Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.

Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.


New York, NY




Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.






WNYC Radio 160 Varick St. New York, NY 10013 (212) 433-9692


Helado Negro Refracts Music Through a Latinx Lense (Archives)

Since 2009, the Ecuadorian-American singer and songwriter Roberto Lange has been making records under the name Helado Negro (that’s “black ice cream” in Spanish.) His music has been literally bilingual, in the sense that he sings in both Spanish and English, but it’s also been metaphorically bilingual, with its mix of art and pop. 2016's Helado Negro album, Private Energy, responds to the Black Lives Matter movement, and contains some explicitly political material. They play some of those...


Gracie and Rachel: Intimate Orchestral Pop (Archives)

Dark and light constantly fuse, diverge, and unite in Brooklyn violin-piano duo, Gracie and Rachel. Their 2015 debut album Go, begins with a single haunting note. Pizzicato violin from Rachel Ruggles and Gracie Coates' piano ebb and flow together in a rocking orchestral rhythm, while Gracie's milky vocals add a delicate layer of gothic pop on top. Gracie usually wears white, Rachel wears black. Together they make a kind of orchestral indie pop music that plays with light and dark, and...


Adrian Crowley's Songs Are True Stories and Born of Another Place

Irish singer and songwriter Adrian Crowley is known for his often detailed but surreal storytelling, and for his rich baritone voice. Crowley says that his latest batch of songs “straddle the conscious and subconscious world and some are even psychedelic in my mind, but to me they are all at once true stories and born of another place.” Produced by John Parish (Aldous Harding, PJ Harvey) and featuring members of Portishead and Crash Ensemble, these tunes were initially composed on a “charity...


The Steady Reinvention of Mexican Alt-Rockers Café Tacvba (Archives)

The rock band Café Tacvba, (who sing exclusively in Spanish) is constantly opening new creative doors. They first formed in Mexico City in the 1990’s and consistently, over eight albums, they’ve shown themselves to be masters of reinvention and experimentation. They’ve played it all: techno-folk garage rock, pop, ambient electronica, instrumental music, even collaborated with Kronos Quartet, which brings us to their latest - Jei Beibi, which was recorded in Los Angeles in 2016 with their...


Music Adrift From Time By Shakey Graves

Ten years ago, Alejandro Rose-Garcia released his debut album as Shakey Graves, featuring songs rooted in the haunted blues of the American South. The Texas Americana and roots-rock musician holds forth on learning fingerpicking from a song by Kansas, the legendary Dr. John, sports metaphors, and the making of music not of this time. Rose-Garcia has reissued a deluxe edition of that album, Roll The Bones X, and Shakey Graves plays some of those songs remotely. Set list: “Built to Roam,”...


Emile Mosseri's Music Is Made to Tell Stories

Emile Mosseri wrote the moving soundtrack to the family drama film Minari, (about a Korean-American family struggling to achieve the American dream in the 1980’s) and has been nominated for an Academy Award for it. (It's also up for best director, Lee Isaac Chung, and best film.) The pianist and songwriter also wrote the scores to The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Kajillionaire. He plays some of his Oscar-nominated music for Minari for us at the piano and drops a hint about his...


The Stretch Music of Trumpter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (Archives)

New Orleans trumpeter, composer, producer, and instrument designer Christian Scott, also known as Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (in 2011, he de-Westernized his name with these two extensions, names from the Ghanaian, as a nod to suppressed histories), makes Stretch Music. Jazz-trained, he stretches and marries the seemingly disparate sounds of Trap Music (Southern hiphop, mixed with techno, dub, and dutch house), traditional West African percussion and New Orleanian Afro-Native American...


Angélique Kidjo From Live With Carnegie Hall (April 2020)

Angélique Kidjo is a force of nature. The globetrotting Beninese singer has won numerous Grammys, collaborated with Alicia Keys, David Byrne, Philip Glass, and Branford Marsalis, and curated a recent Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall. But the finale in that series was cancelled in March 2020 – it was supposed to celebrate both Kidjo’s 60th birthday and the anniversary of the independence movement in West Africa. From the online "Live with Carnegie Hall" series recorded in April 2020,...


Pianist Neil Cowley Envelops Himself in Sound

“Noise gives me comfort,” says BBC Jazz Award-winning pianist Neil Cowley, whose long and varied career ranges from early classical training to stints in triphop and funk bands, and his acoustic groove jazz piano trio (dissolved in 2018). Oh - and there was that turn as Adele’s pianist on some of her biggest hits. Neil’s new album Hall of Mirrors is a solo effort, for piano and lots of electronics – treatments, field recordings and other surprising textures enabled by contact microphones,...


Cellist Alisa Weilerstein Shares the Optimistic Wisdom of J.S. Bach

Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites are an essential rite of passage for all cellists, being "some of the most frequently performed and recognizable solo compositions ever written for cello" (Wikipedia.) Alisa Weilerstein discusses what she finds to be the therapeutic and hopeful nature of Bach and her approach to the cello suites while making music at home. Weilerstein offers two movements of the suites as part of her “36 days of Bach,” where she shared one movement from each of the six...


