Arcade Fire violinist Sarah Neufeld has shared a second preview of her forthcoming solo album ‘Detritus’ – watch the video for ‘With Love And Blindness’ exclusively on NME below, alongside a chat with Neufeld about the upcoming record.
Her third solo album and first since 2016’s ‘The Ridge’, ‘Detritus’ was inspired by intense personal reckoning. Neufeld told NME how the album documents an “intense, heart-wrenching, insane two years” in her life.
“I don’t want to call it a midlife crisis but it was definitely one of those moments where everything kind of came crashing down and I learned a lot about myself in life,” Neufeld told NME. “When you come through something in life, you have to look back on things to realise what you’ve learned, because when you’re in it you’re just in it.”
Discussing new single ‘With Love And Blindness’, which was first imagined as part of the 2019 collaboration with legendary dancer and choreographer Peggy Baker, Neufeld said: “The song came together through observing and witnessing movement. Peggy Baker choreographs in silence, so I just had a canvas that I could interact with.”
She continued: “It comes out of a really intense, painful kind of dissonance, and then these four women come together and they’re moving in harmony. It doesn’t feel simple or placid, but finally this moment of respite and a harmonic communication.
“When I reworked it to be on the album, it became way more euphoric, and I wanted that sense of lightness and euphoria.”
Neufeld explained how ‘Detritus’ documents a whirlwind period in her life, using cinematic string compositions and a restless energy to put the uncertainty she was feeling into music.
“Sometimes when I write solo music, it’s an exercise in extreme concentration, and there’s so much virtuosity involved in learning how to play it,” she said. “There’s a bit of that on this album, but most of it is just song-like and a bit more ambient. It was less of an uphill struggle, it just rolled out.”
The origins of the album can be traced back to 2015, when Neufeld appeared in a collaboration with Peggy Baker, who had written a piece soundtracked by work from Neufeld’s album ‘The Ridge’. A full-length collaboration then followed in 2019, and the experience, Neufeld told NME, was so strong that it influenced almost every corner of the new album.
“The things that we were working with [for the collaboration] were also happening in my own life at the time,” she said. “It was just the most intense, heart-wrenching, insane two years.”
Though Neufeld said the album’s title has often been taken to translate roughly to mean ‘rubbish’, or things we don’t need anymore, she sees it instead as representing the precious remains that are left following a period of upheaval.
“‘Detritus’ for me has always meant the remains,” she said. “Like after a house burns down in a fire, and you go and look through the charred remains.” Applying the metaphor to her own life and the tumultuous period she was going through, Neufeld said that the album examines what is left when you “strip everything bare” and examines the resultant questions: “What is left of your personhood, and what you think life is?”
“I think it’s interesting that the album is coming out in this time, after this year that people have been going through unimaginable things, collectively and individually,” Neufeld reflected, with the album having been wrapped up just weeks before the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020.
“The album comes out of an energy that’s kind of similar to that,” she added, “but, of course not, you know, a global pandemic… This music has given me a release, and is landing in a time when people can maybe connect with that and use it to go into a little bit more of a healing space.”
Sarah Neufeld releases ‘Detritus’ on May 14 via One Little Independent. Check out the tracklist below:
‘With Love And Blindness’
‘Tumble Down The Undecided’
‘Shed Your Dear Heart’