Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Each episode features an artist discussing a song of theirs, breaking down the sounds and ideas that went into the writing and recording. Hosted and produced by Hrishikesh Hirway.
Raye - Escapism (feat. 070 Shake)
Raye is a singer, songwriter and producer from London. Besides being an artist in her own right, she’s also been a songwriter for other artists since she was a teenager. She’s co-written songs for Beyoncé, Charli XCX, and Ellie Goulding. In 2023, she released her debut album, My 21st Century Blues. The first single, “Escapism," became her first song to hit #1 in the UK. It’s gone platinum in the US, the UK, and seven other countries. It features guest vocals from 070 Shake. When she was here in LA on tour, I talked to Raye about how she made “Escapism.”
For more, visit songexploder.net/raye.
If you liked this episode, you might like Christine and the Queens’ episode from 2018. Christine and the Queens and 070 Shake have also collaborated together. You’ll find that episode at songexploder.net/christine-and-the-queens.
Sampha - Spirit 2.0
Sampha is a singer, songwriter and producer from London. His first album, Process, won the Mercury Prize in 2017. He’s collaborated with artists like the XX, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Solange. If you saw the Song Exploder Netflix show, Sampha was in the Alicia Keys episode, for the song they did together as a duet. This year, in October 2023, Sampha put out his second album, Lahai. And for this episode, I talked to Sampha about the song “Spirit 2.0.” Coming up you’ll hear the original demo, and some early voice memos.
Sampha recruited some collaborators for the song, like producer Pablo Diez-Reixa, aka El Guincho, who won a Grammy for his work on Rosalia’s first album; plus Yaeji; and Lisa Kaindé, from Ibeyi. But the song “Spirit 2.0” first took shape when Sampha was by himself, at home.
For more, visit songexploder.net/sampha.
Paramore - Liar
I think one of the hardest things there is to do in music is to write a love song that expresses something real. I read that the song "Liar" by Paramore was written by Hayley Williams, the singer of the band, about her longtime bandmate Taylor York, and about the feelings she started to realize she’d had for him. Paramore has been a band for over 20 years, since Hayley and Taylor and Zac Farro, who plays drums, were all young teenagers. Paramore’s won a Grammy for Best Rock Song, and they have multiple platinum albums. But with all that history, Taylor and Hayley only recently became a couple. "Liar" is a song off of their most recent album, This Is Why, which came out in February 2023. So I talked to Hayley, Taylor and Zac in their studio about how their song first came about and what it means to them.
For more, visit songexploder.net/paramore.
Kesha - Eat The Acid
Kesha is a singer and songwriter from Los Angeles. She put out her first song in 2009, and it was a huge #1 hit in the US and 13 other countries. She’s had 10 top-ten singles on the Billboard charts, and sold millions of albums. She got famous for songs that were about partying, and breaking the rules, and having fun. But this year, in May 2023, she put out the album Gag Order, which is a lot more raw and vulnerable. She made it with superstar producer Rick Rubin. And for this episode, I talked to Kesha about her song “Eat the Acid," which she wrote early on in the pandemic. I was really interested in the intense, distorted vocal sound that I’d heard in the track; and, as you’ll hear, it turns out most of that was a byproduct of the way she had to write and record when we were all in lockdown.
For more, visit songexploder.net/kesha.
Alvvays - Archie, Marry Me
Alvvays is from Toronto. Their first album came out in 2014, and they’ve put out two other albums since then. In Canada, they’ve won the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year, and all three of their albums have been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize.
Their first song was also one of their biggest hits. It’s called "Archie, Marry Me." Rolling Stone and Stereogum named it one of the best songs of the last decade. So for this episode, I talked about it with Molly Rankin and Alec O’Hanley from the band. The two of them are pretty quiet about their relationship other than being bandmates, but they told me a lot about the song, which I would count nowadays as an indie rock classic.
For more, visit songexploder.net/alvvays.
Laufey - From The Start
Laufey is a singer and songwriter originally from Iceland. She studied piano and cello as a kid. When she was 15, she was a guest soloist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. She went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, and that’s when she started writing songs. While she was still a student, she had a number one hit on Icelandic radio. Her first album debuted at number one on Billboard’s Alternative New Artist chart. Laufey was Spotify’s most streamed jazz artist of 2022. Her second album, Bewitched, came out in September 2023. And her new album just broke Spotify’s record for the most streams of a jazz album in a single day. And for this episode, I talked to Laufey about the breakout hit from that new album: a song called “From The Start."
I love this a lot and y’all are REALLY good, like better than my favorite artist! Keep it up👍👍👍👍👍
very cool show, but a little too pop-leaning
I enjoyed the few episodes about the songs I liked, like slowdive and liz phair, but I find myself rarely listening to this podcast because it's very pop-centric and honestly isn't super diverse in the kind of stuff explored... when I say "pop" I use the term loosely- I mostly mean that all these are very "safe".... these aren't very boundary-pushing artists.
like idc about laufey and panic at the disco can we talk about TAGABOW or lightning bolt or other bands that do weird stuff pls 😂
there are a few cool songs covered in here but not enough (considering music nerds are the ones listening to this show, right?)
otherwise it's a sick podcast. I just think the potential of a show like this is a little wasted when most of the songs chosen for it are pretty formulaic, frankly kinda boring songs.
I want AJR and Taylor Swift