Laetitia Sadier Stalks the Unconscious

Laetita Sadier Source Ensemble will be at Lost Lake Lounge on Saturday, August 26.
Olia Eichenbaum
Laetita Sadier Source Ensemble will be at Lost Lake Lounge on Saturday, August 26.
Singer Laetitia Sadier, who co-founded the art-pop band Stereolab in 1990, likes the freaks: Young Marble Giants, Joy Division, the Residents and “those freaky freaks from overseas.” But when she was a teenager growing up in France and first discovered the surrealist French singer Brigitte Fontaine, Sadier thought, “Here’s my mother.”

“I could not find the people who I could recognize myself in directly in terms of French people,” says Sadier. “That’s really moving when you can make connections like this and recognize yourself in somebody and go, ‘Yeah, we’re cut from the same cloth. We have some of the same DNA.'”

Some of Fontaine’s DNA would eventually seep into Stereolab’s music, along with krautrock, Brazilian music and minimalism. All of that also found its way into Sadier’s solo projects, like Monade, the moniker under which she released three albums between 2003 and 2008. In recent years, Sadier has released albums under her own name, including the song “Committed,” off her most recent album, Find Me Finding You, her seventh solo effort and first under the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble moniker.

Sadier says those early Monade albums were like her little playground, where she would invite collaborators to join her efforts. After Stereolab went on hiatus in 2009, Sadier says she was persuaded by an ex-boyfriend to use her own name instead of Monade, and she released The Trip the same year, followed by 2012’s Silencio and 2014’s Something Shines.

With Find Me Finding You, her seventh solo album, she says, “I feel I’m arriving to where I want to be, finally, after this long climb. I just felt it was time to also acknowledge the group more, the collective effort, which one would argue I am orchestrating, and that’s fine, and that’s good, because we want singularity in music. I guess maybe it’s very difficult to have complete equal say.”

Her aim with Find Me Finding You was not to write demos and bring them to bandmembers (like longtime collaborators bassist Xavi Munoz and drummer Emmanuel Mario), but to have the album be more like a “big loom" or "big weave," layering instruments here and there, bringing in guest musicians like Chicago Underground’s Rob Mazurek or Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor.

“It’s been an exercise, throughout all my albums, in being free,” Sadier says, “free as possible. And to not control but guide. And to invite people, and to really be in the flow, where it’s not me. I’m just channeling something. And I felt this time I was just limpid. It was just coming. It was being channeled.... There’s a lot of Stereolab DNA in there. But it’s me. I was Stereolab. It’s me.”

While the Stereolab influence is present on Find Me Finding You (like its upbeat opener “Undying Love for Humanity,” which feels akin to Emperor Tomato Ketchup-era Stereolab with its repetitive bass, guitar, keyboard and vibraphone lines), it might be more subconscious. “I think these things go beyond also the conscious realm,” she says. “They come from a much deeper place.”

Laetitia Sadier says she doesn’t listen to records by Stereolab, the band she co-founded with guitarist Tim Gane.

“I got that from Tim, because he never played his own records,” Sadier says. “We never played our own records. And somehow it was always about the next one. And it’s terrible, because Stereolab are a good band, and they made very good records.”

As with some of Stereolab’s material, Sadier says there are a lot of political references on Find Me Finding You. It also addresses what commitment in relationships looks like, free love, ambivalence about commitment and expectations that everything in life "comes pre-made," she says. "I guess that doesn’t make anyone happy when everything is arrived all cooked on the plate and you’ve not put any of yourself into it."

She says the album looks at people's personal lives, trying to expose the unconscious, which she says we are all victims of.

“I also have a lot of blind spots," she says, about the parts of herself she fears digging into. "And I kind of stalk them and try to bring some light onto them, to seize a light. To put a sudden light onto them and to look at them.”

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, with Heather Trost and Pattern Language, 9 p.m. Saturday, August 26, Lost Lake Lounge, $12-$14.