“Being awarded anything still seems surreal to me.”
Nearly two years after taking home a $20,000 cheque and the coveted Polaris Music Prize in 2008 for his album Andorra, Dan Snaith is still remarkably humble about it. He really shouldn’t be though.
Under his musical pseudonym Caribou, Snaith has released some of the most vividly sublime and carefully calculated headphone music, not just by a Canadian, but by an artist of any nationality. His meticulous attention to detail, which could be linked to his prowess in mathematics (he holds a PhD in the subject), has made him one of the most distinct musicians going — but try telling him that.
With his new album Swim, Snaith felt he needed to make his definitive statement as Caribou.
“I’m really proud of all my albums, they all feel like a part of me,” Snaith admits. “But this album, the main idea for me was to make it the most ‘me’ possible. I didn’t want people to be like, ‘Oh, this was influenced by this, this was influenced by that.’ And that just led to me making it the most identifiable album that I’ve made. Maybe that’s a confidence thing, I don’t know.”
Like any of Caribou’s five albums, Swim is a deeply imaginative work built of kaleidoscopic melodies, astounding percussion and vibrant textures. While each of his previous albums were all very individual pieces inspired by a specific style of music, Swim represents the clearest picture of what exactly the Caribou sound is.
“I feel that each of the albums represented a different side of my musical tastes. It’s not a conscious thing though,” he says. “Andorra was definitely the pop album for me. It’s the poppiest I’m ever going to be, presumably. Swim is more all-encompassing. It contains a bit of the pop element from Andorra, the dance music influence, a bit of the psychedelic thing going on — all of the things that excite me about music are in there somewhere it seems to me, anyway.”
And when it comes to how he pulled it off, Snaith credits the money he received from his Polaris win as the main reason he was able to make this album.
“In a prosaic respect it meant that I could do things on this album that I hadn’t considered doing previously,” he explains. “There were more collaborative things that I wouldn’t maybe have thought to do if I didn’t have the facility to do it financially.”