Episode 279: Nicole Hollander

1Jul

In 2012, Sylvia drew to a close. For the first time in more than 20 years, Nicole Hollander found herself without a daily comic. But the lifelong Chicagoan wasn’t done with cartooning just yet. Released earlier this year, We Ate Wonder Bread marks a distinct change for Hollander, moving from strips to long form. The book, which was inspired by a storytelling course and a trip to her old neighborhood via Google Street View, finds the artist exploring tales of her youth. I paid a visit to Hollander’s Chicago apartment during a recent visit to the city. We discussed the beginnings of her career as a cartoonist and what it was like regularly being the only woman in the room. 

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Episode 278: Jenna Weiss-Berman

24Jun

Launching a media property is never easy, but from the outside, at least, the story of Pineapple Street’s early days certainly seem charmed. The network counted among its earliest hosts then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. There aren’t too many people in the world who bring more star power to the table. The network has launched numerous high profile shows since With Her, including Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour podcast and the surprise runaway hit, Missing Richard Simmons. Jenna Weiss-Berman cofounded the company in 2016, leaving a cushy gig at Buzzfeed to enter the uncertain world of startups. “I always wanted to work in either homeless services or make podcast,” she explains during our chat at the OnAir Fest in Brooklyn. “I want to do things that feel like they’re making a difference.”

 

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Episode 277: Dana Buoy

17Jun

Dana Buoy’s two LPs feel like the work of two different bands. The first is a clear successor to front man Dana Janssen’s work in the beloved freak folk outfit, Akron/Family. This year’s Ice Glitter Gold, on the other hand, is a late-night dance record, driven by Janssen’s 4-on-the-floor drumming. A lot has happened since the band released their 2012 debut. Life intervened, and the record didn’t perform as well as expected. Janssen and bandmate Justin Miller also relocated to Portland from New York, as the kids all seem to be doing these days. Fresh off a red eye from a whirlwind visit to their former home, the pair sat down to discuss the stress of city living, dealing with disappointment and the pluses and minuses of reinvention.

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Episode 276: Royston Langdon (of Spacehog, Leeds)

16Jun

“Music doesn’t happen when you try really hard,” Royston Langdon explains, toward the tail end of our conversation. “Keith Richards didn’t write the riff for ‘Satisfaction’ while he was concentrating.” Everything’s Dandy, his debut record under the moniker Leeds, finds the former Spacehog frontman in a more reflective space. He’s mellowed, it seems, since those heady days of mid-90s New York City. He got married, had a kid, the band broke up a couple of times in the interim. And while songwriting has been a kind of constant in his life since the age of 12, Langdon explains that art isn’t something you can force. It’s a kind of quiet acceptance of all that life has thrown at him — for better and worse — that has informed both his music and general state of mind.

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Episode 275: Fatoumata Diawara

2Jun

You would be hard-pressed to find an artist as passionate — or joyful — about their art than Fatoumata Diawara. It’s catharsis and happiness and medicine, all rolled into one, with songs that explore some of the darkest moments of the human experience inspired by the confessional style of the American blues, set to joyful rhythms emanating from West Africa. “When you stop crying, you decide two things: to kill yourself, or to survive,” the Malian musician explains, during our conversation. “And when you decide to survive, you must find things to help you survive. Music was mine.” Diawara is extremely candid during our half-hour-long chat, discussing her own hardships and those others have a tendency to confess to her. But she’s ever hopeful, for having discovered her reason for being put on this earth: bringing joy to others through the music making process.

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Episode 274: Ophira Eisenberg

26May

She’s a comedian, a radio host and a writer, but above all, Ophira Eisenberg is a storytelling. That much is immediately clear a few minutes into a conversation. When she’s not hosting NPR’s popular quiz show, Ask Me Another, Eisenberg is discovering different outlets, from her early days as a New York standup, to storytelling gigs with The Moth. In 2013, she released her debut memoir, the hilarious confessional, Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy. These days, she’s moved on the scars as a storytelling device, as she explores those moments that have defined her throughout her life. In this wide-ranging and fast-moving conversation, we discuss the importance of confessional storytelling, and whether becoming well-adjusted really does get easier as you mature.

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Episode 273: Eugene Chadbourne

20May

For 42 years, Eugene Chadbourne has been wonderfully, definitely and sometimes frustratingly independent. A one-man journey into avant-garde folk and jazz, his work has touched several generations of independent musicians, from collaborations with college rockers Camper Van Beethoven, to a Sun Ra tribute where he played his own musical concoction, built with an electric guitar pick up and a garden rake.Earlier this decade, the journeyman musician released Dreamory, a massive, 1,000+ page tome that flips between memoir and dream logic, telling of his entry into music as a Beatles obsessed youth.After a reading in Brooklyn, Chadbourne and I sat down at a Williamsburg diner to discuss his career and the state of the industry, with a special cameo from collaborator and lifelong fan, Jim McHugh.

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Episode 272: Goat Girl

13May

By the time their self-title debut dropped last month, Goat Girl was already a buzz band. The South London quartet had signed to Rough Trade two years prior, drawing the industry’s attention with their energetic live show. The band’s music is both playful and political, building up a following of fans disillusioned by the likes of Brexit and Trump. Fresh off a triumphant appearance at SXSW, the entire band — Clottie Cream, Rosy Bones, Naima Jelly and L.E.D. — shared a mic on a subterranean office couch to inspiration, friendship and why modern guitar rock is so boring.

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Episode 271: Adrian Tomine

6May

“The rewards of being a successful cartoonist would not be enough to make for a happy life,” says Adrian Tomine. It’s something that’s changed as he’s grown older, gotten married, had kids. He adds that he’s grateful for the readers and the recognition — that plenty of people still read everything he does. But priorities change. as we get older. Where critical acclaim for a new work would have been more than enough to keep him going, the Brooklyn-based artists is more focused these days on his wife and two daughters — factors that have impacted both the way he works and what he produces. The short stories in his latest, Killing and Dying (now out in paperback), while not connected in term of subject matter, all contain elements of a creator steeped in parenting. And while being home during the day to care for two young kids hasn’t made him the most productive he’s been in his career, it’s compelled him to take risks, like optioning a comic to filmmakers for the first time in his long career. In this wide ranging and honest conversation, we discuss the pitfalls of perfection, the influence of growing up in Northern California and inhabiting the shoes of a broad ranging cast of characters.

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Episode 270: Patrick Stickles (of Titus Andronicus)

29Apr

 

Valentine’s Day casts a slight pall on the conversation, as we sit down just ahead of Titus Andronicus’ latest record, A Productive Cough. There’s a lot of talk about art and punk and life, and how long one can sustain a rock and roll career without reaching the jet setting heights of a Led Zeppelin or U2. It’s a conversation Patrick Stickles has always been open about. The band’s driving force and sole consistent member has often openly wondered whether each album might be its last, but has continued to release new records on a regular schedule. The band’s latest is a stylistic departure from the group’s earlier work, with “no punk bangers,” as he puts it during our conversation, followed up by a stripped down, nearly acoustic tour. “Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is how you grow,” he says. But Stickles and band maintain the ethos on which the project was founded, seeking to find a personal connection with its loyal fanbase, continuing to evolve nearly a decade and a half into the group’s existence.

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