Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble’s ‘Find Me Finding You’ was released a while ago by the always eclectic Drag City. Laetitia & her Source Ensemble are also appearing at this year’s PZYK fest. After a decent solo discography, since early 2010’s Sadier chose to release ‘Find Me Finding You’ under the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble. She was right!
And for those of you who might not recall the name, Laetitia was one of the co-founders along with Tim Gane of avant-pop faves Stereolab. Mic to Laetitia…
Many thanks for the interview.Let’s start from your childhood/teenage years, do you remember when and where you started to get passionate about music and other forms of art and what were your first beloved songs and artists?
I was passionate about music from as early as being in my mother’s womb! I would dance like crazy when ever music was playing. In my early childhood music felt like pure magic to me, and in my teens was a very dear friend indeed!
Many single out the influence of French Yé-yé and electro- pop in your music; Did French pop music be part, willingly or not, of your heritage since day one or did you dig it later in a second time? Which are your favourite French old/new music artists and bands? Currently there is a very interesting DIY underground movement of outsiders called ‘La Souterraine’, do you know them?
Yes I am familiar with La Souterraine. They do a very precious work of divulging great popular music -and by that I mean music made by people as a form of human expression, not necessarily a ways to make money, though that would be appreciated of course!- that would not otherwise be published anywhere. The mediatic channels are way too narrow…Yes I love French pop, but I don’t particularly set it aside in my mind or in my taste. It is just another rich corner of music being made in the world.
You surely grew up vividly inspired by the DIY punk ethos, I’ve recently interviewed several bands from that early-mid 80s period and what is amazing is that all those artists, who followed their own path and muse without any commercial concern, are the ones who are still there with something relevant to say. Can you talk about how you were and still are influenced by that spirit still very present in the late 80’s/early 90’s and what’s left of it in the current days?
This movement is a life pulsion. It is about being singular, and taking responsibility for one’s life. That is why perhaps it is always fresh, as it is constantly placing the protagonist in the center of action to their life. Following your muse – should you trust yourself enough to find it! or let it find you!!- will offer a much stronger course, path, than to follow money or fame. That is hollow and not sustainable. I think the general cultural consensus will seek to destroy the genuine part of people to sell it some elaborate crap…but a lot of people know better! I hope that trend will gather strength so we can find healthier ways of living together.
I read you wrote nine tracks of the new album on guitar, is this your usual songwriting approach? You also previewed it in a stripped-down performance at the Knoxville’s Big Ears festival. I was stuck behind your keyboards, I didn’t know that you’re also used to playing solo gigs. Why this need of solo performances?
There is no special need to play solo! But it is nice to modular in the ways I present my work. The band -now a quartet- can’t always come out, so I go along. I am thinking of touring also as a duo. But that hasn’t yet taken on a practical form. I would like to make beats, but haven’t found the right program yet… Still searching! So in the mean time I write on the guitar of the keys. Ι didn’t have keyboards at Big Ears… Wonder which you were stuck behind…
Your last three albums have been released under your own name with the key support by long-time collaborators Emmanuel Mario (I love his Astrobal project!) and Xavi Munoz, why this time the choice of using the moniker of Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble and why the title ‘Find Me Finding You’?
Thank you for your question. As you say the last 3 albums were made under my own name, and at the same time we were playing a lot of our shows as a trio. I didn’t want to call ourselves the LS Band, and one morning the Source Ensemble appeared in the light of my mind! There was also a concern to battle the individualistic outlook. After anything we do and own is the result of thousands of people’s involvement. I wanted to address the collective aspect of our existences through the idea of Ensemble -which means together in French…
What always strikes me, from time to time, most about this new album and your music in general, is how multi-faceted, delicate and cinematic it is, how are you able to feed and enrich with new elements and colours your musical ‘recherche’ or and how is worked this time again in the studio with your old and new trusted collaborators?
