Couch Wisdom

iHeart Podcast Network

Couch Wisdom is a weekly podcast presenting the best of Red Bull Music Academy’s lecture archive. Questlove has called these in-depth interviews ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ for music, and who are we to disagree with Questlove? With personal stories and creative insights from Björk to The Black Madonna, Young Thug engineer Alex Tumay to Moodymann, there’s something for every music fan. Red Bull Music Academy is a world-traveling series of festivals and workshops est. in 1998.


United States


Couch Wisdom is a weekly podcast presenting the best of Red Bull Music Academy’s lecture archive. Questlove has called these in-depth interviews ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ for music, and who are we to disagree with Questlove? With personal stories and creative insights from Björk to The Black Madonna, Young Thug engineer Alex Tumay to Moodymann, there’s something for every music fan. Red Bull Music Academy is a world-traveling series of festivals and workshops est. in 1998.




Hip-hop original Madlib

Whether he’s working with artists like Freddie Gibbs, MF Doom or Erykah Badu, collaborating with the late J Dilla, or working under one of his own aliases, like the drugged out party creature Quasimoto, Madlib has carved out his own idiosyncratic corner in the massive hip-hop universe. Luckily, we were able to coax him out of his studio for this episode of Couch Wisdom, in which he discusses Prince, the death of his Quasimoto alter-ego, collaborating with Kanye West and his love of...


Can's Damo Suzuki

Damo Suzuki left Japan in his late teens and busked around Europe, attracting the attention of Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit of the band Can. Suzuki became their lead vocalist from 1970 to 1973, writing and singing on the band’s most enduring albums. In 1983, he returned to music-making to front Damo Suzuki’s Network, traveling the world to improvise and record with local bands. Here, he discusses his philosophy on “instant composing,” spirituality in making music and more.


Transcendent pop star Robyn

Robyn’s career reads like a film script: Swedish star tops of the charts, sidesteps pop for a more personal sound, ends up self-sufficient and even bigger than before. This second chapter has included five Grammy nominations, appearances on Saturday Night Live, iconic music videos and mentorship of young women. Here, Robyn discusses key moments from the past 20 years, why she always thinks of Prince to keep in shape and the experiences that inform her long-awaited new album, with Adam...


Essential French DJ Laurent Garnier

One of the forefathers of French electronic music, Laurent Garnier had an older brother who would sneak him into nightclubs. He caught the disco bug and moved to Manchester, falling under the spell of house music at the famed Haçienda nightclub. It was there that Garnier began to DJ in earnest, eventually leading to a well-earned reputation for eclectic, marathon sets. Here, Garnier discussed everything from approaching techno like a jazz musician to the role of radio in his early musical...


Pan Daijing: Sound, Performance, Emotion

The Chinese experimental artist Pan Daijing's attention to granular detail makes for a deeply absorbing listening experience. Since being an RBMA participant in Montréal in 2016, she's released her acclaimed debut album, Lack, on Berlin label PAN. Other releases include an EP on Dubai’s Bedouin Records and a collaborative 7" with Austrian musician-composer Werner Dafeldecker. Here, she discusses her inspirations, the relationship between sound and emotion, and her approach to composition.


Detroit techno originator Kevin Saunderson

While Juan Atkins and Derrick May are known as the originator and innovator of Detroit techno, respectively, Kevin Saunderson is known as the elevator for bringing it to the mainstream. In the late ’80s, his group Inner City topped UK charts with singles like “Big Fun” and “Good Life.” In addition to his 30+ years as a solo artist, he also runs the venerable KMS label. Here, Saunderson explores the history of techno, his mainstream success and creating the first ever dance remix.


Sound engineer Susan Rogers

Susan Rogers dropped out of high school to teach herself sound engineering. By 25, she worked for Crosby, Stills and Nash at their Rudy Records studio. Rogers spent five years working for Prince, a relationship that would change her life. She now holds a doctorate in psychology from McGill and is Associate Professor and Director of the Berklee Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory. Here, Rogers discussed the intricacies of listening, becoming a producer and her memories of working with...


Funktion-One's Tony Andrews

Tony Andrews has been building PAs for decades. Today, the soundsystems made by his company Funktion-One are preferred by the world’s best clubs. Their speakers are more iconic than you might expect something so technical to be – a testament to Andrews’ uncompromising vision for how to achieve great sound. Here, Andrews discussed the curse of line arrays, how to prevent what he calls the chainsaw effect, and why listening to music through our phones and other portable devices has ruined our...


Cellist Larry Gold: From MFSB to "The Boy Is Mine"

Philadelphia native Larry Gold has worked on countless hits over the past four decades. He was a member of MFSB, helping shape “The Sound of Philadelphia" via classic recordings on Philadelphia International. By the late ’90s, Gold was the go-to string arranger of the modern R&B and hip-hop era, working with the likes Brandy & Monica, the Roots, Erykah Badu and Kanye West. Here, Gold discusses learning and making music in Philadelphia, creating emotional depth with string arrangements...


Rap mainstay No I.D.