Femi Kuti: Social Conscience with a Beat (Archives)

Nigerian musician Femi Kuti famously hasn’t listened to another artist’s music in over a decade. It’s tempting to think that’s because he’s the son of one of Nigeria’s greatest musical minds, the late superstar Fela Kuti—the weight of history, expectations, etc. But Femi says he keeps his ears quiet as a way to get in touch with his own deepest creative impulses. Femi Kuti's latest release is a 2021 double-album, with his son, Made Kuti, called Legacy+, and Femi’s half, Legacy+, Stop the...


Guitarist/Singer Benjamin Booker's Potent Cocktail of Punk & Soul (Archives)

Full of buzzing energy and ready to burst, guitarist Benjamin Booker is a punk & grit-infused songwriter whose ecstatic and soulful sounds channel vintage soul-rock, gospel and blues. The Tampa-born musician recently took up residence in Mexico for inspiration, then had a crisis of conscience while observing from abroad the news of police shootings and Black Lives Matter protests. His second record, Witness (ATO Records) is an outlet for his examination of self and society, with...


The Many Musical Paths of Guitarist Gary Lucas

Guitarist Gary Lucas has played with Captain Beefheart, written hit songs with Jeff Buckley and Joan Osborne, and covered everything from 1930s Chinese pop to classical music. He even played with the Yale Symphony Orchestra for the premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass in 1973. Lucas has just released The Essential Gary Lucas (Knitting Factory), a 40-year retrospective of his career of writing, arranging, performing and exploring music: blues and classical, psychedelic and world music, jazz,...


Anais Mitchell: From Hadestown to Our Own Place and Time (From the Archives)

Singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell might be best known for her take on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Hadestown. In 2012, she came out with a record called Young Man In America -- an album full of mythical characters and stories from our own place and time. Mitchell plays songs from 'Young Man in America,' in-studio. (From the Archives, 2012) Set List:


Dusty Psych-Soul and Fiery Groove From Black Pumas (Archives)

Both old and new, Austin-based band Black Pumas is centered around guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada and 27-year-old songwriter Eric Burton. Grammy Award-winning Quesada has played in Grupo Fantasma and Brownout, and accompanied artists from Prince to Daniel Johnston. Burton grew up in church and then got heavily involved in musical theater. He arrived in Austin in 2015 after busking his way across the country from Los Angeles, and connected with Quesada on the phone. From idea to...


Lake Street Dive's Crafty Retro Pop-Soul

Lake Street Dive brings the retro 70’s pop with R&B groove, combining light with dark in a crafty way. Formed in school at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, all five members can sing, and admit to being “a geeky bunch”, and “a bunch of nerds.” The band did a lot of co-writing on these songs - a new love for them, and for each tune, they carefully considered their arrangements, including deployment of vocoder. With topics that tackle climate change, and the inequalities between...


Sanya N’Kanta On Precious Time With Family

Jamaican-born, North Carolina-based singer and songwriter Sanya N’Kanta has written songs about race and immigration, but his new EP is about the simple pleasures of family and home. N’Kanta started off in music producing hip hop, but he’s adept at all kinds of styles, with an impressive vocal range. He is a self-taught musician and multi-instrumentalist, and a self-avowed “studio rat”, who has already completed another album, due early summer 2021. Sanya N’Kanta moved to North Carolina a...


Oceanator, Heavy-Grunge-Pop DIY Superhero

Singer/songwriter/arranger/guitarist Elise Okusami, who records as Oceanator (supervillain or superhero?), came up in the DC punk scene, playing drums, guitar, and bass; she then learned fingerpicking by listening to Elliott Smith records. Okusami is the sole songwriter/arranger of her music, although she has tapped friends/members of the Oceanator touring band for recording. She also releases music on her own label, Plastic Miracles, as befits a DIY musician/entrepreneur. Oceanator’s...


Elizabeth And The Catapult Takes on Connection and Loneliness

Elizabeth Ziman is a classically-trained pianist, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who leads the long-running indie band Elizabeth And The Catapult. Her new album is sincerely, e – a wry, poignant, affecting response to the pandemic, mostly centered around her home’s piano (which happens to belong to Rob Moose, violinist, arranger, and a member of yMusic.) For the podcast, Ziman talks about seeking more human connection, and the double-edged sword of being able to interact with...


LNZNDRF (members of The National and Beirut) Is All About The Musical Journey

LNZNDRF is a band composed of Scott and Bryan Devendorf of The National, and Ben Lanz and Aaron Arntz of Beirut. They improvise their CAN-influenced drone-fuzz psych jams, then edit and structure them into long-form songs, with or without vocals. With pieces named for an isolated 1000 year-old tree and the changing climate and topography of the Xeric Steppe, or life partners against the world, the sounds might range from New Order’s non-dance floor hits with Krautrock undertones which may...