Interviews focus on key moments of discovery, and the songs/artists that have soundtracked the guest's life. Hosted by journalist and radio presenter Jenny Eliscu (@jennylsq), these are laid-back but in-depth discussions, with music-makers and music-lovers. Episodes also occasionally feature clips from Eliscu's extensive archive, which includes 20 years' worth of interview audio.
U.K. artist Kae Tempest, on the first time they ever spit rhymes in public, at age 15: “I remember pushing through the crowd. I remember the tunnel vision. I remember reaching for the mic. I remember, like, the heat, the fever — your whole body beginning to like go into almost like unbearable minute precision-detail slow motion, and then the words. That was 20 years ago. More! And it's the same feeling that I have each time I'm about to approach the mic. It's this, like, deep connection to the word. And I remember the place transformed, people transformed, I transformed. And then from that night, until today, I haven't thought about anything else but rhymes. When you receive that much inspiration from something, and you're able to suddenly give something back, you're able to publish a book or make a record, and you can contribute — you can stand on that line that goes all the way back and your contribution can be felt going forwards. It's the most incredible kind of epiphany moment of achieving balance or things being right. It's my, kind of, life-force, really.” Kae’s latest album, The Line Is A Curve, is a powerful collection of musical vignettes that explore our drive for connection, and it’s one of my favorite LPs of 2022. Kae is on tour in Europe until mid-December and in Australia and New Zealand in early 2023. Get tickets here.
Bartees Strange reflects on important moments during his musical development, including:
Learning to sing alongside his opera and gospel singer mother, who brought him to most of her performances as a child, until eventually he was singing alongside her. “There's something magical being a child in an opera Hall, hearing sound without microphones, bouncing off of the wood, bouncing off of the space, and then looking up on stage and seeing like a 5’2” black woman who's your mom just fill it. And it's like, ‘I know not everybody's moms do this.’”
Seeing the hardcore band Norma Jean in a church basement when he was in middle school, and realizing that music — especially live music — has the power to make an entire room full of people feel an energetic connection. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is just a music thing. Like, this is just what happens when music works, regardless of a classical space, hardcore space, or like a gospel space, like music can just do this. And I was just like, ‘how do I wield this magical power?’”
Moving to New York after a stint working in politics in Washington, D.C., and finding inspiration in the music scene he plugged into there. “I grew up in a very rural area of Oklahoma and dealt with a lot of racism and questions about who I was and who I was allowed to be, and I don’t think I was fully comfortable in my body until I moved to New York City and I started meeting all these artists — like are you familiar with the band L’Rain, Taja Cheek’s band, and Kia and Melanie Charles? These black artists in Brooklyn who I honestly fell in love with and was so inspired by, because I always felt so alone and singular. My whole life, I was the only black kid. And in my musical space, I was often the only black person. And when I was making records, I was often the only black person in the studio, and people didn’t listen to me, they didn’t think I knew what I was talking about. I was struggling with even trusting my gut on knowing if I knew what I was talking about. I had listened to the gaslighting so much that I don’t think I even knew who I was until I saw those artists and I was able to connect with them on a level where I was like, ‘Oh I’m like you. I’m not weird. Actually this is what *we* do.’ And being around them it kind of created the space for me to spread my wings and try some stuff and feel comfortable sharing music with people who understood my experience and where I was coming from, and then once that happened, I was kind of able to lay it all out.”
How his goals have evolved between his 2020 debut album, Live Forever, and his recently released sophomore LP, Farm To Table. “Honestly, I wanted to kind of show people it wasn't a fluke, like, I could do it again. And that was also why I put it out so fast. I was like, ‘I’m not letting three years pass before I drop another one. Because I don't want people to think ‘Oh, like, that was cute,’ I want them to be like, ‘Oh, Bartees, this dude is a pretty serious cat. He’s gonna stick around.’”
What he has planned for his first major headlining tour in North America, and why you have to see openers Pom Pom Squad, They Hate Change and Spring Silver. The tour is on the road until 12/19/22. Get tickets HERE.
MUNA / The Womack Sisters
On the heels of their excellent latest LP, LA indie-pop trio MUNA (Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson) call into the LSQ podcast from the road, to talk about their individual experiences falling in love with music as kids, how they came together to form MUNA, and how their approach has evolved over the years. The original ethos remains: “We decided to make music that made us feel good, for sure, but that also had an audience in mind, and that could be useful to an audience,” Katie says. Adds Josette: “Songs that can be used to dance to or that can be used as a mantra to say to yourself when you’re at a really low place. When we say we had an audience in mind, people who need to hear those things are the audience we’ve always had in mind, and that’s always been a guiding force. MUNA has become for the people, and I think that’s why we’ve been able to do this for so long.”
