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Song Exploder

Author: Hrishikesh Hirway

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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.
192 Episodes
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100 gecs is a duo, made up of Laura Les and Dylan Brady. In 2016, they put out an EP called 100 gecs, and three years later, they released their first album, called 1000 gecs. It was named the Best Album of 2019 in Vice and in The New York Times. It was also on year-end lists in Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Stereogum and more. Dylan lives in Los Angeles, and Laura in Chicago—they work remotely, sending files back and forth to each other. In this episode, the two of them break down how they made the song "Money Machine." songexploder.net/100-gecs
Laura Marling is a singer and songwriter from London. She won the Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist—she’s been nominated five times for that, along with the Mercury Prize, and the Grammy for Best Folk Album. Since 2008, she’s released seven albums. The most recent album is called Song for Our Daughter. It’s also the name of the song that she takes apart in this episode. songexploder.net/laura-marling
Tame Impala is the project of Kevin Parker, a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer from Perth, Australia. Since putting his first EP in 2008, Tame Impala has been nominated for two Grammys and won eight of Australia’s ARIA Awards. Multiple albums of his have been named best of the year. As a producer, he has collaborated with Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, The Weeknd, and more. The most recent Tame Impala album is The Slow Rush, which came out in February 2020. For this episode, Kevin chose to take apart the song, "It Might Be Time." songexploder.net/tame-impala
FKA twigs is a singer, songwriter, and producer from London. She’s released three EPs and two albums. Her most album, Magdalene, came out in November, 2019, and was named one of the best albums of the year by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Time, NME, and more. For this episode, twigs chose the song "Mirrored Heart" from Magdalene. She wrote and produced it in Los Angeles with a few collaborators, but it’s an intensely personal song. songexploder.net/fka-twigs
Nathaniel Rateliff is a singer and songwriter from Colorado. He’s released four solo albums, and two with his band, the Night Sweats. Those two Night Sweats albums were produced by Richard Swift, who passed away in 2018. In a statement, his family said that he "suffered from alcohol addiction, and it’s ultimately what took his life." Nathaniel Rateliff’s new solo album, And It’s Still Alright, was supposed to be produced by Richard Swift as well, but Richard died before they could work together again. In this episode, Nathaniel breaks down the title track, which was inspired by his own complicated relationship with alcohol, and by his friendship with Richard Swift. songexploder.net/nathaniel-rateliff
Eric Nam - Love Die Young

Eric Nam - Love Die Young

2020-03-1121:1911

Eric Nam is a Korean-American pop singer from Atlanta. He’s currently lives in Seoul, South Korea, where he found fame as a K-pop star. He was named “2016 Man of the Year” by GQ Korea, and Forbes named him one of their “30 under 30 Asia.” But his success in Korea has been complicated a little by what he wanted to do with his career versus what he felt he was allowed to do. As his career as an artist has evolved, he’s gotten closer and closer to making the music he wants to make. In November 2019, Eric released Before We Begin — his first album entirely in English. In this episode, Eric Nam and producer Rabitt break down a song from that album called “Love Die Young.” songexploder.net/eric-nam
Sophie Allison makes music under the name Soccer Mommy. Her debut album came out in 2018, when she was 20 years old, and the New York Times named it one of the best album of the year. Her second album, Color Theory, comes out this week, and it includes this song, "Circle the Drain." In this episode, she takes "Circle the Drain" apart and explains how it was influenced by songs from her childhood. songexploder.net/soccer-mommy
Caribou - Home

Caribou - Home

2020-02-1219:422

Dan Snaith has been making Caribou records since 2001. He won Canada’s Polaris music prize in 2007, and this month, he’s releasing the seventh Caribou album, Suddenly. In this episode, Dan breaks down the song “Home.” He talks about how he managed to get past several moments of creative uncertainty to figure out the final track. songexploder.net/caribou
Vagabon - Water Me Down

Vagabon - Water Me Down

2020-01-2919:003

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 Littman. 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. songexploder.net/vagabon
Semisonic - Closing Time

