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October 16, 2019
Raphael Saadiq is a Grammy-winning songwriter, producer, and artist from Oakland, California. He was the lead singer of the legendary ‘90s R&B group Tony! Toni! Tone!. As a producer, he’s worked with D’Angelo, TLC, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Solange Knowles, and John Legend. In August 2019, Raphael released his fifth solo album, Jimmy Lee, which is named for his late older brother. In this episode, he breaks down a song from he made with his nephew, Dylan Wiggins, called “Kings Fall.” songexploder.net/raphael-saadiq
October 2, 2019
Claire Cotrill is a singer, songwriter, and producer who goes by the name Clairo. She started releasing music in 2014 as a teenager. A few years later, songs she had uploaded to YouTube had racked up over 40 million views. This year, Clairo put out her debut album, Immunity. She’s recently performed on Ellen and Jimmy Kimmel, and played arenas, opening for Khalid. In this episode, Clairo breaks down her song “Alewife.” I spoke to Claire and her co-producer Rostam Batmanglij about how the song was made. songexploder.net/clairo
September 18, 2019
Brittany Howard is the guitarist and lead singer of the four-time Grammy-winning band Alabama Shakes. This month, she’s releasing her first solo album, called Jaime. In this episode, Brittany breaks down the song “Stay High,” which was the album’s first single. She started working on it while staying at a house in Topanga Canyon, near LA. songexploder.net/brittany-howard
September 4, 2019
Robyn is a Swedish singer and songwriter. Her first album came out in 1995, when she was 16 years old. It went platinum in the US, double-platinum in Sweden. Since then, she’s been nominated for five Grammys and started her own record label. But there was an eight-year gap between Robyn’s album Body Talk, which came out in 2010, and her most recent album, Honey, which came out last October. Time, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork all named it one of the best albums of the year. For Song Exploder, Robyn breaks down the song “Honey,” the title track from that album. The first time the public heard the song was in a 2017 episode of the HBO show Girls, but that’s not the final version that was released on the album. In this episode, Robyn traces the long history of how she made “Honey,” a song that The New York Times called “her masterpiece.” songexploder.net/robyn
August 21, 2019
Justin Vernon founded the band Bon Iver in 2006. Bon Iver’s released four albums, and won two Grammys, including Best New Artist. The most recent album, i,i, came out in August 2019, and in this episode, Justin breaks down a song from it called “Holyfields,.” He’s joined by producers Chris Messina and Brad Cook. We spoke to him in July, from his studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where the song started. They finished it at Sonic Ranch studio, in Tornillo, Texas, on the border of the US and Mexico. songexploder.net/bon-iver
August 7, 2019
Sleater-Kinney was formed in 1994 by Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein. Drummer Janet Weiss was a member of the band from 1997 until 2019. In *Time Magazine *in 2001, author and critic Greil Marcus named Sleater-Kinney “America’s Best Band.” Over the years, they’ve made nine albums, including this year’s The Center Won’t Hold, which was produced by Annie Clark of St. Vincent. In this episode, Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein break down how the song “The Future Is Here” was made. songexploder.net/sleater-kinney
July 24, 2019
Denzel Curry is a rapper from Miami. He started his career at age 16 as part of the hip hop collective Raider Klan. He released his first solo album while still in high school. In May 2019 Denzel released his fourth album, ZUU. He made it with the Australian production duo FnZ, who have been collaborating with him since 2016. The album was named Best New Music by Pitchfork, and Denzel made his TV debut on The Tonight Show. songexploder.net/denzel-curry
July 10, 2019
Jamila Woods is a singer, songwriter, and poet from Chicago. She’s released two albums, and she’s collaborated with artists like Chance the Rapper, Noname, and Macklemore. In May 2019, she put out her second album, LEGACY! LEGACY!, to critical acclaim. NME called it one of the albums of the year, Rolling Stone called it a “revelation,” and Pitchfork named it “Best New Music.” In this episode, Jamila and her producer Slot-A break down a song from that album, called “BALDWIN,” named after the late author and civil rights activist James Baldwin. songexploder.net/jamila-woods
June 26, 2019
Big Thief is a four piece folk-rock band from Brooklyn, New York. In May 2019, they released their third album, U.F.O.F., to critical acclaim. Pitchfork named it “Best New Music.” In this episode, singer Adrianne Lenker and drummer James Krivchenia break down a song from that album called “Cattails.” songexploder.net/big-thief
June 12, 2019
Sheryl Crow is a singer-songwriter from Missouri. She’s released ten studio albums, sold over 50 million records, and has won nine Grammys. In April 2019, Sheryl Crow released a new version of her song “Redemption Day,” which was first released on her self-titled album in 1996. This new version features vocals from Johnny Cash, who recorded a cover of the song that was released posthumously in 2010. And in this episode, Sheryl Crow breaks down how it all came together. songexploder.net/sheryl-crow
May 29, 2019
Raleigh Ritchie is the musical alias of Jacob Anderson, a musician and actor who’s probably best known for playing the character Grey Worm on Game of Thrones. Raleigh Ritchie released his first album in 2016, and he’s put out a handful of EPs. In September 2018, he put out the single, “Time in a Tree.” He made the song with Grammy-nominated producer Daniel Traynor, aka Grades. In this episode, the two of them take apart “Time in a Tree” to explain how it came together, and how it was influenced by classic Hollywood movies, Billy Joel, and overwhelming anxiety. songexploder.net/raleigh-ritchie
May 15, 2019
John Darnielle has been writing and recording songs as the Mountain Goats since 1991. He’s released 17 studio albums, and also written two books of fiction. In April 2019, the Mountain Goats released the album In League with Dragons, and in this episode, John Darnielle breaks down a song from it, called Cadaver-Sniffing Dog. We’ll hear his original demo, and then, hear how the song evolved at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, with the help of John’s band, some incredible session musicians, and producer Owen Pallett. songexploder.net/the-mountain-goats
May 1, 2019
