by Monte Holman
Laetitia Sadier has been the stylish voice of cool for a decade and a half, fronting Stereolab and delivering space age bachelor pad themes with a French twist to us drooling fans. We can’t get enough, so Sadier and company simply deliver more and more and more. Stereolab’s just-released three-disc set “Oscillons From the Anti-Sun” is absolutely essential for any fan of the band.
Somehow Sadier found the time to strike up a side-project, Monade. In this band she takes over the majority of the songwriting duties whereas in Stereolab her role is limited primarily to lyric composition and vocals. Monade’s first album, “Socialisme Ou Barbarie: The Bedroom Recordings,” (Drag City) presented Sadier’s songwriting ability in a low-fi, D.I.Y. manner. Several songs featured Pram’s Rosie Cuckston. Monade’s latest, “A Few Steps More,” (Too Pure) is a more stylized production featuring a full band (sans Cuckston) and a studio production.
Between all the recording and touring and child rearing, Sadier graciously spoke with us about her newest venture. And not surprisingly, the way she charms us sonically in Stereolab and Monade carries over to conversation.
Monade are Laetitia Sadier (vocals / moog / tambourine / trombone), Marie Merlet (bass / vocals), Nicolas Etienne (keys) and Xavier Chabellard (drums).
FREEwilliamsburg: Are you enjoying the Monade tour?
Sadier: Yeah, this is actually lovely because it’s the groundwork. You have to somehow be persuasive. People are very enthusiastic and supportive, and it makes for nice shows.
FREEwilliamsburg: So the crowds are different with Monade than they are with Stereolab?
Sadier: Yeah, indeed, they’re far less numerous, but it’s very exciting.
FREEwilliamsburg: Stereolab is one of the most prolific bands of the last fifteen years. What made Monade necessary? What prompted its forming?
Sadier: I wanted to write songs. I have been writing songs. Because I couldn’t write songs in Stereolab, I created a space where my little songs could exist. I also wanted to play the guitar. I always had a vision of myself with a guitar, playing the guitar, and it’s the kind of thing I have problems doing alone in my bedroom. I thought it would be more exciting to play in a band format, and it is more fun, more stimulating. And that’s simply that, really.
FREEwilliamsburg: Where did the songs on the first Monade album come from?
Sadier: They’re songs I wrote over the years that came out on some little singles with friends, and eventually I thought if I record another five or six songs, I could put them all on an LP. And indeed, that’s what happened. It was also motivation to work, to do it, you know. It’s all about doing it, the activity of it. You can sit in your room and dream you’re going to become a rock star or something, but somehow that didn’t seem like too much of an option for me. I knew better, that if you want to do something, then go out there and do it.
FREEwilliamsburg: The first Monade album was mostly you, your songwriting, your playing. How did the process of the second album differ now that you have a full-on band?
Sadier: I would still write the songs, but obviously in a loose form. Being with the band, we developed them by playing them with drums, and playing them all together would mean that we could get ideas as to where the song could go and how it could change, how it could turn.
FREEwilliamsburg: Do you share the same musical interests as the rest of the band?
Sadier: Yeah, I think so. I was pretty lucky that I found people that were interested in the same way. I have a new drummer now who comes from a very different musical background, but he is learning our way of thinking (laughs), with difficulty sometimes, but he’s doing good‚Äîhe’s doing good.
FREEwilliamsburg: When did he join up?
Sadier: About two months ago.
FREEwilliamsburg: Right before the current tour?
Sadier: Yes, we’ve played maybe fifteen shows together as this band. It’s really fresh and exciting.
FREEwilliamsburg: You also play the trombone on this album, and I read in another interview that the instrument intrigued you. What about the trombone appeals to you?
Sadier: I like the sound of it. It’s kind of an intuitive thing, you know, being able to identify with a sound. I think it’s a bridging instrument—it goes high; it goes low—and I feel it’s a bit like my voice, maybe another expression of it. Personally, I prefer the trumpet. I wanted to play the trumpet, but I don’t think there is a trumpeter in me. The trombone, I thought, was closer. It’s an instrument you really need to work at, and I don’t feel I’m putting in the hours. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t, and I feel like I’m back at square one. It’s a lot of dedication. Hopefully I will carry on, but again, it’s a question of having a reason to play it.
FREEwilliamsburg: You’ve mentioned that Monade is a band in which you hope to find your own voice because in Stereolab, you aren’t the primary songwriter. Do you feel that the current lineup is getting you closer to finding that voice?
Sadier: Well I really don’t know what the future holds, exactly, but I’m closer to finding this voice. I can really identify with the music of Stereolab, and hopefully with Monade we’ll be able to discover some new grooves, new ways of grooving and somehow being free within the group. But at the moment, we’re concentrating on being a group and on being comfortable playing together, and hopefully it will enable us to take it somewhere else, where it’s supposed to go.
FREEwilliamsburg: What was the first concert you ever went to?
Sadier: The first concert where I had to buy a ticket and everything was Simple Minds. It was their first album, so they played a small club in Montpelier. It was super exciting‚ÄîI was thirteen. It’s probably not the best concert I’ve been to (laughs). My dad came with me.
FREEwilliamsburg: Are you going to take your son to shows?
Sadier: He’s already been to a few Lab shows, but I think he’s still too little for that. He wants to go when he sees that I’m getting all ready to go to a show. He says “Ah I want to go, I want to go!” but he has time…
FREEwilliamsburg: Robert Lanham, the guy who runs our site, wrote a book called The Hipster Hanbook (wink, teeth gleam with subtlety), and in it, he listed Mars Audiac Quintet as an essential record to own. If you had to choose out of all the Stereolab recordings, which would be your favorite, the most essential? I’m a Dots and Loops fan, myself.
Sadier: I really like Dots and Loops. I like the record we did with Charles Long, “The Amorphous Body Study Center.” I do connect with this one. And Margarine Eclipse is a nice record.