Songwriter, artist & Grammy-nominated producer Louise Goffin hosts guests that share compelling behind-the-scenes stories from fellow music-makers, songwriters, musicians, and industry insiders. A podcast chronicling the life we love to live...behind the songs we live to love.
Season 2, Episode 12: Lady Blackbird and Chris Seefried
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 12 of Song Chronicles. Our special guests today are the bewitching jazz vocalist Marley Munroe, better known as Lady Blackbird, and the award-winning producer, writer and musician Chris Seefried. Together, the two created the incredible Lady Blackbird debut album Black Acid Soul, which they describe as a genre all its own they almost invented. As Chris explains, the word "jazz" could have been limiting, but he reassured Marley "you can still wear your outfits."
Lady Blackbird’s vocals are often compared to legends like Nina Simone or Billie Holiday, two vocalists she feels trained her. Chris describes what it’s like to have new audiences see Marley perform — it’s almost as if she’s a star they just haven’t heard yet.
As well as being a renowned producer, writer, and musician, Chris is an artist in his own right. We talk about what it’s like for him to be a part of another artist’s project as an artist himself. There’s no conflict for him because, as he says, "We get to play everything we love and listen to the greatest singer in the world sing it."
Black Acid Soul might seem like an overnight success, but many years of work have gone into it.
Marley and Chris in 2014
And releasing a debut record in 2020 was no easy feat — Marley and Chris couldn’t support the record with the standard touring because of the pandemic.
The project was eventually embraced first by the UK, as often happens with American artists, and Lady Blackbird was invited to play Jools Holland — which Marley and Chris pushed through not realizing they both had COVID.
Listen to a most joyful conversation and hear about Marley and Chris's incredible journey writing, recording and performing this world-class, era-defying music that's worthy of becoming part of serious music fans' most loved artists.
Season 2, Episode 11: Thomas Walsh
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 11 of Song Chronicles. Our special guest today is Thomas Walsh, an Ivor Novello-nominated songwriter who is the front person and songwriter behind the Irish pop-rock project Pugwash.
As a band, Pugwash released six albums and toured through the UK and Ireland before Thomas returned Pugwash to its roots as a solo project with the most recent album Silverlake. He's currently at work on a new solo album.
Pugwash in 2015
We also talk about The Duckworth Lewis Method, his collaboration with Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, and what it's like working with a true partner in co-writing.
The Duckworth Lewis Method
Thomas is an incredible writer of melodies. We talk about the songwriting process, how he often dreads the process but loves the result, and how he usually writes from his own experience. Though he feels the need to be modest about his own songwriting, I get him to share his favorites of his own songs that he's written throughout his career. As he shares, it's often the songs that come to you quickly that turn out the best.
Thomas performing in 2015
Thomas is a walking encyclopedia of music with the biggest record collection I've ever seen. He shares his obsession with the labels printed on records and the sense memories he associates with 70s music.
He talks about getting to work with many of his influences, including Jeff Lynne, co-founder of Electric Light Orchestra, who told him a funny story about how George Harrison found his awards to be highly valuable — in the garden. You'll also hear a fun story about singing Kinks songs with Ray Davies in the pub.
Thomas with Jeff Lynne
Enjoy this in depth conversation with a true lover of music.
Season 2, Episode 10: Billy Steinberg
Season 2: Episode 10
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 10 of Song Chronicles. Our special guest is Songwriter Hall of Fame member Billy Steinberg, who with collaborator Tom Kelly wrote many Number 1 hits including "Like a Virgin" by Madonna, "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper, "So Emotional" by Whitney Houston, "Alone" by Heart, and "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles. The duo also co-wrote "I’ll Stand By You" with Chrissie Hynde and "I Touch Myself" with Christine Amphlett and Mark McEntee of The Divinyls.
Billy Steinberg and Cyndi Lauper in Finland, 1988.
Billy’s first hit song was "How Do I Make You," which Linda Ronstadt decided to record after hearing demos from Steinberg’s band Billy Thermal. In our conversation, Billy shares how he found out Rondstadt would record the song which later reached the Billboard Top 10.
