Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 8:53 am
When you operate within the pop world — that is, the world in which whatever you make becomes a cultural commodity (i.e. you record a song, it gets played on the radio and various hands exchange money) — you have to engage with the process of generating hype. It's a given, no matter how carefully made your work or how pure your intentions. Some people are in the thick of hype, but let's put thoughts of today's provocateurs aside for a moment. Instead, it's interesting to think about how artists who've had the machine spin around them a few times choose to play the game, or change it.
Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 10:50 am
Pearl Jam is set to release its 10th studio album, Lightning Bolt, on Oct. 15, making it the band's first record since 2009's Backspacer. The group members aren't doing much publicity for the album — but when they do, they make it count.
On Tuesday's edition of World Cafe, listeners can hear director and producer Judd Apatow (Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) talk with the premier American rock band in a wide-ranging interview.
KEXP's session with Japanese musician Shugo Tokumaru would be charming in any language. On his albums, the young multi-instrumentalist meticulously crafts every aspect by himself, and he's reported to have used more than 100 different instruments in his recordings. Live in the studio here, he's backed by a small army of musicians who wield a colorful arsenal of tiny plastic whistles, toy xylophones, bird whistles and more. The band even brings along a clown puppet.
It's remarkable to think that Superchunk's career has spanned four decades. The North Carolina band got its start in 1989, and here it is in 2013, with a new record called I Hate Music that demonstrates an undying passion for punk-fueled story songs with catchy phrasing.
Rapper Blitz the Ambassador explains to Tell Me More for the occasional series "In Your Ear," that his favorite songs are the ones that helped shape his sound. "I keep these songs really close because they always remind me of where it all begins, and what makes me the artist that I am," he says.
As his name suggests, Blitz sees himself as an ambassador for Africa and hip-hop.
Most opera singers work their way to the big league by singing bit parts in regional opera houses. Not soprano Angela Meade. She landed on top instantly with her professional debut in the lead soprano role of Giuseppe Verdi's Ernani at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 2008.
It was a dream come true. The star soprano took ill and the understudy, Meade, was suddenly shoved into the spotlight. The press said she sang "like an old pro from start to finish."
Cellist and composer Erik Friedlander lost his wife of many years, dancer and choreographer Lynn Shapiro, to breast cancer in 2011. She'd been diagnosed a decade earlier, and Friedlander says music became a place of vital release for him as her condition worsened.
"During the difficult years, I did take refuge in working," he says. "It was a place where I could make the rules; where I could control what I could control."