To hear Leslie Feist tell it, songwriting and performing haven't grown dull and rote since the 2007 album The Reminder boosted her into a realm of salable but dignified pop. Last year's Metals carried her writing strengths into tracks arranged around twisting structures and eerie open space.
She says her touring band has been "coagulating into this beautiful mess of incredible minds." Those aren't the words of someone who's just enduring slavish repetition for the ol' career, and they also evoke her experience with the big, collaborative band Broken Social Scene.
Feist spoke from Toronto ahead of her June 3 show at Overture Center's Capitol Theater.
What's been the biggest change in your live shows since Metals came out?
The pièce de résistance is that I finally found three sisters-in-arms, from the band Mountain Man. It's three women who met in Vermont at university, and for the most part are an a cappella band. I sometimes say that they're heavier than the heaviest metal, because hearing three beautiful voices creates these crazy, tension-building chords, and it's just so intense.
Guessing from a song like "Cicadas and Gulls," it also seems the quieter moments, and simpler arrangements, are still important to you.
It's about balance, maybe. It's sort of like when you're eating a big meal and someone says "hey, taste this," you maybe want to have a sip of wine before you taste the new thing. You just need something to cleanse your palate.
You also took a more stripped-down approach to covering metal band Mastodon's "Black Tongue" for a recent split single with them. Why was that?
I mean, I wasn't about to try to approximate their time-signature prowess, because they're sort of scientists with the ability to create time signatures that no human being has ever heard before. The lyrics of "Black Tongue" made me pick that song. For the most part, they were dealing with the same subject matter I'm dealing with, which is representations of the epic in nature, and how that relates to how messed up we all feel all the time.