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Where music stars discuss how they make their music.
September 17, 2021
I'm not hyperpop with Mallrat, Ninajirachi, Daine and Donatachi
Young Australians Mallrat, Ninajirachi, Daine and Donatachi look into the epicentre of the media term ‘hyperpop’. It’s bubble-gum sweet, with chaotic synth sounds mixed with pop and autotuned vocals, and the volume turned up to 11. Together, they discuss feeling old in the hyperpop genre (they’re all in their teens, or early 20s), not having any musical training, why face-to-face sessions are tough, how Daine’s autism feeds into her music, and how they feel when their music gets put in a playlist called Chill BBQ Music. Ninajirachi is a songwriter, producer and DJ who’s been tagged as “one of Australia’s first notable hyperpop artists”. She got into music production after hearing the ‘hyperkinetic’ pop producer Sophie. Earlier this year, she released the True North EP with musical prodigy Kota Banks. Donatachi is a musician from Brisbane, described as one of “Australia’s best-known Hyperpop producers”. Their 2019 underground hit Crush on U, in collaboration with Slayyyter, is credited as being the song that set the hyperpop scene in motion. Daine is a Filipino-Australian producer from Melbourne, whose latest track, boy wanna txt, is produced by former Music Life guests 100 Gecs. And hosting the show is Mallrat, from Brisbane. She makes dreamy electronic pop and was recently named as one of the “100 Women Revolutionising Pop”. Mark Ronson is also a fan.
September 10, 2021
Limitless technology with Tom Furse, Caroline Shaw, Holly Herndon, Arushi Jain and Mat Dryhurst
Tom Furse, Caroline Shaw, Holly Herndon, Arushi Jain and Mat Dryhurst discuss why using computers makes their music feel more human, using the sound of plant pots, and how new technology will be viewed as old fashioned and retro in a few years. Tom Furse is the keyboard player with British rock band the Horrors, and is also a producer, remix artist, and “maker of music”. He’s talking to Arushi Jain, a composer, pianist, synthesist, and singer from New York who grew up in Delhi. She blends her computer science and engineering studies with her musician influences, including Indian classical. Holly Herndon is an American experimental composer based in Berlin, and her husband, Mat Dryhurst, is a philosopher and digital artist. And Caroline Shaw is a Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and violinist based in New York. She’s written film scores and worked with rappers Kanye West and Nas, and her latest album brings together influences as wide ranging as Abba and author James Joyce.
September 3, 2021
Singing is cool again with Sinead Harnett, Grades, Jae Stephens and Monro
Sinead Harnett, Grades, Jae Stephens and Monro discuss why naming songs is the easy part, balancing life and music, the importance of breaking away from music in order to live and gain experiences to write about, and the influence of R&B on their sound. Born in the UK before moving to Los Angeles, Sinead Harnett's latest record, Ready Is Always Too Late, is about “[embodying] the best version of yourself”. She’s worked with musical heavyweights such as Disclosure, Rudimental, EARTHGANG and Lucky Daye, as well as former Music Life guests Masego and MNEK. Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and DJ Grades has worked with and remixed artists including Labrinth, Bastille, Becky Hill, Nile Rodgers, Dua Lipa, and Nao. Jae Stephens is an artist, songwriter, producer, and singer originally from Dallas, now based in Los Angeles. She started singing at the age of 12, recently performed with Khalid, and is very much an artist to keep your ears on. And Monro is a Grammy nominated producer, songwriter, and artist. He’s written and produced for the likes of Jhene Aiko, Rico Nasty, and our host today, Sinead Harnett.
August 27, 2021
Notting Hill Carnival with General Levy, Lady Banton, Mikey Dread and Alicai Harley
As the world famous Notting Hill Carnival isn’t taking place this year, we thought we’d have a party of our own, Caribbean style. Ragga artist and MC General Levy leads the charge. His parents were Trinidadian, and from an early age he started to write lyrics and form sound systems. If you don’t recognise the name, then you’ll definitely know the voice; Incredible, his ’94 track with M-Beat, changed the changed the sound of jungle and drum & bass forever. Joining him is carnival royalty, the selector Lady Banton. She set up the first all-female soundsystem in the UK, the Mellotone Sound System, in 1989, and became a Carnival favourite soon after. Mikey Dread is a founding member and chief selector of one of the UK’s best known and most loved sound systems, the Channel One Soundsystem, who have played at the Carnival every year since 1983. Named after the famous studio in Kingston, Jamaica, they bring the reggae, the dubplates, and the “hot steppas”. And finally, breathing new life into the festival is Alicai Harley. Born in Jamaica, she caused a stir releasing a string of singles and EPs, before working with the likes of Stefflon Don, Kamille, Stonebwoy, Aluna, and Kojo Funds. She released her debut album The Red Room Intro earlier this year and is the self-proclaimed “yard gyal inna Britain”. Together the group discuss all things Carnival: the cost of those costumes, when and how they got started, why you need the rain to cool you down, you parents not letting you go, and the importance of talent over hype.
