Conversations about music, with people who love music. Interviews focus on key moments of discovery, and the songs/artists that have soundtracked the guest's life. Hosted by journalist and radio presenter Jenny Eliscu (@jennylsq), these are laid-back but in-depth discussions, with music-makers and music-lovers. Episodes also occasionally feature clips from Eliscu's extensive archive, which includes 20 years' worth of interview audio.
Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne on the profound influence of punk rock in his life: “Previous to that, you didn’t know that art was fucked up. To be a musician meant, ‘You’ve gotta know music. If you don’t know music, you don’t belong here.’ When really, some of the greatest musicians would say just the opposite — ‘Don’t worry about that, fuckin’ do your thing.’ But in this world, when you’re young and surrounded by a bunch of know-it-alls, everybody wants to tell you, ‘This is how it works and you don’t know nothin’.’ And you’re innocent, you believe them and say, ‘Well, I wanna try to do it my way.’ I was lucky punk rock came along. And I really did relate to John Lydon, I really did relate to the guys in Duran Duran and even Anthony Kiedis and Red Hot Chili Peppers. They just said, ‘Fuck it, we’re gonna do it our way and we don’t care.’ Beastie Boys. Having that inspiration, you can’t know how valuable that is. Suddenly what you thought might be true, they’re living it saying, ‘Yeah, it’s true.’ We started to do more and more shows and Black Flag came through here and played and the Minutemen came though here and played and the Replacements. And all these people, Sonic Youth came here and they would sleep on our couch and we’d talk to them and it’d be like, ‘We’re not alone.’ And I think that’s such a powerful bond, and it’s even more of a bond than just doing music. To know that there’s this thing, that you can do it, you can be a part of it. They’re inspiring you and you’re inspiring them, and it’s amazing. It’s knowing, ‘I’m not stupid for thinking this. I’m not purposely being an outsider.’”
Experimental electronic composer and producer Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never delves into key influences from Chick Corea to Rush to My Bloody Valentine to Nirvana to DJ Premier, in a conversation about his evolving creative process. He talks about growing up as the child of Russian immigrants, recollecting the “beautiful red velvet walls” of the Russian restaurant where his father’s rock band played weekly covers gigs; his early adventures in sampling while working as a video store clerk; his fascination with “the way melody emerges from texture, how an incidental sound can be a rhythm,” as well as “the hallucinatory experience of music” and the “hidden frequencies of life.”
The three members of Houston, TX trio Khruangbin — bassist Laura Lee, drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson, guitarist Mark Speer — share insights into their individual and collective creative journeys. “LL,” as her bandmates call her, talks about learning to read by studying Beatles liner notes, her teenage obsession with Radiohead, and how her approach to art has evolved since she joined Khruangbin. DJ shares memories of being three years-old, playing Barry White songs on his little kids' drum kit, how gigging in a church band with Mark developed into playing in Khruangbin, and which of the band’s recent achievements he’s proudest of. And Mark describes learning how to use his older brother’s abandoned synthesizer as an early songwriting tool, his experiences working at a drumstick factory, his philosophy for Khruangbin’s sound, and more.
“I didn’t like curse words when I was real young, so my dad would read Spin and get black ink and blot out the curse words for me,” says Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio, explaining how his father helped shape his early interest in music. “He would bring home records he was interested in and it always ran a wide gamut. His favorite musician is Jimi Hendrix and we would listen to so much Jimi Hendrix, but at the same time, I would have been ten years old when he bought his first Guided By Voices album and we would have had that on in the house. Always having music around in the house, reading the Saturday or Sunday paper, that’s how I grew up. There wasn’t one defined sensibility. My dad would buy A Tribe Called Quest, he’d buy Green Day, and so I’d listen to a fairly wide gamut. It’s definitely a huge reason why I’m a musician today.” Baio’s new solo album, Dead Hand Control, is out now.
“I’d write terrible songs constantly, and I just loved it so much,” Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold says of his early years exploring songwriting — a process he began by elaborating on Joni Mitchell and Elliott Smith tunings he’d learned on the internet. “I felt so passionately about it as a teenager that I think every other possibility started to seem unlikely. I just felt like that was what I was going to do.” Episode 56 features a conversation about Pecknold’s creative journey, favorite artists of his including Nirvana, John Prine and Joanna Newsom, how his songwriting has evolved since those teenage years, Fleet Foxes’ beautiful 2020 album Shore, and more.
