It’s been four years since Leslie Feist
released The Reminder,
the Canadian singer/songwriter’s breakout third album, which became an international crossover hit (thanks to a little help from Apple) and saw her crowned as the undisputed first lady of indie. After an exhaustive couple of years touring, followed by a “non-negotiable” break from music, the 35-year-old is back with her fourth studio album, Metals
. A more reflective offering—born out of a rediscovery of nature and all the things you can’t do when you’re zigzagging across the country in a tour bus—it’s best described as having a transformative new energy.
As she prepares to get back on the road, we checked in with the singer about whatMetals’
recording process was like and if she’s planning to take things slower this time around.
-by Freddie Campion for Vogue.comYou recorded the album on the California coast. What sent you there?
I had passed through before and it seemed like somewhere worth going back to and spending time in. Something about it just reached out to me. A whispering voice on the edge of the wind that said, “Come back here and make a record.” Did you spend a lot of time exploring while you were there?
A couple of times I ended up off the highway, staying at little pioneer-style hotels or shacks and camping in canvas tents among the redwoods. Every time it just left me thinking, What is this place? Was being on the coast important for the recording process?
Yes. In a graphic sense there was something that appealed to me about being at that edge, between ocean and continent. The place we found to record was this barn right at the edge of a cliff which looked out at the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific is the biggest thing on planet Earth, just unfathomably big, so it really felt like you were looking out into the unknown. But at the same time there is an entire continent behind you.Why a barn and not a proper studio?
I’ve not really spent much time in proper studios. The room itself where you’re recording, and how you live while you’re there is what appeals to me. The barn was part of a 350-acre piece of farmland that’s more like a gated enclave. There are sheep and goats, as well as organic farming and homesteads surrounded by fields and horses. It was like being in an episode of Lost.
Do you think it’s important you took the break you did before going back into the studio?
It was sort of non-negotiable. I’d been touring for so long, seven years. For a year and a half I’d just been curious about what it was like not to tour. It’s like if you were to lift a 100-pound barbell with your right arm for seven years, eventually you’d get really curious about what your left arm was capable of. What did that left arm represent once you got home?
The kinds of things touring doesn’t allow for, like gardening, hiking, and learning to build a perfect fire. I got back into baking and tried to bake all the things I liked when I was a kid, just because I could, and because it was time to. And I adopted two dogs. Did you know you’d be adopting two dogs?
For the last couple of months I was on the road I started obsessively look at adoption websites and the Humane Society website—in the same way some people can’t help but look at their ex’s Facebook profile when they’re hauled away in their few hours of solitude. I was originally only going to get one, but they came as a pair and it would have been cruel to separate them. They’re adorable little messes.