The Cranberries formed in Limerick, Ireland in 1989. Singer Dolores O’Riordan joined a year later, and the group went on to become one of the defining bands on the ‘90s, eventually selling over 40 million records worldwide. In January 2018, while the band was working on their eighth album, Dolores O’Riordan passed away unexpectedly. Later that year, remaining members Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan, and Fergal Lawler announced that they would end the band, and that this would be their final album. It's called In The End. It was released in April 2019, and in this episode, guitarist and songwriter Noel Hogan breaks down a song from it called “All Over Now.” You’ll hear how Hogan and O’Riordan first started the song, and how the remaining members worked to finish it without her. songexploder.net/the-cranberries
April 17, 2019
Panda Bear is musician Noah Lennox. He’s a founding member of the experimental, genre-defying band Animal Collective, and as a solo artists, he’s released six albums. In February 2019, Panda Bear released the album Buoys, and in this episode, he and his co-producer Rusty Santos break down the opening song, “Dolphin.” You’ll hear the original demo, and how they drew inspiration from music from all over the world. songexploder.net/panda-bear
April 3, 2019
Sharon Van Etten is a singer and songwriter who’s put out five albums. She's also an actress—she’s in The OA and Twin Peaks. Her most recent album, Remind Me Tomorrow, came out in January 2019. In this episode, Sharon breaks down a single from that album called “Seventeen.” She shares the original demo she made with the song’s co-writer Kate Davis, and we’ll hear from producer John Congleton, who helped craft Sharon’s new, more electronic sound. songexploder.net/sharon-van-etten
March 20, 2019
Nakhane is a singer and songwriter from Johannesburg, South Africa. His first album, Brave Confusion, won the South African Music Award for best alternative album in 2014. He starred in the award-winning film “The Wound,” which was shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Nakhane’s second album, You Will Not Die, was originally released in 2018, and then released in the US in 2019, as a deluxe version. The deluxe version includes this song,“New Brighton,” featuring guest vocals from Anohni. In this episode, as Nakhane breaks the song down, he talks about his complicated relationship with Christianity, why the song wasn’t on the original version of the album, and what it was like to work with one of his musical heroes. songexploder.net/nakhane
March 6, 2019
Mumford & Sons are a Grammy-winning band that formed in London in 2007. They’ve put out four albums, and sold millions of copies. Their last three albums have all debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. The most recent of those albums is Delta, which came out in November 2018. The band is made up of Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall, and Ted Dwane, and in this episode, Marcus and Ben break down a song from Delta called “Beloved.” You’ll how the song went from Marcus’s original raw voice memo to the intricate finished track. songexploder.net/mumford-and-sons
February 20, 2019
Phoebe Bridgers is a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. In September 2017, she released her debut album, Stranger in the Alps. One of the breakout songs from that album was “Scott Street,” a song Phoebe cowrote with her drummer, Marshall Vore. In this episode, Phoebe and Marshall break down how the song went from an unfinished cassette recording, to an acoustic demo, to the finished album version. songexploder.net/phoebe-bridgers
February 6, 2019
The Daily is a hit podcast from The New York Times, hosted by Michael Barbaro. Every weekday, over 1.7 million people download the show. It launched in February 2017, and in honor of its two-year anniversary, we’re publishing a bonus episode about the show’s theme song, which was composed by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. It was originally published on the New York Times website, in 2018. songexploder.net/the-daily
January 23, 2019
Japanese Breakfast is the musical project of Michelle Zauner, who’s been making music under that name since 2013. In July 2017, she released her second album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, to critical acclaim.   In this episode, Michelle breaks down a song from that album called “Boyish,” along with her co-producer and bandmate Craig Hendrix. We’ll hear the original demo, plus a version Michelle recorded with her old band. And she’ll talk about how her perspective on the song has changed over the years. songexploder.net/japanese-breakfast
January 9, 2019
Andrew Hozier-Byrne is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Ireland. His debut single from 2013, “Take Me to Church,” was a massive, multi-platinum hit. In September 2018, Hozier released the song “Nina Cried Power,” which features the legendary gospel singer Mavis Staples. In this episode, Hozier breaks down how he made the song, and Mavis Staples tells the story of how she got involved. songexploder.net/hozier
December 20, 2018
Yo-Yo Ma is perhaps the most famous and well-loved cellist in the world. He was born in Paris in 1955; his family moved to the U.S. when he was seven. He played for President Kennedy that year. He played at Carnegie Hall for the first time when he was 16. He’s won 18 Grammys, and he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. For this special episode of Song Exploder, Yo-Yo Ma talks about the Prelude to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 in G Major. He discusses learning, performing, and recording the piece across 58 years of his life. songexploder.net/yo-yo-ma
December 13, 2018
Thao Nguyen is taking over as the new host of Song Exploder in 2019. This is a reissue of an episode from 2016 in which she was the guest. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down released the album A Man Alive in March 2016. In this episode, Thao Nguyen breaks down the song "Astonished Man." Thao talks about working with Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards, who produced the album, and she speaks candidly about her relationship with her estranged father, the subject of the song. songexploder.net/thao
December 5, 2018
Lindsey Buckingham is a singer-songwriter, a guitarist, and a producer. In 1974, he joined the band Fleetwood Mac, along with Stevie Nicks, his girlfriend at the time. A few year later, in 1977, Fleetwood Mac released the album Rumours, which would go on to sell over 40 million copies and become the eighth highest-selling album in history. In this episode, Lindsey Buckingham breaks down “Go Your Own Way," a song he wrote for that album about his relationship with Stevie Nicks. songexploder.net/fleetwood-mac
November 26, 2018
