Summer’s here and the time is right for taking time to appreciate the legendary Martha Reeves, of “Dancing in the Street” fame! Along with her backing singers, the Vandellas, Martha Reeves recorded other mega Motown hits, including “Jimmy Mack,” “Nowhere to Run,” and “Love is Like a Heatwave.” She speaks to Pat Healy about the climate of social change then and now, the importance of having a teacher who believes in you, as well as her amazing career at Motown. Visit musicismylifepod.com to save $100 on a Berklee Online course.
Janet Billig Rich became interested in music when she first saw the Replacements. After taking in about 100 shows she went on to sell merch at indie rock shows, intern at Caroline Records, and then move on up to manage acts like Nirvana, Hole, and Dinosaur Jr. She's now a music supervisor, clearing rights for Broadway shows like Rock of Ages, as well as for movies and TV shows. Visit musicismylifepod.com to save $100 on a Berklee Online course.
Vanessa Carlton speaks candidly about the seedy underbelly of the music industry, and why followups to “A Thousand Miles” were more successful than the men on her team wanted her to believe. She discusses how her latest album, Love Is An Art, is a new beginning for her and how eager she is to tour, once touring is something people are allowed to do again. She also talks significant relationships with fellow musicians, from the magical (Stevie Nicks), to the amazing (John McCauley of Deer Tick), to the regrettable (Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind). Visit musicismylifepod.com now.
Sam Hales is the songwriter, singer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and now the producer of most of Jungle Giants’ music. They have released three albums and two EPs, and for the first EP, Sam worked two jobs, one at a convenience store, the other at McDonald’s, just to make the money to fund the recording. He and the other members, Ceshira Aitken, Andy Dooris, and Keelan Bijker all met in high school, when some of them played in rival bands. Visit musicismylifepod.com now.
Lisa Loeb shares how her parents encouraged her and her siblings' musical development, but cautioned them against going into the music industry. But now they are all musicians. She also shares how she wrote her mega-smash, “Stay (I Missed You)” while studying at Berklee. Her latest album, A Simple Trick to Happiness, is out now. Visit musicismylifepod.com now.
Matt Ward discusses how a closeted $25 guitar and a Beatles book started him on a journey that led him to his latest album, Migration Stories. He also discusses collaborating with Zooey Deschanel in She & Him, songwriting, and how it might be nice if you called him m'lord. Visit musicismylifepod.com now.
Katherine Paul discusses Black Belt Eagle Scout, her youth on the Swinomish reservation, her fondness for her Radical Indigenous Queer Feminist T-shirt, how working as a booker at a club helped her get a deal with Saddle Creek, and more. Visit musicismylifepod.com now.
Ron Pope wrote "A Drop in the Ocean," a mammoth hit that he had no idea would resonate with an audience so much. Then he wrote "One Grain of Sand" and enjoyed similar astronomical success. He talks to Pat Healy about triumphs and tribulations with major labels and streaming services, as well as Brooklyn Basement Records, the label he founded with his wife and manager, Blair Pope.
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Spider Stacy met Shane MacGowan at a Ramones gig in England when they were both teens. Shortly after, they formed the Pogues, a band that merged folk styling and punk rock delivery with Irish rebel songs. Then Spider learned how to play the tin whistle. He talks to Pat Healy about a new Pogues musical, playing with Joe Strummer, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, and how to deal with unreliable band members.
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You may know Andy Stack as one half of the duo Wye Oak, along with Jenn Wasner. But he’s also one WHOLE of Joyero, whose debut came out on Merge in 2019. He talks to Pat Healy as Wye Oak assembles for their first tour in years. The difference with the latest tour is that it's more than just Jenn and Andy now. The live band features Arone Dyer, Pinson Chanselle, and Adam Schatz.
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Lumar LeBlanc, Julian Gosin, and Marcus Hubbard, three generations of the New Orleans band Soul Rebels discuss how high school marching band was fundamental to their musical development, how the original members started the band more than 30 years ago, and what it was like to collaborate with artists from Katy Perry and Nas to Metallica and Marilyn Manson. Visit www.musicismylifepod.com for a special offer from Berklee Online.
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.