Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, May 23rd, 2022  

Blanck Mass is one of the great makers of electronic music. His scope has widened with his entrance into film scoring and his penetrating new score for TED K proves that his Ivor Novello award winning debut effort for 2020’s Calm With Horses was no fluke. On this episode of Check the Score, Blanck Mass talks about his new direction in composition and the isolated journey of crafting music for a Ted Kaczynski biopic.

Julien Baker

Julien Baker – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Mar 16, 2022

Julien Baker is our final guest on Season 2 of the Under the Radar with Celine Teo-Blockey podcast. She discusses the songwriting behind her third album Little Oblivions (released last year on Matador), just how close she came to giving up a career in music after losing her sobriety in 2018, and her misgivings about how she’s handled her quick and unexpected fame after the success of her debut, Sprained Ankle.

“I regret sometimes…having had so much to say really early in my career about God and religion, specifically the Christian religion because I think I was being a little bit flippant. And not taking into consideration the history of queerness that I hadn’t been exposed to,” says the 26-year-old, of her zealousness when it came to her faith over her gender identity.

Having spent so much of her career fiercely delving into heavy themes of addiction and mental health in her songs, it was a breath of fresh air to also hear her reminisce about more innocent times, growing up in Bartlett, a suburb of Memphis, in Tennessee. When she first catches herself indulging in the nostalgia of a particular memory—that feels like “a Bruce Springsteen song”—she laughs, “that sounds so romantic and lame!”

Later in the conversation she is thankful for the opportunity to reflect on the real joys of youth that she was also able to experience. “This work talks a lot about addiction and in a really scathing way, and I’ve historically talked about that so much in my songs,” she says. “I feel like I just regarded the very lost child that was me with so much disdain that I don’t even think at that time I was mature enough to understand how destructive that was.”

This summer Baker will embark on a joint tour, called The Wild Hearts tour, alongside fellow acclaimed singer/songwriters Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten. Check out the dates here.

Read our 2017 cover story interview with Baker, along with a bonus Q&A.

Please write to celine.teoblockey@undertheradarmag.com if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey.

Also check our season 2, episode 1, which is our interview with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne (plus listen to our bonus mini behind-the-scenes episode on The Flaming Lips). Season 2, episode 2 featured Emmy the Great. Season 2, episode 3 featured Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Season 2, episode 4 featured James Yorkston. Season 2, episode 5 featured London Grammar. Season 2, episode 6 featured Lucy Dacus. Season 2, episode 7 featured Adrian Younge. Season 2, episode 8 featured Sleaford Mods. Season 2, episode 9 featured SPELLLING. Season 2, episode 10 featured Courtney Barnett. Season 2, episode 11 featured Royal Blood. Season 2, episode 12 featured Xiu Xiu.

On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).

Look out for Season 3 later this year.

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Check the Score breaks into 2022 with Charles visiting the magnificent young composer Eli Keszler at his studio on New York’s lower east side. They plunge into the fifth dimension on Fifth Avenue, talking about Keszler’s first score for The Scary of Sixty-First and breaking into the world of scoring with his work on Uncut Gems.

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Nov 19, 2021

Australian indie rocker Courtney Barnett is our guest on the latest episode of Under the Radar Podcast. The 34-year-old released her third studio album, Things Take Time, Take Time, on Milk! Records/Marathon Artists/Mom & Pop last week. Barnett discusses how she wrote and recorded these new songs with fellow Australian Stella Mozgawa, the drummer of Los Angeles-based band Warpaint.

The pair had met in 2017 when Barnett collaborated with Kurt Vile on the album Whole Lotta Sea Lice. At an intimate event at Gold Diggers in Los Angeles this week, Barnett revealed she had enjoyed working with Mozgawa then and hoped that they might have another opportunity to work together again. “Fast forward 23 years,” Mozgawa deadpanned, as the small audience broke out in laughter.

That opportunity came when they both found themselves back home in Australia after COVID-19 hit. They had worked together again on Sharon Van Etten’s Epic Ten, an anniversary album where Barnett contributes a cover. Whilst on lockdown they started exchanging playlists, Mozgawa shared drum machine tutorials with Barnett, who finally shared her musical ideas. Eventually, she asked Mozgawa to produce her new album.

