10 of 2010 (#3): Caribou – Swim

Feature by Ally Brown | 02 Dec 2010

Canadian Dan Snaith has been making good records for over a decade now, but in 2010 he made a great one. After years of dipping his toes into dance music, for Swim he dived right in. The Skinny met Caribou backstage at Glasgow’s ABC to talk about his greatest album yet and the year that surrounded its release.

“I've been pretty lucky generally. I’ve had some bad reviews but the majority of them have been nice. I actually like reading negative reviews, I have agreed with people who've criticised certain aspects of my music. With Andorra, everyone was like: ‘here's this guy who really likes 60s psychedelia, he's a retro kinda guy’, and I was like: ‘fuck, that wasn't the point!’”

Andorra won the Polaris Prize in 2008 – Canada’s Mercury Prize-equivalent – but Snaith was determined to move on to new things. He’s open about the inspiration for the direction he took: it’s one of the guys sitting in the next room, preparing to play before him tonight.

“The last track on Andorra was me trying to figure out how James [Holden] makes music” he says. “The last track, Niobe, was me trying to figure out how to get that dynamic of his, of something growing and falling apart simultaneously. And even though there was over a year in-between making the records, that was the starting point for this record. I went back to it and thought: ‘there's just so many different ways this track could go.’

“I was so happy with [Swim] when I finished it, but I also thought it might confuse people. It seemed to me that Andorra was a much more straightforward record, it was more concise pop songs. It really stuns me that Swim seems to have captured people's imaginations in some way that previous albums I've made haven't. I’m so happy because this is my favourite one, but I really didn't think it was going to be everybody else’s favourite one.

“Thinking about the situation in which it was made and then fast-forwarding to now, it's totally mind-boggling. I'd love to say I make music because I want to share it with people, but I make music for entirely selfish reasons, I just love doing it so much, and the thrill of when things go right in the studio or at home, that's the most amazing thing. But then this is just... we've always had good shows, but it's never been the party atmosphere it is now.

Swim feels like the beginning of something rather than the end, even though the end of Andorra was kinda the beginning of this one, it was also the end of making psychedelic poppy records, I feel like I've done what I wanted to do with that. I don’t want to make the same record again, but it feels like there's lots of points I can shoot off from on Swim.”