Four years ago, on November 24, 2014, the first episode of the podcast Reply All came out. It’s a podcast about the internet hosted by Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt. And since then, they’ve put out 131 episodes. The show has gotten over 100 million downloads so far. Robert Downey Jr. is going to star in a movie based on one of their episodes. And from the debut, it’s been one of my favorite podcasts. A while back, in 2015, I did a special edition of Song Exploder for Reply All, about their theme song by Breakmaster Cylinder. I’d hear the guys talk about the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder in the show’s credits, but I didn’t really know who or what that was. And I wanted to find out more. So in honor of the four year anniversary of Reply All’s launch, I’m putting out this special crossover episode for the first time here on Song Exploder. songexploder.net/reply-all
November 19, 2018
Lorely Rodriguez is a singer, songwriter, and producer who goes by the name Empress Of. She’s released two albums, and she’s sung on tracks with Khalid, Blood Orange, and Dirty Projectors. Her first album, Me, was made on her own. But her second album, Us, features a bunch of collaborators. In this episode, Lorely breaks down the Empress Of song “When I’m With Him.” She co-produced it with Jim-E Stack and Dan Nigro, and I spoke to Jim-E Stack for this episode, too. Lorely explained how collaborating with producers opened up her process. Plus, the song’s lyrics are in English and Spanish, and Lorely describes how she relies on both languages to write. songexploder.net/empress-of
November 5, 2018
Big Boi is a rapper from Atlanta. When he was a teenager, he and Andre 3000 formed OutKast, and went on to sell over 25 million records and win six Grammys. He’s released three solo albums, including Boomiverse, which came out in 2017. In this episode, Big Boi breaks down a song from that album called “Order of Operations.” songexploder.net/big-boi
October 26, 2018
In 1978, John Carpenter wrote, directed, and scored the film Halloween. It was made on a $300,000 budget, and ended up grossing over $70 million, making it one of the most successful independent movies ever released. The main theme to the film became one of the most iconic pieces of cinematic music ever made. *Halloween *became a franchise with ten more Halloween films since the original. In 2018 a new Halloween film was released, directed by David Gordon Green. And for the first time since the first film, John Carpenter composed the score. That included remaking his theme song for the new film, this time with the help of his son Cody Carpenter and his godson Daniel Davies. In this episode, the three of them break down how they did it. songexploder.net/halloween
October 15, 2018
Janelle Monáe is an award-winning musician and actress who released her first record in 2007. She’s been nominated for multiple Grammys, and starred in the Oscar films Moonlight and Hidden Figures. In April 2018, she released her third album, Dirty Computer, which includes the song “So Afraid.” In this episode, Janelle Monáe takes “So Afraid” apart, to explain how she built it, step by step—beginning with a trip to the dentist. songexploder.net/janelle-monae
October 4, 2018
Chan Marshall is a singer-songwriter who’s been making records under the name Cat Power since 1995. In 2018, she put out her tenth album, Wanderer. It includes this song "Woman," which has Lana Del Rey on backing vocals. In this episode, Chan breaks down the song and what it means to her, as she tells the story of how she made  "Woman" in Miami and Los Angeles over the course of a few years. songexploder.net/cat-power
September 25, 2018
Blood Orange is the project of songwriter and producer Devonté Hynes. He’s produced and co-written songs for artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Solange, HAIM, and ASAP Rocky, among others. He’s been releasing his own music as Blood Orange since 2011. In August 2018, he released his fourth Blood Orange album, Negro Swan. In this episode, Dev breaks down how he made the song “Saint.” You’ll hear the original version of the track from 2015, as well as the layers and voices that were added over years to create the final version that appears on the album. songexploder.net/blood-orange
September 19, 2018
Last week, Netflix released the fifth season of BoJack Horseman. I wanted to revisit this episode about the show’s Main Title Theme, which was written by Patrick Carney of The Black Keys, and his uncle, Ralph Carney, who passed away unexpectedly in December 2017. BoJack Horseman is a Netflix original series, an animated comedy about a washed up 90s sitcom star who's trying to figure out his life and career without drowning in self-loathing and existential despair. It won the 2016 Critics Choice award for best animated series. The theme song for the show was created by Patrick Carney, who is one half of The Black Keys, and his uncle, Ralph Carney, a multi-instrumentalist who has worked artists like Tom Waits, St Vincent, The B-52s, Galaxie 500, and a lot more. But the track wasn't written for the show, originally; it was just something that Patrick and Ralph made without knowing what it was for. In this episode, the two break down how the song was created, and how it went from their long-distance collaboration to become a TV theme song. songexploder.com/bojack-horseman
September 5, 2018
The Decemberists are a Grammy-nominated five-piece band from Portland, Oregon. They released their first album in 2001, and since then they’ve put out seven more, including the 2018 album I’ll Be Your Girl. In this episode, singer and guitarist Colin Meloy breaks down The Decemberists’ song “Once In My Life," from his first demo, to the final tracks they recorded in the studio. songexploder.net/the-decemberists
August 29, 2018
In honor of Mitski’s new album, “Be the Cowboy,” here’s the episode she did in 2016. — Mitski has been making records since 2012. Her third record, Puberty 2, came out in June 2016 and was critically acclaimed Pitchfork gave it Best New Music status. Her music has been featured in the tv show Adventure Time. In this episode, Mitski breaks down her song Your Best American Girl, along with her long-time collaborator Patrick Hyland. songexploder.net/mitski
August 15, 2018
Christine and the Queens is a singer, songwriter, and producer from France. Her debut album was first released in 2014 in French, and in 2015, she released an English version of it. It was critically acclaimed and she won the Victoire de le Musique—France’s equivalent of the Grammy—for Best Female Artist in 2015.In July 2018, she released the single “Doesn’t Matter” in advance of her second album,Chris. Like before, she made a French version and an English version, but this time she wrote both versions simultaneously. In this episode, she talks about what that translation process was like, and the possibilities it opened up, as she takes apart "Doesn’t Matter." The song and the story first began in Chris’s basement. songexploder.net/christine-and-the-queens
August 1, 2018