Billy Thermal's unreleased 1980 album
In 1981, Steinberg began a momentous collaboration with songwriter Tom Kelly, with whom he wrote many memorable hits of the 80s and 90s. Billy shares how he and Tom found their groove as co-writers and how they always tried to write to make themselves happy rather than customizing songs for potential artists. Their breakout hit was "Like A Virgin," the title track of Madonna’s second album. You’ll hear Billy’s personal story behind the lyrics to "Like A Virgin" and what it meant for him to hear the song sung by an Italian nun, directed at God.
Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly, and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, 1992.
Steinberg’s lyrics resonate throughout the years because their themes are universal — which is different from being general or bland, as we discuss. We also talk about how the Brill Building Era inspired him to become a songwriter.
Billy has gone on to write with many other songwriters, including frequent collaborator Josh Alexander with whom he co-write "Give Your Heart a Break" by Demi Lovato and "Too Little Too Late" by Jojo. They have also written numerous songs with the artist LP, whom Steinberg calls "a female Roy Orbison."
Billy Steinberg and LP
Enjoy this interview with Billy Steinberg on what makes songs that stand the test of time.
Season 2: Episode 9: Jon Platt
Season 2: Episode 9
Welcome to Episode 9, Season 2 of Song Chronicles. Our special guest is Jon Platt, the Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Publishing – a man Jay-Z proclaimed as the “the Obama of the music industry.”
Jon took a quite unusual path to becoming one of the most powerful and influential (music) publishers of the past 25 years," according to Variety. Born in Philadelphia and raised in Oakland, Jon was a high school student in Denver when he took his first step into the music industry. While working in a sporting goods store, he befriended a local DJ named Thomas Edwards, who showed Jon the deejaying basics and he soon became a popular club DJ.
Jon with Chuck D. photo by Desiree Navarro/Wire Image
Jon's next life-changing moment came when Jon was MC’ing a Public Enemy/Ice Cube concert. He got to talking with Public Enemy’s front-man, Chuck D, who told Jon not to settle for just being a DJ. “My music dream started the next day from that day,” Jon reveals in our conversation.
Inspired by Chuck D's words, Jon began managing some songwriters and producers in Los Angeles. In 1995, he got a low-rung job in EMI’s A&R department and quickly struck gold by signing Marqueze Etheridge, co-writer of the TLC’s smash, “Waterfalls,” one of the year’s – and the decade’s – mega hits. He credits his “DJ instincts” for his talent for breaking records like “Waterfalls” as well as his role behind the making of the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys smash single, “Empire State of Mind.”
Jon (on the right) with Sean Combs, Jay-Z, and Clarence Avant, one of Platt's mentor figures. Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Image
At EMI Music Publishing, Jon signed Kanye West, Jay-Z, Diddy, Beyoncè, Drake, and Usher, while working his way up to being President of North America, Creative in 2011. He later moved Warner/Chappell, where he was appointed Chairman and CEO in 2015. Then in 2019, he took the same positions at Sony Music Publishing, the world's No. 1 global music publisher with a catalog of over three million songs.
Highly respected inside and outside the music business, Jon has received such honors as SESAC’s Visionary Award, Morehouse College’s Candle Award in Music, Business and Entertainment, and Black Radio Exclusive Magazine’s Man of the Year, and has been a perennial presence on Billboard’s prestigious Power 100 list.
with Pharrell Williams. Photo by Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
Jon’s most cherished honor, however, is the City of Hope’s Spirit of Life Award - because the event raised more than $6 million for the hospital. He wholeheartedly believes in the importance of helping people because you can help. This belief is underscored in the story he shares about assisting in getting Kanye West onto Usher’s Confession tour along with his many philanthropic endeavors – such as starting the Big Jon Platt Scholarship Program in 2005 to help Denver high school students go to college.
Jon with his wife, Angie, Usher, and Rita Ora
He’s extremely proud too for being able to assist songwriters during the pandemic. Jon, who has championed songwriters throughout his career, helped to have Sony’s COVID Global Relief Fund donate over $2 million to songwriters – and not just Sony Music Publishing songwriters -worldwide. We also discuss the Music Modernization Act, which he believes is a step in the right direction for songwriting compensation. It’s important, Jon says, “to do the right thing by songwriters.”
