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Baker's Dozen

Beautiful Colours Everywhere: Dan Snaith Of Caribou's Favourite LPs
Joe Clay , October 30th, 2014 12:08

Deep in the middle of a worldwide tour to promote his new album Our Love, Dan Snaith takes some time to pore over his favourite albums and tells Joe Clay about "the music that I grew up with"


Arthur Russell - World Of Echo
It probably won't be too much of a surprise that I picked this. I knew the Dinosaur L tracks and the big ones from compilations, and I didn't really know anything about who Arthur Russell was, until this was reissued in 2004. I was finishing my PhD at the time, trying to get something mathematical done and listening to this record over and over again. It's the kind of a record you can do something else to, but I always used to get really distracted by it. It still sounds like absolutely nothing else to me, it was such a revelation. He's such an amazing melodist and it's so sonically stimulating and different - that processed cello and voice, you still don't hear that anywhere else. But also the way the record is structured. There are parts of it that feel half-finished. It feels more like a collection of demos that were made spontaneously. It's not like a Hendrix album where everything would be meticulously produced, though there's something really wonderful about that. The life wasn't squeezed out of it. His voice has been so important for me. I was already singing on my music before I heard this, but I was always disguising my voice as much as possible. His voice is so beautiful and distinctive, but it's not the classical idea of what a singer should be. So it gave me a way in to singing on my own tracks, even though my voice is weak and pedestrian. It's a way for those of us who are non-traditional singers to not have to think about comparing ourselves - y'know, I'm a singer, and Marvin Gaye's a singer… He's like the vocal equivalent of a Stradivarius. But it gave me a way of thinking about singing that wasn't about being professional; it's about embracing the amateurishness and foibles of my voice.

That's one way of looking at it, but also you could say that Arthur Russell showed you a way of using your voice that works best with the music that you're making. To me, your music and your voice work perfectly together - especially on the new record. If you were belting it out like a soul legend it wouldn't sit right.

That's nice of you to say and I suppose World Of Echo is the perfect example of that. But I guess I'm saying that it took me a long time to work out how to make them sit together, and people like Arthur Russell are the reason that I figured out how to make it work.