Her name and image is on the front cover but, in reality, Leslie Feist is a true collaborator.
Whether it’s as a member of Broken Social Scene, or playing guitar with By Divine Right, rapping with Chilly Gonzales, providing animated sock puppetry for Peaches’ live show or even sharing a split EP with metal giants Mastodon, nothing is too wayward for this celebrated Canadian artist.
Amongst these projects, Feist recorded Let It Die. The album made people sit up and take note of her talents, especially her mesmerizing voice. A song from it caught the ear of Australian songwriter Sally Seltmann and inspiration struck. Feist told triple j’s breakfast team Robbie, Marieke and Doctor all about it.
"When Sally first heard 'Mushaboom' [from Let It Die], she listened to it about seven times in a row and then wrote this about 20 minutes later."
The song she's referring to is '1234'. Seltmann gave it to Feist to record and it went on to become a massive hit. Feist became a household name.
But there's more to The Reminder than just one hit single. Its songs highlight a writer with an eye for illuminating life’s small details. Who has an appreciation for light-but-affecting melodies and a keenness for collaborating.
A large part of the album’s appeal is the quality of Feist’s voice and delivery. There’s a soft sensuality that approaches heartbreak in an unjaded way. She muses on loss and childhood innocence without scorn. The record also reflected her openness.
Feist recorded within a big, old French mansion where up to 12 people lived and worked together. A sense of space abounds through many of the quieter moments, while the upbeat tunes have warmth and closeness. They explored the surrounding gardens too. On 'The Park' you can hear chirruping birds unknowingly accompanying Feist's vocal.
At the end of her extensive international touring and promotional work for this album, Feist was exhausted. She told Canadian press that she needed to take time away from her music career and get back to smaller, nurturing spaces. Back to her bedroom with her beloved four track and a pair of headphones.
In the 2010 documentary Look What The Light Did Now, Feist was eager to show off the depth and variety of talented artists she worked with. Both those who contributed to the album and visual concepts that were key to her music videos and live shows.
In doing so she zooms in on the fact that creativity and innovation is fed by a process of interaction that involves many players. In a world driven by ego and star status, that is a worthwhile reminder.