Music is Caribou's Call of Nature

For Dan Snaith, it was either following family tradition with a life of math or forging ahead as electronic musician Caribou. Lucky for us he chose the latter. "Almost everybody in my family has a math degree or is a professor of some kind. Math was something I really enjoyed and that’s why I did it. It became a question of not having enough time to do it and not sleeping when I was trying to do both."

- Dara Hakimzadeh

posted March 31, 2008

Music is Caribou\'s Call of Nature

Dan Snaith is possessed by music. He can’t stop thinking about it, can’t stop listening to it, and can’t stop creating it.

“I recorded constantly for a year and started with something like 600 tracks and I picked my favorite bits from them,” said Snaith (better known as Caribou), referring to the development of his album Andorra.

“I’ve always been excited about music and that’s why I do it,” said the 29-year-old artist, pointing out that dance music producer James Holden and artists Panda Bear and Animal Collective are some of his current influences.

He adds that there’s a duality to the possession that music has on him, forcing him to live two very different lifestyles.

“I feel like I have a bit of a split personality,” he said. “When I record, I’m such a hermit. I’m terrible. I don’t see friends that live around the corner for sometimes over a month. When we’re out on tour, I never have time to myself and I’m always meeting people.”

Snaith examined his vinyl collection and listened to an array of artists to pick apart how they produced their unique sound to, in turn, help him direct the style of his next release.

“Things really jump out at me when making or listening to music,” he explained. “My music is influenced by whatever music I come across: old music, new music, from all over the world,” said Snaith.

“If I discover an old Iranian folk record that I think is really exciting, to me it’s the same as there being a new Los Lobos record.”

Snaith admits he’s a sucker for a good melody and doesn’t concern himself with genres or similar labeling methods. On Andorra, lyrics were “consciously” added to songs after the instrumentation was complete, he said.

“When I listen to music on the radio, I never hear the lyrics. I’m one of those people who just doesn’t pay attention to words,” Snaith said. “Having a voice sing a melody is very different from having an instrument play the melody. The lyrics are there to mirror and reinforce what’s going on [but, for me,] they’re not paramount.”

As a teenager in Dundas, Ontario, Snaith said he had a lot of time on his hands to pursue music. “I lived out in the country and didn’t have a driver’s license. I discovered electronic music primarily because it was something that could be recorded from home without having a lot of money. It was immediately accessible.”

Snaith also grew up in an academic environment, which instilled in him a love of learning. Three years ago he received his doctorate in mathematics but realized his passion for music outweighed his desire to pursue both paths.

“Almost everybody in my family has a math degree or is a professor of some kind. Math was something I really enjoyed and that’s why I did it. It became a question of not having enough time to do it and not sleeping when I was trying to do both,” recalled Snaith.

After leaving behind the chaotic life on the road for his current tour, Snaith plans to reclaim his “hermit” status to begin work on new recordings.

“I like coming back to a blank slate when touring ends and diving headlong into the process,” he said. “By my very nature, I’m a workaholic.”