The Wild Whimsy of Sarah Neufeld

Montreal’s Sarah Neufeld may be best known for her violin work in epic indie rock ensemble The Arcade Fire, but she’s also a member of experimental outfit Bell Orchestra,...

Montreal’s Sarah Neufeld may be best known for her violin work in epic indie rock ensemble The Arcade Fire, but she’s also a member of experimental outfit Bell Orchestra, and has played with indie poppers The Luyas.  However, after a decade in the industry, establishing herself as a brilliant amalgamator of the folk and postmodern (with electro-acoustics and alternative Americana), she’s putting out her first solo album, a work that is almost solely hers.  That album is Hero Brother and it drops August 20th on CONSTELLATION.  It would seem to be her most stripped and pure work to date.  She’s already done a large handful of live dates (including a May stop at World Café Live), but she intends to spend a lot more time on the road in 2013 and 2014 in support of Hero Brother (in addition to her commitments to The Arcade Fire, whose much-anticipated James-Murphy-produced album drops this Fall).  I recently got a chance to quickly chat with Sarah about how her own, solo sounds relate and compare to those of the various projects she’s taken part in and where she plans to take herself in the future.


Izzy Cihak: So you’re about to release your solo debut, but you’re quite well known for a number of other projects.  What can be expected of Hero Brother?

Sarah Neufeld: Hero Brother is the first of its kind for me. It’s a solo violin record, no loops or layers. A couple of moments of piano and bass harmonium from my dear friend and producer, Nils Frahm. Some ghostly vocal melodies I sung in a geodesic dome. It’s an intimate record, both fierce and meditative in mood.

IC: What were the biggest influences and inspirations behind the album?

SN: Movement, breath, and all my heroes.

IC: What have been the highlights of 2013 for you?  You’ve already done quite a bit of touring.

SN: It’s been a pretty dense year. On New Year’s Day I flew to Berlin to make a record with someone I barely knew for ten days and left with a mixed record and tears in my eyes. I performed my pieces all over Europe and North America to people who’ve never heard them before. I started spending more time with trees and mountains and the people I love. And I get to release this record on one of my favorite record labels in a few short weeks!

IC: What are your most significant hopes and plans for the remainder of 2013 and the first part of 2014?

SN: To enjoy the madness.

IC: Can we expect more “Sarah Neufeld” releases, in addition to your work with other projects?  If so, are there any sounds or ideas that you’re particularly interested in pursuing or experimenting with in the future that you maybe haven’t yet had the chance to?

SN: Yes, I’ll keep working. I have so many musical fantasies, and as I’m such a methodical person, I’ll probably start from where I am now and venture into some more of the wilderness in my head.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.