatic and unexpected change that occur at points in any life and within any family—universal themes that can catch you off guard and change your life in a heartbeat. “There are specific things,” he says, “whether those are losses and traumas from my life and the lives of the people around me, or reflections on the joys and challenges of seeing my relationships with my kids and my parents change over time—things from the grain of my day-to-day life that insisted on making their way into the music.”

Snaith also acknowledges that those dramatic moments are part of a slower process. These moments rear their heads, for good or bad, during the everyday fl ow of life. “There’s a tension between those sudden things which blindside you and the more glacial, gradual day-to-day changes,” he observes. “I feel, and maybe others can relate to this, that it’s a difficult thing to navigate in our lives. We are so caught up in the immediate—the details that require our attention every day—that we can be blind to the bigger forces shaping us. That’s why so often when something drastic happens suddenly, it catalyzes all sorts of changes in our lives. Our perspective shifts.”

Suddenly is in the music, too. This is the most surprising and unpredictable Caribou album to date. Though it retains the trademark Caribou warmth and technicolor, this album is littered with swerves and left turns. “It’s been great watching the first few people I let listen to it react at those points and to see the genuine shock when they first hear those moments,” Snaith says. “I wanted to balance the familiar—the sound that people associate with my music—against these moments of surprise.

Songs drop out and morph into something else entirely just as they’re hitting their stride, like when the lush warmth of “Lime” flips into ghostly chanting. Samples chopped up beyond all recognition burst out of nowhere as in “Sunny’s Time,” the pitchbending piano lines making way for undecipherable but addictive vocals. “You and I” starts as a dreamy, undeniably Caribou-like love song before breaking down into a huge chorus littered with sampled yelps and finally going rogue completely with a screaming guitar solo, swaggering into being from nowhere. All these moments and more make for a record that feels like home, but one where you have to constantly double-take to see if something you spotted in the corner was ever really there.

As with previous Caribou albums, Suddenly was mined from hundreds of draft ideas (this time over 900). “I record music every day, and I love it—as much or more than I have always done. I feel very lucky—the thrill has never, ever left me,” Snaith says. This results in a daunting process of piecing these ideas together, a process that has become increasingly familiar to Snaith. “There’s this contradiction between the day-to-day work of making more and more musical ideas that seem like they are adding nothing, and the gradual accretion of that stuff becoming the album.” He has come to realize, though, that there’s a point at which that changes: “At some point, it all adds up into some bigger picture,” he says. “How that happens is always a mystery to me. I just follow my instincts.”

There is a moment where the daunting piling up of rough ideas morphs into an album quickly taking shape. “For the last few albums at least, there’s been a point about three-quarters of the way through where I work late into the night (as usual), but when I try and go to bed, ideas keep forcing me to get up and go back to the studio again,” Snaith recalls. “It happens over and over in one night. I can feel the gears whirring as I lie there trying to sleep, and I can’t ignore the ideas for fear that it will be gone when I wake up the next morning.”

Snaith has come to recognize that once these moments begin to disturb him in the night, the process of the album must be headed towards its conclusion. So here, in a quick burst—after five years of ideas—is a complete project.

There are a few subtle differences in the process that set Suddenly apart from any other Caribou album. For the first time ever, Snaith sings on every single track. “I’m not a strong singer,” he admits with humility. “It’s taken me a long time to build the confidence and find a way to sing my songs that I can live with.” On Suddenly, it’s clear Snaith is in that place; his voice is everywhere on the album, clear and confident. The melodies are more complex than they’ve ever been, and Snaith’s voice is right there at the forefront. Not only is he more present than ever, but for the first time since 2005, Snaith is the only lead vocalist (though there are, of course, some sampled vocals from his extensive record collection). This was initially unintentional, but as the album developed, Snaith realized “that’s the only way it could be.”

In a sense, this is not quite true. There is one other voice, a very special guest contribution: Snaith’s mother. She appears briefly and angelically on “Sister.” “My parents moved from England to Canada before I was born, and they used to make tapes to mail back to my grandparents in England,” Snaith explains. “The line I used is my mum singing a nursery rhyme to my sister when she was just a baby. For all that I’ve said about putting my life into my music, that moment is the most personal.” It’s a fitting and touching moment, one of many tiny moments of Snaith’s life placed lovingly into the music. “I haven’t told her she’s on there yet—I’m hoping it’s a welcome surprise!” he laughs.

