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Caribou - Caribou, Aye

Author: Jane Stabler
Wednesday, 9 January 2008
Dan Snaith, or Caribou as he is known in the world of psychedelic music, is a pretty clever man, and not just in a musical sense. Coming from a family of mathematicians, Caribou broke the mould and took to music as his career, but not before he also got a PhD in maths. 3D's Jane Stabler got her long division on with the Canadian.

“I'm not sure I'm a clever man,” Snaith says modestly. “It was a really busy time when I was trying to do both [music and the PhD], but I've been doing music as a sideline to being a student since high school and making the first few albums as an undergrad, and when I had to make a decision between slacking off on the PhD or the music, I chose the PhD. By the time I was finishing up with the PhD it was pretty clear what I wanted to do with my time was music.”

Caribou's style of music is heavily influenced by the psychedelic sounds of the '60s, and his latest album Andorra is no exception. The trippy sounds and evidence of Snaith's imagination running riot are throughout, and it's no surprise that the story of how the name Caribou came about involves LSD. Despite this, Snaith insists the drugs are one '60s influence that he hasn't succumbed to...much.

“I don't ever really make music when I'm stoned,” he says. “I actually don't do many drugs at all. Psychedelic drugs isn't really part of my music making, but the town I grew up in, in Canada, everyone's parents were ageing hippies and the kids took on that kind of music. Kids were more likely to be listing to Pink Floyd than Nirvana.”

With such a strong '60s influence from such an early age, it makes sense that Caribou's music takes listeners back in time and makes you feel like donning a headband and dancing in a field somewhere. A child of the late '70s, Snaith's musical leaning towards an earlier decade is attributed to the experimentation that the era involved, although not the illicit kind.

“[I'm] not sure my favourite time in music is the '60s at all,” he says. “My favourite thing about psychedelic music [and] the '60s is [it's] the time people started to experiment more with sounds. The whole psychedelic thing was about using the studio as an instrument, using tape loops and experimenting, and it's the same way I play around in my own recording. I kind of get tired of the [actuality] of '60s music - it was obviously historically an interesting time, but having the music always married to that kind of social context is something that gets a little boring.”

Keen to ensure his own music doesn't reach that stage, Caribou prides himself on the ability to evolve his sound during each performance, and his back-to-back January tour circuit looks set to give him even more practice.

“We've just finished 100 shows in the last three-and-a-half months so we've been playing a concert essentially every night since the album came out and I actually like it a lot. The songs change, and this time more than others I feel like we're not really tied as much to the technology on stage and we're able to really play together as musicians which makes it more enjoyable and the music feels like its progressing every night.”

WHO: Caribou
WHAT: Plays Beck's Bar, Sydney Festival
WHEN: Thursday 17 January