Guide to SKOPJE

Laetitia Sadier: Sincerity is always an important criterion

Laetitia Sadier is a French musician that is best known as the singer for the British band Stereolabm a band that proved to be in a genre of its own during its 19 year existence. Together with her former husband and music partner Tim Gane, Stereolab made music that was an amalgamation of pop sounds, Krautrock, Tropikalia, music for commercials, muzak. During that time they released 10 regular albums, a huge number of singles, numerous EP releases, double compilations, a triple box set, limited edition singles with hand made cover sleeves, DVD, and the list goes endlessly. Parallel to that she fronted Monade. With the disolving of Stereolab, so was Monade disbanded and since then her newest releases, starting with The Trip are signed by her name. This year she is releasing her latest album Silencio, that will be performed and promoted live at this year’s OFF Festival in Skopje, Macedonia.How different have the last 3 years been for you since you began releasing records under your name to the preceding 19 with Stereolab and Monade?

– The last 3 years have been enriching my life to new levels. Mostly they have forged my autonomy, which was always a project I had with Monade for example. I have travelled extensively and been to places I had never reached with Stereolab, like recently Colombia, or generally South America, or even in June,Macedonia! I am thoroughly enjoying this phase of my life as an artist taking her music around the world. Mostly the enriching part and is visiting places -not necessarily distant-, meeting local heros who want to bring meaning and life to their environment by bringing music to people… It is always very exciting to me.

Please describe the creative process behind the new record Silencio.

– The creative process is part of a continuum. Firstly, I incubated the project, without realizing that really, I was throwing ideas regularly onto a recorder for some months before the actual writing process. At some stage, came the impetus to put all the parts together. It’s always a daunting time, but this time I knew to trust the process and that everything would come together as long as I listened to,  how should I describe it best, to what my guts were telling me to do! It was fun and I knew whom I wanted to work with, and they so happened to want to work with me too. I enjoyed the synergy I found working with James Elkington in Chicago. And I felt ready to work with my friends from Toulouse, the Aquaserge group who are incredibly talented, original and hard working people. They kindly put their talent at the disposition of my songs; all I had to do was orchestrate the ensemble, which was very enjoyable. Although we had 4 days in which to record 4 songs, I think something quite fresh came out of the session.The liner notes say that the songs are “exploring the individual connection to a deeper self placed in a broader environment, in a similarly fresh kind of way.” Can you elaborate on that?

– I think we ourselves are a continuum of what goes on inside and outside ourselves. The outside shapes us, and in return we shape the outside, which in return shapes us. I find that commercialism hinders us from establishing a deep connection to ourselves I think that’s why so many people are lost, lose faith in life in whichever way this manifests itself. Silencio seeks to put the idea out there that we have to manage spaces of silence in our world so that we can connect to ourselves in order to be in tune with what rings true within us, so that we can establish more meaningful connections with others and the outside world.

The Trip was a record that was inspired by unhappy event in your life and it seems that it overshadowed the theme subjects as the songs were written during the grieving process. Was it easy to open up in such a public way about your grief (through these songs)?

– Nothing was overshadowed in The Trip, I don’t see what you are referring to when you say that. Art I think serves diverse purposes. It can be there to communicate a sensitivity, views and ideas, of any nature, they can be of a wide variety.  It can also be a cathartic way of expressing, communicating and containing emotions. Whatever the theme it is that I am working on, sincerity is always an important criteria for me to be dealing with. If I am going to write something that I don’t feel, or hear or think truly, then for me the music has no reason to be and therefore will not exist.  It’s not whether it’s easy or not to open up; the motivation comes about with a necessity to do so.

How have you evolved as a songwriter since the dawn of Stereolab up until Silencio?

– Back in the early Stereolab days, I remember having dreams about songs. I would pass a lovely green field inItalywhere Ennio Morricone would be playing his magnificent tunes with an orchestra. I would go to a cave and create a delightful song with 2 spoons, tune to which I would wake up to, but alas would not be able to remember in great detail, only that it was incredibly beautiful and mellifluous! And that’s about the only confidence I had as a young writer. That each time I wrote a song, a miracle had happened. It took sometime before I consciously realized that this was something I could do, in a conscious manner, that it was some miracle indeed but mostly my doing, my passion and my ability to do it. There wasn’t a lot of echo to go by in terms of finding fellow female friends who did this also. It was pretty lonely, but I realize now that it is less and less lonely and that there is a real interest in cultivating the idiosyncrasy of her voice, how everyone’s musical expression will manifest differently and to take an interest in that, particularly the female musical expression which has been hushed and discouraged. Now I can say I’m a songwriter or even a musician, but it took years; I always felt I was some kind of an impostor because I never went to school for it.

How are the new songs translating live (in a live setting)?

– You’ll be best judge for that. I like playing alone, to have all the space to myself to be completely free of movement in the songs, and let the emotion take over. I’m planning to have 3 piece band to tour Silencio around the US but that won’t happen until September.

At the OFF Festival in Skopje you will be sharing the stage with Tortoise. Taking into consideration that Stereolab and Tortoise were once signed to the same label Duophonic and John McEntire coproduced (and played) on Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Dots and Loops. Could you please talk about the relationship between these two bands? At the time they were both looked upon as a breath of fresh air.

– I remember seeing Tortoise for the 1st time in St. Louis. It was one of their earlier gigs. And there we were watching these guys creating music in front of our very eyes and ears. They were like architects allowing the public to see the scaffoldings which was enabling the construction and their elaborate structure. And indeed they were like a tortoise, taking their time, no rush. It was very inspiring. It seemed like the right people to visit for some Lab recordings. We have been friends ever since that time in St Louis. They are like family.How do you look back at the experience with Stereolab?

– A beautiful musical adventure!

The band’s output up until the release of 2010 album Not Music (consisting of unreleased material) was very prolific. How did you manage to maintain your creative pace during that period?

– I don’t think we were particularly prolific. Perhaps other bands are particularly slow, or the nature of the industry only permits 1 album every 2 or 3 years. It doesn’t take that long to write and record an album -in fact some have done it in a matter of days! It’s a question of urge. Tim sustained the urge and passion for music; always bought records, plenty…Truth be told, there are no particular recipe as to how we did it!

What is the currents status of that band?

– The band is currently inactive.

What prompted the forming of Monade in 1996, a band that coexisted parallel to Stereolab?

– The fact that no one else but Tim could write songs in Stereolab. It was clear that if one wanted to express themselves musically they would have to create their own space for that expression to take place. I am by nature lazy and to this day it is a mystery what exactly prompted me to take a guitar, which I couldn’t play, write songs, record them, and have them released! I’m very happy and grateful for whatever force made me do it!

What is the difference between these solo records and Monade?

– Well really you should tell me that! Lætitia Sadier solo evolved out of Monade, which was as I called it : “a project of autonomy”. It took me a while to realize that I was playing with my partner in a band called Stereo and I had created my own solo project called Mono! It seems that Monade existed BECAUSE of and in concurrence to Stereolab. Lætitia Sadier is even freer of that and exists for its own sake. Autonomy is achieved -well, “nearly there” as my son would say!

Nenad Georgievski