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Barbican Contemporary Music Podcast

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Each month presenting exclusive interviews and music from the hottest concerts at the Barbican.

Each month presenting exclusive interviews and music from the hottest concerts at the Barbican.
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London, United Kingdom


Each month presenting exclusive interviews and music from the hottest concerts at the Barbican.




Barbican Centre Silk Street London EC2Y 8DS 020 7638 4141


The Music of Jim Jarmusch – with David Coulter, Alex Kapranos and more

This week’s podcast – spanning both the Cinema and Contemporary Music programme – delves into the musical world of the cult director’s compelling cinematic oeuvre, from whiskey-soaked Tom Waits to John Lurie’s No Wave Sax. Ahead of the Jim Jarmusch Revisited show here in September 2017 (, we talk to musical fans including Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, David Coulter, Camille O’Sullivan, Mulatu Astatke, Jolie Holland and also to the journalist Karen Krizanovich.

Duration: 00:23:26

Jace Clayton on Julius Eastman

Ahead of our Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner gig with Jace Clayton (AKA DJ/Rupture) we look into the saga of this most interesting of composers – a minimalist master and contemporary of Feldman and Cage – who died destitute and with many of his scores lost.

Duration: 00:17:24

Stephin Merritt (Magnetic Fields)

Following the release of his autobiographical 50 Song Memoir (with a song dedicated to each year of his life so far) and the live performance coming up in September, the idiosyncratic singer-songwriter talks to us about his music and his process.

Duration: 00:15:08

Laura Mvula

‘I’m always a creative soul, looking for the next thing…’ In one of his favourite ever interviews, Ben speaks to the double Mercury-nominated singer and songwriter Laura Mvula about her life, music and the upcoming show here with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Duration: 00:24:14

Simon Raymonde on Bella Union

We spoke to the ex-Cocteau Twin about Bella Union, the record label he co-founded 20 years ago and still runs today and who’s nurtured the likes of Fleet Foxes, Dirty Three, Beach House and many more. We’re throwing the label a 20th birthday party this July, with gigs featuring Ezra Furman and Mercury Rev with Royal Northern Sinfonia. Find out more:

Duration: 00:16:43

Jeff Mills

We speak to the legendary techno producer/composer, the founder of Underground Resistance, a recent recipient of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and probably one of the most influential electronic musicians of all time. Jeff takes up residency at the Barbican in June 2017, with From Here to There – a series of live music, film and dance experiences looking at themes of sci-fi:

Duration: 00:18:50

The Unthanks on Molly Drake

The Northumbrian folk group unearth the wistful work of Molly Drake – Nick’s mother – who wrote and recorded a series of poems and songs on a tape set-up in the family home, which the group have re-worked and recorded.

Duration: 00:17:28

Manana // Cuba

Originally taking place in Santiago de Cuba last year, Manana//Cuba festival married traditional Afro-Cuban sounds with forward-thinking electronics. We spoke to festival co-founder Harry Follett as well as Cuban/Iranian act Ariwo and UK-based electronic duo Soundspecies about how they plan to bring the atmosphere of Santiago to the Barbican Hall on 26 May.

Duration: 00:22:40


Ahead of playing his music live for the first time ever, here at the Barbican in May 2017, we spoke to the legendary producer and DJ about his musical upbringing, performing live and the Simpsons.

Duration: 00:16:17

Philip Glass’s Music in Twelve Parts

We delve into the four-hour minimalist masterpiece – one of the undoubted milestones of contemporary classical music – with three of the first musicians outside the Philip Glass Ensemble whom the composer has permitted to perform the piece: Bedroom Community pianist and organist James McVinnie, composer Timo Andres and pianist Eliza McCarthy.

Duration: 00:13:07

Piano Day

To celebrate the 88th Day of the year and Nils Frahm’s international celebration of the piano, we get under the lid with piano-tuner-to-the-stars Ulrich Gerhartz to look at the science of the instrument, and also members of Piano Circus, James Young and Dawn Hardwick, and composer Angus MacRae.

Duration: 00:20:42

The Can Project // Irmin Schmidt

Laying the foundations of what came to be known as Krautrock, Can became one of the most influential avant-rock groups of all time, and echoes of their work is audible in everything from Joy Division to Kanye West. We caught up with founding member Irmin Schmidt and his collaborator on this project Gregor Schwellenbach, as well as Can biographer Rob Young about the unique history of the band and adapting classic material for a full orchestra.

Duration: 00:22:52

Hatsune Miku

You could argue that all Pop stars are created, but not to the same extent as Hatsune Miku. Starting life as a vocaloid program created by Japanese developers, and evolving into a full-blown virtual Pop star and cyber celebrity with hit singles worldwide and sellout stadium performances, she comes to the Barbican in Still Be Here. We spoke to artists Mari Matsutoya and Darren Johnston about Hatsune, her back-story and the Barbican project, Still Be Here.

Duration: 00:14:05


‘The most adventurous thing they’ve ever done.’ Crack Magazine Originally written for and staged in the eerie surroundings of an abandoned Cold War era Hospital in Copenhagen, Leaves - The Colour of Falling has been revived and reworked for the concert hall. We chat to Casper Clausen from the band, co-composer Karsten Fundal and famous soprano Lisbeth Balslev about how the project came together, the challenge of working with unfamiliar music and what might be coming next for the group.

Duration: 00:18:03

Shirley Collins

Despite being one of the most important voices of the British Folk revival of the 60s and 70s – accompanying Alan Lomax on his renowned ‘Southern Journey’ trip recording songs through the American South, and working with everyone from Folk-rock group Pentangle to avant-garde guitarist Davey Graham, Shirley Collins was nearly lost to obscurity, when an illness in the 80s made it impossible for her to sing. We catch up with the singer and song collector at her cottage in Lewes about finding...

Duration: 00:30:02

Warm Digits on scoring Sunderland’s experience of WW1

Narrated by Kate Adie, and featuring a soundtrack by Field Music and Warm Digits, Esther Johnson’s moving documentary Asunder captures one city’s experience of the First World War – not through grisly images of war, but through the real stories of people who lived there. We chat to Warm Digits’ Andrew Hodson about working with Field Music on composing for the film.

Duration: 00:13:17

Steve Mason

Ahead of Alive! at the Barbican – a show that sees Steve Mason perform new arrangements of his music with an expanded ensemble, we chat to the singer and songwriter about the various twists and turns of his career.

Duration: 00:19:16

Jóhann Jóhannsson

We talk to Jóhann Jóhannsson about his fascination with film, and love of the voice as an instrument The Icelandic composer behind the brooding and beautiful scores for Arrival, Sicario and The Theory of Everything, Jóhann Jóhannsson blends elements of Classical music and electronica into something wholly his own. In this week’s edition of the Barbican Contemporay Music Podcast, we chat to the composer about Jean Cocteau, composing for film, and his interest in the voice as an instrument,...

Duration: 00:17:11

Michael Nyman at 40

40 years after their creation, we chat to composer Michael Nyman about his upcoming performance with his band - charting the journey from their inception, to their stunning soundtrack work for 'The Draughtman’s Contract', 'Prospero’s Books' and more, through to present day.

Duration: 00:18:48

Art Spiegelman and Philip Johnston / Wordless

The graphic novel may be an important part of popular culture today, given the same weight and gravitas as literary fiction or film, but it wasn’t always that way. On Friday 11 November, Art Spiegelmen, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece ‘Maus’ and saxophonist Philip Johnston bring Wordless! to the Barbican - their show that takes you through the history of the graphic novel. Discussing how their collaboration came about, and enthusing about their love for Jazz and comics, we...

Duration: 00:19:45

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