August 20, 2021
The importance of space with Cassandra Jenkins, Arooj Aftab and Charlotte Dos Santos
Cassandra Jenkins, Arooj Aftab and Charlotte Dos Santos discuss being inspired by physical spaces that no longer exist, the emotional aspects of releasing music, why you never really complete a piece of work, and why handing music into your label is a bit like running for a flight. Cassandra Jenkins is an indie-folk musician and songwriter from New York. She’s always been surrounded by music, growing up with musical parents, and her latest album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature was released earlier this year, produced by Josh Kaufman (The National, Taylor Swift). Charlotte Dos Santos is a Brazilian-Norwegian singer and composer who creates hypnotizing neo-soul sounds. Blending her love of flamenco, samba, and bossa nova with jazz, folk and soul, the Berklee-trained musician explores themes of femininity, power, nature, and personal growth. And Arooj Aftab is an enigmatic Pakistani composer, based in New York City, who is reimagining traditional South Asian music and poetry. She moved to the US to also study at Berklee, where she began experimenting with jazz and electronic sounds.
August 13, 2021
School first, music second with Vagabon and Vieux Farka Touré
Vagabon, Vieux Farka Touré, Mary Lattimore and Mereba discuss the impact family can have on musical journeys, the perks and perils of collaborating with other musicians, and how cultural origins can mean that a musical life is looked down upon. This week’s host is Laetitia Tamko, better known as Vagabon. Born in Cameroon and growing up in New York City, Vagabon’s music fuses pop, indie and punk. Her debut album Infinite Worlds was released in 2017, taking influence from a huge span of genres, everything from post-punk to dream pop. She performs in both English and French, and recently released a track with Courtney Barnett. She’s joined by Ethiopian-American singer, songwriter and producer Mereba. She released her debut record The Jungle is the Only Way Out in 2019, and has since collaborated with 6lack, J.I.D and other breakout artists from America’s exciting hip-hop and R&B scenes. Vieux Farka Touré is the son of legendary Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré, and has carved out his own legacy as a musician, taking influence from West African rhythms, blues, and rock. Finally, Mary Lattimore is a harpist from Los Angeles who has played alongside Thurston Moore, Jarvis Cocker, and Kurt Vile. Her music takes simple components, often just a harp and loop pedal, and creates vast, experimental soundscapes.
August 6, 2021
An instrument of healing with Jenn Wasner and Helado Negro
Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes, Roberto Lange (aka Helado Negro), Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy and saxophonist Joseph Shabason discuss music as a form of healing and the impact it has both on themselves and those who listen to it, not being able to find the right thing to say when they’re approached after a show, and how selfishness can benefit the creative process. Roberto Lange, aka Helado Negro, is an Ecuadorian-American singer, songwriter and producer. His 2019 album, This Is How You Smile, was critically adored and his newest, Far In, is due later this year. Musician and guitarist Meg Duffy hails from New York, and is the founder, songwriter and sole permanent member of indie rock group Hand Habits, who released their latest album Placeholder in 2019. They have also written and performed with The War on Drugs and Weyes Blood. Canadian saxophonist and ambient electronic artist Joseph Shabason has worked with Destroyer, The War On Drugs, Hannah Georgas, and many more. His latest album, The Fellowship, explores the duality of the Jewish and Muslim household he grew up in.
July 30, 2021
When fans don't like your best song with Ray BLK, Joeboy, 2baba and Ayra Starr
Joeboy, Ray BLK, 2baba and Ayra Starr discuss their best choruses, the direction Nigerian music is going in, mums crying to their music, and why it’s important to remember: “if I can't remember the lyrics or melody to my own song, how can anybody else?” Mr Eazi protégé Joeboy blends Afrobeats, R&B and pop and was discovered online covering Ed Sheeran. He’s just released his debut album, Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic. 2Baba is one of Nigeria's biggest pop icons. He's a singer, songwriter, producer and entrepreneur who found fame with his international hit African Queen in 2006, and has worked with everybody from Burna Boy to WizKid and Tiwa Savage. Nigerian-Beninese artist Ayra Starr is tipped to be West Africa’s first female global teen superstar, the voice of a generation on the rise. She’s gained fans all over the world for her blend of trap, Afropop and R&B, and racked up 3 million views for her smash single Away. And finally, Nigerian-born London-based singer Ray BLK is one of the most important voices coming out of the UK right now. She’s been called “the UK’s answer to Lauryn Hill” for her ability to blend different genres and take on subjects ranging from youth violence to female empowerment.
