SoundcheckAuthor: WNYC Studios
27 Sep 2020


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Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.

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    Adele, In-Studio (From the Archives)

    Back in 2008, the English singer-songwriter Adele turned heads with her hit “Chasing Pavements" from an album called 19. Then in 2011, she released what would become a juggernaut of a record, called 21. Adele joined us to talk about it just about a week before it came out, and gave us a sneak preview with a live performance of her huge hit, "Rolling in the Deep." (From the Archives, 2011.)

  • Posted on 24 Sep 2020

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    Monte Raises Environmental Awareness Via Lush Electronic and Natural Music

    Monte is the project of Simón Mejía of Bomba Estéreo, whose new record Mirla is a meeting of electronic dance, ambient music, and environmental sounds. Mejía describes how he was inspired by the traditional folk music of Colombia, and Indigenous music from all over the Americas, which is largely based on bird sounds and natural sounds. So, Mejía got a really good microphone to put on his phone, and that every time he went on a trip in Colombia, to the jungles of the Amazon or along the Magdalena River, he would take recordings of the environment (Sounds and Colours.)

    On, Mirla, Mejía’s approach to his art of using these environmental sounds to help people reconnect with nature is an indirect, yet thoughtful one. By centering less on speaking or writing songs about fighting against deforestation and mining, and concentrating his music on the sounds of birds, waves, or the deep Amazon jungle, he hopes to bring an awareness to climate issues. Monte (Simón Mejía) performs a set of these songs, remotely from his location of Bogota, Colombia.

    Set list: "Mirla," "Sol," "Jungla"

    This is "Sol":

    Here is the full set:

  • Posted on 21 Sep 2020

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    Simone Dinnerstein: Playing Bach's 'Inventions And Sinfonias' (From the Archives)

    Simone Dinnerstein avoided the child prodigy route in her career – taking her time to mature and avoiding the "competition circuit" - catching the ears of many by playing the works of J.S. Bach, including The Goldberg Variations. The Brooklyn-based concert pianist returns to the studio to perform selected Bach compositions, specifically the Inventions and Sinfonias.

    Those pieces were originally written in 1723 as a musical guide for keyboard players and remain part of the core repertoire for students, amateurs, and professional musicians. Dinnerstein says the first Bach pieces she ever heard were the Inventions and has had a connection to this music ever since. Recorded at the Academy of Arts and Letters in New York with Grammy-winning producer Adam Abeshouse, Dinnerstein not only demonstrates her stunning music prowess, but highlights why these small masterpieces have endured for so long. (From the archives, 2014.)

  • Posted on 17 Sep 2020

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    Redemptive Journeys In Anjimile's Buoyant Indie-Pop

    Anjimile wrote their new debut album, Giver Taker, after a battle with addiction and while they were establishing their identity as a non-binary trans person. (Transmasc, more precisely, as in the Sep. 3 interview with VinylMePlease.) In the process of clearing their head and getting sober, they rediscovered their creative spark, and began to find value in making music.

    In their spiritual songwriting, there are redemptive songs of love, identity, and recovery, as well as finding truth and acceptance. On the record, Anjimile and their collaborators, Justine Bowe and producer Gabe Goodman, have also created a feeling of support in the arrangements, surrounding Anjimile’s mesmerizing voice with warm and steady instrumentation, along with a community of other voices in the mix. “It takes a village,” they said of how their collaborators have helped lift their songs up into their best possible state.

    This beautiful, buoyant, and tender pop record, Giver Taker, also draws on a surprising mix of folk, African pop, and Western pop sounds, ranging from Shona Zimbabwean pop to Madonna, Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Gloria Estefan, Whitney Houston to Sufjan Stevens. There is also a song written in the rhythmic and musical Chichewa (a Bantu language spoken in Malawi) which their parents, who emigrated to West Virginia from Malawi, still speak. The song is called called “Ndimakukonda,” which means “I love you.” Anjimile plays live, solo, from their home in Boston. 

    Set list: "Baby No More," "Maker," and "1978"

    "Baby No More":



  • Posted on 14 Sep 2020

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    Suzanne Vega: A Vivid and Vibrant New York Songwriter

    Millions know Suzanne Vega’s hits, like “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner.” Since her debut album in 1985, she has been one of America’s leading songwriters; but her new album recorded last year at the Café Carlyle, An Evening of New York Songs and Stories shows that she is even more specifically one of the great New York City songwriters. She has written a lot of songs about New York with the city as both the subject and the setting, and "she mixes the past and present, the public with the private, and familiar sounds with the utterly new—just like the city itself" (SacksandCo. on Beauty and Crime.) Vega’s love for New York City is vivid, so much that whenever she leaves for tour and comes back, she describes the feeling of relief upon seeing the skyline on her way back into town. 

    For this podcast, she recounts her experiences with days-long parties, describes how Lou Reed threw doors open for her lyrically as a songwriter when she was a student, and clarifies that while she might have been influenced by him, they both occupied different corners of the same city. Suzanne Vega plays some of these New York songs live at home and discusses her long career. 

     Set List: "Cracking," "Freeze Tag," "Frank and Ava"


    "Freeze Tag":

    "Frank and Ava"

  • Posted on 10 Sep 2020


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