The singer/songwriter, who performs under her surname, was spending her “day off” doing interviews and had already used up most of her prepaid cell phone minutes.
Feist has been on the road since February, and spent the better part of last year touring Europe behind Let It Die, which has received four-star reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone.
The 29-year-old performer is no stranger to a busy schedule, though: She’s been touring heavily since her teens, playing in “dozens” of bands including Broken Social Scene, By Divine Right, and Kings of Convenience. She even rapped her way across Europe as Bitch Lap-Lap with former roommate Peaches.
So has touring been her only profession?
“Uh, you know, I guess so! Shit!” Feist laughed. “It’s true.”
“I guess I got a little hardened by touring in the rock bands so … I feel up to it, you know? The pace is more than I’ve ever done in my life but I guess I’ve worked my way up to being able to manage it,” she said.
“And, actually, it keeps switching up because the solo touring, half the time it’s solo and half the time it’s with the band. You keep switching tracks and it feels like you’re renewing, even musically … that’s a great way to last a long time.”
Feist is a founding member of Broken Social Scene, the Toronto-based collective that made a splash on the indie circuit with 2003’s You Forgot It In People. It was with that group during a 2003 South by Southwest showcase that the charismatic performer first caught the eye of High Road Touring head Frank Riley.
Riley, who was busy booking Feist’s first headlining U.S. tour for September, told Pollstar her solo show is “mindblowing.”
But how has she even found time for her own work, what with all these collaborations?
“On paper it looks like a lot,” Feist explained, “but the fact is, it doesn’t really take up that much time in the grand scheme of things. It looks like a lot, but there’s 365 days in a year.”
The Nova Scotia native recorded her first solo album, Monarch, in 1998 and released it a year later, “super independently, just selling them from the stage.” A nine-month tour as guitarist for Canadian rockers By Divine Right immediately followed, so the album was pushed to the back burner. Nowadays, it’s reached collector’s item status.
“Apparently, they’ve been for sale on eBay and stuff for crazy amounts of money. It makes me think that those boxes I have sitting in my dad’s basement, maybe I should just put them up for sale on my Web site or something,” she said, laughing.
“But, you know, I’m going to give Let It Die its own space and elbow room to move and not confuse the issue with a different record.
“I always imagine there’s the windshield and there’s the rearview mirror … and the windshield is a lot bigger than the rearview mirror. I’m heading forward.”
And heading forward, she clarified, means “actually touring” behind her album.
One of the peculiar things about Feist, however, is the large and fervent fan base she developed in the U.S. before she had done a single solo tour. In fact, her album wasn’t even released Stateside until April 2005 but, unbeknownst to the singer, the blogosphere had been drumming up word-of-mouth publicity at a fever pitch.
“I toured for basically a year in Europe because the record came out a year ago there. Then I flew across an ocean and an entire continent … and got on stage and played with the Kings of Convenience (at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall).
“That was the first show in North America for this project, and I was completely stunned. I think I actually even stopped in the middle of one of the songs
because people were singing it, and I was just like, gasp!
“I really had sort of keyed myself up for starting from scratch again.”
The stories of fan devotion come as no surprise to Charlie Myatt of Brighton, England- based 13 Artists, who began booking Feist without even seeing her perform live. One listen to her album was all it took, he told Pollstar.
After a frenzied year and a half in Europe, Myatt will let Feist work her magic on the American scene before sending her to Japan and Australia this fall.
Riley said tours with Broken Social Scene and Bright Eyes are possibilities for later in the year.
“I think the live show is quite different than the record,” Myatt said. “The record’s quite, sort of, slick
for want of a better word
and the live show’s quite rootsy. People are really responding well (to both).
“I saw her support The Divine Comedy at the Royal Albert Hall, and that was solo to about three and a half thousand people. And she absolutely brought the house down
had them all making odd animal noises and singing along,” Myatt said. “She’s a genius.”