What Is This Music?!
Episode 31: Lily E. Hirsch - From Politics to Parody

Episode 31: Lily E. Hirsch - From Politics to Parody

June 10, 2022

Lily E. Hirsch

Musicologist Lily E. Hirsch joins me for a conversation about her many projects. We touch on everything from music used to repel teenagers from public spaces, to parenting and music lessons, to toxic ideas about musical genius, to her recent book on Weird Al, and much more.

 

Find out more about Lily's work at lilyhirsch.com.

Episode 30: David John Baker - Melodic Memory

Episode 30: David John Baker - Melodic Memory

January 16, 2022

David John Baker

Scientist, researcher and musician David John Baker first came to my attention through his involvement with the Music For Brainwaves project, an experiment with designing music to invoke certain mental and emotional states. In addition to discussing this, we talk about the overlap of music and science, what it means to be "musical," the perception of genre, Big Data's role in shaping musical taste, and other topics.

Find out more about Dave and his work on his personal website or follow him on Twitter @davidjohnbaker.

For those curious, the work Dave refers to on the episode regarding streaming recommendations is by Brian Miller: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/twentieth-century-music/article/why-the-next-song-matters-streaming-recommendation-scarcity/B2584C7C27DB8314121F4B45049EDEC2 

 

 

Episode 29: In the Valley

Episode 29: In the Valley

December 3, 2021

Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet at Hellfest

A fan raises the metal horns for Monster Magnet's Dave Wyndorf at Hellfest 2014

On this Very Special Episode, I discuss the beginnings of What Is This Music?! at the Hellfest metal festival in France in 2014, and give an overview of where the project is at, touching on the audience for stoner/doom metal, theories about genre and musical communities, science and technology, and assorted random thoughts.

Further reading: my 2014 report on Hellfest for Vice—and, if you want to go really deep, my companion report on the neighbouring snail-sampling station entitled Shellfest.

 

Episode 28: Nick Fraser - Sibling Revelry

Episode 28: Nick Fraser - Sibling Revelry

August 29, 2021

Nick Fraser sitting at drumkit

Noted Toronto jazz drummer (and my brother) Nick Fraser joins me to talk about the concept of genre, musical narcissism, the difficulty in separating music from nostalgia, why he loves (and so many people hate) free jazz, what he looks for in music, and (of course) Rush, among other topics.

Find Nick's recordings, gigs and news on his website.

And stick around after the interview for a major What Is This Music?! announcement.

Photo of Nick by Bo Huang.

Episode 27: Yara El-Soueidi - Generation Reviled

Episode 27: Yara El-Soueidi - Generation Reviled

August 8, 2021

Yara El-Soueidi

Yara El-Soueidi is a music writer in Montreal. She joins me to talk about why millennials get such a bad rap, why the decline of the album and the rise of the playlist isn't such a bad thing, how being a music writer changed her listening habits, the unfortunate persistence of the two solitudes in the Montreal music scene, the myth of the power of music marketing, and other topics.

Follow Yara on Twitter, Instagram; read her writing in Cult MTL and Exclaim.

Episode 26: Peaches - Variety Showgirl

Episode 26: Peaches - Variety Showgirl

July 25, 2021

Peaches

The one and only Peaches calls in for a chat about growing up obsessed with musicals, AM radio, Bette Midler and Barbara Streisand; the previously undisclosed truth about the first record she ever bought; becoming a folkie and then an indie-rocker before mashing up genres into her own blend; going to noise-rock university; the rise and fall of electroclash; the one genre she can't stand, and more.

Episode 25: Marty Ballentyne - The Undeniable

Episode 25: Marty Ballentyne - The Undeniable

July 11, 2021

Marty Ballentyne

Musician Marty Ballentyne has been revisiting his collection, one album a day, and sharing the experience for the past four years. We talk about this as well as the resentments of Captain Beefheart's band members, the joys of extreme metal, the pros and cons of genre, getting into the Ramones through the movie Rock n' Roll High School, the days when Metallica was heavy, 80s hardcore's sense of place and perspective, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the technical reasons that old guys have trouble appreciating contemporary pop, and more.

Read Marty's recent article connecting his musical journey with the recent residential school discoveries and the larger reconciliation project in general.

 

Episode 24: Alex Rose - Record Holder

Episode 24: Alex Rose - Record Holder

June 27, 2021

Alex Rose

Montreal film critic and podcaster Alex Rose has spent the pandemic on a personal project: listening to, and sharing on Instagram, his entire 3,000-LP record collection. He joins me to talk about what he discovered while revisiting the collection, what to do with unclassifiable records, PouzzaFest, CHOMcore and salopette blues as musical genres, why prog is so popular in Quebec, getting into jazz as a mid-life crisis, the overlap between jazz fusion and doom metal, the musical starter pack for suburban white boys, and a whole bunch more.

Check out Alex's project, his film reviews on Cult MTL, and his French-language film podcast Les voyeurs de vues.

Episode 23: Robert Dayton and Stephen Hamm - Dare to be Different

Episode 23: Robert Dayton and Stephen Hamm - Dare to be Different

June 13, 2021

Robert Dayton and Stephen Hamm

Robert Dayton and Stephen Hamm are living legends of the music scene in Vancouver and beyond. They join me to discuss the origins of their duo Canned Hamm, our shared history with Peaches, the importance of staying freaky, the value of originality, how music opens up new worlds, Christian children's records, and much more.

Check out their latest projects, Stephen Hamm: Theremin Man and Robert Dayton's latest solo EPs (produced by Hamm).

Episode 22: Alan Zweig - Music Means More

Episode 22: Alan Zweig - Music Means More

May 31, 2021

Alan Zweig

Alan Zweig's Vinyl (2000) is a dark and profound personal documentary on obsessive record collectors (particularly the filmmaker himself). Today, after nine other documentaries, he's completing a sequel of sorts entitled Records. He joins me to talk about the vinyl resurgence (and the lower-key CD resurgence), why making a film with a positive message has been his biggest challenge, why certain people become obsessive about music, and more.

Watch Alan Zweig's Vinyl on YouTube.

Photo of Alan from the Greetings From Isolation project.

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