Laetitia Sadier Unpacks Her ‘Silencio’ Influences

Photo: David Thayer

Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings

Laetitia Sadier, co-founder of Stereolab and, more recently, solo artist, is carrying around the weight of many global problems: vast economic discrepancies, dwindling world resources, and corrupt political systems in Europe and abroad, to name a few. “If we want to grow toward something more just and equal, things have to change, we have to change,” she told Hive. Sadier has found a way to stay optimistic, though, even while outlining these pressing issues on her sophomore album and call to action Silencio. “We need to not think that it’s impossible and humanity is just rotten; it can be rotten, it can be beautiful. It’s about which side of humanity you want to accentuate [and] I want to accentuate the beautiful side and the one that decides, is free, can stand on its feet and be relatively confident, and isn’t just a bundle of conditioned reflexes,” she says. “That’s what I want to put across on my record: It’s our responsibility as a species to be more aware and positive and think towards how things can work out better for everyone.” Hive spoke with Sadier about the works of art that have most shaped her own political beliefs and the ones she puts forward on Silencio.

1. Rules of the Game

What moved me about the film is how much love there is. I think love is a very powerful transformative element. I hope there is love in my record because people respond to that — I know I respond to that. It’s a very strong tool. The film really hit me– the gravity of the situation and the lightness with which things are being treated. The tension– what it represents and how it represents it– made my bones shiver. I cried for the next two days because I felt it was really mirroring my own condition — not as a peasant but as a bourgeois. It mirrored this really strongly back at me and how little I do to challenge the status quo. Once you’re caught up in a bourgeois condition, it’s really hard to fight it off, [even though] it might mean [the] death of creativity. That really shook me. I’m always been some kind of activist in my own way– I’ve always wanted to challenge the system and the lies that we’re being told.

2. John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero”

He really puts a mirror in front of his class because he was a working class lad and was made to know his place. It’s interesting how, particularly in the UK, some of the ways out of [the] working class are pop music or football. It’s hard to be a banker if you come from a lower class. The song really illustrates — and he lives out — that myth. It’s really powerful.

3. Là-bas si j’y suis on France Inter

It’s a really good program because it seeks to explain how the system works. There’s a lot of scandals. When you find out, for example, that your health minister’s family is at the head of a pharmaceutical company it brings to light a lot of decisions that are being made. It’s a national station and quite widely listened to. It has the reputation of being left wing. It’s not voyeuristic– it’s more informative and interesting. It will have football programs but generally it’s more interested in culture. It’s a great station.

4. McCarthy’s “Red Sleeping Beauty”

The band that [Stereolab's] Tim [Gane] was in. This is what really turned me on to politics in songs and then I realized that there was a whole scene after punk, like Gang of Four and the Wire. All of these bands were political and rebellious. “Red Sleeping Beauty” was about communism. It’s a bit mysterious at first because they use a lot of irony in their lyrics so it wouldn’t be a predigestive message. You have to work it out. The song was on an album called I Am a Wallet. I like that title.

5. Living Marxism Magazine

At the time there was the war in Serbia and a huge fabrication to keep people in their place and keep the systems of Germany and France and their economic hands in those markets. It was well-investigated and [although] it came from a Marxist background, was always just. It went against the grain and the widely agreed-on political points. They would predict where things would head. What was also good about it was that when things were explained, the root of things were explained. It gives you hope. We don’t have to just sit there and go, “Oh it’s horrible.” It is horrible but defeatable.

Silencio is out now on Drag City. Stream the single “Find Me the Pulse of the Universe” below:

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