July 23, 2021
'Good for the ego, bad for the soul' with Manika Kaur, Ali Riaz Baqar, Gurujas Khalsa and Abi Sampa
Manika Kaur, Ali Riaz Baqar, Gurujas Khalsa and Abi Sampa discuss individual definitions of success, why you're going to offend somebody no matter what music you make, the rollercoaster effect, and what their studio spaces look like. Manika Kaur is a singer and contemporary performer of Sikh kirtan music. Predominately performed by men in gurdwara temples, kirtans are devotional singing or sacred chants. Manika is changing the landscape of the music by reinterpreting, recording, and performing outside of the temples, and being one of the few women to sing them. Ali Riaz Baqar is a guitarist, bandleader, and chief composer of the group Jaubi. Based in Lahore, Pakistan, their debut album Nafs at Peace draws on elements of north Indian classical music, hip-hop and jazz. Gurujas Khalsa is a singer and songwriter from the Grammy-winning band White Sun, based in Los Angeles. Their music is a "sweeping exploration of New Age, through the lens of the Kundalini Yogic tradition", and their songs are also on the syllabus at the University of Southern California, where they are used to study stress management. And Abi Sampa is a multi-instrumentalist, veena virtuoso, and the UK’s first female Qawwal. She first rose to prominence when she sang on TV show The Voice UK in 2013. Born in London to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, she’s now inspiring a new generation of British Asians with her music.
July 16, 2021
Giving voice to the voiceless with Ian Brennan, Alex Magaga, Van-Anh Vo and Gilbert Uwitonze
Producer Ian Brennan, Alex Magaga of the Tanzania Albinism Collective, Hanoi Masters musical director Van-Anh Vo and Rwandan folk musician Gilbert Uwitonze discuss how members of a community can intuitively start singing despite never having heard music before, accidents in the recording process (including a very loud cow), and music being a release from persecution. Ian Brennan is a Grammy-winning producer, author, musician, and field recordist who’s been described as a “modern heir to the legendary ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax”, giving voices to the voiceless. His latest release, I've Forgotten Now Who I Used To Be, is a compilation of songs recorded in Ghana’s witch camps, settlements in which women persecuted as witches can find sanctuary. Alex Magaga is a musician, activist, documentary producer, and member of the Tanzania Albinism Collective, which helps those who’ve been cast out from their communities, facing discrimination and violence. Van-Anh Vo is a musical director, zither player, and chief percussionist for Vietnamese project Hanoi Masters. The aim of the project is to “protect the heritage of traditional instruments” of Vietnam. Her father became a musician during the Vietnam-American war so that he didn’t have to fight. And Gilbert Uwitonze is part of the Rwandan band The Good Ones, who sing folk songs from their farming town of Kigali. All three members are survivors of the Rwandan genocide who turned to music to help with the healing process.
July 9, 2021
Everybody is a musician with Tshepang, Chelsea Wolfe, Anna von Hausswolff and Colin Greenwood
Tshepang Ramoba of BLK JKS is joined by Chelsea Wolfe, Anna von Hausswolff and Radiohead's Colin Greenwood to discuss simplifying complex music, why Africa is in all music, making sounds that can't ever be created again, and the inspiration behind the artwork to Radiohead’s In Rainbows. Tshepang Ramoba is the drummer and band leader of BLK JKS, a South African Art-Rock based in Johannesburg. He's joined by Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood, a former Music Life host himself, who he met a few years ago when Colin was touring the country. Anna von Hausswolff is a Swedish singer, musician, theatre composer, sound artist, and organist who blends jazz, metal, doom, and everything in between, and has been described as making ‘funeral pop’. Finally, Chelsea Wolfe is a Californian metal, goth, and folk guitarist and singer. She’s been described as a “musical witch and keeper of lost souls,” and has collaborated with Deftones.