Neko Case is a singer and songwriter. She’s been nominated for multiple Grammys, and in addition to her own music, she’s a member of the band The New Pornographers. In June 2018, she put out her 7th album, Hell-On, which she also co-produced. In this episode, Neko Case breaks down the song “Last Lion of Albion.” Albion’s one of the oldest names for island of Great Britain, and it was while she was in England that this song first began. This episode is guest-hosted by Thao Nguyen (of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down). songexploder.net/neko-case
July 25, 2018
Earlier this year, in May 2018, Courtney Barnett released her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel. And last fall, she and Kurt Vile made an album together. So I thought this would be a good time to go back and listen to an episode she did in January 2016 about “Depreston,” my favorite song from her first album. Here it is. Courtney Barnett released her debut album in March 2015. By the end of the year, she had been nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist, Spin named her the Songwriter of the Year, and she won four ARIA Music Awards in her native Australia. In this episode, Courtney Barnett breaks down the song "Depreston," which began with a visit to an open house, on a house-hunting trip she took in the town of Preston. songexploder.net/courtney-barnett
July 18, 2018
Action Bronson is a rapper from Queens who’s been making records since 2011. He also stars as the host of two TV shows about food on Vice’s channel, Viceland. His third album, Blue Chips 7000, came out in 2017, and features this song – “The Chairman’s Intent.” It was produced by his longtime collaborator, producer Harry Fraud. In this episode, Action Bronson and Harry Fraud tell the story of how “The Chairman’s Intent” was made. songexploder.net/action-bronson
July 4, 2018
Jhené Aiko is a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter. She’s released three albums so far. In addition to her own records, she’s been a featured guest vocalist on songs by Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Childish Gambino, and many, many others. In 2017, she released her third album, Trip, which debuted at #5 on the Billboard Charts, and includes the song "Sativa." The song features guest vocals from Swae Lee, who’s one half of the band Rae Sremmurd. In this episode, Jhené tells the story of how “Sativa” was made, and how it got stuck, and then, how it got unstuck. She’s joined by producer Brian Warfield of the production duo Fisticuffs, who made the beat. songexploder.net/jhene-aiko
June 28, 2018
I interviewed the Scottish band CHVRCHES back in March 2016, in Austin, Texas. A few weeks ago, in May 2018, they released a new album called Love is Dead. It features contributions from David Stewart of the Eurythmics, and another past Song Exploder guest, Matt Berninger of The National. So in honor of CHVRCHES new record, I wanted to go back and listen to their episode again. Here it is: CHVRCHES is a trio from Glasgow, Scotland. In this episode, they break down the song “Clearest Blue,” from their sophomore album Every Open Eye. You’ll hear the band’s original demo as well as why they start songs with a set of rules, but then quickly abandon those rules. This interview was recorded live at the Dropbox Podcast Studio at SXSW. songexploder.net/chvrches
June 20, 2018
Yo La Tengo formed in 1984. The band is made up Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew. In March 2018, they released There’s a Riot Going On, their 15th album. They made the record themselves—they recorded it entirely in their rehearsal studio with James handling the engineering duties. The album came together slowly, over a few years. In this episode, Georgia, James, and Ira break down the experiments and accidents that led to the the closing track from the record, the song "Here You Are." songexploder.net/yo-la-tengo
June 6, 2018
Wolf Alice is a band from North London. Their second album, Visions of a Life, was released in September 2017. In this episode, singer Ellie Rowsell and drummer Joel Amey tell the story of how they made the song “Don’t Delete the Kisses.” The album was produced by Justin Meldal-Johnsen, and coming up later, you’ll hear some of his thoughts, as well. The song went through a lot of versions. A home demo that Ellie made, another demo with the full band, plus studio versions they recorded in LA with Justin. There were a lot of ideas that were created and then scrapped. In this episode, they trace the path through those ideas, as well how the song was influenced by Father John Misty, PJ Harvey, and the film Frances Ha. songexploder.net/wolf-alice
May 31, 2018
In November 2015, I interviewed Kelela about her song “Rewind,” from her debut EP, Hallucinogen. Since that EP was released, she's gone on to collaborate on songs with Gorillaz and Solange, and released her first full-length, Take Me Apart, which was named one of the Top 10 albums of 2017 by Vulture, Pitchfork, Cosmo, and a bunch of others. So I wanted to go back and revisit Kelela’s episode, which originally came out in January 2016. Here it is: Kelela is a singer and songwriter based in Los Angeles. In 2015, she released Hallucinogen EP, and landed on critics lists in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Pitchfork, and more. In this episode, Kelela takes apart her song “Rewind.” To make the track, she worked with five different producers, picking and choosing each for what they could best contribute to her overall vision for the song. This interview was recorded live in San Francisco at Fusion’s Real Future Fair. songexploder.net/kelela
May 23, 2018
Jon Hopkins is an electronic music producer whose been nominated twice for the UK’s Mercury Prize. Along with his frequent collaborator, Brian Eno, he co-produced Coldplay’s Grammy-award winning album, Viva la Vida. In May 2018, Jon Hopkins released his fifth album, Singularity. It was named Best New Music by Pitchfork. In this episode, Jon Hopkins takes apart the song "Luminous Beings," which was inspired in part by the meditative and therapeutic effects of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms. Jon talks about his own experience with drug, and how it shaped this song. He also details the less magical moments where he hated the music was he making, and had to destroy it as part of the creative process. songexploder.net/jon-hopkins
May 9, 2018
In 1993, Liz Phair released her debut album, Exile in Guyville. It was an instant hit, critically and commercially. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Spin and The Village Voice named it album of the year. Soon after, Rolling Stone put her on the cover of their magazine. Now, twenty-five years later, Exile in Guyville is being reissued as a deluxe boxset with photos, essays, and Liz Phair's original four-track cassette recordings. In this episode, Liz and Exile in Guyville's producer, Brad Wood, look back to tell the story of the creation of one of the songs on the album, "Divorce Song." songexploder.net/liz-phair
April 25, 2018
