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f the Canadian indie-rock scene was a high school, Leslie Feist would be the girl in every yearbook photo. She's contributed her skills and considerable charisma to cult-inspiring acts such as Broken Social Scene, Peaches, By Divine Right, Kings of Convenience and trip-hop provacateur Chilly Gonzales. But for her 2005 release Let it Die, Feist cleared the stage and emerged with a sound all her own. Producer Gonzales blows a shimmering smoke ring around folk guitar, disco synthesizers and bossa nova brass, creating an atmosphere in which Feist's voice can float untethered. An inspired mix of originals and covers, the album is simultaneously sultry and playful. When you're making the transition from flirting to seduction, this is your go-to soundtrack. Feist called Nerve from her tour bus to ponder the clusterfuck that is the Canadian rock scene and the startling dearth of male groupies. — Gwynne Watkins
I watched the video for "Mushaboom" today. I loved the part where you're trying to float into the air and sing the song but the mob keeps pulling you down.
Did you see that the one pulling me down is Peaches?
I was going to ask you if it was a metaphor for something.
It's funny, because I just phoned her up and said, "Do you want to be the Rizzo, kind of the head of the Pink Ladies for my video? In Prague? Next week?" And she said, "Okay!" It was really fun, a real Broadway musical.
I've read that you're an Anais Nin fan. Has she influenced your sex life as well as your intellectual life?
[Laughs.] Well, I don't think I have any book that is quite as underlined as my Anais Nin books. I pored over The Four-Chambered Heart when I was eighteen, nineteen, but it's actually her prose that hooked me for good. And if you try to stretch your imagination to the era she was working in, with Paris being like a main character — I've lived there for three years and I've had pretty different experiences than the ones in her books, you know? That makes me realize just how out of the ordinary her objective was, and her defiance, and it's just unbelievably beautiful. It's a voice I wish I could speak with.
You once said you loved how Canadian girls manage to look hot in their enormous parkas. Is there a particularly Canadian kind of sex appeal?
Maybe it's a stamina thing: rosy-cheeked, grinning, teeth-chattering kind of stamina. Montreal especially. I was laughing with my friends about how Parisian women skittle around from place to place in their nylons and high heels and fashion-forward winter wear. In Canada, maybe when I was in grade nine and ten, I tried to pretend that it wasn't cold, and I'd wear my skirt to school and stuff, but as soon as practicality kicks in, I think that's when sexiness kicks in too. That absolute disregard toward the way things look gives you more regard for the way things feel.
If you were in high-school and you were making a mix tape for your crush, what songs would be on it?
Oh, I used to do that a lot. There would definitely be the Cure's "Just Like Heaven", probably some Jane's Addiction, and that Jesus and Mary Chain with Mazzy Star duet. Some Betty Serveert, some Dinosaur Jr. That was kind of the roster of my high-school listening.
I'm always hopeful that women rockers will tell me groupie stories, because I think that they should have as many as men.
Maybe that should be the case, but I can attest that it's not. I have a theory about it: I think girls like to win, they like to be the one out of the many. And I think guys don't like to compete, they like to just know they're the Alpha male, and they don't want their turf challenged. They don't want to lock antlers with that young buck who's just a little stronger than them and lose the entire herd. They will defend their turf if necessary, but they like to just stand with their chest puffed out, and they don't like to compete. So I think that in the backstage, after-the-show thing, they would much prefer to disappear into the night rather than put themselves into a position that a girl might not even think twice about.
So you don't have crowds of sensitive boys waiting for you outside?
Well the thing is, the more sensitive the boy, the more likely he would be to go home and not bother with the backstage bullshit. That's the dream guy, and the chances of meeting him at a show are pretty slim.
What is the craziest thing a fan has ever done for you? I know Broken Social Scene fans tend to be pretty hardcore.
There's plenty of creepy stuff that goes on, and you wonder what they possibly could be thinking. Then you stop wondering, because it's just a bit frightening to imagine. Nothing really that comes to mind, though.
How do you feel about being called the Kevin Bacon of indie rock?
Oh my God. What does that mean?
You're connected to many different bands, the same way Kevin Bacon is connected to so many different movies.
Holy shit, I would so love to watch that game go down.
I'm sure somebody is playing it somewhere.
A few years ago, Justin Peroff, the drummer from Broken Social Scene, tried to draw a family tree of all the Broken Social Scene members All of us, of course, got mad at him because he was inaccurate. He put, like, nine bands that he's been a part of and only one for the rest of us. And everyone was laughing. All of us would like someone to make an accurate family tree, to poll everybody in the band and see what the truth is. We could make all of us the Kevin Bacons of indie rock.
I think you need to be in a band with Kevin Bacon. Then the circle would be complete.
That's an awesome idea. Call him up!
What do you do when you're not making music?
This is very rare, but it makes for a good answer. My organ player's wife is on tour with us doing merchandise. Last night, about midnight, I got a call on my hotel phone. We had a day off and were in some hotel that was truly in the middle of nowhere, like Bates Motel style. And I got a call saying "Miss Feist, your adventure begins in twenty minutes, mwahahaha." In this Dracula cackle. I was like, what the fuck? I didn't understand. But in twenty minutes I got a call saying, "Go to the laundry room!" So I went to the laundry room, and it was the beginning of a scavenger hunt that she had set up for me that went through the hotel. There were clues floating in bottles in the middle of the swimming pool outside. The treadmill was rolling, and there was a clue taped to it so you only saw it every time it looped around. I had to go inside a dark conference room where ghostly voices were chanting clues to me. A room key would be found and I'd go into the room and they'd be laying in the bath, half dead, with a clue in their mouth leading me somewhere else. It went on and on. And then I went into the breakfast room in the lobby and there was a clue wedged inside a banana, in a fruit basket. It instructed me to say something out loud. I said it, and then the clerk looked up from the desk and realized I'd said it and started to read her line that she was instructed to give that lead me to the next clue that was out on the bus, which was in the parking lot. It went on for like an hour and a half. It was really astounding.
And what did you find at the end?
A beer and a bag of microwave popcorn. n°
© 2006 Gwynne Watkins and Nerve.com.