Indie Mixtape 20: Sarah Neufeld Is Equally Inspired By Both Bach And Aphex Twin

You might recognize Sarah Neufeld as one of the founding members of Arcade Fire, for which she performs violin both on tour and on the band’s studio albums. For much of the last decade, Neufeld has also been focusing on a catalogue of solo work, beginning with 2013’s Hero Brother. Detritus is here third solo album to date, which finds Neufeld channeling the dance rhythms she learned in her youth into kinetic violin-based songs that sound quite unlike anything happening in modern indie.

To celebrate Detritus, Neufeld sat down to talk Paul Simon, the Bourne movies, and newborns in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Tension/release, portal, physical, waves.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

In 30 years from now, I hope to still be making music, and I would hope that it’s music that opens a doorway for the listener; a doorway to wherever they need to go.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

There are too many incredible places to perform to really have a favorite, but Mexico City is certainly one of those bright spots.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

I think I tend to lean into many different diverse influences for inspiration instead of favoring one or another, which could be why my sound is tricky to define, and at the moment I’m having trouble deciding whether to say Bach or Aphex Twin. Bach for the complex simplicity, the pure beauty, the puzzle, and Aphex Twin for the entire universe he creates.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

That’s probably a tie between Italy and Japan.

What album do you know every word to?

Paul Simon – Graceland.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?


What is the best outfit for performing and why?

That all depends on whether in-ear monitors are part of the package, because they require something close-fitting, something belted, or well pocketed. Otherwise, dresses that move with my body are lovely to perform in

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

(leaving this one blank)

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

I’m going to change this question to – what album do you run to the most on tour? Burial – Untrue.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Honestly, I just had a baby, so my searches are all questions about newborns because I literally know nothing about them and they’re not that straightforward.

What album makes for the perfect gift?

Bach: The Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

Nowhere weirder than a couch in a frat house, or, perhaps another time in a treehouse on a mountain, but these aren’t weird places.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

I have only one tattoo and it was one of those 20yr old mistake moments. Long story short, I used to plant trees in the summers (it’s a big thing in Canada) and the tattoo involves trees, but not in an artful way.

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

Anything classic – Tom Petty for example.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

A good friend once packed up a load of my furniture and drove it across many states for me.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Trust your gut and check your impulses.

What’s the last show you went to?

I was on tour for a while right before the pandemic hit, and I honestly can’t remember?! It’s between Devendra Banhart and a Broadway play.

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

Any of the Bourne movies.

What would you cook if Obama were coming to your house for dinner?

Anything Obama wanted.

Detritus is out now. Listen to it here.

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