“Often, for me,” Dan Snaith tells Apple Music, “the worst enemy of making music is thinking too much about it. I just do it, and what it is and why it is comes into focus later.” Doing, and making people dance, were the drivers for the Toronto producer’s first Daphni album since 2017’s Joli Mai. Cherry is a dazzlingly diverse set—there are bold expressions of house, techno, and disco here—with Snaith (who also releases music as Caribou and Manitoba) admitting it reflects the roller coaster of the early 2020s. “There are tracks on here that were made in the depths of the pandemic, when I was yearning for clubs to return and experiencing music collectively,” he says. “And there were tracks made as things started to reopen. I wanted something to play at my first DJ gigs and wondered what would connect people after so long away.” One of the record’s most striking characteristics is its directness. Tracks are relatively short—and cut deliciously to the chase. “They’re mostly without intros or outros,” Snaith says. “The music just careens between ideas and moods—as if under the control of a particularly mercurial DJ. I like that style of DJing anyway. Alternating between hypnosis—the same loop for a long time—and surprise. This album captures that, I hope.” Read on for Snaith’s track-by-track guide. “Arrow” “The loop that makes up this album is so simple but somehow alluring. It doesn’t need to do much of anything—it just needs you to keep staring at it. One of my favorite things about dance music is that, with the aid of repetition, small variations can seem momentous. I also like the idea that the album starts with no messing around—straight in at full speed—and then stands pretty much still throughout this track.” “Cherry” “This is one of the last tracks I made and, somehow, filled in a puzzle piece that I didn’t know was missing. As soon as I’d finished it, I knew that it was going to be a central track on the album. That twisting, turning synth line that’s both disorienting and compelling is like a musical ouroboros—the snake eating its own tail.” “Always There” “This is one of my favorite tracks to play out in my DJ sets, probably because it works when it shouldn’t. The textures in this track—the fast guitar lines, snaking reed instrument, and shakers—stand out immediately in a club, where people are used to dancing to drum machines and synthesizers. The arrangement makes you wait for things to drop a couple times, and often, when I play it in a club, I tease it out for much longer, so that the riff has been weaving in and out for a long time before it drops.” “Crimson” “I’m not much of a ‘gear’ person, but every so often, I come across a piece of equipment that sounds so fantastic and has so much character that it feels like it writes the music for you. The synthesizer playing the main blippy pattern here is an ARP 2600, and you can almost hear me moving the sliders on it as I try to lure the track to a climax.” “Arp Blocks” “The title here refers to the ARP 2600 that is the only instrument in this track. I don’t think I’ve ever released any music that is one live take of one instrument playing solo before. The ‘Blocks’ of the title refers to a piece of software that allowed me to control the 50-plus-year-old ARP synthesizer in a completely new way and get sounds out of it that would not have been previously possible, allowing the synth pattern to twist and turn and jump up and down to different harmonic registers.” “Falling” “People who know my music probably know that I have a hard time resisting a repeated hook—a mantra that takes on more meaning the more it’s repeated. This one could have stayed longer and been built out into a larger track, but to keep the pace fast, it sticks around for only a little over a minute before we’re on to something else.” “Mania” “A lot of the tracks on this album have a loose, playful feeling, and that really reflects how it was making them. Even though it’s just me in the studio, it’s still possible to capture that sense of jamming—putting one loop or sound together and then rushing to another piece of equipment and playing the first thing that comes to mind on it. This track came together pretty much in the order that you hear the elements being introduced into the track. There’s a point, halfway through, where the harmony changes and the track feels like it’s floating—that’s always a really nice moment when I play this out in a club.” “Take Two” “So much of my favorite dance music is about the search for a perfect loop—often a loop that harkens back to house music’s antecedent: disco. This track weaves a few different loops together. In fact, it started out as two different tracks that I realized, at some point, were in the same key, the same world—but hopefully sound like they could almost be the parts from a forgotten disco record. Music that almost sounds like a live band, but not quite.” “Mona” “I love techno that’s based around one repeated stab sound. The best of those tracks tend to last a long time and do very little other than roll along, using repetition as their central premise. This track sets up that way but is an example of how I decided to shift the focus of some of these tracks away from making arrangements that would be most effective in a club and stick to what’s most exciting on the album, where the shorter tracks mean that different sounds and vibes are flying by rapidly. Digital DJing means that it’s not hard to rearrange and extend the tracks you’re playing on the fly—when I play this track in a DJ set, it usually ends up being about twice the length it is here.” “Clavicle” “This track almost didn’t end up on the album. I’d put a version of it on my Essential Mix in 2020 and then mostly forgot about it. But just as I was assembling this album, a couple people asked me about it and if I was ever going to release it. I had finished all the other tracks on the album and was about to send the album off to have it mastered and just added this track in at the last minute. I’m glad I did!“ “Cloudy” “I grew up playing the piano as my main instrument. There was a time when I thought that I was going to try and make a living as a jazz pianist. I must have spent thousands and thousands of hours playing the piano when I was a kid—so much time that that familiarity will always be with me. The piano you hear on this track isn’t a real one—it’s a software emulation played on a controller keyboard—which is why I can warp it and give it the character that you hear, but feeling so at home with the sound of a piano is why I’ll always return to look for ideas there. There have been a bunch of people online asking what the piano sample is for this track, but it’s not a sample—it’s a loop that I played while noodling around in the studio.” “Karplus” “The word ‘Karplus’ refers to a delay effect named after Kevin Karplus and Alex Strong, where a short, pitched delay on a sound creates a note similar to the sound of a plucked string. I’m not sure whether what I’m doing with this track is really the Karplus-Strong effect though—it’s mostly just a drum loop through a phaser!” “Amber” “I love the big, chunky, awkward swing of this track. It’s a loop that always feels like it’s just about to topple over and collapse. When I first started going to clubs when I lived in Toronto, DJs from New York would come through town all the time, and when people like Masters at Work would play, people who could really dance would show up—not just people shuffling their feet and pumping their fists in the air like I, and most of us, do when we’re at a club. In my mind, this is the kind of loop that I can imagine getting the kind of reaction that I remember seeing from the dancers at those nights.” “Fly Away” “I’m always looking for those tracks that are like a breath of fresh air in a club—that, after hours of playing music with relentless, heavy kick drums, are melodic and euphoric. I made this track with that kind of feeling in mind, and it always has that kind of effect on the room when I’ve played it. People stop dancing and look around; they start whistling and shouting. It’s a great one to play at the end of the night, so why not at the end of an album?”

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