After releasing a single I loved earlier this year called “Blocked,” the Womack Sisters (BG, Zeimani and Kucha) shared their debut EP, Legacy, in early September. When I caught up with them this summer, they had just pushed back the release a bit, so they could add their cover of “A Change Is Gonna Come,” the song made famous by their legendary grandfather, Sam Cooke. We chatted about what it was like growing up on the road with their parents, Womack & Womack, and how they went from roadies to back-up singers to forming their own group. They plan to release a debut LP next year.
This is a special bonus episode for LSQ listeners of a podcast I had an excellent time collaborating on, as producer, with alt-J. Things Will Get Better is a five-episode podcast miniseries that explores the U.K. band's early days, and the making of their incredible, groundbreaking debut album, An Awesome Wave, in honor of its tenth anniversary. Within the series, the band revisit Ash Grove, the old college house where they played their first gig and wrote songs like "Matilda" and "Breezeblocks," as well as other favorite haunts in Leeds; they discover and listen back to long lost demos, including for the song that lends the series its name and fan favorites such as "Portrait" and "Hiroshima"; they catch up with their longtime producer, Charlie Andrew, and their former bandmate, Gwil Sainsbury; and in the episode I'm sharing, I interview the band, LSQ-style, focusing on their childhood encounters with creativity and how their music practices and passions evolved from there. If you like this one, check out the others at anchor.fm/anawesomewave
Sampa The Great
"As young, upcoming artists, we aim to be the examples we saw, but as you grow in your artistry, you realize that example was only there to show you you could do it. Now it's time for you to take that example and interpret it into who you are. So, the less I tried to be like Lauryn [Hill], the more I could be Sampa. And the more I could see what I love, the stories I love to tell, the music I grew up on and love sharing, and the more I could solidify myself as an artist," says the Zambia-born Botswana-raised poet and rapper Sampa The Great, reflecting on her creative path, in episode 79 of LSQ. "And so that journey has continued and grown within the past six years, and I think it's taken a really beautiful turn in relocating back home. Because now the context isn't me trying to represent different groups of people in a country I wasn't raised in, to bring people something different than what's shown on the mainstream. You're bringing African artists to the mainstream in a country like Australia, that's huge work, and I know it was a huge weight for me, even though we broke a lot of walls. I realize it took a huge toll on me and it was a huge weight, that, when I relocated back home [to Zambia], that full-circle moment of being in a place where the dream actually started forced me to go back to the mindset of the kid who dreamt it, and how happy I was to express the music and share music, in general, without the opinions or weight of anything else, and really forced me to take a look into representing Sampa for a change, versus everybody else. I mean, everybody else didn't even ask me to represent them, if we're being honest. And just taking a chance to look at who I am outside of my music, my own happiness, and making sure that I actually love what I do. And those all are important ingredients to the world of self-discovery, and just being transparent with myself, and aiming to be my freest self are some of the thought processes that went into As Above, So Below." Sampa The Great's awesome new sophomore studio album, As Above, So Below, is out now. Tickets to her upcoming European headlining tour are available HERE.
One of the most influential guitarists and songwriters of all time, Johnny Marr (The Smiths, Electronic, The The, Modest Mouse, The Cribs) delves into major moments in his creative evolution, from discovering his love of guitar at age five to finding favorite artists like Marc Bolan and Patti Smith and The Only Ones as a teenager to joining his first band (Sister Ray; he was fourteen, playing with a group of adults) to the early days of The Smiths and how he dealt with the pressure of their fame, when it came to making The Queen Is Dead, in particular. He also explains what aspects of his songwriting practice he's retained over the years, and how he approached his excellent latest album, Fever Dreams, Pts. 1-4. Marr is on tour in North America this month. Get tickets here.
Excellent delivery and insight
I appreciate Jenny’s soothing voice and experienced insight. Several years ago I filled out a survey from SXM about favorite hosts. I thought I had the name right but inadvertently given another female host’s name as having such a superb way about her. 🙄 Nonetheless ... I am glad to have this podcast available to hear more from her.
Music lovers start listening!
I’ve been following Jenny from Rolling Stone, Sirius XM and her podcast. Love the podcast!
Let’s get this money