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Interview
Neko Case

Neko Case

Interviewed by
Natalie Finnigan
date
Monday 26th August, 2013 8:44AM

Neko Case has said that the process of writing her new album turned four years into ten, but gave her back twelve Ė an apt way of describing how grief, when confronted and embraced, can give you back more than it takes. Case chatted to Under the Radar about the new record, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, describing it as a record of her journey through the loss of loved ones. Although she acknowledges the subject matter doesnít sound overly inviting, she thinks a bit of self- deprecation and her fighting spirit saved the record from sounding like a pity party. Her thoughts on loss and loneliness are compelling - thereís no bullshit and no spin - just an honest reflection on a very human experience.

Hi Neko, thanks for taking the time to chat with me today.

Youíre very welcome, thanks for writing about the record, I really appreciate it.

No worries, where are you? How are you?

Iím good thank you. Iím at home (in Vermont).

Thatís right. You moved to a farm relatively recently right?

Well, I moved in 2007, but I still havenít finished unpacking boxes so it feels like it was recent.

What inspired you to move from the West to the East Coast?

Well it wasnít so much a choice between the coasts - both are good with me - it was more a decision to choose country life over city life. When I was a young person I lived in the country, and my whole family are farmers, so itís very comfortable for me to be in the country.

Did you write a lot of this record at home?

I write where ever I am and I write all the time, so some of it I wrote at home, some of it on planesÖ anywhere I was.

It sounds like this album was borne out of some pretty heavy stuff?

Yeah it was a really hard time. I lost of a lot of my family, and I hadnít stopped to grieve. It was like my subconscious took me out at the knees, and I was forced to stop, and I became really depressed actually. I just had to deal with it, and stop fighting, and let it happen. I worked through stuff, and though it wasnít any easier or any more fun as a result, I feel like Iím a different person now.

So was it a cathartic process?

Iíd love to say it was this beautiful, cathartic process, but it wasnít. It was like crawling in the mud. It was dirty and nasty and gross and it sucked. I really lost my human abilities. I could try and make out like my suffering was somehow transcendental, and pious, but I really just had to slog it out and get through it.

But you do feel better?

Yeah I do. I feel younger, because for a time I felt as human as a rubber kitchen glove, but thatís what depression does to you. Its isolating and so incredibly lonely. But, I looked it in the eye and I moved forward. I do want to say though; I donít want people to think Iím saying my experience was different to anyone elseís. I hope people will be able to relate to my experience.

So can you describe the album for me then? Is it a story or a collection of thoughts or what?

Iíd say it was just a record of where I was at for a period of time. I know it doesnít sound all that inviting, but I respect and trust my audience enough that I felt comfortable putting it out there. I also tried to make jokes about myself as much as possible to make sure there was some levity to the record. Iím an aggressive person and a fighting person and I hope that spirit comes through in the album.

Your upcoming North American tour is mostly festivals Ė given this is a very personal album, will that change how youíd perform or feel about performing, and how do you feel about festival gigs versus club gigs in general?

Itís definitely taken me longer to feel comfortable playing festivals. I started out playing in nightclubs, and outside, daylight shows are such a different dynamic. It took a long time but I enjoy and embrace it now. I had to work to play with a bit more dynamic. I still definitely imagine our band as a night-time creature that lives inside though.

You have a number of other projects on the go and play with the New Pornographers Ė what do those projects give you that your solo work doesnít?

As long as Iíve been a solo artist Iíve also been in the New Pornographers, so Iíve never really known it any other way. I think partly because the population of Canada, which is where I started out a musician, is so small, most musicians I knew were in at least two bands. Itís always been like that for me. Also, I donít write songs for the New Pornographers which I find really liberating and fun because I donít feel personally responsible for them like a parent. Iím free to explore the athleticism of the music and flit around like a hummingbird.

You had a fair few collaborators on the album Ė were they all pre-planned contributions or did it happen more organically?

I did have some of them in mind before I started, but some of it was just spontaneous because people I knew were in town - so it was half-planned and half chance. I think you want to be prepared before you go into making an album, but if I knew exactly what was going to happen when I started making a record, I donít think Iíd want to make it. It would be a total grind if nothing unexpected happened.

So, the compulsory question Ė are you planning on coming down under any time soon?

Absolutely. I always get in trouble for announcing things Iím not supposed to, but for me and the band, the Australia and New Zealand leg is a must-do. We sort of save it for last, like the desert portion, and absolutely relish it. We donít have any definite announcements yet, but weíre working on it and it shouldnít be too long until we can confirm when weíll be coming to see you.

links
nekocase.com/‎
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