Victoria Legrand, on writing music for Beach House: “It’s like something magical happening. And I believe in that, there’s love, but it’s not just love between us, it’s the whole universe around us and all the things we’ve been reading about the stars and the movies we’ve seen and the pain I’ve felt from talking to people about their loss. It all sucks down into this one moment of pure reaction. I’ve always said music is very personal to [bandmate] Alex [Scally] and I, but it’s not just that I got my heart broken by this guy or girl, it’s I got my heart broken by the whole world. Or all the things I ever heard about somebody’s heartbreak, it’s in me somehow. It’s like this stain and it’s coming out because I hear these tones and these chords and these notes and they make me feel like crying or they make me completely euphoric. That’s the thing that hasn’t changed, but I think it’s become amplified. And that is why I don’t think we’re done making records. Because if that ever stopped, if that really innocent reaction, where all of the angst and all of the sorrow and beauty didn’t just get triggered into something beautiful or something that takes us out of the news or the car-crash, then we would stop, I always said that. But it’s not stopping.”
The dude behind the King Tuff moniker, Kyle Thomas, talks about the punk music he discovered as a kid, growing up in Brattleboro, Vermont; learning to shred by studying Jimi Hendrix; playing in the band Witch with one of his heroes, Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis; how his songwriting has developed since he started King Tuff; the ways that learning a new instrument inspires new song ideas, and more! Support the LSQ podcast at anchor.fm/jennylsq
The awesomely uncategorizable singer-songwriter Shamir talks about key moments in his creative trajectory, with nods to influences including The Who, Taylor Swift, Nina Simone, Björk, Tegan & Sara, Vivian Girls, and more.
A revealing deep-dive with Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Michelle Branch about her life in music — from her childhood obsession with the Beatles and Frankie Valli to early songwriting explorations inspired by artists like the Gin Blossoms and Lisa Loeb, through her tenacious teenage pursuit of a record deal, the making of her multiplatinum 2001 album The Spirit Room when she was only 16, the battles she fought for creative control, and how she approaches her music today.
Chances are you already love Justin Tranter’s songs, even if you’ve never heard their name before. During the past several years , Justin has written massive pop songs by artists including Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Imagine Dragons, Halsey and many more. In 2020 alone, Justin has written songs for The Chicks’ Gaslighter, Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, Selena Gomez’s Rare, and Gaga’s Chromatica, among others. We talk about childhood obsessions that inform their creative sensibility -- The Little Mermaid, the musical Annie, and female tennis champs like Monica Seles -- and discuss their old band, Semi Precious Weapons, as well as of course getting into their songwriting process and how it has evolved.
M. Ward talks about his new album, Migration Stories, and early influences from The Beatles and Bach to Firehose and Sonic Youth. Plus, an excerpt from a recent conversation with Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck, about folk music and the magic of songs.
Empress Of's Lorely Rodriguez talks about her new album, I'm Your Empress Of, and the creative journey that led her there. Plus, the debut of a new LSQ theme song, composed and recorded by Houses' Dexter Tortoriello!
Chances are you’re already aware of the genius of Tim Heidecker as a comedian, actor, writer and director. But if you haven’t been paying close attention to his career the past decade, you might have missed that he has also devoted quite a bit of time and passion to making music, as well. And he’s quite good at it. Heidecker talks with Jenny about some of his lifelong musical favorites (Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, the Beatles, the Band), discusses how writing music differs from writing comedy, and shares exclusive insights into the making of his next album, a collaboration with Weyes Blood, and members of Lemon Twigs and Warpaint.
tUnE-yArDs co-founder Merrill Garbus chats with Jenny about her life in music, discussing early musical influences (Ani DiFranco, Johnny Clegg, Ali Farka Touré, to name a few), how her focus shifted from theater and puppeteering (!) to making music in a band, and how she hopes tUnE-yArDs can contribute to positive change in the world.
“The biggest artistic change for me in the last ten years is that I finally view my inconsistencies not as my Achilles’ heel, but as my superpower," says Alex Ebert. "I can score a movie, I can work on political stuff, I can write, I can do all these things, I can be happy, I can be sad, I can be a punk, I can be a hippie, because to quote Walt Whitman, I do contain multitudes. And so do you. I think we all do.”