A pivotal figure in the ’90s Chicago rap scene, producer No I.D. is responsible for the bulk of Common’s early output. He went on to manage a young Kanye West and work with Jermaine Dupri and Jay-Z. He's been one of the top A&R men at Def Jam and worked as the executive vice president at Capitol Music Group. And he remains a great producer, shaping the sound of albums by Vince Staples and Vic Mensa. Here, No I.D. discusses why humility and focus are key to success, and much more.


Sun Ra Arkestra's Marshall Allen

Marshall Allen is the third man to helm the Sun Ra Arkestra. The alto saxophonist joined the group in 1958 and led its reed section for over 40 years. For this episode, Allen was joined by Danny Ray Thompson, a bassoon player and saxophonist who joined the Arkestra in the mid-’60s, managed Sun Ra for 10 years and handled production of the El Saturn recordings. Together, the pair recall their career with one of music's greatest visionaries, from the rehearsals to his humor and philosophies.


Club and pop music polymath Jam City

The roster for UK electronic label Night Slugs is stacked with talent, so it’s no small praise to say that British producer, songwriter and DJ Jack Latham, AKA Jam City, is one of the label’s most prominent artists. Though he's lauded for his dynamic solo work, Latham displays even greater versatility in his collaborative projects, like Kelela’s electro-R&B album Take Me Apart. Here, Latham discussed getting his club music education in London, the power of minimalism and the psychology of...


Singular rapper Pusha T

Born in the Bronx and raised in Virginia Beach, Terrence LeVarr Thornton, AKA Pusha T, is one of the most influential rappers alive. He and his brother No Malice formed rap duo Clipse, whose Neptunes-produced albums are accepted masterworks of street rap. After the brothers parted ways, Thornton signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music, where he's released three studio albums, including 2018's Kanye-produced Daytona. Here, Pusha T discusses rap’s competitive spirit, making Daytona and much more.


Definitive American composer Philip Glass

Philip Glass' compositions transformed the world of classical music and, eventually, popular music in general. Time spent in Paris set Glass on a course toward the repetitive, dramatic and conceptually rigorous style that has become his trademark. He's behind compositions like Music In Twelve Parts and Einstein On The Beach, and became a popular sensation, a serious composer who wasn’t willfully obscure or too difficult to understand. Here, Glass discussed musical tradition and the art of...


Teki Latex on his musical evolution

Teki Latex is a progressive presence in the French electronic music scene. He got his start as a founding MC in Parisian hip-hop act TTC, along with collaborators including DJ Orgasmic and Para One. He co-founded the influential Institubes label, then continued pushing his genreless vision via Sound Pellegrino. He’s also the selector for the Paris arm of vogue legends House of Ninja. Here, Teki Latex shares his vision for the future of club music and retraced the evolution of his musical...


House music legends Masters At Work

"Little" Louie Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez have spent more than 20 years shepherding dance music down new paths. With remixes being their specialty, their treatment has been given to artists from Madonna, Debbie Gibson and Lisa Stansfield, to Saint Etienne, Michael Jackson, Brand New Heavies and about 800 other artists. They defiantly mix house, hip-hop, funk, disco, Latin, African and jazz into a universal groove. Here, the dancefloor dons discuss their famed remixes and their work as...


Mixpak's Dre Skull

Raised on the East Coast underground freak-punk scene, Dre Skull perceives urban music culture as a holistic affair. After lacing beats for heavy hitters such as Beenie Man, Popcaan and Pusha T, the mighty Major Lazer asked Dre Skull to co-produce Snoop Dogg’s reggae-fied reincarnation as Snoop Lion. In this episode of Couch Wisdom recorded at the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy in New York, the vybz master talked about how he became one of Jamaica’s most in-demand beatmakers.


Ben UFO on joining the dots as a DJ

London’s Ben UFO started out on pirate radio station Sub FM in 2007, playing alongside friends, producers and DJs Pangaea and Pearson Sound. After being sent new music every week, the trio started the Hessle Audio label, through which they joined the dots of the UK underground between house, techno, jungle and drum & bass. Ben has graduated to flagship London radio station Rinse FM and a near-constant touring schedule. Here, he touched on the label’s early days and making the weird...


Pop radical Planningtorock

For Jam Rostron, the multimedia artist who performs as Planningtorock, subversion – in gender, sexuality and politics – has driven their creativity for almost two decades. After the melodramatic pop of their debut album and 2013’s anthem “Patriarchy (Over & Out)” – not to mention writing an opera about Charles Darwin with the Knife – Rostron’s ambitions only grew bolder on their 2018 album Powerhouse. Here, Rostron discusses growing up through music and art, the commodification of queer iden


Piano adventurer Chilly Gonzales

Pianist, composer and entertainer Chilly Gonzales is no ordinary musician. Originally from Canada, he scored a Grammy for his contribution to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and seamlessly switches from working with Boys Noize to Feist to Drake, to his education endeavor the Gonzervatory. Key to Gonzales’ work is a desire to push the boundaries, continuously tackling the highbrow/lowbrow dichotomy. Here, Gonzales opens up about his formative years, his time in Berlin with Peaches, Franz...