July 2, 2021
Forgetting the words on stage with Stuart Braithwaite, David Pajo, Rachel Goswell and Du Blonde
Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite, Slowdive's Rachel Goswell, Slint's David Pajo, and Beth Jeans Houghton - aka Du Blonde - discuss how much they care about their live shows sounding like the record, and that awkward moment when you forget the words to your own song live on stage. Stuart Braithwaite is a guitarist, songwriter and vocalist in Scottish post-rock band Mogwai, who have released 10 studio albums since forming in 1995. Their most recent record, As the Love Continues, went to number one in the UK earlier this year, and marks 25 years since their debut single. Stuart’s guests include friend and collaborator Rachel Goswell, best known as the vocalist and guitarist in shoegaze band Slowdive. She’s also a member of the Soft Cavalry and supergroup the Minor Victories, alongside Stuart. Also joining them is David Pajo, famed for his guitar shredding in US post-rock band Slint. He’s also collaborated with the likes of Interpol, Stereolab, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And Beth Jeans Houghton is a London-based artist who makes music under the moniker Du Blonde. Her latest record, Homecoming, came out earlier this year. She’s also directed music videos for the likes of Ezra Furman, LUMP, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
June 25, 2021
100th episode: Best of the guests
We celebrate Music Life’s 100th episode with some of the highlights from Episodes 50–100. Pop icon and previous Music Life host Melanie C is back to guide us through some of the show’s biggest moments so far. So far in the series we’ve heard Hans Zimmer explain how he went from playing in a new wave pop band to composing for the biggest films in the world, Moonchild Sanelly on what she can’t say in her music, David Byrne on the pressure to do something different, Kranium on how he made his best chorus, Eris Drew on the importance of positivity in dance music, Mykki Blanco on the role of resistance in their work, and Becky Hill on how to write the perfect hit. Throughout 50 episodes we’ve travelled the globe, learned the behind-the-scenes secrets that went into some of the world’s biggest hits, and listened in to some of the most honest and surprising conversations in music. Here’s to the next 50.
June 18, 2021
The tricky third album with Japanese Breakfast, Julia Stone, Black Belt Eagle Scout and Becca Mancari
Japanese Breakfast, Julia Stone, Black Belt Eagle Scout and Becca Mancari discuss why the third album is often the trickiest to make, meeting your heroes in airports, the role producers play in allowing you to tell your story, and getting Hollywood actors to appear in your videos. Japanese Breakfast is very much the artist of the moment, having released the highly anticipated third album Jubilee. She blends the multiple facets of Pop with Indie, Chamber, and Shoegaze, was born in Seoul and grew up in Oregon, USA. Jubilee follows 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet in 2017. Joining her is Julia Stone, a singer-songwriter from Melbourne, Australia who is known for the Folk Pop duo she formed with her brother Angus. Indie Rock multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Black Belt Eagle Scout is based in Portland USA. Her debut record Mother of My Children came out in 2017 and was inspired by ‘grief, love and being a Native person in the US today’. And finally, Becca Mancari is a Folk Rock singer-songwriter who is part of the trio Bermuda Triangle alongside Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. Her latest solo album The Greatest Part channels The Beach Boys sound and explores her experiences of growing up in a deeply religious community in Nashville.
June 11, 2021
'Are you proud of your music?' with Billy Nomates
British post-punk newcomer Billy Nomates talks to Simone Marie Butler, Xenia Rubinos and Radie Peat about the pressures of living up to expectations, whether or not they feel proud of their work so far, and songs they write when they think no one else will hear them. Simone Marie Butler is best known as the bassist in rock band Primal Scream. She’s also recorded with Joel Culpepper, the Stooges’ James Williamson, and the Horrors’ Faris Badwan. Xenia Rubinos is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from New York whose sound blends pop, soul, punk, and Latin influences with her jazz training. Radie Peat is a singer and musician best known for her vocals in Irish folk band Lankum, and she is working on her debut solo record.
June 4, 2021
'Songwriting made me who I am' with Ice T, Aurora, Amy Lee and Oli Sykes
Amy Lee, Ice T, Aurora and Oli Sykes discuss how they how they got into music, how music has affected their personal growth, and how they work through creative differences with their collaborators. Amy Lee from Grammy Award-winning US Rock band Evanescence is on hosting duties, and she’s invited some of her favourite artists and collaborators to join her, starting with seminal rapper and producer Ice T. Ice has recently teamed up with Evanescence on the track When I’m Gone, and collaborated with everybody from Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre, to Slayer and Public Enemy. Oli Sykes is the lead singer and songwriter of British rock band Bring Me The Horizon, which formed in Sheffield in 2004 and went on to become one of the biggest bands on the planet. Aurora is a Norwegian singer-songwriter and producer whose music blends folk, electro and art-pop, and she has been cited by Billie Eilish as a major inspiration - as well as being one of our host’s favourite artists.
