For Dan Snaith, Caribou is primarily a passion project

For Dan Snaith, Caribou is primarily a passion project

Photo by Thomas Neukum
Words by Will Brewster

Dan Snaith’s a busier man than most.

When he’s not writing and performing lush, pop-inflected electronica as Caribou, he’s treating festivals around the world to a meld of heavy disco edits and classic house under the moniker of Daphni. Up until now, those two projects have been relatively easy to separate into simple sonic categories – yet Suddenly, the new album from Caribou, seems to meddle with these perceptions like never before.

“People have diametrically opposed takes on some things,” Snaith says of his music. “Some people say this record sounds more like Daphni has influenced the record, some people say it’s pushing away from Daphni.”

To Snaith, the boundaries of each project are much more simple. He says even 20 years after the project’s inception, Caribou is still his musical bread and butter, carrying a much greater momentum and a persistent media buzz with each record’s release and accompanying tour cycle.

Daphni, on the other hand, remains a cathartic and carefree side-project of sorts – a means of uploading dance music to cleanse his head of melodies and appeal to an active audience voracious for any of his swung groove to let loose to on weekends.

“It’s like a pendulum swinging back and forth,” Snaith explains. “After Daphni, I always seem to miss chords and melodies and songwriting, but then it’s the opposite when we get off tour with the band, and I just want to go DJ and make rough edits of mixes. It’s nice to be in a position where people accept me on both terms.”

While there’s certainly a number of more upbeat, dancefloor-ready cuts across the record that could be confused as Daphni disco edits – ‘Ravi’ and ‘Never Come Back’ are guaranteed festival slammers – Suddenly also contains tracks with influences previously heard across any of Snaith’s records.

‘New Jade’ and ‘Home’ carry an infectious hip hop bounce that sounds like they’ve been plucked straight from Kanye’s sampling sketchpad, while ‘You and I’ could be the most brilliantly unpredictable song he’s ever put to tape.

“As a music listener, I’m a fan of diverse music, and at root, that’s why the album reflects a bunch of diverse things,” Snaith says. “I think Our Love had quite a coherent sound – it was probably the most polished, concise, maybe pop conception of my music. With this record, I didn’t think I could push that idea any further in that direction, so I wanted to do the opposite and emphasise the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies about the way I make music.”

Snaith’s approach to creating music is one of total joy: he makes a point to note that he’s never set any ‘real’ career ambitions, and that all his success is a direct byproduct of his own hustle and passion. It’s not dissimilar to the attitude embraced by his close friend and frequent collaborator Four Tet, who Snaith says had a key role in shaping the direction of Suddenly.

“Kieran is like a brother to me,” Snaith says, affirming that in the end, nice guys do win. “He’s the person who got my music signed in the first place. He provided endless amounts of feedback to me with this album, and we’re as close personally and musically as friends and musicians can be. I’ve learned a lot from him – he was kind of my mentor coming in to release music for the first time and steering away from people who are doing things for the wrong reason.

“But he also does that to so many people – Floating Points, Jon Hopkins, Jamie xx – the list goes on and on. Having another musician giving you feedback rather than a manager who has a vested interest in it being commercial, is a really valuable part of what I do. I can’t forget that the reason I’m here is due to the help of people like Kieran, and I want to make sure I provide that for people as well.”

Caribou’s new album, Suddenly, arrives on Friday February 28 via City Slang/Inertia.