Arcade Fire is a Grammy-winning six-piece band originally from Montreal. They’ve released five albums, and the last three have all debuted at number one on the charts. In this episode, singer Win Butler takes apart "Put Your Money On Me," from their 2017 album Everything Now. He breaks down how the influence of Marvin Gaye, Harry Nilsson, and ABBA all helped shape how the song eventually turned out. You’ll hear the original demo, and an alternate version of the song that was never finished. The story begins when Win and his wife and bandmate Régine Chassagne moved to New Orleans. songexploder.net/arcade-fire
April 11, 2018
Kimbra is a singer from New Zealand. Her first album came out in 2011, and in 2013 she won two Grammys for her collaboration with Gotye, the multiplatinum hit song "Somebody That I Used to Know." In this episode, Kimbra breaks down a song from 2018 called "Top of the World,” a song she also made in collaboration—this time with artists Skrillex and Diplo. songexploder.net/kimbra
March 28, 2018
Jack Johnson is a grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Hawaii. He's had four number one albums on the Billboard charts. In September 2017, he released his seventh album, All the Light Above It Too, and in this episode, Jack Johnson breaks down a song about parenting, politics, and the ocean. It’s called "You Can't Control It." songexploder.net/jack-johnson
March 14, 2018
Marvel’s Black Panther was released in theaters on February 16, 2018, and in just a few weeks, it made over a billion dollars worldwide. It’s already broken some box office records and it looks like it’s going to break some more. The score for the film was created by Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson. His film and TV credits include Creed and New Girl. He’s also Grammy-nominated producer, who’s worked most often with rapper Childish Gambino. In this episode, Ludwig takes apart one of his pieces from Black Panther. The track is called “Killmonger,” and it’s the theme for Erik Killmonger, a character played by Michael B. Jordan. Black Panther is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and coming up, Ludwig tells the story of doing research and making recordings in Africa, and how he incorporated that into the score for the film. songexploder.net/black-panther
February 28, 2018
Natalie Prass released her debut album in 2015. That year, Time Magazine called her an Artist to Watch, Pitchfork gave the album Best New Music, and Stereogum named it one of the Top Albums of the Year. In this episode, Natalie Prass takes apart a new song form 2018, called "Short Court Style," her first track to come out since that debut album. songexploder.net/natalie-prass
February 14, 2018
Moses Sumney is a singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles. His first album, Aromanticism, came out in September 2017, but before that, he’d already worked with an impressive and diverse list of collaborators, from Sufjan Stevens, to Solange, to Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, to Skrillex. That spirit continues with the song Moses takes apart in this episode, which has contributions from producer Cam O’bi, Paris Strother, and legendary bassist Thundercat. songexploder.net/moses-sumney
January 31, 2018
Bleachers is the moniker of Jack Antonoff, a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. He won two grammy awards as a member of the band fun., and another for his production work on Taylor Swift’s album 1989. He’s also co­-written songs with St. Vincent, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lorde, Sia, and more. In June 2017, Antonoff released his second album as Bleachers, Gone Now. In this episode, he breaks down a song from that album, called “I Miss Those Days" and traces the process of making it—from the original demo, to a version he discarded, to the final song. songexploder.net/bleachers
January 17, 2018
Julien Baker is from Memphis, Tennessee. She released her second album, Turn Out The Lights, in October 2017, on Matador Records. The New York Times called her music "devastating" and Pitchfork gave the album Best New Music. In this episode, Julien tells the story of her song "Appointments," and how writing it helped her work through her thoughts around addiction, depression, and relationships. Julien also takes apart the track "Over," which was written as part of Appointments, but then split off as a separate track. songexploder.net/julien-baker
January 3, 2018
Drummer Ahmir Thompson, also known as Questlove, and rapper Tariq Trotter, aka Black Thought, started The Roots when they were in high school in Philadelphia in 1987. Over the last thirty years, the band has released 17 albums. They’ve received a bunch Grammy nominations including  three wins. They’re also the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In this episode, Questlove tells the story of how they made the song "It Ain’t Fair." It was created for the film Detroit, directed by oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow, who also made the films The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Detroit is about the 1967 Detroit riots, centered around the events at the Algiers Motel, where police killed three young black men and beat and tortured nine others. The Roots recruited the singer Bilal to contribute vocals to the song, and they worked with The Dap-Kings, the backing band for the late soul singer Sharon Jones, to create a sound that evoked the music of 1967. songexploder.net/the-roots
December 20, 2017
R.E.M. was formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, bassist Mike Mills, guitarist Peter Buck, and drummer Bill Berry. They’ve won three Grammys, and have sold over 85 million records. In 1992, the band released their eighth album, Automatic for the People. In honor of the 25th anniversary of its release, in this episode, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills take apart the song, “Try Not to Breathe.” songexploder.net/rem
December 6, 2017
Trent Reznor started Nine Inch Nails in 1988. He released eight albums, sold over 20 million records, won two Grammys and was nominated for 11 more. Then, in 2010, Trent Reznor and his longtime collaborator Atticus Ross scored the film The Social Network, and they won an Oscar for it. A few years later, in 2016, Atticus Ross joined Nine Inch Nails as an official member. The duo’s most recent release is Add Violence, an EP, and in this episode, Trent and Atticus break down a song from it called “The Lovers.” songexploder.net/nine-inch-nails
November 8, 2017
Rachel Platten is a singer and songwriter who’s released four albums, including her 2016 album Wildfire, which went Gold. The lead single from that album, “Fight Song,” was used prominently by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. For a normally apolitical artist, the sudden proximity to the election had profound effects, both positive and negative. In this episode, Rachel breaks down her song “Broken Glass," which was inspired by that experience, and written just days before the 2016 election. songexploder.net/rachel-platten
