The Canadian violinist Sarah Neufeld is probably best known for being a member of the indie rock band Arcade Fire. But she has also produced two solo albums, and owns several yoga studios in New York. Last week we spoke with her at A L'arme Festival about self-discipline and creativity, yoga and meditation, and of course experimental music.
How do you feel about performing at Berghain?
I feel really great about playing there. Oddly I have only been to a classical event there once. I thought it was funny that this concert was my introduction to Berghain. And then this tonight is only the second time I’ve been there. Next time I have to go dancing.
How is it different to play in a club environment than let’s say concert halls and festivals at which you’ve been playing with Arcade Fire?
I have been playing all over, in churches, art spaces, night clubs, and classical halls. For instance, Belle Orchestre is a band I’ve been in just as long as Arcade Fire, we’ve been bridging between indie rock, chamber music and experimental music and so I’ve always played different shows in very different genres.
What can we expect tonight?
Tonight is a bit of a departure from what I’ve been doing. In the tradition of A L'arme festival, a solo female performer opens up every year. And so when I heard that that is why they wanted me to play solo, I got excited and it’s always a challenge to remove yourself from something. To get called to do this is really nice, because I get to dive into my older stuff a little bit as well as modifying and remixing my new stuff in a bit of a different way, so it’s performable alone. It feels like a really nice departure into the future.
Where did you get your inspiration from for your last solo album?
I have been a collaborator my whole life, so this once again was my second effort in making a solo record, so I went into that place of solitude myself. I am inspired by a whole bunch of things. I think inspiration is one of those finite things, it is hard to put a finger on, and you almost don’t want to break it down too much, because it needs to be sort of this untouchable feeling, in order to draw from it, in a non-specific way, to create work that is very outside of a specific, identifiable plan. I like to move around in the dark.
How do you manage to make the time to be creative when you tour so much?
With everything it’s a practice to be able to find your focus. You could say this is too hard, there is never enough time, but it would always go on like that I think. I just had to practice my concentration skills, so it is like when you are giving your time and energy to something you are 100% there, and then quite quickly you’ve to turn your head into another thing. So I’m just learning how to do it.
I think it requires a lot of self-discipline as well.
Self-discipline is a practice also, the point of doing all this, is not to already be good at it, it is all putting one food in front of the other. So if you think “I’m having a hard time finding the concentration in this short periods of time,” you want to defer to a longer time where you can really concentrate, but for me I find that if I put things off in order to find a more perfect set of variable to work with, I will probably never get there. When is the perfect time to do anything?
You also practice yoga and meditation. Does that help you to be able to focus to make use of short time periods where you have the time to be creative?
The practice of yoga and meditation definitely builds a healthier relationship to being in your body. Other things can do that as well, it doesn’t have to be yoga, meditating is a really powerful tool for in general, sort of wellbeing and focus. And I think, learning how to live in the moment, and to not hold on to the past, or to the fear of the future.
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Sarah Neufeld’s latest album, "The Ridge", was released earlier this year. She will be playing in Berlin on the 20th of November at Privat Club.