This article originally appeared in NARC. Magazine
Perhaps Laetitia Sadier is becoming a bit sick and tired as being branded as the former frontwoman of Stereolab. After all, it’s been six years since the group went on self-imposed hiatus and in that time Sadier has released three solo albums and collaborated with a range of musicians and dabbled in a variety of genres. Her latest outings have seen her, Emmaniel Mario and Xavi Munoz playing as the Laetitia Sadier Trio, a less experimental yet no less intriguing prospect than her former band. It’s testament to Sadier’s position as a musical icon that even separated from her Stereolab bandmates and more than twenty years down the line, she’s still making beautifully crafted and challenging music that sounds as fresh as her first recordings.
Ahead of the trio’s intimate gig at The Cumberland Arms on Saturday 25th July, I talked to Laetitia about how she got together with Munoz and Mario, being a part of seemingly unusual collaborations and her memories of the last time she was in Newcastle.
The Trio features Emmanuel Mario and Xavi Munoz. How did you originally meet them and decide that you wanted to form the trio with them?
I met Emma a number of years ago now through Julien Gasc, who ran after me to sing on one their tracks back when they had a band called Momotte and were based in Toulouse.
I then finally discovered my peers, my brothers and sisters from France! They were a sort of collective of musicians, all playing in each other’s bands or loose formations. Emma was one of them. It was clear to me that I should ask Emma to produce the new Monade LP – or part of it – and Julien to come record. Emma is both drummer and producer-engineer, so they were my perfect allies in recording Monstre Cosmic, the last Monade LP.
Xavi I met on the road, when touring Spain solo in 2011. I knew he was a bass player and when I needed to form a trio for our European tour three and a half years ago and thought to ask if he would like to join me, which he did as he had just dropped his regular engineer job in a firm, and wanted to give his time to making music.
When you’re playing live as the trio, do you play alternative arrangements of songs or try to stick as closely to the recordings as possible?
The live arrangements do develop as time goes on. They do get reworked a bit. There is certainly a different energy live to the recording.
Are there any challenges in playing some of your songs live with just the trio? Or is it liberating playing as a more stripped-down outfit?
Yes of course, it has been a challenge, because there are three of us and lots of parts to play. One of the nicest compliments people have given us, is that “we sound like there are five of us!” I like the trio though, it is a very sturdy structure, and now we have really espoused our respective space and roles. All these years of playing together are paying off in terms of comfort and sound coming together.
Would you ever consider recording an album with just you, Emmanuel and Xavi without any other collaborators? “The Laetitia Sadier Trio LP,” so to speak?
Yes, that could be envisgeable, but I am not a purist and like to include people whom we find on our path as we are recording.
On a slightly different note, you’ve collaborated with a lot of people in the past; do you enjoy working on projects that are different to your own? Is it almost like a break from your own work or do you just enjoy working on a variety of projects at the same time?
I love working on other people’s projects. It is easier than carrying all the responsibility of creating tracks from scratch! I find it confers more freedom to just let go and do something, be as wild as one can be, I find myself to be more daring. So it does ware off on my own work, to put myself in the same mode and be as wild as can be, let go of my little landmarks and habits and go get lost in whatever is to be found there…
Some people might have found it surprising when you worked with Odd Future man Tyler, The Creator on his album Wolf. How did that collaboration come about and what was it like working with him?
Musically it wasn’t odd at all. I felt we are from the same family there. This is what attracted me to working with him. He simply asked me if I would write a part for his song, I could write whatever I wanted, which he mixed into his track. Et voilå.
Are there any plans for any future collaborations?
I am currently working on a whole album and other various tracks with Adrian Younge, who is also a hip hop producer, but not only. He loves great music, classic hits, Ennio Morricone etc… It is a very fruitful collaboration. I love his music and his way of working, exclusively in his all-analogue studio in LA!
Your last venture to Newcastle was in 2013 when you played at the Star and Shadow Cinema; are you excited about returning to the north east again?
Yes yes very excited, the Star and Shadow gig in Newcastle, what a highlight to the tour I was doing then! I am very much looking forward to being in Newcastle again. It reminded me of Porto, which I am a big fan of. Michael the promoter showed us around, we saw a little exhibition of photos of Newcastle in the late 1800s of poor people and children on the streets, it was a great insight into the city’s past… We saw another exhibition upstairs in a building in the town centre, which was much more modern and interesting…
Why have you decided to play at a smaller venue like The Cumberland Arms?
I haven’t decided anything, I play where I am invited to!
Do you prefer smaller, more intimate gigs?
I like them all, but indeed intimacy is always desired.
Will you be playing mostly from your three solo albums or will you be giving some other tracks from Stereolab and other projects an airing too?
What’s in store in the future for the Laetitia Sadier Trio? What have you got planned?
We have plans to tour America in the Autumn. That’s a big plan!