October 26, 2017
The show Stranger Things is a Netflix original series. It was first released in July 2016. Season two’s release date: October 27, 2017. After the first season, the show was nominated for 18 Emmys, and won the Emmy for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music. The theme music, along with the rest of the show’s score, was composed by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon of the band SURVIVE. In this episode, they break down how they made the main title theme. songexploder.net/stranger-things
October 18, 2017
Los Angeles producer and beatmaker Jennifer Lee released her first album as TOKiMONSTA in 2010. She has released music on Flying Lotus's label Brainfeeder, and has collaborated with Kool Keith and Anderson .Paak, among others. Her newest album, Lune Rouge, was released in October 2017. In this episode, TOKiMONSTA breaks down her song "Bibimbap," which is named after a Korean dish. songexploder.net/tokimonsta
October 6, 2017
The Killers formed in Las Vegas in 2001. Since then, they’ve released five records. Their newest album, Wonderful Wonderful, came out in September 2017. In this episode, singer Brandon Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci break down the song "Rut" from that album. songexploder.net/the-killers
September 25, 2017
Lorde is a Grammy-award winning singer, songwriter, and producer. Her second album, Melodrama, debuted at number one on the charts in June 2017 – five months before her 21st birthday. In this episode, Ella breaks down her song “Sober.” You’ll hear how it started, with the original demos she made with her co-producer Jack Antonoff, and how the song changed over the course of working on it for months and months. songexploder.net/lorde
September 14, 2017
Rostam Batmanglij is a songwriter, producer, and composer, who first rose to prominence in 2006 as one of the members of Vampire Weekend. He’s produced songs for Frank Ocean, Solange, Carly Rae Jepsen, and more. But his September 2017 album ‘Half-Light’ is his first as a solo artist. In this episode, Rostam breaks down his song “Bike Dream.” He explains how it was influenced in part by bands like T.Rex and Coldplay, but “Bike Dream” began very differently from how it ended up. songexploder.net/rostam Song Exploder listener survey: surveynerds.com/songexploder
September 5, 2017
The band Ibeyi is made up of twin sisters Naomi Diaz, and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz. When they were only teenagers, they were signed to a record deal by Richard Russell, who had previously signed artists like Adele and Vampire Weekend to his label, XL. He also co-produces their records. In this episode, Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé take apart their 2017 song Deathless, featuring saxophonist Kamasi Washington. songexploder.net/ibeyi
August 24, 2017
Maggie Rogers had a breakthrough moment when she was a student at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute. Pharrell Williams visited to her class, and when he heard her song "Alaska," his reaction was dramatic, and caught on video. The video of Pharrell listening to Maggie’s song went viral, and "Alaska" became a hit, with over 40 million streams on Spotify alone. Maggie Rogers is now playing sold out shows across the country, just a year after graduating. In this episode, Maggie tells the story of what came before that day in class—all the steps and missteps that eventually led to her writing the song "Alaska." songexploder.net/maggie-rogers
August 15, 2017
Annie Clark grew up in Texas, studied the guitar, and moved to New York in the mid-2000s. She started recording and performing under the name St Vincent in 2006. She’s released five albums, and won a Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2014. Earlier this year, in 2017, St Vincent released this song, called “New York,” partly inspired by the city and neighborhood she calls home, although nowadays, Annie splits her time between coasts, with a studio in Los Angeles. She collaborated on this song with Grammy-winning producer Jack Antonoff. songexploder.net/st-vincent
August 3, 2017
Between 2004 and 2012, Grizzly Bear put out four critically-acclaimed albums. Their newest album is called Painted Ruins, and it features this song, Four Cypresses. In this episode, two members of the band, Chris Taylor and Daniel Rossen, tell the story of how the song came together. songexploder.net/grizzly-bear Song Exploder listener survey: surveynerds.com/songexploder
July 25, 2017
Phoenix is a Grammy-winning band from Versailles, France. They started putting out music in 1999, and in June 2017, they released their sixth album, Ti Amo. In this episode, singer Thomas Mars and guitarist Laurent Brancowitz break down the song "Ti Amo," the title track from that album.  songexploder.net/phoenix
July 13, 2017
Slowdive formed in 1989 in Reading, England. They put out 3 albums between 1991 and 1995, and their sound helped define the shoegaze genre. In 2017, the band released a critically-acclaimed self-titled album, their first in over twenty years. In this episode, singer and guitarist Neil Halstead takes apart the song “Sugar for the Pill.” songexploder.net/slowdive
July 5, 2017
Goapele is a singer/songwriter from the Bay Area. She released her first album in 2001. Since then, she’s released five more albums and collaborated with Snoop Dogg. In 2017, on her album DreamSeeker, she put out the song "Stand." It was written in the wake of the shooting death of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black man who was shot and killed while unarmed and handcuffed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Officer. The shooting took place in 2009. Coming up, Goapele tells the story of why it took 8 years for her to finish the song. songexploder.net/goapele
June 22, 2017
Fleet Foxes formed in Seattle, Washington in 2006. In 2011, they put out their second record, which was nominated for a Grammy, and then, the band went on hiatus. The lead singer and songwriter, Robin Pecknold, moved to New York to go to Columbia University. After six years, in 2017, the band returned with their third album, Crack-Up. And in this episode, Robin breaks down a song from that record called “Mearcstapa.” songexploder.net/fleet-foxes
June 14, 2017
Michelle Branch is a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. She released two platinum albums when she was still a teenager. Because those records were such huge hits, for a long time they defined her as an artist—for better or worse. Over a decade later, in 2017, Michelle put out her third album, Hopeless Romantic. In this episode, Michelle talks about why she was in musical limbo for so long, as she takes apart her song “Best You Ever." songexploder.net/michelle-branch
June 2, 2017
Alt-J formed in Leeds, England in 2007. Their debut album won a Mercury Prize and their second was nominated for a Grammy. Their third album, Relaxer, came out in June 2017. In this episode, they break down “In Cold Blood,” from their new album. songexploder.net/alt-j
