Ritzy Bryan of the Joy Formidable discusses why her Welsh heritage is so important to her music, how her time on Atlantic Records helped inform her understanding of the music business, and how her guitar acrobatics hurt her Fender as well as the forehead of Joy Formidable bassist Rhydian Dafydd.
Jon Kull has orchestrated more than 100 Hollywood films, including Black Panther, Hunger Games, X-Men Apocalypse, and many more. Here he talks about his life, career, education, and what drives him, as well as Berklee Online's Master of Music in Film Scoring. He also discusses the unlikely turn of events that led one of his compositions to become the MacGruber theme song.
Bonnie Hayes talks songwriting for Bonnie Raitt, touring with Bob Seger, playing keys for Billy Idol, and being blown away by the Sex Pistols in 1978, and how all of that led to her coming to teach at Berklee College of Music and Berklee Online. Her most recent Berklee Online course, Arranging for Songwriters: Instrumentation and Production in Songwriting, is enrolling now!
With a career that spans more than 60 years, and includes just about as many hits, Chip Taylor doesn’t need to write any more songs. But that doesn’t mean he’s showing any signs of stopping. He releases a new album, The Whiskey Salesman in May, and in this discussion that spans his entire career, he talks about how his songs “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning,” may or may not be related, his favorite versions of his songs, his brother Jon Voight, how Quincy Jones discouraged him from pursuing a musical education, and his reaction to seeing Jimi Hendrix perform his iconic guitar sacrifice during a performance of a Chip Taylor song.
Evan Dando has been releasing music for more than 30 years, reaching a commercial high point in the early and mid 90s with the Lemonheads albums It’s a Shame about Ray and Come on Feel the Lemonheads. Most of the attention came from a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” which Dando wasn’t too happy about for a while, but thanks to Martin Scorsese, he's not so down about it anymore.
TJ Connelly is an entrepreneur, music curator, and creative technologist, best known for his work as the DJ at Fenway Park for the 2018 World Series Champs, the Boston Red Sox. He's also known for his work at Gillette Stadium, where he's the DJ for the home games of the 2019 Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots. He has also DJed for the Boston Bruins at the Boston Garden since 2017, and has recently covered a number of Celtics games. TJ also has experience DJing several regular shows on Boston FM stations, including WZBC, WMBR, and WFNX. If you're not a fan of Boston sports, or of sports at all, you'll still enjoy hearing TJ discuss his career as a DJ, and the strategies he employs to move a crowd.
Tony Trischka's list of collaborators includes Pete Seeger, Bela Fleck, Earl Scruggs, and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, so it's no surprise that he has been called “perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world.” His 2007 album Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular earned him his first Grammy nomination, as well as awards for Banjo Player of the Year, Recorded Event of the Year, and Instrumental Album of the Year from the International Bluegrass Music Association. In this edition, of Music Is My Life, he discusses his communist father, his love of "MTA," and auditioning for Bruce Springsteen.
Whether you know Darlene Love from her smash hit, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on the Phil Spector holiday album, or from her profile in the film, "20 Feet From Stardom," this Rock & Roll Hall of Famer is a force to be reckoned with. In addition to her own work, Darlene Love has sang backup with Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Sonny & Cher, and so many more. In this edition of "Music Is My Life," from Berklee Online, she details her struggles with Phil Spector, and her journey to freedom.
Belly, Breeders, and Muses, oh my! Tanya Donelly takes us through her musical journey, beginning with her step-sister Kristin Hersh in Throwing Muses, through her partnership with Kim Deal in the Breeders to the formation and wild success of Belly to the current reunion that band is enjoying, and the confusion caused by the Canadian rapper who calls himself Belly.
You may know Ben Vaughn as a producer of artists such as Los Straightjackets, Charlie Feathers, Ween, or the one-off collaboration between Big Star’s Alex Chilton and Suicide’s Alan Vega, which he talks about in the episode of Berklee Online’s Music Is My Life podcast. Ben Vaughn got his start as the leader of a group called the Ben Vaughn Combo in the 1980s, and got a lot of attention from mainstream press, and inspired favorable cover versions of his tunes by the likes of Marshall Crenshaw, the Plimsouls, Man or Astroman, and more. His big break in the music industry came when he moved out to LA and quickly got a job as a composer for the show “Third Rock from the Sun,” which he composed the theme for. Success on that show led to a gig in the same role on “That 70s Show,” and numerous other shows. He has now comfortably resumed a solo career, and he also hosts a radio show on WXPN in Philly.
Andrew Joslyn ditched classical music, joined a band called Handful of Luvin' and made his mark helping Seattle area musicians score their music. His big break came when he scored some of the biggest hits by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Andrew discusses the hard lessons he learned in making sure he earned proper royalties, and the arrangements he did for Kesha. He also talks about his brother, comedian Chris Kattan, and the Case File podcast he composes for.
Emerging in the late 1960s as an enthusiast of blues and folk music, Taj Mahal has spent his career bending genres to his own signature style. His work includes moving explorations in jazz, funk, reggae, country, rock ‘n’ roll, and more. He has worked with everybody from Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones to Bob Marley and the Wailers. His songs have been covered by Eric Clapton, the Black Keys, the Blues Brothers, Natalie Cole, and more.