Hannah Hooper went through a lot in the months leading up to making Grouplove's new LP, Healer: emergency brain surgery, the death of a close friend, recording an album down the road from one of the most notorious U.S./Mexico border detention camps, and the cathartic experience of painting her first solo exhibition. We delve into all of it in episode 42, as well as discussing her evolving songwriting practice and how she’s learned to overcome stage fright by embracing a superhero version of herself.
Episode 41 traces the creative journey of Cursive and The Good Life’s Tim Kasher, who helped his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska build its own cottage record industry, in partnership with bands such as Bright Eyes and The Faint. The conversation also finds Kasher reflecting on the ebbs and flows of songwriting, his relationship with his singing voice, his screenwriting hobby, and more. Plus, some important Kasher news: The Good Life are touring again this spring! Dates below.
Natasha Khan, the U.K.-born artist who records under the moniker Bat for Lashes, talks about major musical moments in her life (the Michael Jackson concert her mom took her to, the feeling of laying on her patio in a green mohair sweater, dreaming of Kurt Cobain, her earliest attempts at making her own art, etc.) and how they have shaped her creative approach. She also explains how she came to the 80s-tinged sound on her new album, Lost Girls. Plus, in honor of a new LP by Best Coast, the episode includes an excerpt from LSQ #13 with the band’s Bethany Cosentino.
An in-depth interview with singer-songwriter Hamilton Leithauser (erstwhile frontman for The Walkmen), where he shares the first details about his upcoming new solo album. He also discusses early influences (Springsteen, The Cramps, soundtracks to Fred Astaire films), his initial songwriting endeavors (using the mathematical side of composition to sketch out his ideas) and why he chose to build a home studio to record the new LP.
“The problem with good vs evil: Evil has a better publicist,” says Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, describing the difficulty of cutting through digital noise in an algorithm-driven world. It’s part of a fascinating interview that touches on early creative influences (Morricone’s The Mission soundtrack , trips to Rod Stewart concerts with his mom), the pros and cons of leading a band with more than a dozen people in it, and what it was like to sit court-side during the Toronto Raptors epic NBA Fi
Caroline Polachek, known for her work in Chairlift, discusses her intoxicating new solo LP and key moments in her creative journey: from learning the basics of music transposition playing Disney songs on a keyboard her dad brought home, to her teenage nu-metal band, to the ladies’ choir where she performed a cappella versions of Enya and Brandy & Monica tunes. Plus, a 2001 interview with Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland, where he discusses sobriety, bipolar disorder and STP’s place in rock history.
Singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart talks about his earliest creative experiences, growing up in Venezuela and Southern California, falling in love with music by artists as varied as Caetano Veloso, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Radiohead and Modest Mouse. Plus, an interview with David Cross about his tastes in music and comedy, and a fascinating discussion of the writing process he uses to put together his albums and TV specials.
Indie rock legend Stephen Malkmus chats with LSQ about early influences (Devo, Sex Pistols, Stones), how his songwriting has changed since the Pavement days, and what he thinks of modern artists like Vampire Weekend and Frank Ocean. Plus, highlights from a 2018 interview with Angel Olsen, on the eve of her new album, All Mirrors.
Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace reflects on the music that inspired her as a kid, how her songwriting practice has evolved, and what she's learned from twenty years on tour. She also discusses her excellent debut solo album, Bought To Rot, and addresses whether Against Me! is likely to make another album.
On the eve of releasing a fantastic new album, Engines of Paradise, Adam Green (formerly of The Moldy Peaches) joins Jenny for a lively dissection of his creative process and the influences that have shaped his art. We also discuss his quest to figure out what cologne David Bowie wore. Plus! Royal Trux legend Jennifer Herrema talks about getting the band back together, and how she found her way to being one of her generation's most iconoclastic artists.
A wide-ranging conversation with Interpol’s Paul Banks about his childhood musical influences (Nirvana, Bruce, the song “Tears of a Clown,” and more), his passion for surfing, and how songwriting can feel like an archaeological dig. Also, actor and documentary filmmaker Colin Hanks talks about how early experiences hearing Bowie on the radio or seeing hair metal give way to alt-rock on MTV shaped his taste in music.
A fascinating deep-dive with The Drums' Jonny Pierce about how his songwriting journey was shaped by his strict religious upbringing (including being subjected to conversion therapy by his parents), and how he's learning to let go of the idea that he needs to be sad to be creative. Plus, from the archive, a backstage interview with The Raconteurs' Jack White and Brendan Benson, recorded at Lollapalooza 2008.