May 28, 2021
Bullied for making music with Will Joseph Cook, dodie, Boys World and Alfie Templeman
Will Joseph Cook, Olivia and Queenie from Boys World, dodie, and Alfie Templeman discuss whether they share their creative processes on social media, overcoming industry stigma for being an 'internet artist', and finding strength in being who you are. Will Joseph Cook is a singer-songwriter and self-taught producer from Kent, England. He signed with Atlantic Records when he was 17, and released his debut album Sweet Dreamer in 2017. His second record, Something to Feel Good About, came out on his own label, Bad Hotel, earlier this year. Queenie and Olivia are two of the five members of breakthrough girl group Boys World, all of whom were discovered after posting their covers of songs to social media. They have since moved into a house together in LA, and have just released their debut EP While You Were Out. Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist dodie launched her career performing piano and ukulele covers online, and has gone on to release 3 EPs and collaborate with former Music Life host Jacob Collier. She recently released her debut album, Build a Problem. Alfie Templeman is a singer-songwriter and producer who released his debut EP, Like an Animal, in 2018. He cites Carlton, the English village where he was raised, as one of his biggest inspirations, and has just released the mini-album Forever Isn't Long Enough.
May 21, 2021
Getting personal with Lila Iké
Jamaican rising stars Lila Iké, Sevana, Jaz Elise and Naomi Cowan discuss whether or not they think about genre when creating, how much they write about their personal lives in their music, and how their experiences as a woman in the music industry are reflected in their songs. Lila Iké is a Jamaican singer-songwriter whose genreless sound fuses contemporary reggae with elements of soul, dancehall and hip-hop. She signed to Protoje's In.Digg.Nation label in 2017 and released her debut EP, The ExPerience. last year. Singer-songwriter, actress and label-mate Sevana's music is rooted in soul and R&B, or, as she describes it, "every sound but with a Jamaican filter". She recently released her second EP, Be Somebody, and is also the star of Jamaican web series Losing Patience. Naomi Cowan was 2018's Breakthrough Act at the Jamaica Reggae Industry Awards, and since then she has toured with Estelle and released several singles, including chart-topping hit Paradise Plum. Jaz Elise has been singing since she was 5 years old and released her debut EP earlier this year, an In.Digg.Nation production titled The Golden Hour. The artists discuss whether or not they think about genre when creating, how much they write about their personal lives in their music, and how their experiences as a woman in the music industry are reflected in their songs.
May 14, 2021
Eurovision! With Conchita Wurst, Duncan Laurence, Daði Freyr and Emmelie de Forest
Emmelie de Forest, Conchita Wurst, Duncan Laurence and Daði Freyr share their experiences of the Eurovision Song Contest, including what makes a winning Eurovision entry, how taking part in the Contest has influenced their music outside of Eurovision, and the personal stories they tell through their songs. Emmelie de Forest won the Eurovision Song Contest for Denmark in 2013 with her song Only Teardrops. She has gone on to release two albums, and in 2017 she co-wrote the UK’s Eurovision entry Never Give Up on You. She’s joined by 2014’s winner, singer and drag artist Conchita Wurst, who represented Austria with power ballad Rise Like A Phoenix and went on to become a global icon for the LGBTQI+ community. The Netherlands' Duncan Laurence is the reigning Eurovision champion, winning in 2019 with his self-penned debut single Arcade. Last year, he released his debut album Small Town Boy. Daði Freyr is a musician and songwriter who will represent Iceland at Eurovision 2021 with the song 10 Years, which he wrote about his wife. He was due to perform at Eurovision last year before the Contest was cancelled due to the pandemic, but his 2020 entry Think About Things became a viral hit on social media and has been streamed more than 75 million times.
May 7, 2021
Music as a tool for self-expression with Biig Piig
Biig Piig, Nayana IZ, Puma Blue and Louis Culture explore the power of community, how social media has affected the way they make music, and what it's like to make music as an introvert. Biig Piig blends soul-tinged melodies over hip-hop and pop beats with lyrics in English and Spanish. After growing up between Ireland and Spain, she moved to London and joined the Nine8 music collective alongside Nayana IZ. Born in India and raised in North London, Nayana was named on BBC Asian Network's 2020 Future Sounds list and last year released her debut EP Smoke & Fly. Puma Blue is a musician and songwriter originally from South London, now based in Atlanta. His first two EPs have built up millions of streams and he recently dropped his debut album In Praise of Shadows to critical acclaim. Also representing South London is rapper and lyricist Louis Culture, who released his debut EP Smile Soundsystem last year and has worked with Frank Ocean producer Vegyn.