Recorded almost entirely alone at his home studio, there were three crucial days where Snaith did have a collaborator. Longtime friend Colin Fisher plays saxophone and guitar on Suddenly, but as something of a jack-of-all-trades and, more importantly, as a guiding force, his touches are all over the record. Fisher flew over from Toronto and stayed with Snaith and his family who were immediately drawn to him, Snaith’s wife dubbing him the Laughing Buddha for his near constant hyena-like laugh and his calm benevolence. “Aside from recording, he also changed the whole atmosphere in the house in a really nice way,” Snaith says. “It was great to see my kids trying to figure out this puzzle of a person who appeared out of nowhere. He would go out for a stroll and reappear with a Turkish flute that he had bought nearby. And then sit playing while they bounced on the trampoline beside him.”

As Snaith goes it alone more and more, these are the kind of people who are still welcomed with open arms onto a Caribou record— friends he’s close to and who see music-making in a similar way. As Snaith puts it, “These albums are like photo albums for me—when I look back at the old ones, they’re a snapshot of my life at that time, full of people who are close to you.”

So for all the strings Snaith has to his bow these days, this is the drive to continue to make Caribou albums. Full bodies of work where Snaith is able to evaluate things, look at those around him, and celebrate them. As his passion and joy in music-making remains as fresh as ever, Suddenly is the purest example of this yet.


Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

Since the release of her 2017 LP The Kid, American composer, artist, and producer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith has focused her energy in several directions. She founded Touchtheplants, a multidisciplinary creative environment for projects including her modular synth work Tides: Music for Meditation and Yoga and the first volumes in her instrumental Electronic Series (Abstractions, 2018) and pocket-sized poetry books on the practice of listening within. She’s continued to explore the endless possibilities of electronic instruments as well as the shapes, movements, and expressions found in the physical body’s relationship to sound and color. In advance of new music, Smith begins 2020 with the announcement of her signing to Ghostly International and a tour supporting Caribou through the US and Europe.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s formative years were spent communing with nature on Orcas Island in the northwest region of Washington state, a place she describes as “one of the most magical and peaceful places I have ever been.” Though she wouldn’t begin experimenting with modular synthesis for years, her creative work is infused with and inspired by the vitality and serenity of Orcas.

Smith left to attend Berklee College of Music, where she studied composition and sound engineering, initially focusing on her voice before switching to classical guitar and piano. She employed the skills she refined in college in her indie-folk band Ever Isles, but a fateful encounter with a neighbor who lent her a Buchla 100 synthesizer had a profound effect on her. She explains “I got so distracted and enamored with the process of making sounds with it that I abandoned the next Ever Isles album.” Starting with rhythmic patterns and melodic pulses, she began sculpting lush and exciting worlds of sound.

What began as a curious excursion soon became a fully forged path. 2015 saw the release of Smith’s full-length, Euclid, a playful and wide-eyed album that spurred from her experiments in writing music for geometric shapes while at the San Francisco Conservatory. A clear step forward from the nebulousness of her previous output, Euclid drew acclaim from all reaches of the experimental music world and cleared a path for Smith’s successive longform work under her birth name. Little more than a year later Smith returned with her wonderstruck psychedelic breakthrough EARS to universal praise in the spring of 2016.

Pitchfork called EARS “rich and rewarding” remarking aptly that Smith “focuses on a narrow band of feeling – wonder, curiosity, disorientation, bliss – and constructs a gleaming sonic world to house them.” The site included both EARS, and Smith’s collaboration with longtime influence Suzanne Ciani, Sunergy, as two of the top twenty experimental albums of the year, while other outlets including NPR, SPIN, and Rolling Stone sung similar best-of-the-year praises. In addition to her collaboration with Ciani that year Smith teamed with Mark Pritchard for Absolut’s remix series, toured with fellow sonic-adventurists Animal Collective, and soundtracked Google’s incredible virtual tour series The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks.

The Kid was released in October 2017 on Western Vinyl, subsequently landing the top spot on Rolling Stones’ Best Avant Albums and #2 on Pitchfork’s Best Experimental Albums of the year. The sprawling set is a sonic representation of four distinct stages of the human lifespan, from birth to self-awareness to the forging of one’s individual identity to old age and death. Working with a wide array of synthesizers, Smith created an album that is at once personal and universal, sonically engrossing and lush.