interviews 2017

Sunflower Bean

Sunflower Bean

Last year at South By Southwest, Jim and Greg discovered a young, talented Brooklyn rock band called Sunflower Bean. The group is made up of bassist and singer Julia Cumming, guitarist and singer Nick Kivlen and drummer Jacob Faber. What makes the members of Sunflower Bean so interesting is their pursuit of a career in rock music despite growing up in the home of hip hop and in the age of EDM. However, that doesn‘t mean they don’t have diverse influences, channeling artists like Syd Barrett, The Beach Boys and Neu! at times on their debut album Human Ceremony. Greg sat down to chat with the band when they were in Chicago, and they talked about musical influences, Sunflower Bean's origin and how the group held the title of most shows played in New York City in 2014. Plus, they'll give a fun live performance.

Go to episode 590
Gene Chandler

Gene Chandler

Hosts Jim and Greg interview Chicago Soul singer Gene Chandler, who is best known as the“Duke of Earl.”Jim thinks 1961's“Duke of Earl”is one of the best pop or rock songs of that era. Gene Chandler came out of a tradition of Doo Wop in Chicago that included groups like the Flamingos and the Spaniels. He worked closely with fellow Chicago Soul legends Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler. Later in his career, he transitioned into producing other artists, even running his own label,“Mister Chand.”The epitome of a“soul survivor,”Gene scored hits during the Doo-Wop, Soul, and Disco eras.

Go to episode 588
The Gotobeds

The Gotobeds

After playing for years in the Pittsburgh punk band Kim Phuc, guitarist and vocalist Eli Kasan formed The Gotobeds along with guitarst Tom Payne, bassist Gavin Jensen, and drummer Cary Belback. The band quickly gained a following for its mix of funny, yet sophisticated, lyrics and post-punk artiness (Jim gleefully points out that they named themselves after the drummer for Wire). Their debut album Poor People are Revolting was released in 2014, followed by their Red Hot Chili Peppers-riffing Sub Pop release Blood // Sugar // Secs // Traffic in 2016. Both albums made it into Jim's top ten lists for their respective years. The Gotobeds join Jim and Greg for a live performance and a discussion about commercialism in indie rock, the Pittsburgh scene, and not taking yourself too seriously.

Go to episode 586
Shirley Collins

Shirley Collins

Of all the English folk revival artists, Shirley Collins was perhaps the most devoted to rural folk traditions. But at the same time, her records were incredibly innovative in their approach. Her 1964 album Folk Roots, New Routes with guitarist Davey Graham fused ancient songs with jazz arrangements, paving the way for bands like Fairport Convention. In collaboration with her sister Dolly, Shirley Collins also recorded with early music instruments and Renaissance ensembles. She even went electric with her acclaimed 1971 album No Roses. After developing a vocal condition known as dysphonia, Shirley gave up recording in 1978. Since then, she's become an inspiration to a new generation of artists, including The Decemberists' Colin Meloy, who covered one of her songs live on Sound Opinions. Now, after a nearly 40 year hiatus, she's returned with a new album, Lodestar. She joins Jim and Greg to explain why she returned to singing and how she chose her rather bloodsoaked repertoire.

In addition to her own recording career, Shirley Collins played an important role in music history when she accompanied legendary musicologist Alan Lomax as he traveled through the American south in 1959. Together, they collected field recordings of traditional working-class artists on farms, prisons, and churches. Their tapes of musicians like Mississippi Fred McDowell, Almeda Riddle, and Hobart Smith were huge influences on generations of artists, including Bob Dylan.

Go to episode 584
The Album Leaf

The Album Leaf

"Soundtracks for movies that live in his head" is how Jim describes the music made by Jimmy LaValle of the Album Leaf. LaValle's music is often grand and sweeping, while still being intimate. It is a sound that comes from the creative melding of electronica with organic instruments like the violin and trumpet. Check out our video to see how it comes together in a live setting. The Album Leaf started as a solo project of LaValle's more than 15 years ago but over time it has become a full fledged touring band. The Album Leaf joined us live in our studios to talk about its latest album, Between Waves.

Go to episode 582
Esperanza

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding exploded onto the jazz scene as a bass prodigy, recording her debut album in 2006 and winning the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011. But she's never been satisfied being just one thing. Her many talents include being a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, bandleader, producer, librettist, and more. Her music ignores genre boundaries, freely incorporating funk, R&B, classical music, and progressive rock. She's even introduced a theatrical element with her latest album, Emily's D+Evolution.

Jim and Greg sit down this week with Esperanza Spalding for a spirited chat about the new record. She also discusses her collaborations with legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter, the challenges of being taken seriously as a female musician, and the moment she discovered the bass was for her.

Go to episode 580