After going through much personal upheaval during the tour cycle of 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel—and scrapping songs that she had originally written for a new album—Barnett reveals in the podcast how she embraced the idea of doing things differently on Things Take Time, Take Time. “It was a fun process,” she says. “That’s like probably one of the biggest lessons for me on the album was just being open to making mistakes. Or taking a path that doesn’t feel like you know the answer or you know where it’s going to end up.”

Barnett, who is famously shy and well adept at side-stepping personal questions, does gives us a glimpse into the connection between her shyness and her songwriting. She also reminisces about her childhood growing up in the Northern Beaches—a collection of suburbs about an hour outside of Sydney that’s famed for its surf, sandy beaches, and national parks.

Please write to celine.teoblockey@undertheradarmag.com if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey. Upcoming guests this season will include Julien Baker, Xiu Xiu, and more.

Also check our season 2, episode 1, which is our interview with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne (plus listen to our bonus mini behind-the-scenes episode on The Flaming Lips). Season 2, episode 2 featured Emmy the Great. Season 2, episode 3 featured Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Season 2, episode 4 featured James Yorkston. Season 2, episode 5 featured London Grammar. Season 2, episode 6 featured Lucy Dacus. Season 2, episode 7 featured Adrian Younge. Season 2, episode 8 featured Sleaford Mods. Season 2, episode 9 featured SPELLLING.

On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

SPELLLING

SPELLLING – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Oct 26, 2021

Experimental, Bay Area-based artist SPELLLING (aka Chrystia Cabral) is our guest on the latest episode of Under the Radar Podcast. She discusses the inspiration behind the songs off her third album, The Turning Wheel—which curiously shares its moniker with a novelette by iconic author Philip K Dick (whose Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was adapted into Blade Runner) and gives hint to Cabral’s love for Science Fiction and the practice of fantastical, world building that she employs in her songwriting.

Her evolution from the truncated, Goth-leaning synth-centric records (Pantheon of Me and Mazy Fly) to the prog-rock/soul/psych-pop and ornate orchestral flourishes of The Turning Wheel are in part owing to the release date of her third album being pushed back for over a year because of the pandemic. She says: “I was a little bit bummed at first just because I’m stubborn and I was really attached to it coming out in the fall.” But eventually she embraced it and seized the opportunity to revisit the songs and expand further on some of her themes and ideas.

“Some of the feedback I was getting was like ‘this is too short and sweet,’” she says, which served her earlier records well but she was determined to step out of her comfort zone with The Turning Wheel. She adds: “You know, it’s more punk if it’s short,” but then she went on to treat the lyrics like they were short stories and expanded the record’s sonic palate accordingly.

SPELLLING took on the ambitious task of self-producing and orchestrating more than 30 collaborating musicians, and a choir. This maximalist approach is evident on The Beatles-inspired title track, “The Turning Wheel,” and its darker, karmic, companion piece “Revolution.” In the episode she admits that perhaps it was “trying to do too much with all the sounds at the same time,” but she loved it nonetheless.

While Cabral’s vocal style—often a cross between Donna Summer and Kate Bush—is not everyone’s cup of tea, her growing confidence and ability to push boundaries is to be admired. Especially after she discusses her childhood memories of having to overcome her intense shyness.

SPELLLING has two upcoming shows—this Sat, October 23, in New York (Le Poisson Rouge) and on Sat, November 13 in Los Angeles (Pico Union Project).

Cabral previously shared the album’s first track and lead single “Little Deer” (which was inspired by the Frida Kahlo painting Wounded Deer). “Little Dear” made it to #1 on our Songs of the Week list. Then she shared its second single, “Boys At School,” which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared the album’s almost title track, “Turning Wheel,” via a self-directed video for it (which again made our Songs of the Week list).

Please write to celine.teoblockey@undertheradarmag.com if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey. Upcoming guests this season will include Julien Baker, Xiu Xiu, and more.

Also check our season 2, episode 1, which is our interview with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne (plus listen to our bonus mini behind-the-scenes episode on The Flaming Lips). Season 2, episode 2 featured Emmy the Great. Season 2, episode 3 featured Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Season 2, episode 4 featured James Yorkston. Season 2, episode 5 featured London Grammar. Season 2, episode 6 featured Lucy Dacus. Season 2, episode 7 featured Adrian Younge. Season 2, episode 8 featured Sleaford Mods.

