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Song Exploder

Podcast Series Song Exploder

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.

Series Episodes

Fenne Lily - Lights Light Up

Fenne Lily - Lights Light Up

Fenne Lily is a singer and songwriter from Dorset, England. She released her first album in 2018, but I didn’t find her music until 2023, when she put out her third album, Big Picture. The album she released in between those two was one that got a little lost in the lockdown, when all her touring plans around it got canceled. All of that plays into the story she tells in this episode, about making her song “Lights Light Up” from that third album. I spoke to Fenne in front of a live audience at WBUR CitySpace in Boston. Coming up, you’ll hear how the song evolved across different versions of demos and then in the studio, where she recorded it with Grammy-nominated producer Brad Cook.For more, visit songexploder.net/fenne-lily.

21 mins

10 July Finished

Re-issue: Vagabon - Water Me Down

Re-issue: Vagabon - Water Me Down

Last year, Vagabon released her third album, Sorry I Haven’t Called, which I’ve been listening to a lot. So I wanted to revisit an episode that I recorded with her back in 2020, about her breakout song "Water Me Down." The episode also features the voice of Eric Littmann, who co-produced the track. He passed away in June 2021, way too young. Vagabon’s new album is dedicated to him. If you haven’t heard this episode before, I hope you like it. When Laetitia Tamko started making the second Vagabon album, she really wanted to produce the entire thing on her own. It would be a new sound, and producing was still a relatively new skill to her, but she wanted to tackle it head on, and do it all herself. On this song, though, "Water Me Down," Laetitia actually has a co-producer, Eric Littmann. It’s the one exception to her otherwise entirely self-produced album. In this episode, she breaks down how she and Eric made the song, and why it was worth making that exception. For more, visit songexploder.net/vagabon.

19 mins

26 June Finished

Crowded House - Don't Dream It's Over

Crowded House - Don't Dream It's Over

Crowded House formed in 1985 in Melbourne, Australia. They’ve released eight albums, including their most recent one, Gravity Stairs, which came out last month. But on their very first album, they had a big hit with "Don’t Dream It’s Over."Crowded House made “Don’t Dream It’s Over” with Grammy-nominated producer Mitchell Froom, who they went on to work with multiple times. For this episode, I talked to frontman Neil Finn about how the song was first written, and how it developed with his bandmates and collaborators in the studio. And we talked about the profound connection people have had with the song over the years.For more, visit songexploder.net/crowded-house.

22 mins

12 June Finished

Lizzy McAlpine - Staying

Lizzy McAlpine - Staying

Lizzy McAlpine released her first album in 2020, and her second album in 2022. And between the two, she’s had a lot of success. One of her songs, "Ceilings," was a viral TikTok hit, and has been streamed over half a billion times. So you might think, with all that success, you’d want to keep working in way that’s been working. But while Lizzy was making her third album, Older, after almost a year into the process of recording, she threw the whole thing out. She brought in a new band, and started over with a totally different approach. I talked to her about the song "Staying," from her new album. You’ll hear her original voice memos, as well as the first version she made in the studio, and then how it really came to life once she reimagined it.For more, visit songexploder.net/lizzy-mcalpine.

18 mins

29 May Finished

The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize??

The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize??

The Flaming Lips formed in Oklahoma City in 1983. Over the last four decades, they’ve put out 16 albums. In 1999, they put out their album The Soft Bulletin, and that brought them a new level of success. And then, in 2002, they followed it up with Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which was their biggest album to date. Pitchfork named it one of the top 5 albums of the year, Stereogum called it one of the best albums of the decade, and they won a Grammy. And the biggest song from the album was "Do You Realize??" So, for this episode, I talked to Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd about how that song was first imagined. You’ll hear the very first demo Wayne recorded for the song, and the demo he and Steven put together later, on their way to making the final version with producer Dave Fridmann. For more, visit songexploder.net/the-flaming-lips.

20 mins

15 May Finished

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