Study Guide

1234 Introduction

1234 Introduction

In a Nutshell

Leslie Feist has been playing music all her life. Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1976, she began with an all-girl punk band called Placebo (not the British band of the same name). They won a Battle of the Bands, and ended up getting to play at the same festival as punk band the Ramones

Talk about a quick start.

But wait, you say—the Leslie Feist you're thinking of doesn't sound like she was in a punk band. Are we even talking about the same person?

Well, at one point, Feist strained her vocal chords so badly that she was forced to stop singing for six months straight. During that time, Feist the punk singer picked up a guitar and became Feist the subtle and sweet singer/songwriter that we recognize today. Her raw talent and beautiful singing voice got her invitations to join other Canadian bands like By Divine Right and Broken Social Scene, but it was her solo efforts that propelled her to the spotlight and the top of the Billboard charts.

"1234" is part of the story that got her there. Once it showed up in an iPod Nano commercial, all of a sudden the indie singer/songwriter became a huge mainstream pop sensation.

About the Song

ArtistFeist
Year2007
LabelCherrytree Records/Interscope
Writer(s)Sally Seltmann, Leslie Feist
Musician(s)Renaud Letang, Ben Mink, Jason "Gonzalez" Charles Beck, Leslie Feist Feist (acoustic guitar, vocals, banjo, drums), Gonzales (piano, vibraphone, backup vocals), Town Hall (backup vocals, percussion), Ben Mink (guitar, strings), Julian Brown (bass, melodica, percussion, backup vocals), Jesse Baird (drums, percussion, backup vocals), Bryden Baird (flugelhorn, trumpet, percussion, backup vocals)
Learn to play Guitar, Piano
AlbumThe Reminder

Music Video

Influences on Feist

The Bee Gees
Ron Sexsmith
Dick Haymes
Nina Simone
Joni Mitchell
Fairport Convention
Juliana Hatfield
Belly
Kate Bush
Edith Frost

Influenced by Feist

Hozier
James Blake
Emilie & Ogden

1234 Resources

Books

Stuart Berman, This Book is Broken: A Broken Social Scene Story (2009)
This book tells the story of Toronto cult indie-rock band Broken Social Scene, pieced together from interviews with all 18 members, and other peers and mentors. It also includes exclusive photos, gig posters, and artwork.

Albums

Feist, Metals (2011)
No one-hit wonder, Feist went on to co-produce her fourth album in Big Sur, California with Chilly Gonzales and Mocky.

Feist, The Reminder (2007)
Feist's third full-length album includes "1234" and was nominated for four Grammy Awards.

Feist, Let It Die (2004)
Like The Reminder, Feist's second full-length album was produced by Gonzales and Renaud Letang, and sets beautiful pop melodies to lush, organic musical backdrops. It features covers of songs by Ron Sexsmith and the Bee Gees.

Broken Social Scene, You Forgot It in People (2002)
Leslie Feist lends her vocals to this experimental Broken Social Scene album, which topped many best-of lists and became the band's commercial breakthrough.

Images

Singing Feist
Feist sings her heart out at Town Hall in New York City.

Feist on Sesame Street
Feist changed up the lyrics and turned "1234" into a real nursery rhyme for her appearance on Sesame Street.

Feist Celebrating
It was victory for Feist at the 2008 Juno Awards.

Websites

Feist Official Website
Feist's website, where you can see updates on what she's up to in the music world.

Sally Seltmann Official Website
The co-writer of "1234" has her own career as a singer and songwriter. She used to go under the name New Buffalo but this is her current official webpage.

Studios La Frette
The website of the studio at which "1234" was recorded features an incredible video sample of the recording process for that song right on the home page.

Secrets of the Mix Engineers - Renaud Letang
Though this article may sound like gibberish to a lot of people, it's a goldmine for anyone interested in the recording techniques and equipment used to make "1234" the huge success that it was. Producer/engineer Renaud Letang lists the equipment he used for each instrument on the song, including the vocals, and describes his vintage approach in the studio.

Leslie Feist Biography
You can find an account of Leslie Feist's recent musical activity here, on the website of a Toronto-based independent artist services company founded by Broken Social Scene co-founder Kevin Drew. Initially meant just for Broken Social Scene, the company now acts as an indie record label, management firm, merchandiser, and music publisher, in Canada and internationally.

Cherrytree Records
Website for the Interscope Records imprint Cherrytree Records. Their roster includes Sting and the Police, La Roux, Robyn, and, of course, Feist.

Video & Audio

"1234" Music Video
Here's the official music video for Feist's "1234", directed by Patrick Daughters. Pitchfork ranked it the fifth best music video of the decade.