Episode 247: Noah Kahan

“Stick Season”

 

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Noah Kahan is a singer and songwriter from Strafford, Vermont. Last year, in 2022, he released Stick Season, his third record. The title track from that record went viral on TikTok when Noah was first writing it, and posting pieces of it. One of those videos has over 10 million plays. And as of this recording, on Spotify, the full song has almost 100 million streams.

For this episode, Noah talked to me about the process of making that song: What led him to first post half a song on TikTok, and what happened after that. You’ll hear the raw recordings off of his phone; the different drafts he made as he worked; you’ll hear the different versions he first shared on social media; and you’ll hear his bracingly honest appraisal of the winding path he took — in his life, and in his music — to get to where he is now.

You can buy or stream “Stick Season” here.

@noahkahanmusic This sucks and I feel guilty buying weed from high schoolers #foryoupage #foryou #depressedjasonmraz #prozackeanureeves ♬ original sound – Noah Kahan

@noahkahanmusic The chorus u requested #foryou #foryoupage #forjewpage #stickseason ♬ original sound – Noah Kahan

Illustration by Carlos Lerma.

footnotes:
Gabe Simon
Konrad Snyder
Counting Crows
Avett Brothers
Paul Simon
Appalachian Trail

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Episode 246: Sampa the Great

“Let Me Be Great (feat. Angélique Kidjo)”




Sampa the Great is a songwriter, rapper, and singer from Zambia. She was based in Australia for years, but came back to Zambia in 2020, shortly before the pandemic hit. When she couldn’t travel, she decided to make her next album there in Lusaka. The album is called As Above, So Below, and it was produced by Mag44. In this episode, Sampa the Great and Mag44 break down the closing song ““Let Me Be Great,” which features vocals from legendary West African singer Angélique Kidjo, winner of 5 Grammys and one of TIME‘s Most Influential People. I got to speak to Angélique Kidjo in her studio in Paris, and I spoke to Sampa the Great and Mag44 in Lusaka. Together, the three of them tell the story of how they made “Let Me Be Great.”

You can buy or stream “Let Me Be Great” here.

Illustration by Carlos Lerma.

footnotes:
NPR Tiny Desk Concerts
Watch Angélique Kidjo’s 2022 NPR Tiny Desk Concert, with a guest appearance from Sampa the Great, here
Fela Kuti
Kalindula
Lozi people
Afro-pop
Afrofuturism
Yoruba language

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Episode 245: Son Lux (feat. Mitski & David Byrne)

“This is a Life” (from Everything Everywhere All at Once)



Everything Everywhere All at Once is a sci-fi comedy independent film that came out in the spring of 2022. It’s a huge hit that made over $100 million at the box office. It’s already been named the best movie of the year by several publications and awards organizations.

The movie stars the legendary actress Michelle Yeoh, and was directed by the Daniels, the directing duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The score for the film is by the band Son Lux. In addition to the score, Son Lux also made the original song for the film’s end credits: “This is a Life,” featuring two prestigious guest vocalists: Mitski and David Byrne of the Talking Heads.

For this episode, I spoke to Ryan Lott from Son Lux, as well as the Daniels. Ryan tells the story of how the song was created, with his bandmates and Mitski and David Byrne and Daniels all adding to it and shaping it.

You can buy or stream “This is a Life” here.

Illustration by Carlos Lerma.

footnotes:
Listen to Mitski’s episode of Song Exploder here.
My Heart Will Go On,” Celine Dion’s end credits song from Titanic

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