Marlon Williams is a 27-year-old singer from New Zealand whose latest album, Make Way for Love, came out earlier this year. He’s well known in his home country for his work with a band called The Unfaithful Ways, and his Secret History of Country Music Songwriting series with Delaney Davidson. In America, you might know his song, “Dark Child,” written by his friend Tim Moore. It’s a positively chilling song, and it was used quite effectively on the end of the first episode of the Netflix series Wild Wild Country. He’s also well known in his country for his romance with singer Aldous Harding, a singer who he’s no longer dating, but who he nevertheless invited to sing on a song he wrote about their breakup. But it all began for Marlon Williams when he joined the choir at about age 10.
Gary Lucas is a guitarist, songwriter, and former copywriter for CBS Records. (He's responsible for calling The Clash "the only band that matters.") He has played on more than 30 recordings, but he is best known for playing with Captain Beefheart in the 1980s, and Jeff Buckley in the 1990s.
Not only is Trevor Horn one of the singers and songwriters behind the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star," but he is also known for his work with Yes, and the iconic records he produced, including work by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, ABC, Seal, Belle & Sebastian, John Legend, and way too many others to mention. Trevor Horn is also a student! We spoke as he was just wrapping up in Berklee Online’s R&B Bass course.
If the name Michael Melchiondo does not ring a bell, it’s because he is known professionally by his stage name of Dean Ween, one half of the band Ween, who for nearly 30 years—along with Gene Ween (whose real name is Aaron Freeman)—have been releasing into the world a very unique style of music. Deaner (as he is also known) is currently touring with the Dean Ween Group—which features all of the touring members of Ween, minus Gener—and the Dean Ween Group have an album called Rock2, coming out in March.
The full lineup of Ween has also recently announced their first show of the summer at Red Rocks in Colorado on June 5th.
Melchiondo and Freeman met in 1984, adopting the Ween surname in their early teenage years, but for Melchiondo, his love for music began with his father.
The War on Drugs are up for the Best Rock Album Grammy for their 2017 effort, A Deeper Understanding. In this edition of the Music Is My Life podcast Charlie Hall, the drummer for The War on Drugs sizes up the Grammy competition—Mastodon, Nothing More, Metallica, and Queens of the Stone Age—and says of the other artists in the category, "It's a very different vibe. I'm glad we're recognized as a rock band, to be honest."
"Much respect, especially to John Theodore," Hall says, singling out the Queens drummer.
Hall also discusses the value of working in the service industry, how having an encouraging teacher meant so much to him, and the evolving ethos of The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile, in addition to his side unique men's choir project, the Silver Ages (see below), which also features members of Dr. Dog, mewithoutyou, Teen Men, The Spinto Band, Windsor For The Derby, Nightlands, and other Philly bands.
Mike Henderson (also known as ENDO) is a DJ who has pioneered harmonic mixing, developed the DJ-friendly apps AGNT and MIDI Monsters, worked in tour management for other DJs such as Dubfire and Felix Da Housecat, and developed Berklee Online's first DJ course, Learn to DJ with Traktor. On this edition of Music Is My Life, he discusses his beginnings as a drummer, his 22-hour days, and why he won't even drink coffee before a DJ set.
Stephen Davis has written nearly 20 books about music, including the legendary Led Zeppelin book, "Hammer of the Gods" and the brand new "Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks." He shares his personal memories of Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, and more.
Jen Cloher has been releasing music to critical acclaim in Australia for more than a decade, but is only now receiving the international attention she deserves, thanks to her support slot on the Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile Lotta Sea Lice tour. She is Courtney Barnett's partner in life as well as her partner in business, having co-founded the Milk! Records label. Cloher is also the founder of I Manage My Music, an organization dedicated to helping independent musicians.
Josh Kantor has been playing the organ at Fenway Park in Boston since 2003, and he hasn't missed a single home game. In this edition of Music Is My Life, Kantor discusses his musical upbringing and how improv comedy helped prime him to play for baseball fans, as well as his recent revelation that the best quality to have as a professional musician is to be a good person.
After 40 years in the music business, as one of the leaders of the B-52's, Cindy Wilson is finally releasing her solo debut! Change, on the Kill Rock Stars label marks a drastic, er, um, change for Wilson, as she trades in her "Tiiiin roof! RUS-TED!" exuberance of the B-52's for a breathier, dreamier, more psychedelic feel. She discusses how important parties have been to her musical expression, and how her latest solo work with Ryan Monahan has been a truly educational experience for her.
Lisa Roth wanted to be a ballerina. When that didn't work out for her, she studied nutrition. Then she was hired by a record label called the CMH Label Group, to be their nutritionist. That was when she came up with an idea to produce lullaby renditions of popular songs by rock, pop, and hip-hop acts. Now she's the vice president and creative director of the CMH Label Group and brand manager and executive producer of Rockabye Baby. The label is putting out "Lullabye Renditions of Justin Timberlake" on August 18th. Oh, and we almost forgot to mention, Lisa's brother is David Lee Roth of Van Halen.
Dr. Suzanne Hanser discusses her illustrious career in music therapy, and how her profession brought her back to Boston to teach at Berklee College of Music. She originally lived in Boston when she was a freshman Boston University, at the age of 15! She also discusses an emotional 180 regarding, "You Are My Sunshine."
Sam Amidon has been playing music as a career for most of his life. He takes us from his days of performing with his parents to a trio called Popcorn Behavior to his recent solo work, reimagining folk music. His latest, a collaboration with Shahzad Ismaily, Milford Graves, and Sam Gendel is “The Following Mountain,” on the Nonesuch label.