Laetitia Sadier

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As a solo artist, collaborator, and founding member of Stereolab, Laetitia Sadier has shaped the world of alternative music with her elegant voice and perceptive songwriting. With Stereolab, she delivered questioning, politically charged lyrics in a graceful alto that made the band’s genre-defying sound on albums like 1996′s Emperor Tomato Ketchup all the more striking. While lending her inimitable voice to artists such as Blur and the High Llamas, Sadier created an outlet for her own songs with Monade, offering a more personal perspective on her music with 2003′s Socialism ou Barbarie: The Bedroom Recordings and other releases. The albums she made under her own name heightened this intimacy; 2010′s The Trip touched on death, while 2017′s Find Me Finding You explored her love of humanity. Sadier’s sophisticated idealism was especially relevant in the turbulent 2020s, and 2024′s Rooting for Love offered urgent pleas for self-knowledge. Sadier was born in France and spent most of her childhood there, aside from a short stint in upstate New York during which she bought her first record (a Billy Joel album). Later, she became a fan of literate British indie bands such as the Smiths and McCarthy. While working as a nanny in the late ’80s, Sadier met McCarthy member Tim Gane at one of the band’s gigs in Paris. She followed Gane to London and the duo formed Stereolab soon after McCarthy disbanded in 1990. The pair was inspired by lounge-pop, bossa nova, film music, and Krautrock, but Sadier’s hypnotic vocals and leftist lyrics made the band’s sound even more distinctive. Stereolab earned critical acclaim for albums such as 1993′s Transient Random Noise Bursts with Announcements, 1995′s Mars Audiac Quintet, and 1996′s Emperor Tomato Ketchup. Sadier was an in-demand guest vocalist, and she appeared on songs by Blur, Luna, and Mouse on Mars. Around this time, she began working on her own project, Monade, recording with Pram’s Rosie Cuckston; a pair of singles, “The Sunrise Telling” and “Witch Hazel/Ode to a Keyring,” appeared in 1997. In 1999, she returned to Stereolab for the group’s Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night and 2001′s Sound-Dust. Following Sadier’s collaborations with Fugu Fugu and Common, Monade released its first album, Socialisme ou Barbarie: The Bedroom Recordings, in 2003. Stereolab persevered in the wake of member Mary Hansen’s 2002 death, releasing Margerine Eclipse in 2004; the next year, Sadier was busy with the full-band Monade album A Few Steps More and Fab Four Suture, a compilation of limited-edition Stereolab EPs. Likewise, 2008 saw the release of the third Monade album, Monstre Cosmic, and Stereolab’s most accessible album in some time, Chemical Chords. In 2009, Stereolab went on hiatus and Sadier retired the Monade project. She began work on her first solo album, bringing in the Spinanes’ Rebecca Gates, April March, Richard Swift, and former Monade players Julien Gasc and Emmanuel Mario. Arriving in September 2010, The Trip was dedicated to Sadier’s late sister and featured covers of songs by Wendy and Bonnie, Les Rita Mitsouko, and George Gershwin along with original material. For her next album, July 2012′s introspective, politically charged Silencio, Sadier worked with some of the players from The Trip and frequent Stereolab collaborator John McEntire. The following year, she appeared on Tyler, the Creator’s album Wolf, then sang on Alexandre, the 2014 album by the Brazilian band Mombojó. That September, she released Something Shines, a lavish, orchestral album that featured Giorgio Tuma and filmmaker/multi-instrumentalist David Thayer among its contributors. Sadier also teamed up with Thayer and Tortoise’s John Herndon as Little Tornados for that year’s debut album We Are Divine. After working with Giorgio Tuma on a 2015 single, Sadier collaborated with Adrian Younge, Marker Starling, and Deerhoof. Her new group, the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, featured Thayer as well as longtime collaborators Emmanuel Mario and Xavi Munoz, keyboardist Phil M.F.U., and guitarist Mason Le Long and debuted in March 2017 with Find Me Finding You. The album’s idealistic songs included contributions from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and cornetist Rob Mazurek. That June saw the release of Summer Long, the debut EP from Sadier and Mombojó’s collaboration Modern Cosmology. Little Tornados returned with March 2018′s Apocalypse!; in 2019, Sadier appeared on Mercury Rev’s Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited. Stereolab then reunited for a series of live dates that coincided with deluxe reissues of many of their albums. During this time and the COVID-19 global pandemic, Sadier remained busy, with projects ranging from a cameo on Jarvis Cocker’s Chansons d'Ennui Tip-Top in 2021 to Modern Cosmology’s full-length debut What Will You Grow Now? in 2023. On February 2024′s Rooting for Love, Sadier complemented songs about healing and self-awareness with choral vocals and string arrangements. ~ Heather Phares