As the legendary indie label Merge Records prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary in Chapel Hill, its founders — Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance — join LSQ to talk about the evolution of the imprint, and their separate experiences growing up as punk rock kids in the Eighties. Plus, Helium/Wild Flag/Ex Hex’s Mary Timony explores the influences that forged her current approach to songwriting.
Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds discusses his creative journey, examining influences ranging from Harry Nilsson and ska music to spiritual crisis and self-acceptance. And actor-activist Busy Philipps chats with Jenny about various musical obsessions, from Tori Amos to Father John Misty.
Singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas, who releases his intensely captivating music under the name Perfume Genius, talks about early creative influences including the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack, Liz Phair’s Whip Smart, a babysitter with a small role in the Twin Peaks tv series, and more. Plus, an excerpt from a 2003 interview with the brilliant Chan Marshall of Cat Power, on the subject of motherhood.
Singer-songwriter Kevin Morby discusses some of the defining influences on his music, including musical heroes such as Bob Dylan and Mountain Goats, as well as the bigger life stuff: the midwestern cities he moved between as a kid, the panic attacks he suffered during high school, the death of a best friend he made after moving to NYC. We also talk about his excellent latest solo LP, Oh My God, and how Morby’s creative process has evolved since he was in the bands Woods and The Babies nearly a decade ago.
The magnetic and sharp-witted Lauren Mayberry joins Jenny in Los Angeles for a chat about her creative journey, from growing up in Scotland idolizing artists like Gwen Stefani and Kathleen Hanna to discovering how to tap into her own powerful onstage persona as frontwoman for electro-pop trio Chvrches. Plus, from Jenny’s archive, an excerpt from a 2000 phone interview with PJ Harvey about the making of her brilliant Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.
Twin Shadow's George Lewis Jr. delves into the evolution of his sound, from the time he was a little kid emulating Boyz II Men, through his early years playing punk and indie rock, and his more recent drive to explore sounds from his native Dominican Republic. Also: A clip of Nick Jonas in 2009, at the height of Jonas Brothers' fame, discussing how he went from singing on Broadway to being a pop superstar.
Indie rock icon Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar) discusses his creative journey -- a childhood obsessing over jukebox 45s he got from his dad, his experiences in the Minneapolis/St. Paul punk scene, his current life in Berlin -- and how those touchstones inform his excellent new album, Sunshine Rock. Also featured: an excerpt of a backstage interview with gospel and R&B legend Mavis Staples at Lollapalooza 2010.
Don't even get me started on how much I love Kurt Vile's music, and his entire presence as a dude. In this episode, hear the singer-songwriter discuss his musical evolution and his new album, Bottle It In. Also featured: An excerpt from a 2002 interview with Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, about finding ways to integrate more metal into his music.
Proving herself a master multitasker, singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten made a brilliant new album in the midst of going back to college, starting a new side career in acting, and welcoming the birth of her first child. Hear her conversation with Jenny about her new album, Remind Me Tomorrow, and the creative journey that led her there. Plus, an excerpt from Jenny's 2004 interview with Gwen Stefani about her debut solo album.
Singer-songwriter Eleanor Friedberger (formerly of Fiery Furnaces) joins Jenny for a discussion of the creative influences that shaped her early songwriting endeavors; how a long trip to Greece inspired her fantastic new album, Rebound, and more. The episode also includes an archive clip from one of Jenny's early '07 interviews with Amy Winehouse for Rolling Stone, wherein Amy talks about her own beginnings as a songwriter and performer.
Few artists of David Longstreth's generation have pushed back as persistently at the boundaries of their own sound. But does that make Dirty Projectors' music "experimental"? That, among other nerdy tangents, populate a conversation about Longstreth's early influences -- his older brother, a book on Beatles' recording techniques, and more. He also discusses his creative process and perfectionist tendencies, and how they led to a last-minute remix of Dirty Projectors' new 'Lamp Lit Prose' LP.
One of modern R&B's most intriguing new artists, singer-songwriter Leon Bridges discusses how his childhood love of dance evolved into the look and sound he's developed since his excellent 2015 debut, Coming Home. Bridges also talks about how he plans to continue expanding his sonic palette, as he begins to think about album three. Plus, from Jenny's interview archive, a 2007 clip where Jack White looks into the future and isn't stoked about what he sees.
