Leslie Feist, commonly known as Feist, is back after a two-year hiatus from the music scene with a new album "Metals" (released earlier this month). She's come a long way from the catchy 1234, which blew up after Apple featured it in an iPod commercial in 2007. And now, we're digging the refreshing new single How Come You Never Go There. Feist talks to us about her time off, recording in a leaking-roofed garage, why she would rather be on a mountain top, and her drink of choice. Just like with her latest album, the more we learn about her, the more we like.
How did you find being back in the saddle of making an album after two years off?
After 7 years of touring, I was totally depleted. Things weren’t slowing down so I drew a big thick line eight months in advance in the calendar, and after that, I would stop completely. When I hit that wall it was a dead stop and I collapsed with my suitcase next to me. After a year, I hadn’t learned how to be home, like on a vacation when it takes you a few days to learn how to relax, so I took another year. I traveled around and spent time in France, visited Mexico and Egypt. I saw my family and friends, planted some vegetables in the garden and just lived a normal life. After long enough of a time ignoring the guitar, I finally picked it up and wrote the whole record almost immediately.
What was the most challenging aspect of making your new album "Metals"?
We’d prepared the recording in Toronto so we could play it live like a concert, and everything would be there without having to overdub. It was recorded live off the floor... honest, with mistakes and all.
What was the most enjoyable part of the "Metals" process?
Noting that I was really alone again after a year and a half off, and being able to sneak out into the garage and start writing in isolation again. That felt like clue writing for a masterfully fun scavenger hunt.
A new restaurant in Brooklyn called Isa recently opened, and the owner, Taavo Somer, described the vibe, design and menu of Isa to be "primitive modern" as a kind of antidote to everything being hipstered out in New York City. This seems to be a similar quality to "Metals." Did you know from the start of planning this album that you wanted to go in an "unslick" direction or did that unfold more in Big Sur where you recorded your album?
The conditions of writing were primitive, in a leaking roofed garage. The melodies and ideas I was interested in seemed to pull certain instrumentation towards them that play into an earlier music than I'm accustomed to: euphonium, bass sax, bass clarinet. We avoided a full drum kit played by one person as much as possible and tried to have lots of us hitting things. I guess some of these built-in approaches got us away from too much of a precious ensemble and we were able to hit things and yell into things. The modern part is that we were putting this whole cacophony into a frame called a record, which is not ancient at all.
What is something about you that our viewers and readers might find surprising?
I rediscovered skiing and love being on top of a mountain in the snow. That is the most impossible thing, and so against our evolution--I love the silence of it. Also, I ride a rickety old bike so it won't get stolen. I have lots of plants, but none that need soil, so they survive when I'm away. I've caught five birds in my apartment in the last week and re-released them (I have no idea how they're getting in) and I want to learn to camp properly.
What is your favorite late-night bite or snack?
Oranges. Popcorn. Celery. Not all at once, though.
What are your favorite late-night pairings?
Not at home, but I would have a gin martini with extra olives and some salted almonds.
Where do you like to hang out nightlife-wise?
At a hot new club called Pay-Per-View.
What is your favorite thing between two buns?
A veggie burger with fried onions and mushrooms and swiss.
"Metals" is available now.