Interview: Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier

Stereolab headlines Irving Plaza this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Tickets are still available here.

"I had issues with [Chemical Chords's] production, with how it was mixed, how there's very little air and ba-donk, ba-donk, ba-donk all the way through practically. But live? It's a beautiful work."

Stereolab, "Three Women" (MP3)
From Chemical Chords

Since their early days as one of post-punk's first major bands, the core of Stereolab has always consisted of multi-instrumentalist/composer Tim Gane and singer/lyricist Laetitia Sadier. The pair, who met at a concert by Gane's former band, McCarthy, have since produced not only a marriage, a son, and a subsequent divorce, but 11 albums and untold shorter releases.

Just three days into Stereolab's North American tour in support of Chemical Chords, Laetitia Sadier experienced a broken-down bus, a subsequent 16-hour ride from Texas to Georgia, and then this interview. Still, the French-born resident of England managed to share her surprising views on the band's new album, the need to form her own band, how there's a whole other unreleased "nighttime" companion record to Chemical Chords, and what it's like to turn 40. --Rob Trucks

You're on tour in the States for a month, but you're in New York for three of those days. Is that a chance to catch your breath? Or are you going to have to work every moment that you're here as well?

Well, it's kind of both, because we'll still have three shows to play so it won't be exactly a break. We'll have probably some interviews to do, but it's also a chance to see our boyfriends and girlfriends who are coming over from England. So it will be a bit of a break as well in that respect.

Your son's 10 now. Does he travel with you? And if not, who takes care of him while you're on the road for a month?

Well, at the moment he's with my boyfriend at home.

That's a long time to be away from your child.

Yeah, that is indeed. That is indeed.

It sounds like your other band, Monade, came about because you wanted the opportunity to write complete songs and not just contribute lyrics. Is that a fair reading?

Yeah, I felt basically I had little choice. Sometimes when you have to do something on this earth and you're put there to do it . . . It's not something which I completely control, funnily enough. It kind of controlled me. I had to create this outlet. It just had to happen. And it did. And it did me a lot of good as well, to have my own outlet.

On the surface at least, Stereolab appears to be a partnership. But you're saying that there wasn't enough room to get even one complete song on an album?

I mean, I didn't push it. I didn't push it a lot, extremely. But you know when there's room and it's welcome and you know when the door is shut and it's not welcome.

You don't want to go to a party that you haven't been invited to.

Exactly. That's very well put [laughs].

You and Tim are co-writers, you share songwriting credit, but are you collaborators? He's in Berlin and you're in England and you record in France. How do you go about working together?

It all happens cosmically.

Cosmically?

Yes.

Is there any way you can explain cosmically to me?

[laughs] Well, it just happens at another level, a personal level.

But you wrote almost all of the lyrics for Chemical Chords, correct?

Yes.

And Tim has talked about how quickly he wrote the music for this album. I believe he said that he basically began with a whole bunch of drum loops about a week before you were supposed to record. Is that right?

Yes, some of the songs. And then he wrote some more songs later. There's 31 songs to this project.

So how do you go about writing lyrics for 31 songs, or even 15 songs, or even five songs, in so little time?

Well, the process took nine months. I didn't write 31 songs in a week. I would be completely incapable of it. Particularly the quality control end would go right out the window. It took nine months, but still it was a lot of work, intense, condensed work. At times I felt I had to dig quite deep [laughs] in my pockets to find stuff, but it's good. It's a challenge. And I have always my best friend, my best collaborator, which are my dreams, to have very creative pockets, you know.


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