For most people, hearing the name Feist instantly casts their mind back to that infamous iPod Nano commercial of 2007, and the catchy song that went with it.
But in the 10 years since she shot to fame, Leslie Feist has been working hard to get success back on her own terms. Her first album in six years, Pleasure, has been dubbed the artist’s most personal record to date. And while you’ll recognise Leslie’s infectious melodies and haunting vocals, it offers a unique and in-depth look at her artistry that goes beyond her former releases.
We managed to get some time with Leslie on her break between tours to discuss the new record, her global success and why she wasn’t sure she’d ever release another album.
Hi Leslie, what are you up to right now?
I just got home from dinner and am sitting on my couch speaking with you!
Congratulations on the new album. Were you nervous about releasing something after so long?
No. Not nervous, just excited and happy to have had something I was interested to release.
Your press release describes the album as being “a core study of self-awareness.” Did you write with the intention of it being really introspective?
It was just a natural extension of the state of mind I was in at the time, which was entirely inward-facing. And the fact that I write songs, and have written songs for many years, it was just a natural place to put that introspection. The fact that it came out in an album was a secondary concern.
Has your approach to writing changed since your early releases?
It’s been different every time. It’s just in response to how much time I have or the depth of my focus. For The Reminder, my focus was quite shallow, only because I was on tour for the album preceding it and I recorded it in little snippets between shows. In this case, I did a deep dive. I had cleared the decks and wasn’t… well, I wasn’t even sure I was going to put out another album, but the writing at least was focused.
You were thinking of giving up your musical career?
It’s not that I was thinking about giving it up… it’s that I was waiting to know that I was compelled from an honest place to continue. And to make sure I wasn’t continuing to make albums just because I always had. I think it’s sort of a reckoning to make sure I was coming from a pure motivation because songwriting… well, I think it’s rendered irrelevant the moment it’s not genuine. It’s kind of like falling in love. You can’t pretend.
You’ve had such a huge amount of success over the last decade. Have you ever felt pressured to match the success of songs like ‘1 2 3 4’?
I am grateful for what that song brought to my life, but by the same token, I’m grateful for everything I’ve managed to get back into my own hands since that happened. It rests a lot of control and takes the steering wheel out of your own hands when that amount of success is thrust onto your career. It’s a wonderful thing and it’s also a really unnerving thing. I’m really grateful for how everything has come back. It’s really lucky that I didn’t like to play the venues as big as what was becoming necessary during ‘1 2 3 4’ (laughs).
You didn’t want to play big venues?
No! I mean it’s not the kind of place I’d want to go see a concert, let alone play one. Tere’s a lot of subtlety lost when playing in places that big. Luckily I really like playing a little medium-sized theatre. That’s a place where a really beautiful exchange can take place with an audience.
Speaking of, you’ve got a fairly extensive world tour coming up. How do you prepare for something like that?
It’s funny you should ask because two days ago I got home from a five-week tour of Europe. At this point, I’m just resting as much as I can before leaving again. There’s not really any way to prepare for moving your body that much.
How are your shows going to differ this time around?
Last time I played (in Australia), I was playing festivals. I’ll be glad to get back into my own venues and play my own theatre shows. I haven’t come to Australia and done that in something close to 10 years. I’m really happy and in a way, it will be a reunion.
You can catch Feist on her Australian tour in November.
This interview was originally published in Fashion Journal 172. You can read it here.