Semisonic - Closing Time

2020-01-1526:3416

The song “Closing Time” by the American rock band Semisonic came out in March 1998. It hit #1 on the Alternative charts, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Song. It gets played in stadiums, Weird Al covered it, and it’s the last song of the night in countless bars. Since then, Dan Wilson, the lead singer and songwriter of Semisonic, has become a powerhouse songwriter who has written or co-written for artists like John Legend and Taylor Swift. And he’s won Grammys for his songwriting with the Dixie Chicks and Adele. But over two decades ago, Dan and his bandmates John Munson and Jacob Slichter were in Minneapolis, getting ready to start work on their second album, Feeling Strangely Fine. In this episode of Song Exploder, Dan breaks down how that process led to "Closing Time." songexploder.net/semisonic
The band Vampire Weekend started in 2006, in New York. Their third album came out in 2013, and was named one of the best albums of the year all over the place, and it won a Grammy. But it took six years for their next album, Father of the Bride, to come out. This album’s also been nominated for a Grammy, for album of the year. And the lead single from it, “Harmony Hall,” was nominated for Best Rock Song. In this episode, Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend takes “Harmony Hall” apart. I spoke to him along with producer Ariel Rechtshaid, and the two of them detailed winding path the song went down, over several years, before it finally took shape. songexploder.net/vampire-weekend
Thao Nguyen has been guest hosting Song Exploder this year, with Christian Koons producing, to give Hrishikesh a little room to daydream. That’s all been possible because of the support of Radiotopia listeners. In this bonus episode, Thao says goodbye, and we break down the intro music that Hrishi made to go with Thao’s time as guest host. Thanks to everyone who has listened this year. If you’d like to support the future of the podcast, you can donate to Radiotopia. You can help make new things possible for the podcast. Make your mark. Go to radiotopia.fm to donate today.
Meek Mill - Trauma

Meek Mill - Trauma

2019-12-1121:005

Meek Mill is a rapper from Philadelphia. He’s put out five albums. His most recent, Championships, debuted at #1 on the charts, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album. Back in 2007, He was arrested on a gun charge at the age of 19, and over the last eleven years, he was sent to prison four times for parole violations. But in July 2019, based on evidence of alleged police corruption, the Pennsylvania Superior Court threw out his conviction, and the parole violation that had led to his most recent time in prison, a five-month sentence. It was soon after Meek Mill was released that this song, “Trauma,” was created. He took inspiration from his experiences in prison, and his early life in Philadelphia. In this episode, Meek Mill and Don Cannon, who produced the track, break down how the whole thing came together. songexploder.net/meek-mill Right now, Radiotopia is holding its annual fundraiser. You can help support Song Exploder and the network that makes it possible. Make your mark. Go to Radiotopia.fm to donate today.
Natasha Khan makes music under the name Bat for Lashes. She’s released five albums, including Lost Girls, which came out in September 2019. In this episode, she breaks down the making of the lead single from that album, called “Kids in the Dark.” But just before she started writing it, she wasn't sure if she would make another album at all. songexploder.net/bat-for-lashes Right now, Radiotopia is holding its annual fundraiser. You can help support Song Exploder and the network that makes it possible. Make your mark. Go to Radiotopia.fm to donate today.
Jay Som - Tenderness

Jay Som - Tenderness

2019-11-1319:113

Melina Duterte goes by the name Jay Som. She’s a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. She’s released three albums as Jay Som, and has produced, engineered, and mixed each one. Her third album, Anak Ko, came out in August 2019. And in this episode, Melina breaks down a song from it called “Tenderness.” songexploder.net/jay-som
Slipknot - Unsainted

Slipknot - Unsainted

2019-10-3018:2010

Slipknot is a Grammy-winning metal band from Des Moines, Iowa, who first formed in 1995. They’ve sold over 30 million records. In this episode, guitarist Jim Root breaks down how Slipknot made the song, “Unsainted,” from their 2019 album We Are Not Your Kind. songexploder.net/slipknot
Raphael Saadiq is a Grammy-winning songwriter, producer, and artist from Oakland, California. He was the lead singer of the legendary ‘90s R&B group Tony! Toni! Tone!. As a producer, he’s worked with D’Angelo, TLC, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Solange Knowles, and John Legend. In August 2019, Raphael released his fifth solo album, Jimmy Lee, which is named for his late older brother. In this episode, he breaks down a song from he made with his nephew, Dylan Wiggins, called “Kings Fall.” songexploder.net/raphael-saadiq
Clairo - Alewife