May 22, 2017
Michael Kiwanuka is a singer/songwriter from London. His second album, Love and Hate, came out in 2016, and was named one of the Best Albums of the Year from the BBC, NME, The Guardian, GQ, and more. One of the songs on the album was used as the theme for the hit HBO series Big Little Lies. In this episode, Michael breaks down the song "Black Man in a White World." songexploder.net/michael-kiwanuka
May 11, 2017
Mike Hadreas has been making music under the name Perfume Genius since 2008. In May 2017, he put out his fourth album, No Shape to widespread critical acclaim. In this episode, Mike breaks down the song Slip Away. I also spoke with producer Blake Mills, who also plays on the track, and recording engineer Shawn Everett about the unusual way the song was recorded. For more, visit songexploder.net/perfume-genius
May 2, 2017
Little Dragon is a Grammy-nominated band from Gothenburg, Sweden. They formed in 1996, and they released their fifth album Season High in April 2017. In this episode, Yukimi Nagano and Erik Bodin from the band break down the song “Sweet.” songexploder.net/little-dragon
April 21, 2017
Aimee Mann is a Grammy- and Oscar-nominated singer-songwriter. In the 80s, she fronted the band Til Tuesday, and in 1993, she released her first solo album. In 2017, Aimee released her 9th album, Mental Illness, and in this episode, she tells the story of how the song "Patient Zero" was made. I talked to Aimee along with the song’s co-writer, Jonathan Coulton. The interview was recorded in front of a live audience, on board the JoCo Cruise, a music and comedy themed cruise organized by Jonathan Coulton. songexploder.net/aimee-mann
April 11, 2017
Gorillaz is the creation of musician Damon Albarn and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett. They’re a virtual band made up four animated characters. Their songs are written by Damon Albarn and a roster of collaborators. Since the first album was released in 2001, Gorillaz have sold over 16 million records worldwide. In this episode, Damon breaks down the song "Andromeda" from the 2017 Gorillaz album Humanz. It’s a dance song, but also an elegy to people in his life who he’s lost, like legendary soul singer Bobby Womack, a former Gorillaz collaborator. Andromeda features guest vocals by the rapper and singer D.R.A.M., whose own hit single, "Broccoli," went quadruple platinum in 2016. Coming up later, D.R.A.M. tells the story of how he got involved with this track, and Damon shares an exclusive clip of a scrapped version of the song with D.R.A.M. on lead vocals. (This episode contains explicit language.) songexploder.net/gorillaz
March 30, 2017
Since her debut in 2002, Norah Jones has sold over 50 million albums, and won 8 Grammys. She released Day Breaks, her sixth album, in 2016. In this episode, she takes apart the title track and details how all the pieces unexpectedly came together. You’ll hear her original demo for the song and how it was transformed in the studio, including a session with jazz saxophone legend Wayne Shorter. Plus, a few thoughts from Norah’s co-producer and longtime collaborator Sarah Oda. songexploder.net/norah-jones
March 21, 2017
Dave Longstreth started making music under the name Dirty Projectors in 2002, while he was in college. Since then, he’s released seven albums and collaborated with Bjork, Solange, and Kanye West, Paul McCartney, and Rihanna. And Dirty Projectors went from a solo project to a full-band, performing on TV, and at Carnegie Hall. Dave and one of his bandmates were in a relationship for much of that time, but then that relationship and the band broke up. In February 2017, with Dirty Projectors as solo project once again, Dave released a self-titled album, a breakup album, looking back on those years. In this episode, Dave breaks down the song "Up in Hudson," and the winding road he went down to create it. songexploder.net/dirty-projectors
March 14, 2017
Sleigh Bells formed in 2008. They released their fourth album, Jessica Rabbit, in 2016. In this episode, Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller break down their song "I Can Only Stare." I interviewed the two of them in front of a live audience at the Kaufman Music Center in New York, as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival. songexploder.net/sleigh-bells
February 28, 2017
Simon Green is a producer and DJ who’s been making music under the name Bonobo since 2000. In January 2017 he released his sixth studio album, Migration. For the song “Break Apart," he enlisted Rhye to add vocals, and in this episode, the two of them tell the story of how the track came together. songexploder.net/bonobo
February 17, 2017
Sara Watkins began her music career when she was only 8 years old, as one of the founding members of the Grammy-award winning band Nickel Creek. In 2016, she released her third solo album, Young in all the Wrong Ways. In this episode, Sara breaks down her song "Without a Word." This interview was recorded in front of a live audience at the Chicago Podcast Festival. songexploder.net/sara-watkins
February 7, 2017
The band Dropkick Murphys formed in Boston in 1996. For over twenty years, they’ve made music that’s reflected the culture and community they’ve come from, including their platinum single "Shipping Up to Boston." In January 2017, they released the album "11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory," which includes the song Blood. In this episode, guitarist Tim Brennan breaks down how the music for Blood was made, and the band founder Ken Casey explains the inspiration behind the lyrics. songexploder.net/dropkick-murphys
January 30, 2017
The film Moonlight tells the story of its main character, Chiron, in three chapters: when Chiron is a young boy, nicknamed Little, when he's a teenager, and when he's an adult, nicknamed Black. For each chapter of the film, composer Nicholas Britell created a theme, and in this episode, Nicholas takes those themes apart. The score for Moonlight was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, and the film itself won the Golden Globe for Best Drama. songexploder.net/moonlight
January 16, 2017
Solange Knowles released her first album in 2002, at the age of 16. Her third album, A Seat at the Table, came out in September 2016, and debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. It’s gotten widespread critical acclaim, including being named album of the year by Pitchfork and by Vibe. In this episode, Solange takes apart the song "Cranes in the Sky," which began back in 2008. songexploder.net/solange
January 6, 2017
Metallica formed in 1981. They were teenagers. Since then, they’ve gone on to become one of the most successful bands of all time, selling over 110 million records worldwide. In November 2016, they released their tenth album, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. In this episode, the song “Moth into Flame" gets taken apart by singer and guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. songexploder.net/metallica
