By Alex HudsonOver the course of his last few albums, Rae Spoon has shifted away from country-tinged folk to disco-dazzled electro pop. That transition will become complete when the pop eccentric releases his upcoming I Can't Keep All of Our Secrets, an album that Spoon will support with a newly announced Canadian tour.
For the trek, Spoon will be travelling across the Great White North, hitting up both coasts and playing such cities as Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, among many others. Along with the tour, Spoon has also shared the new track "Crash Landing," which you can stream and/or download below the tour schedule.
"This is maybe the most electronic it will ever get," Spoon tells Exclaim! from a tour stop in Berlin. It's only fitting that this interview takes place while Spoon is in the German capital, since it was while he was temporarily living in that city a few years ago that he nurtured his taste for electronic pop.
"I was exposed to electronic music as a natural, valid form of music, because it's just so much a part of the culture here," he explains. "I made friends with a longtime collaborator, Alex Decoupigny, and he kind of showed me how to use the computer as an instrument. It grew from there."
This resulted in the 2008 breakthrough album Superioryouareinferior and its even more synth-heavy 2010 follow-up Love Is a Hunter. On the forthcoming I Can't Keep All of Our Secrets, the country influence is non-existent, as Spoon forgoes acoustic instruments in favour of burbling keyboards, banging beats and icy electric guitars. Despite the material's dance floor-friendly appeal, however, the songwriter is quick to point out that he's not normally a fan of busting loose in clubs.
"I'm not super drawn to nightclub culture," he says. "I don't dance and I'm fairly sober. I don't drink. I don't go to nightclubs unless it's my job."
While his music is increasingly electronic, Spoon insists that he's not entirely lost his taste for classic singer-songwriter material.
"I know that, in an album exploring electronic music, I'm not going to be the strongest person technically, because it's not what I've been doing for the last ten years," he admits. "I thought that songwriting and singing is what I could bring to it. I haven't heard a lot of folk song-type electronic songs, so I was trying to bring the two together."
Spoon says that contributors Decoupigny and Lynne T (aka Fruity Frankie of Montreal's Lesbians on Ecstasy) deserve partial credit for the album's shimmying rhythms.
"I didn't use any physical drums, and for me, that was super scary," he confesses. I was programming away with the drums and I didn't feel l totally had a handle on how to make a thumping song, so that's where Lynne and Alex came in. They both added some drum stuff and textures and really helped push me from folk singer to more dance stuff."
In addition to aiming for the hips, I Can't Keep All of Our Secrets also zeroes in on the heart with some comparatively sombre tracks. The haunting "Are You Jealous of the Dead?" finds Spoon reflecting on mortality and grieving for a recently departed friend who inspired many of the album's death-obsessed lyrics.
Such deeply personal themes are new territory for Spoon, who admits that much of his past material "was based on regular country imagery." He describes the new album as "a lot more autobiographical," and adds that he's also working on a documentary and short story book about his life. The movie is being directed by Chelsea McMullan (who was behind the camera for Spoon's video for "There Is a Light (But It's Not for Everyone)."
"It's about growing up in Alberta in a Pentecostal conservative family and then coming out in high school, and how I got into music and tying it to now," the songwriter reveals. "It feels like a broad gap now, between that kind of childhood and where I am now."
Both of the book and film are still works in process, and details for the releases are still being ironed out. In the meantime, get a taste of Spoon's electro-leaning new music in the form of the newly revealed album track "Crash Landing," which you check out below those tour dates.
I Can't Keep All of Our Secrets will be released on January 10 via Saved by Radio.
1/19 Montreal, QC - Casa Del Popolo * 1/20 Sudbury, ON - Cinco's 1/21 Orillia, ON - TBA 1/22 Guelph, ON - House Concert 1/26 St Catharines, ON - Rise Above Restaurant 1/27 Toronto, ON - The Gladstone Hotel Ballroom 1/28 Ottawa, ON - SAW Gallery 1/29 Peterborough, ON - TBA 2/3 Fredericton, NB - Gallery Connexion 2/4 Halifax, NS - The Company House^ 2/5 Sackville, NB - Bridge Street Cafe 2/11 Victoria, BC - Solstice Cafe 2/16 Seattle, WA - TBA 2/17 Olympia, WA - TBA & 2/18 Portland, OR - the Serotoga 2/19 Vancouver, BC - TBA 2/22 Saskatoon, SK - TBA 2/23 Brandon, MB - BFMAF Studio 2/24 Winnipeg, MB - Gio's 2/25 Regina, SK - Artesian on 13th 2/29 Calgary, AB - Broken City 3/1 Camrose, AB - Scalliwags Pub and Rum Bar 3/2 Edmonton, AB - the Artery 3/3 Jasper, AB - TBA 3/4 Williams Lake, BC - Central Cariboo Arts Center † †* with Echo Beach †^ with Nolan Natasha †& with Tender Forever †# Your Heart Breaks † † Rae Spoon - Crash Landing by Exclaim!