Born Leslie Feist in Amherst, Nova Scotia, singer/songwriter Feist goes by her surname when it comes to making music for a living. The songstress relocated to Calgary at a young age and got her start playing in an all-girl punk band named Placebo (not to be confused with the U.K. modern rock act of the same name). After winning a battle of the bands contest, Placebo (whose members were still in high school) played their first gig opening for the Ramones in 1991, and for the next five years, Feist perfected her rock & roll ways. Touring cross-Canada in the end took its toll on Feist, who had strained her voice so harshly that she was told she’d never sing again. To regain focus and seek medical assistance from another specialist, Feist fled her hometown to settle in Toronto in 1998.
After being advised to stop singing for six months, Feist bought a guitar and spent six months holed up by herself in a basement, where she began crafting a natural pop sound and documented the proceedings with a four-track recorder. A year later, Feist was asked to join By Divine Right as the group’s touring guitarist. The new gig found her playing in front of countless stadium crowds as By Divine Right opened for the Tragically Hip across North America. Somewhere in between touring with some of Canada’s biggest acts, she also found time to record and self-release her first solo album, 1999′s Monarch (Lay Down Your Jeweled Head). After playing some smaller gigs in the Toronto area, Feist then moved in with electroclash rap vixen Peaches in 2000. Peaches christened Feist Bitch Lap-Lap and from there, Feist sang on and toured in support of Peaches’ debut album, Teaches of Peaches.
Not one to stay too long in one place, Feist joined Broken Social Scene during the recording of the group’s sophomore effort, You Forgot It in People. The album became a critical success after its release in 2002, and Broken Social Scene won a Juno Award the following year for Alternative Album of the Year. Feist had already formulated plans for a second solo album by this time. When she wasn’t touring North America and Europe with Broken Social Scene, she worked on her solo material with Renaud Letang of Manu Chao and Chilly Gonzales, often traveling back and forth between Calgary, Toronto, and Paris for the album’s recording. Let It Die was soon released on the Arts & Crafts label in May 2004, and the sprightly “Mushaboom” enjoyed airplay in Canada, France, and the U.S. By the end of the following year, the album had earned Feist her greatest acclaim to date, and she took home two Juno Awards for her work.
2006 saw the release of Open Season, a collection of remixes, collaborations, and other songs. Feist then set to work on her next full-length effort, recording and assembling the material in one week in a rented house near Paris. The Reminder hit shelves in the spring of 2007, where it debuted at number two in Canada and number sixteen on the U.S.’s Billboard charts. Buoyed by such singles as “My Moon My Man” and “1234,” the album became the year’s best-selling item on iTunes and took home an additional pair of Juno Awards. - MacKenzie Wilson & Andrew Leahey