Essential Tremors | WYPR

Essential Tremors

A show in which musicians and other creators talk about the songs that shaped who they are.

Bibio

Dec 5, 2019

Since his breakthrough 2009 Warp Records release Ambivalence Avenue, Stephen James Wilkinson, better known as Bibio, has released six albums of delicate, moody folk imbued with deft electronic touches. Fragile, wistful, and often brief, his reverie-inducing songs serve as distillations of pure nostalgia.

Chris Shonting

Drummer John Stanier has turned heads throughout his career, first with '90s alt-metal act Helmet and in recent years as part of omindirectional electronic rock band Battles.In this episode, he talks to us about his prog-rock past, making every note count, and hating goth but loving Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Chris Shonting

Guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams has blazed a unique path through underground music,with Don Caballero, Storm & Stress, and now with Battles. On this episode, the first of two that interview both Battles members, he talks about getting rid of emotion, free jazz, and machine music.

Levi Manchek

MC and producer JPEGMAFIA came out of Baltimore and exploded on the national rap landscape, not part of any particular music scene but drawing from many. In this episode, he talks about how songs by Janelle Monáe, Björk, and Cam'ron shaped his art.

Writer Hanif Abdurraqib has risen to prominence in recent years thanks to They Can't Kill Us Til They Kill Us, a collection of essays, and Go Ahead in the Rain, his recent book about hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest. In this episode, he talks about songs by Bruce Springsteen, Boosie, and Whitney Houston.

Robert Forster spent decades, off and on, as one of the singer/songwriters behind beloved Australian indie-pop band the Go-Betweens, along with his late creative partner Grant McLennan. 

 

Marin Alsop has spent her life surrounded by music—as the child of professional musicians, as a violinist, and as the acclaimed music director for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In this episode, she discusses the beauty of Brahms, playing music with her parents, and the world of Mahler.

Juana Molina won an audience far beyond the borders of her native Argentina by crossing the streams of singer/songwriter reflection, pop tunefulness, and electronic burble and drone. In this episode, she muses on her childhood impressions of music, enduring the artistic scrutiny of her parents, and having her mind blown by Raymond Scott.

Guy Picciotto was a founding member of numerous DC bands of the 80's that made an impact on the direction of American rock music, but none more so than Fugazi, the band led by him and fellow DC punk legend Ian MacKaye. After the band went on hiatus in 2003, Picciotto took a very different path, playing extensively with singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt until Chesnutt's death in 2009. In this episode, Picciotto talks about the three songs that changed him: a Baroque pop tune from an iconic British group, a brutal proto-punk single, and an extremely under-the-radar song from an unclassifiable Irish band.

Alex Waber, JIC

Experimental composer Sarah Davachi has constructed her own soundworld out of sustained tones and drones, using instruments both electronic and medieval. In this episode, she discusses music by Todd Rundgren, Soft Machine, and Ennio Morricone.

Wume

Jan 3, 2019

Baltimore duo Wume draws on the motorik pulse and cosmic synths of vintage Krautrock, but update them with mesmerizing patterns of complex rhythm and a wide-eyed sense of exploration. In this episode, Al Schatz and April Camlin discuss three tunes that pointed the way to their sound.

Steve Reich

Nov 29, 2018

Steve Reich long ago transcended the "minimalist" tag to stand as one of America's greatest and most influential living composers. In this episode, he details the effects that the music of Stravinsky, Perotin, and John Coltrane had on some of his seminal pieces.

Mimi Parker (Low)

Nov 16, 2018
Shelly Mosman

For 25 years, Mimi Parker’s minimalist drumming and angelic voice have helped provide the spine, and the soul, of Low, the brooding trio from Duluth, Minn. Just before the release of their mold-breaking new album, Double Negative, Parker discussed her tough upbringing, discovering music beyond classic rock, and the indie band that launched a thousand other indie bands.

Colin Newman (Wire)

Sep 24, 2018

Colin Newman rewrote the rules of punk with London-based band Wire, and went on to push back the boundaries on creativity and relevance for decades-long rock careers. But Newman has also thrived as a solo artist and producer — and the latter role is what he wanted to talk about in this episode, with three tracks that have shaped his work in the studio.