Clairo - Alewife

2019-10-0224:109

Claire Cotrill is a singer, songwriter, and producer who goes by the name Clairo. She started releasing music in 2014 as a teenager. A few years later, songs she had uploaded to YouTube had racked up over 40 million views. This year, Clairo put out her debut album, Immunity. She’s recently performed on Ellen and Jimmy Kimmel, and played arenas, opening for Khalid. In this episode, Clairo breaks down her song “Alewife.” I spoke to Claire and her co-producer Rostam Batmanglij about how the song was made. songexploder.net/clairo
Brittany Howard is the guitarist and lead singer of the four-time Grammy-winning band Alabama Shakes. This month, she’s releasing her first solo album, called Jaime. In this episode, Brittany breaks down the song “Stay High,” which was the album’s first single. She started working on it while staying at a house in Topanga Canyon, near LA. songexploder.net/brittany-howard
Robyn - Honey

Robyn - Honey

2019-09-0425:0112

Robyn is a Swedish singer and songwriter. Her first album came out in 1995, when she was 16 years old. It went platinum in the US, double-platinum in Sweden. Since then, she’s been nominated for five Grammys and started her own record label. But there was an eight-year gap between Robyn’s album Body Talk, which came out in 2010, and her most recent album, Honey, which came out last October. Time, Rolling Stone, and Pitchfork all named it one of the best albums of the year. For Song Exploder, Robyn breaks down the song “Honey,” the title track from that album. The first time the public heard the song was in a 2017 episode of the HBO show Girls, but that’s not the final version that was released on the album. In this episode, Robyn traces the long history of how she made “Honey,” a song that The New York Times called “her masterpiece.” songexploder.net/robyn
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Comments (161)

مهرداد مهدوی

great

May 15th
Reply

Chris Middlemass

wow, those chords are such a rip off from High by Feeder

Apr 14th
Reply

imsummerlicorice wu

love your songs!!!

Apr 2nd
Reply

shyn

I can feel her soul in each of her songs

Mar 29th
Reply

EY Lee

Didn't think to find Eric Nam here. Great episode👍

Mar 18th
Reply

HananJas

i love you Eric ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

Mar 11th
Reply

Mick ó Reilly

Hhgbh

Mar 5th
Reply

Ron Severtis

This is definitely my favorite episode of this pod. granted, I love HoC. But the 'explosion' of the melody and composition and background are truly something special. Nice work Hrishikesh.

Jan 27th
Reply

Michael Glaun

Great episode! So much emotion shared by Robyn. Aweome song. 😁

Sep 6th
Reply

Ja'Kayla Hill

so many life lessons and gems dropped in this segment, very beautiful. i'm inspired 🙏🏾💗

Aug 12th
Reply (1)

John Hollowell

this song itself is beautiful, and then you add the try story of the song and it adds a depth that you can get only from the lyrics themselves.

Jun 15th
Reply

Byron Drake

I love the song and the musicality of it, it's just so good.

Jun 4th
Reply (1)

Byron Drake

Amazing, I didn't realize what this song had to tell as a story.

Jun 4th
Reply

Isabelle Tailhades

Ta chanson est super

May 11th
Reply

Shashank Bhargava

I love this episode!

Apr 23rd
Reply

Oleg Petrunchak-Fesenko

💎

Apr 23rd
Reply

Vicente Jofre

loved the song!

Apr 4th
Reply

Baber Ali Zeb

this song is just beautiful.

Mar 21st
Reply

William Rachal-Curtis

This podcast is awesome!! Please add more hip hop and R&B songs.

Mar 18th
Reply

benjamin schleiken

Great one

Mar 18th
Reply
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