It is really difficult to explain such process in great detail. The most important thing for me is the kind of intention I have in making a record. Then, like in a magical instigation, ideas come, things fall into place, the process just occurs, almost as if animated by its own motivation. It wasn’t always like that. Making records was often an uphill struggle. But a few years ago that changed, when I finally had enough self confidence in what I was doing, and started trusting the process…
During the Stereolab period the compositional and the releases work rate was frenetic, while now it seems to be slowest at the rate of an album every two years, what about this more relaxed attitude?
I don’t feel relaxed.
In a review about a UK gig, I read that ‘quickly becomes clear that the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble are a band of virtuosos’. I saw your old band four times back in the 90’s, but I never expected that yourself and the ensemble of musicians you’ve surrounded were a sort of pop version of Weather Report! Synth player Nina Savary is also the recent addition to your ‘family’. Can you talk about how did this ace combo take shape and develop over time?
I’ve known Emma -drums, synths, recording engineer/producer- for over 12 years now. It is a good and fruitful working relationship. I met Xavi in Spain, and as I played in a big indie festival in his town Castellon he suggested that he and his drummer friend to accompany me on a few songs. Which we did perform…When it came to go on tour I wanted to form a trio, so asked Xavi if he’d like to come out and play -like the warriors!-. He had just quit his engineer job, so that worked out pretty well. Emma asked who was drumming in my trio. I didn’t dare ask him because I thought he might not like the road life and be too busy. He said he wanted to take part. And off we were! After nearly 5 years of playing together in such way, and upon making the new album it became more and more pressing to take on a new member. Nina was the natural contender for the job. She moved in and enriched the sound powerfully and beautifully. We are all very happy about this development!
The main theme of the album is about the importance of togetherness and collectivity in these difficult times of neo- liberal offensive (I’d call it ‘backwards class war’). In the light of the recent French election results, the analysis of the map of voting stands out as a ‘map of inequality’: the rich and wealthy areas are totally dominated by the ‘ex socialist’ candidate expression of financial/corporations power, while the poorer and struggling ones by far right; the slightly positive is that the new leftist had good results in the latter areas, but still not enough (ironically the former Communist party will vote for the capitalistic champion). In the UK is looming the return of the ‘war criminal’ Tony Blair, arghhhh! We’re in a period of great confusion and deep conflict after years dominated and contaminated by the ‘single thought’ propaganda, what’s your opinion about such a mess?
I think that when we are ready to live by the collective ideals of the Left, i.e., living together harmoniously and not making money the center of our concerns, we will find the way. The fact that the left is divided -in France it was flagrant – means that it is not ready to win… It isn’t ready to win because it is not ready to establish a more equal society. When we are ready, things will shift.
I’m fresh from a painful separation after long years, so I was personally touched, having got the same conclusion, by these lyrics from ‘Love Captive’ track ‘Can love rhyme with autonomy?/We are made to love/Not bolted indefinitely’. Is ‘the personal’(‘the private’) still ‘political’ in your opinion?
Yes, very much so. We are all stuck in very similar problematics. And the one of exclusivity in a couple is a very common one. Yes rarely openly addressed. Still, I came to the conclusion that commitment is the key to freeing the other…Very sorry to hear of your separation, it is so painful. Hope you are finding ways to heal your heart.
I believe that music has lost, for years now, that relevance and crucial role of cultural education, guidance and inspiration that once had in the life of many youngsters like us, when we took it so seriously and religiously. It’s also been a long time since a high energetic virulent band breaks into the mainstream, as Simon Reynolds said, ‘sending shockwaves through an entire society’. Do you think the cultural importance, the threat and the power of music have been lost forever in these quick, liquid and superficial days?
I really don’t know. Things are so diffused nowadays, that indeed there is a loss of power. And all the calls to cultivate narcissism aren’t helping… But I do trust in a deeper human enlightment, whichever way we find it.
What kind of music and who are you personally listening to at the moment?
Right now I’m listening to Krafwerk!!! What geniuses!!! Astrobal is great indeed, love their album. Nicholas Kgrovitch, Marker Starling, Aquaserge, Emel Mathlouthi to name but a few wonderful artists whose music captivate and enchant my ears and soul at the moment.
Many thanks for being our welcome guest…
Thank you for your questions.
Photo credits: Olia Eichenbaum