Interviews with two exceptional young singer-songwriters: Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield and Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis. Both artists discuss early musical influences, including, for Katie, the impact being an identical twin has had on her craft; for Sadie, how teaching songwriting to children opened up her own process.
Benjamin Gibbard, leader of indie rock icons Death Cab for Cutie, discusses key moments in his musical journey, from teen years spent taking the ferry to Seattle to see all-ages shows, to making Death Cab's excellent new album, Thank You For Today. (An excerpt of a 2008 interview with Gibbard is this episode's archive clip.)
A lively chat with Bethany Cosentino, leader of Los Angeles indie rock duo Best Coast, about her creative journey and how missing home helped her discover her voice as a songwriter. Plus, from the LSQ archive, an excerpt of a 2006 interview with Christina Aguilera.
An exceptional multi-talent, the singer, songwriter, producer, & composer Rostam joins Jenny for a wide-ranging conversation examining his creative evolution: his classical music studies and early work on film scores, his years with Vampire Weekend, and his current solo endeavors. Plus, a 2014 excerpt of Beck talking about why he's come to find collaboration so rewarding.
Alexis Taylor -- singer, songwriter, guitarist & keyboard player for U.K. electronic outfit Hot Chip -- discusses his early musical influences, from the Farfisa at his grandmother's house to the local record store owner who put out Hot Chip's debut EP. Plus, from the archive, an excerpt from a 2009 interview with Dave Matthews.
Jenny visits Haim's middle sister and musical leader, Danielle Haim, at home in Los Angeles, for a conversation exploring the singer, songwriter and guitarist's creative journey -- from playing at a clown museum in the San Fernando Valley where she grew up, to touring the massive stages Haim now easily occupy. Also, an excerpt from a 2000 interview with TLC's late great Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes.
Alison Mosshart (The Kills, The Dead Weather) discusses her evolution as a songwriter and artist, her early experiences on the road in the punk band Discount, and what she looks for in a musical collaborator. Plus, hear Kanye West explain why he thinks he's more "delusional" than arrogant, in a 2007 interview excerpt from Eliscu's vault.
Grammy-winning songwriter, artist and producer Jack Antonoff (Bleachers, Fun., Steel Train) joins Jenny for a lively discussion of his NJ punk rock roots, his creative evolution, and what it means to be a working-class artist. Also, hear an excerpt from a 2000 interview with Rage Against The Machine's Zack de la Rocha, including his thoughts on the importance of making concerts a safe space for women.
Singer-songwriter Angel Olsen describes her musical evolution (spoiler: her first band played ska punk) and discuss why it was important to her to take greater creative control on her critically lauded 2016 album 'My Woman.' Plus: an excerpt from an interview with Avril Lavigne for her 2003 Rolling Stone cover story.
Interviews with two of LSQ's favorite up-and-coming singer-songwriters: Aaron Maine of the beat-driven indie-rock band Porches, and musical jack-of-all-trades Jonathan Wilson, a singer-songwriter, producer, guitar-maker & multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire. Also, from the LSQ interview archive, an excerpt of a 2008 phone chat with Paramore's Hayley Williams.
A pair of conversations with the hilarious, neurotic Quin sisters, featuring Tegan and Sara's reflections on their songwriting process, their personal and creative goals for the coming year, and the work they plan to do with their Tegan & Sara Foundation. The episode also includes an excerpt from Jenny's 2007 interview with the Quins.
The impossibly cool Britt Daniel, frontman for indie giants Spoon, tells Jenny about a time in 1999 when he almost broke up the band, as well as discussing his early musical development and songwriting process. And from the vault, an excerpt of a 2000 phone interview with Metallica's Lars Ulrich about the band's Napster lawsuit.
Producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Dessner discusses The National's Grammy-nominated new album, Sleep Well Beast, and talks about his formative years as a musician, when he was first absorbing the diverse array of influences you hear in The National's songs. Also, from Eliscu's archive: An excerpt of a 2003 conversation with Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott.
Amelia Meath, singer for Durham, NC electronic duo Sylvan Esso describes a creative life that began with learning contortion at age 16. Also, from Eliscu's archive: An interview with Beyoncé from summer of 2000, when Destiny's Child were on the cusp of superstardom.