Three years have passed since the release of her debut solo album ‘Hero Brother’. This spring, violinist and composer Sarah Neufeld released her second full length album ‘The Ridge’ via Paper Bag Records and Kartel Music Group. Best known as member of Grammy awarded indie band Arcade Fire, the Montréal based musician also is a founding member of the contemporary instrumental ensemble Bell Orchestre, and most recently as half of an exiting new duo with renowned saxophonist and duo-partner Colin Stetson. ‘The Ridge’ is a piece of work in which the musician is moving away from ‘Hero Brother’s’ classical minimalism into the world of rhythmic pop minimalism and epic rock atmosphere. While Neufeld has put more emphasis on vocalization, she also got support from duo-partner Colin Stetson, who is her husband, as well as electro musician Tim Hecker and Arcade Fire’s Jeremy Gara on drums. We talked with Sarah about her musical career, her projects and her second solo album at one of her last album release shows at the Michelberger Hotel in Berlin.


Sarah, when did you start with ‘The Ridge’?

I think I started when we were touring with ‘The Reflektor’ album. So I was working here and there on my own in hotel rooms. But I didn’t totally dive into it until we were done with the tour. The pieces were arriving for a year probably, but I made the record quite quickly, same with ‘Hero Brother’.


Sarah Neufeld, Arcade Fire, The Ridge, Platea Magazine

Sarah Neufeld © Gesi Schilling


For ‘The Ridge’ you teamed up with other artists. How did that collaborative process look like?

I wanted Jeremy to be artistically free with creating his drum parts. He did. I recorded all the pieces completely and then he came in and we worked on the album together. ‘The Ridge’, the title track, was almost done when I sent him the mix. It was really challenging for me to finish this track. He then sent it back with this epic rock. It was the song. That was so cool! Then I did the vocals.


For a solo artist, is it a blessing or a curse being part of one of the biggest indie bands?

No, that would be very insolent. I see it in a positive light that if you can open a door for somebody that might not have known that the door was even there, then it’s a beautiful opportunity to get more people through that door. I think it definitely helps. Arcade Fire reached so many people! It’s a nice side effect.


So for you it’s a chance.

Yeah, I don’t know whether if I was in another band or not, whether if I’d have the same amount of opportunities or not. I’ve been in the band for such a long time. Maybe I would have been in another band. I don’t know. I always wanted to be in bands. That’s just what I did.


Sarah Neufeld, Arcade Fire, The Ridge, Platea Magazine

Sarah Neufeld © Gesi Schilling


What’s the difference in an artistic way to work as a solo artist?

I spent most of my musical career in collaborative projects, some more collaborative than others. You’re bringing your own ideas to the table, then you meet someone else’s ideas, and then they change into something else. You let go a lot of your own self. I think that’s liberating. But then it’s really liberating when you’re not meeting someone else and when you’re not compromising and you’re not necessarily arriving at something totally outside of yourself. Because it challenges you to follow your own idea through the very end, and to arrive at something that you find satisfaction.


What did you take from that experience?

As a composer, it pushed me harder working alone. Also I feel like having even more to give for collaboration. I probably felt more frustrated in collaborations before because I wasn’t doing solo projects. Since I’ve done that I can really appreciate collaborative moments for what they are. I don’t feel like ‘I don’t want to be hurt as an individual’ anymore. It’s not about being an individual; it’s about letting go and creating something else. It’s like a combination of your own energy with all these other people. I am very grateful for both experiences.


The tour is over. What’s up next?

There is a lot of different stuff going on. I am playing a couple of festivals in Europe and the States with Colin Stetson who is my husband. We do a lot of projects together and released ‘Never Were the Way She Was’ in 2015. In July, I am coming back to Berlin to play at A L’Arme Festival at the Berghain. They always have a female artist opening the festival. That’s really exiting and I mean the Berghain is probably one of the coolest places anyways. As well, Arcade Fire is working on a new record. So yeah, it’s this summer that has all of this projects.

Sarah Neufeld, Arcade Fire, The Ridge, Platea Magazine

Sarah Neufeld © Gesi Schilling


Check out Sarah Neufeld’s 2nd solo album on Soundcloud. Wondering where she’s heading next?

Sarah Neufeld will play, together with duo-partner Colin Stetson, at Days Off festival in Paris (June 30th-July 10th), at North Sea Jazz in Rotterdam (July 8th-July 10th), at Roskilde festival in Denmark (June 29th-July 2nd). She will give a solo show at the A L’Arme! Festival in Berlin (July 27th). More shows and touring dates will be released HERE.