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Primer

Author: Maximum Fun

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Primer is a music podcast about translation and illumination. Host Christian Dueñas is joined by a different co-host each season to explore a genre of music from outside the English-speaking world. In its debut season, music writer Yosuke Kitazawa (PBS SoCal, Light in the Attic) joins Christian and special guests to explore Japanese City Pop. They celebrate the lives of its artists, explore the cultural and historical context of the songs, and reflect on the impact that music had on listeners everywhere - including personally, as fans. Primer invites both newcomers and crate diggers alike to find their next favorite album and learn more about the music they already love.
6 Episodes
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Seiko Matsuda, Japan's "Eternal Idol", started her career way back in 1980 with her debut record  Squall. The albums and accompanying singles saw massive success, selling hundreds of thousands of copies within a week of release and it's easy to see why. Squall perfectly encapsulated the summery, bouncy, fun side of city pop.   Singer-songwriter UMI joins us to talk about Matsuda's prolific career, how city pop influences UMI's work, and the joys of karaoke.  Check out our Spotify playlist for this episode! We also have the playlist on YouTubeIf you enjoy Primer please support the show and get some cool gifts too!Follow UMI: Instagram  | WebsiteFollow Primer: Instagram | Twitter | TikTok
In 1982, Hiroshi Sato released the album Awakening; a synth-heavy, mostly solo record featuring Canadian-born singer Wendy Matthews. He had a few solo records out by then, but they didn't really pay the bills. He was a working studio musician, laying down piano/keyboard tracks for other artists. He got by, but there was something missing. Thanks partly to the introduction of the LinnDrum, the first commercially available drum machine, he found inspiration to cut another record. And what a legendary record it is. Producer and musician Dam-Funk joins us to talk about the magic of the LinnDrum, what he considers his personal "Awakening" album, and Wendy Matthews' contribution to the record.Check out our Spotify playlist for this episode! We also have the playlist on YouTubeIf you enjoy Primer please support the show and get some cool gifts too!Follow Dam: Instagram  | GlydezoneFollow Primer: Instagram | Twitter | TikTok
Singer-songwriter Taeko Onuki released the landmark album SUNSHOWER in 1977. Taeko and this album where maybe a little ahead of their time. This jazz fusion pop record sold pretty poorly when it first came out and audiences weren't too keen on this new, strange music. As time has gone on, it received a much more positive reception and has gone on to be reissued a few times and is now seen as a progenitor of the City Pop sound. Music writer Patrick St. Michel joins us to talk about his experience interviewing Taeko Onuki, the incredible personnel on this incredible album, and how ahead of the game SUNSHOWER really was. Check out our Spotify playlist for this episode! We also have the playlist on YouTubeIf you enjoy Primer please support the show and get some cool gifts too!Follow Patrick: Twitter  | SubstackFollow Primer: Instagram | Twitter | TikTok
Singer and actress Yasuko Agawa released the album Gravy in 1987. It was a bit of a departure from her smooth jazz, bossa nova roots, but she created an unforgettable record with the help of arranger Augie Johnson. It may have flown under the radar when it was first released in Japan, but the single "LA Night" has quietly become a soulful funky staple for many DJs all over the world. It's been sampled countless times and is now arguably Yasuko's biggest hit outside of Japan.Singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart joins us this week to talk about how Gravy and "LA Night" in particular sells a beautiful fantasy of Los Angeles, Augie Johnson's work with Yasuko Agawa, and how City Pop affects his own work. Plus, we get on the phone to talk with singer Miki Howard about her work on Gravy and it's recent resurgence in popularity.Check out our Spotify playlist for this episode! We also have the playlist on YouTube.If you like the show, please support and get some cool gifts! Follow Devendra: Instagram | Twitter  | Flying WigFollow Miki Howard: Instagram | MEHAFollow Primer: Instagram | Twitter | TikTok
On November 5th, 1979, Miki Matsubara's debut pop single "Mayonaka no Door/ Stay with Me" was released in her home country of Japan. It was a huge hit and remained her biggest and most beloved work throughout her entire career. Over 40 years after its original release, it soared in popularity once again when a whole new international audience discovered the song through TikTok. Its catchy hook and incredible vocals still resonate with listeners today and has become a staple in the City Pop genre. If you've heard one City Pop song, it's probably Stay with Me.On our inaugural episode of Primer, radio/tv presenter  Linda Marigliano joins us to discuss City Pop icon, Miki Matsubara and her debut record, Pocket Park.  We get into the unexpected renewed interest in Mayonaka no Door, the story behind Miki's sudden departure from the music scene, and Linda's personal connection and discovery of City Pop.Check out our Spotify playlist for this episode! We also have the playlist on YouTube.If you enjoy Primer please support the show and get some cool gifts too! Follow Linda: Instagram | Twitter | Tough Love | Love LanguageFollow Primer: Instagram | Twitter | TikTok 
Primer is a music podcast about translation and illumination. Host Christian Dueñas is joined by a different co-host each season to explore a genre of music from outside the English-speaking world. In its debut season, music writer Yosuke Kitazawa (PBS SoCal, Light in the Attic) joins Christian and special guests to explore Japanese City Pop. They celebrate the lives of its artists, explore the cultural and historical context of the songs, and reflect on the impact that music had on listeners everywhere - including personally, as fans. Primer invites both newcomers and crate diggers alike to find their next favorite album and learn more about the music they already love.
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