On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).

Check out our My Favorite Album interview with SPELLLING. By Celine Teo-Blockey

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Oct 06, 2021

British punk duo Sleaford Mods (singer, Jason Williamson and producer, Andrew Fearne) are the guests on the latest episode of Under the Radar Podcast. They released their pandemic-inspired album Spare Ribs earlier this year. It is their third UK Top 10, following on from their career-spanning retrospective All That Glue and 2019’s Eton Alive.

Williamson joins us on the podcast to discuss their 11th studio album, which features women’s voices for the first time and memories from his childhood. Lyrically, the rants are richer, more poetic, and in parts intimate, stripping it of the machismo that his image might brandish to the casual listener. Here, Williamson sheds light on his shifting perspective, beyond just shouting about the world outside to ruminating on parts of his interior life that might have been locked away previously.

The 51-year-old opens up about his early life and growing up on a council estate in Margaret Thatcher’s birthplace of Grantham, Lincolnshire. The rocky road from wannabe indie rocker in his early 20s at the height of Britpop, to the disillusioned 40 year old who witnessed the despair around him and told it like it was—profanities and all. Williamson had long given up being on the radio or having any kind of career in music by that stage. But that yearning to express himself—to make sense of the rage, pain and boredom that he tried to numb with drugs and alcohol—that never went away.

“I think what got me through all those periods was drugs and alcohol. It would be a lifeline out of the tedium of you know—low paid employment,” says Williamson who has since embraced sobriety.

Spare Ribs’ title was inspired by the pandemic, as Williamson explained in a previous press release: “The idea of the amount of people that died from the first wave of coronavirus; human lives are always expendable to the elites…. We’re in a constant state of being spare ribs.”

Previously Sleadord Mods shared Spare Ribs’ first single, “Mork N Mindy,” via a video for it. The song and video featured Billy Nomates. They also performed the song on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “Mork N Mindy” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from the album, “Shortcummings,” via a video for it (the song’s title referenced Dominic Cummings, the former Chief Advisor to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson). Then they shared one last pre-release single from it, “Nudge It,” via a video for the track. Both the song and video feature Amy Taylor of Australian punks Amyl and the Sniffers. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Taylor’s part was clearly filmed separately, likely in Australia. Eddie the Wheel directed the video. “Nudge It” was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Please write to celine.teoblockey@undertheradarmag.com if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey. Upcoming guests this season will include Julien Baker, Xiu Xiu, and more.

Also check our season 2, episode 1, which is our interview with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne (plus listen to our bonus mini behind-the-scenes episode on The Flaming Lips). Season 2, episode 2 featured Emmy the Great. Season 2, episode 3 featured Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Season 2, episode 4 featured James Yorkston. Season 2, episode 5 featured London Grammar. Season 2, episode 6 featured Lucy Dacus. Season 2, episode 7 featured Adrian Younge.

On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Adrian Younge

Adrian Younge – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Aug 20, 2021

Adrian Younge—multi-hyphenate artist, DJ, composer, and co-founder of the Jazz Is Dead label—is our guest on the latest episode of Under the Radar Podcast.

Younge released his album The American Negro, on Jazz Is Dead earlier this year. As provocative as its title sounds, Younge attempts to break down concepts of racism and deliver a worthwhile history lesson with this powerful mix of jazz, soul, and spoken word.

Together with his label co-founder, Ali Shaheed Mohammad, the duo have been prolific over the pandemic. They’ve released several sessions recorded at Younge’s all-analogue Los Angeles studio Linear Labs, with jazz luminaries such as composer Roy Ayers, saxophonist Gary Bartz, and multi-instrumentalist Brian Jackson—whose most significant work is with activist poet, Gil Scott-Heron on “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”

Younge’s reverence for the elders of jazz and soul is evident in the podcast as he discusses his work with William Hart of The Delfonics, the legendary Philly Soul trio from the ’60s known for hits such as “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind” and “La-La Means I Love You.” He describes his relationship as an attempt to “give them their flowers while they’re still here.”

An avid crate-digger, Younge reveals his tips for how to spot rare albums from their cover art. And he explains why he went from sampling breaks to making the kind of classic sounding albums that he loved—that other hip-hop producers might then sample.

