Looking for a new podcast to wrap your ears around? Here are five of the best in the music industry.
Hosted by Seja Vogel
Remember Sekiden? They had a triple j hit in the early aughts about Alexander Graham Bell, the guy who invented the telephone. Seja Vogel was responsible for the song’s synth-tastic pep. Vogel has also been a touring member of Regurgitator and released a couple of solo albums. Familiarity with Vogel’s various musical pursuits isn’t essential for enjoying the Hearsej podcast, however.
Pronounced “hearsay”, the podcast launched in late 2016 and features conversations with a veritable who’s who of Australian indie music. These include Vogel’s Queensland contemporaries Ben Ely and Quan Yeomans (Regurgitator), Kellie Lloyd (Screamfeeder), Ben Salter, Luke Henery (Violent Soho) and Ball Park Music’s Sam Cromack.
Vogel is a relaxed and personable host who establishes a chatty intimacy with her guests. This paves the way for plenty of honest insights into each musician’s career climb, creative practice and disastrous moments.
Highlights include Mikey Young (Eddy Current, Total Control) speaking of his failed development deal with Modular Recordings, Vogel and Alex Cameron reminiscing about their participation in an experimental drum circle at the Sydney Opera House, and Laura Jean outing herself as an eccentric witch lady with a knack for playing the part of an every-person folkie.
Hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway and Thao Nguyen
This pod is particularly apt for music nerds, songwriters and recording engineers, but it’s basically a must-listen for any contemporary music fan. Hosts Hrishikesh Hirway and Thao Nguyen invite musicians to “take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.”
Each episode is tightly edited and contains only infrequent utterances from the host’s mouth. Instead, the focus is on the musician as they give you a taste of the original demo, isolate separate instruments in the multi-track session, explain the origins of ideas and what effects or strange sounds contribute to the finished product. Episodes conclude with the just-exploded song being played through in its entirety. Having just learnt the nitty gritty of its construction, it’s always an enhanced listening experience.
More than 150 episodes have been uploaded over the last few years, including huge names like R.E.M., Iggy Pop, Metallica, Lorde and U2. Solange breaks down her 2016 gem ‘Cranes in the Sky’, revealing its roots in a Raphael Saadiq instrumental from 2008; Bjork goes deep on her 2015 single ‘Stonemilker’ and her musical compatibility with producer Arca; Oneohtrix Point Never explains how he generated the fucked up sounds on ‘Sticky Drama’; and Lindsey Buckingham gives the inside scoop on the situation surrounding ‘Go Your Own Way’ and how the Rolling Stones inspired its unique drum pattern.
My Favourite Album
Hosted by Jeremy Dylan
Australian filmmaker and country music aficionado Jeremy Dylan launched My Favourite Album in 2014. He’s since notched up 250+ episodes, each featuring a special guest (usually a noted musician) taking a deep dive into their favourite album. Dylan thoroughly researches each album and the conversations are augmented by audio snippets from the songs and sounds under review.
Dylan has made film clips for The McClymonts and Imogen Clark and will soon release a Tommy Emmanuel doco, but the podcast isn’t genre-restricted. Along with Jason Isbell talking about the Rolling Stones and Kacey Musgraves on John Prine, he’s spoken to the likes of PVT, Neil Finn, Robyn Hitchcock and Camp Cope’s Georgia Maq.
Highlights include Sarah Blasko spilling the beans on an awkward run-in with Bjork (whose Homogenic she names as her favourite), Jay Watson/GUM touting the primitive drum machines used on Sly Stone’s There’s A Riot Goin’ On, and Stella Donnelly noting how Broadcast’s Tender Buttons encouraged her to emphasise contrasting ingredients in her own compositions.
Talk the Line
Hosted by Jen Long
Conceived by UK music website The Line of Best Fit and presented by UK radio personality Jen Long, Talk the Line is dedicated to the private obsessions of musicians and other creatives. With 70+ episodes dating back to early 2017, The Killers’ Ronnie Vannucci, Kate Nash, Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess all show up to confess their love for animals, Finnish design, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and coffee, respectively.
Composer Max Richter puts the focus on Japanese literary don Haruki Murakami, offering an excellent critical appraisal of the author’s singular oeuvre. Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner speaks of her love for Korean food – the communal nature of meal time in Korean culture, the necessary utensils for making kimchi and what a typical Korean breakfast looks like. These are just some of the tips you stand to gain from Talk the Line.
The Adam Buxton Podcast
Hosted by Adam Buxton
Hosted by the titular British comedian and friendliest man in the podcast game, the Adam Buxton Podcast isn’t strictly music focused. However, it has featured interviews with Spoon, Johnny Marr, Joshua Homme, Thomas Dolby, Jonny Greenwood and a bunch of other musicians.
The interviews are informal and often venture into silly and hilarious territory. Mac DeMarco, Spoon, Eleanor Friedberger and The Beta Band’s Steve Mason all play a couple of live numbers on their respective episodes.
Jonny Greenwood has been on three times and his easygoing, playful and endearing chats are close to the best musician interviews you’re likely to find. Plus Buxton is an absolute Bowie tragic who jumps at the chance to talk Bowie with his guests or show off his near-perfect Zavid impersonation.
Image via Matt Botsford.