Photo by Mary Beth Koeth
Please enjoy this very special conversation with Jon Platt as he offers his perceptive personal insights along with talking about his unique place in the music business, and his love for music and music-makers.
Season 2 Episode 8: Suzie Brown
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 8 of Song Chronicles. Our special guest this week is cardiologist and singer-songwriter Suzie Brown, whose work has been recognized by NewSong Music Competition, the Great American Songwriting Competition, and the International Acoustic Music Awards.
Born in Montreal and raised in Boston, Suzie seemed predestined to follow in her parents’ footsteps to become a doctor and didn’t consider being a musician to be a potential career choice. While pursuing medicine at Harvard Medical School and later at the University of Pennsylvania, she started performing purely for the love of it, joining an a cappella group in college, moonlighting in a production of Hair with other busy grad students, and fronting a cover band during residency. She wrote her first song during her cardiology fellowship.
Over time, Suzie became a staple of the Philadelphia music scene, where she released her first three albums. Now living in Nashville with her husband Scot Sax, she is a part-time Vanderbilt cardiologist and a full-time mom.
Suzie and her husband Scot Sax
This full plate of responsibilities caring for others means Suzie has to fiercely defend her own creative time. Her sixth record, Under the Surface, was made by stealing away the hours of 6-10pm each evening with her producer Billy Harvey who lives down the street in Nashville. Making music during the COVID-19 pandemic was the one thing she could do for herself that allowed her to process the heartbreak she felt caring for her patients.
In this conversation recorded in March 2021, Suzie shares her insights for tapping into inspiration amidst an impossibly busy schedule, wrestling with perfectionism, and how going to med school prepared her for adjusting to the "new normal" of living in a pandemic.
Enjoy this conversation with Suzie Brown about living a full and fulfilling life.
Season 2 Episode 7: Aaron Lee Tasjan
Welcome to Episode 7 of Season 2 of Song Chronicles. Our featured special guest is Aaron Lee Tasjan. We spoke back in February, right after the release of his fantastic new album Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!
Aaron's newest album
Aaron has led a fascinating life. He's lived in many different corners of the country, and has worked with the New York Dolls, Lucinda Williams, Jack White, and Tony Visconti. In this conversation, Aaron shares insights he learned from the artists he's connected with along the way.
While living in Ohio at age 16, a song of Aaron’s caught the attention of Peter Yarrow, who invited Tasjan onstage to perform with Peter, Paul and Mary. He learned from Yarrow how far songs can go from their intended meaning based on the projection of the listener.
After earning a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music, Aaron dropped out after only one semester to get on with the business of making music. "Learning, that's a two-way street — you have to be open to it," he says.
At the age of 19, he moved to New York City to start living his dream and had to figure out how to become part of the city's network of working musicians. Eventually, he got encouragement from and got to work with some of his Mount Rushmore musical heroes. We talk about the lessons he learned about creative passion and work ethic during that time and how he found community within the NYC music scene.
Aaron met singer-songwriter Justin Tranter and together they formed the glam rock band Semi-Precious Weapons. Tony Visconti produced their debut album. We talk about what makes rock & roll work — Aaron’s take is that rock & roll is slightly embarrassing — and how the band’s manager BP Fallon created rock & roll moments for them, such as connecting them to Kate Moss for a hang that got them on the cover of the Daily Mail.
After Aaron left Semi-Precious Weapons, he spent three years as lead guitarist for the New York Dolls.
Aaron playing with the New York Dolls
Since 2013, Aaron has lived in Nashville, writing songs and recording genre-defying solo work. In this time, he has released five solo albums: In The Blazes (2015), Silver Tears (2016), Karma For Cheap (2018), Karma For Cheap: Reincarnated (2019), and Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! (2021). His songwriting can be heard on recordings by Pat Green, Yola, BP Fallon, and JD McPherson. We discuss the good and bad parts of the professional music culture in Nashville.
BP Fallon and Aaron Lee Tasjan
Aaron's fashion sense is all his own. He makes some of his own clothes, such as the sweater seen on the cover of Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! We talk about what songwriting has to do with sewing and other ways he finds creative inspiration in non-musical activities.
Aaron in the sweater he made
Enjoy this conversation with Aaron about everything that goes in to a creative life.