Younge and Muhammad also perform as The Midnight Hour and in 2018 have released an album featuring a diverse slate of collaborators. Younge and Muhammad previously composed the music for the Marvel Netflix series Luke Cage and are currently scoring Queen Latifah’s Equalizer and Power Book III: Raising Kanan.

Please write to celine.teoblockey@undertheradarmag.com if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey. Upcoming guests this season will include Julien Baker, Xiu Xiu, Sleaford Mods, and more.

Also check our season 2, episode 1, which is our interview with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne (plus listen to our bonus mini behind-the-scenes episode on The Flaming Lips). Season 2, episode 2 featured Emmy the Great. Season 2, episode 3 featured Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Season 2, episode 4 featured James Yorkston. Season 2, episode 5 featured London Grammar. Season 2, episode 6 featured Lucy Dacus.

On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.

Lucy Dacus

Lucy Dacus – Listen to Our Interview in the New Episode of Our Under the Radar Podcast

Jul 16, 2021

Lucy Dacus is the latest guest on the Under the Radar Podcast, discussing her new album, Home Video, which came out a couple of weeks ago on Matador.

Dacus gets personal on Home Video. Old VHS tapes her father recorded of her while she was growing up, plus her childhood and teenage journals served as source materials for her songwriting. On the podcast she discusses that unlike her sophomore album Historian, which was very intentional, Home Video was more of a surprise that “just came to her.”

Many of the moments she sings about—such as her accompanying a close friend to see her abusive father (“Thumbs”), the Slayer-loving first boyfriend she’d met at one of the many Bible Summer camps she’d attended (“VBS”), and a romantic dalliance with a much older person (“Partner in Crime”)—are all based on real life events. Dacus reveals how she writes all the time but is careful with what songs she puts out there. And which ones she had to reach out to friends first, before she released the album.

Please write to celine.teoblockey@undertheradarmag.com if you would like to share your thoughts on this episode.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts and rate the show. You can also listen to us on Spotify and podcast apps such as Podchaser.

Each monthly episode of Under the Radar features an interview with a different musician conducted by host and producer Celine Teo-Blockey. Upcoming guests this season will include Julien Baker, Adrian Younge, Xiu Xiu, Sleaford Mods, and more.

Also check our season 2, episode 1, which is our interview with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne (plus listen to our bonus mini behind-the-scenes episode on The Flaming Lips). Season 2, episode 2 featured Emmy the Great. Season 2, episode 3 featured Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. Season 2, episode 3 featured James Yorkston. Season 2, episode 4 featured London Grammar.

On top of being available on all podcasting platforms the podcast also airs on WLUR, an NPR affiliate based in Lexington, VA (the city where Under the Radar is currently based).

Home Video includes “Thumbs,” a new song she shared in March that was #1 on our Songs of the Week list. When the album was announced Dacus shared its second single, “Hot & Heavy,” which also made our Songs of the Week list. Then she performed “Hot & Heavy” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, performing it with her backing band from the stage of the Virginia Repertory Theatre, in her native Richmond. Dacus’ mother used to play piano for musicals at the theater, musicals Dacus would sometimes appear in as a child. Then she shared another song from it, “VBS,” via an animated video for the single which was about going to vacation bible school and was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then she shared its next single “Brando,” which is about a friend Dacus had in high school who was obsessed with old films. “Brando” once again made our Songs of the Week list. Then she was the musical guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! where she performed “Brando” from the Theatre Gym of the Virginia Repertory Theatre, in her native Richmond.

Home Video was recorded at Trace Horse Studio in Nashville with the aid of Jacob Blizard, Collin Pastore, and Jake Finch. Shawn Everett mixed the album and Bob Ludwig mastered it. Two songs feature her boygenius bandmates Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. Dacus’ regular touring band is Jacob Blizard (guitar), Dominic Angelella (bass), Ricardo Lagomasino (drums), and Sarah Goldstone (keys, background vocals).

Pick up our current print issue to read our Protest Issue interview with Dacus.

Read our interview with Dacus and boygenius.

Read our 2018 interview with Dacus on Historian.

Read our 2016 Artist Survey interview with Lucy Dacus.

By Celine Teo-Blockey

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.