Chad Clark (Beauty Pill)

Sep 5, 2018

Though he emerged from Washington, D.C.’s post punk scene with the band Smart Went Crazy, Chad Clark has expanded his musical palette with Beauty Pill, an omnivorous band that makes the most of his vivid melodies and wry lyrics. In this episode, he discusses Paul Simon, a jazz tragedy, and "The Story of O.J."

Emily Flake (The New Yorker)

Aug 16, 2018

Emily Flake went from running her Lulu Eightball comic in altweeklies to drawing cartoons for The New Yorker and publishing books about her experiences with quitting smoking and raising her daughter. In this episode, she talks about the youthful impact of the Descendents, Jawbreaker, and the Replacements.

Irmin Schmidt (Can)

Jul 26, 2018

Irmin Schmidt and his cohorts in the group Can not only formed one of the central pillars of so-called krautrock, they created a body of work that influenced generations of rock, electronic, and experimental musicians. In this episode, he discusses the three epochal classics that shaped his music.

Tim Kinsella (Joan of Arc)

Jul 10, 2018

Tim Kinsella has made at least two indelible marks on contemporary music—first as frontman of emo hingepoint Cap’n Jazz, then as ringleader of the unpredictable Joan of Arc. In this episode, he talks about formative encounters with Bauhaus, Can, and composer Arnold Dreyblatt.

Greg Saunier (Deerhoof)

Jun 12, 2018

Deerhoof has become one of the country’s most unusual and prolific rock bands, and drummer Greg Saunier has been in the driver’s seat the whole time. His ecstatic attack—and his minimal kit—have helped define and distinguish the group, which formed in San Francisco in the mid-1990s.

Owen Gardner (Horse Lords)

May 15, 2018

Baltimore quartet Horse Lords have become an underground sensation on the back of their trance-inducing polyrhythmic rock attack. In this episode, guitarist Owen Gardner traces his sound back to Africa, to an almost forgotten folk tradition, and to hunting down the avant-garde while growing up in Iowa.

Susan Alcorn

Apr 20, 2018

Susan Alcorn spent years playing her pedal-steel guitar in country bands across Texas. But she has also taken the instrument into less typical territory, applying its sinuous tones to jazz, free improvisation, tango, and her personal blend of all of the above. In this episode, she recalls her seminal encounters with 20th-century composition, free jazz, and a steel-player’s steel player.

Ian MacKaye

Mar 20, 2018

Ian MacKaye has exerted a profound influence on music over the past 35 years. He pioneered hardcore punk with Minor Threat. He expanded the possibilities of punk with Fugazi. And he co-founded seminal Washington, DC, indie label Dischord Records.  For this episode of Essential Tremors, he sat down for a wide-ranging conversation about his history, the influence of dub, and how music is like a room.

Wendel Patrick

Feb 20, 2018

Wendel Patrick is a Baltimore-based jazz and classical pianist, as well as a sought after hip-hop producer, a lecturer at Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Institute, and a sound documentarian. He’s also the co-founder of the monthly Baltimore Boom-Bap Society and a co-creator of WYPR’s award-winning "Out of the Blocks" podcast. The three songs that changed him range from seminal hip-hop, to a genre-challenging instrumental, to a soul stirring rendition of a Leonard Bernstein classic by one of the most important performers of the 20th century.

Jana Hunter

Feb 1, 2018

Essential Tremors talks to musicians and other creative people about the music that shaped them. In the debut episode, hosts Matt Byars and Lee Gardner speak with Jana Hunter, singer, guitarist, and songwriter for Baltimore indie-pop band Lower Dens. 

Essential Tremors Trailer

Jan 30, 2018

Essential Tremors talks to musicians and other creative people about the music that shaped them. In the debut episode, hosts Matt Byars and Lee Gardner speak with Jana Hunter, singer, guitarist, and songwriter for Baltimore indie-pop band Lower Dens. Turns out the melancholy in the band's mercurial sound has its roots in Jana's experiences with the music of the Smiths, but also Vivaldi and a certain '70s AM hit.  Episode 1 debuts on 2/1/18.