December 21, 2016
The film LA LA LAND tells the story of Mia, an aspiring actress played by Emma Stone, and Sebastian, a jazz pianist played by Ryan Gosling, both of them struggling artists in Los Angeles. The musical was written and directed by Damien Chazelle in collaboration with composer Justin Hurwitz. It’s the third film they’ve made together, the follow-up to the Oscar-winning film Whiplash. In this episode, Justin Hurwitz breaks down a song from the film sung by Emma Stone; it’s called Audition (The Fools Who Dream). Plus, some thoughts from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the lyrics. songexploder.net/la-la-land
December 8, 2016
In 1996, Josh Davis, aka DJ Shadow, released his first album, Endtroducing. It’s been hailed pretty much universally as one of the best albums of the 90s, and Time Magazine included in its top 100 Albums of all time. It changed hip-hop and electronic music, and helped define the trip-hop genre. Now, for the 20th anniversary of the release, DJ Shadow breaks down the song "Mutual Slump." songexploder.net/dj-shadow
November 30, 2016
Angel Olsen released her third album, My Woman, in September 2016. It’s been critically acclaimed, including Pitchfork’s Best New Music and NME’s best albums of the year. In this episode, Angel Olsen takes apart the song "Shut Up Kiss Me." She breaks down how she recorded it live in the studio with her band, and how she tried things with her voice that she’d never done before. songexploder.net/angel-olsen
November 17, 2016
In the film Arrival, Amy Adams plays a linguist trying to decode an alien language. The score was composed by Johann Johannsson, his third film collaborating with director Denis Villeneuve. In this episode, Johann breaks down a piece from the score called Heptapod B, and how, like the film, it revolves around the concept of language. songexploder.net/arrival
November 8, 2016
Flatbush Zombies are a hip hop trio from Brooklyn. They formed in 2010. Their album 3001: A Laced Odyssey came out in 2016, and debuted in the top ten on the Billboard charts. Erick the Architect is one of the three MCs in the band (along with Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice) and he's also the group's producer. In this episode, Erick breaks down how the song Bounce was made.
October 28, 2016
The band Oathbreaker formed in 2008 in Belgium. In this episode, Caro and Gilles from the band break down the two-part song that opens their third album, Rheia. These two tracks, 10:56 and Second Son of R., were written and performed as one song. Coming up, they talk about how and why their sound transformed from a pure hardcore band to something more amalgamated, and Caro talks about her own evolution as a vocalist and a lyricist, writing candidly about her own past. songexploder.net/oathbreaker
October 19, 2016
James Vincent McMorrow is a singer/songwriter whose first albums fell somewhere on the folk music side of things. But his sound has changed over the years, incorporating elements of R&B and electronic music. On the album We Move, James worked with the producer Nineteen85, whose credits include tracks by Drake and Nicki Minaj. In this episode, James breaks down the song "Get Low" from that record and how it was inspired by Clipse, minimalism, and Los Angeles. songexploder.net/james-vincent-mcmorrow
October 6, 2016
Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter started Phantogram in 2007. They’ve worked on crafting a particular sound and they’ve had a particular way of making their dense productions since the beginning. But for their new record, Three, things changed. The song "You Don’t Get Me High Anymore" took the band outside of their comfort zone. And, in this episode, Sarah and Josh break down how they made the original demo, and how outsiders like The-Dream and co-producer Ricky Reed influenced the way the song ultimately turned out. songexploder.net/phantogram
September 21, 2016
In 2006, Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John released their third album, Writer’s Block. For months and months after that, it felt like you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the first single from that album, "Young Folks." It was on top 10 lists for song of the year in places like Pitchfork and NME. It’s been covered by James Blunt, and remixed by Kanye West, along with countless other versions out there. Now, ten years later, Peter Bjorn and John break down the song and how it all came together, and how it almost didn’t come together at all. songexploder.net/peter-bjorn-and-john
September 7, 2016
Mitski has been making records since 2012. Her third record, Puberty 2, came out in June 2016 and was critically acclaimed Pitchfork gave it Best New Music status. Her music has been featured in the tv show Adventure Time. In this episode, Mitski breaks down her song Your Best American Girl, along with her long-time collaborator Patrick Hyland. songexploder.net/mitski
August 25, 2016
Tom Fec, aka Tobacco, has released four albums since 2008. He's also the frontman of the band Black Moth Super Rainbow, and he created the theme music for the HBO show Silicon Valley. In this episode, Tom breaks down his song "Gods in Heat" from his newest album, Sweatbox Dynasty, recorded entirely on cassette. More at songexploder.net/tobacco.
August 15, 2016
Singer/songwriter Andra Day put out her first record in August 2015. Since then, she’s been invited by the Obamas to perform at the White House on multiple occasions, and the record was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B album. In this episode, Andra breaks down her song Forever Mine along with the track’s producer, Rob Kleiner.
August 4, 2016
BoJack Horseman is a Netflix original series, an animated comedy about a washed up 90s sitcom star who's trying to figure out his life and career without drowning in self-loathing and existential despair. It won the 2016 Critics Choice award for best animated series. The theme song for the show was created by Patrick Carney, who is one half of The Black Keys, and his uncle, Ralph Carney, a multi-instrumentalist who has worked artists like Tom Waits, St Vincent, The B-52s, Galaxie 500, and a lot more. But the track wasn't written for the show, originally; it was just something that Patrick and Ralph made without knowing what it was for. In this episode, the two break down how the song was created, and how it went from their long-distance collaboration to become a TV theme song.
July 25, 2016
Band of Horses released their 5th album in June 2016. In this episode, the band’s frontman, Ben Bridwell breaks down the song Solemn Oath, and how in the process of writing it, he confronted writer’s block, and balancing his life in the band and at home as a husband and father.
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