Laetitia Sadier's ethereal music masks a sharp sociopolitical edge

Beatific brains and brawn

Laetitia Sadier's ethereal music masks a sharp sociopolitical edge and untiring creative drive
Photo by Olia Eichenbaum
LAETITIA SADIER SOURCE ENSEMBLE with Art Feynman, Acoqui, 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave.,, $12

Although she first became famous as keyboardist and singer-songwriter for Stereolab, Laetitia Sadier's solo career has flourished since the groundbreaking electro-pop outfit disbanded in 2009. Mixing everything from exotic samba to yé-yé and krautrock to lounge music, the sounds Sadier has made alone and with her Source Ensemble – drummer Emmanuel Mario, bassist Xavi Munoz, multi-instrumentalist David Thayer, keyboardist Phil F Mu – sighs and shines. Sadier's famously airy vocal arrangements only subtly shield sharp sociopolitical arguments, while the global sonic palette highlights her multicultural upbringing (born in France, she spent time as a child in the U.S. and has lived in the U.K. since the '90s).

But on the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble's most recent album, Find Me Finding You, the 49-year-old lifelong musician digs deep into heady subjects: geopolitical upheavals, creeping tyranny, religious indoctrination. "Something is happening to the world that becomes more and more manifestly absurd," Sadier tells Orlando Weekly via Skype. "In my music, I try to combat that – to resist that. And I want to rally people around to resisting with me. More and more people are like, 'Enough of this cultural bullshit – we want the real things, the things that resonate. ... We want education for our children that teaches them how to think instead of just how to be good little soldiers.'"

Not surprisingly, on the eve of leaving on a five-week U.S. tour, Sadier has harsh words for our current political atmosphere. "It's a mixed bag of emotions," she says. "Hope and apprehension, excitement and joy. Your president is operating with complete impunity ... but if everyone acts like this, it's the death of everything everywhere. That's pretty dark and nihilistic, but [the way things are going] there is no meaning anymore. And that's really catastrophic for human beings. We need meaning. So we'll have to reinvent it."

Sadier says that music has served as her vehicle for such radical reinventions ever since she was a young girl. She balances childhood recollections of a hostile upbringing in the Catholic church with the magic she discovered in artists like Blondie, which pushed her to find communion with other musicians and creative types, first at home in France and then in London with Stereolab partner Tim Gane and their revolving cast of bandmates. "The idea of communing with people and sharing a moment of connection and energy together, to me that is blissful," she explains. "Music has had a very deep and mysterious meaning to me ever since I was a little child. In adolescence, it became vital for me – if I didn't have music in my life, I probably wouldn't be around."

Although Sadier certainly enjoys a comfortable existence thanks to Stereolab's massive international success in the 1990s and 2000s, Sadier comes across as the consummate creative striver. She reveals that the setlist for this tour will mostly consist of songs from 2017's Find Me Finding You and 2014's Something Shines. Describing her time touring solo across Europe this year, she says she savored the chance to reinvent these songs, moving away from traditional instrumentation toward keyboard riffs fed through a looping station and the percussive sounds of a bowed double bass. "Music is such a vast domain, and I don't think my path is exceptional," she confesses. "But we live in a world that walks on its head, so if you do something natural and intuitive, it stands out in comparison to the shallow formatting of most music."

Which means fans flocking to Sadier's show at Will's Pub this week (her only stop in Florida) are in for a trip. "At some point, I did choose to put my life in service to music, and music is still shaping my life entirely," she says. "Playing live in the moment is a kind of religious experience I so want to share with others."

Scroll to read more Music Stories + Interviews articles
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Orlando Weekly Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.