Soundcheck from WNYC

WNYC, New York Public Radio, brings you Soundcheck, the arts and culture program hosted by John Schaefer, who engages guests and listeners in lively, inquisitive conversations with established and rising figures in New York City's creative arts scene. Guests come from all disciplines, including pop, indie rock, jazz, urban, world and classical music, technology, cultural affairs, TV and film. Recent episodes have included features on Michael Jackson,Crosby Stills & Nash, the Assad Brothers, Rackett, The Replacements, and James Brown.

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Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-11-21 11:49
last episode published
2019-11-21 12:00
publication frequency
3.51 days
WNYC Studios author  
Number of Episodes
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Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Saxophonist Matana Roberts Carves Out Her Own Musical Space

Composer, saxophonist, and mixed media artist Matana Roberts presents her latest in the multi-chapter work Coin Coin project which documents the African-American cultural and historical experience. “Memphis,” which is chapter four, mixes jazz, blues, t...
WNYC Studios author

Olivia Jean's Unusual Mix of Surf-Infused 'Bubblegum Garage'

Detroit-born Nashville-based guitarist and songwriter Olivia Jean worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist before she was able to make music full-time (Mariana Timony, Bandcamp Daily.) She first cut her teeth as a Third Man Records studio musician, t...
WNYC Studios author

Yasser Tejeda y Palotré Celebrate Ancestral Dominican Traditions

Brooklyn-based guitarist and composer Yasser Tejada & the group Palotré combine African-rooted Dominican traditional folk styles and fuse them with r&b, church gospel, funk, jazz, and rock into a celebration of Afro-Dominican culture. They play...
WNYC Studios author

Singer and Songwriter Tom Goss Tells Stories That Need To Be Told

LA-based singer and songwriter Tom Goss is a romantic who tells overlooked stories through soulful vocals and lush pop soundscapes. A former Catholic seminarian turned guitar- and keyboard-toting troubadour, Tom is known for his songs about love (some ...
WNYC Studios author

Benny Gebert's Piano Music Holds Promise of Serenity

Sound artist, songwriter, pianist, and composer Benny Gebert is one-half of the Brooklyn-based pop group HAERTS. For his latest solo adventure, Triptych, he combined the sounds of nature through open windows and used three pianos to create zen-like sou...
WNYC Studios author

Orchestral Pop Band San Fermin's Enchanting Grandeur

Brooklyn-based orchestral pop outfit San Fermin has a reputation for grand and enchanting music. Led by songwriter and composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone, and joined by new collaborators Attacca Quartet and harpist Lavinia Meijer, as well as talented vocalist...
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Nathalie Joachim and Spektral Quartet, In-Studio

Haitian-American composer Nathalie Joachim is the co-artistic director and flutist of the Grammy-winning contemporary chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird, and one half of the art-pop duo, Flutronix. She's worked with Bryce Dessner, Bonnie “Prince” Billy,...
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Folk-Rocker Frank Turner Shares Lesser-Known Stories in Songs

The English singer-songwriter Frank Turner who was once a vocalist for hardcore band Million Dead – has become a folk-punk troubadour, spinning jangly songs with punk intensity that often respond to social and political situations. Frank’s latest recor...
WNYC Studios author

Bombay Bicycle Club Finds Solace in Music

British guitar band Bombay Bicycle Club cites New York bands like LCD Soundsystem, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs as inspiration. But since they signed to Island as teenagers more than a decade ago, they’ve run the gamut from indie-jangly-folky, then ele...
WNYC Studios author

Ani Cordero's Protest Music for Dancing

New York-based Puerto Rican musician, songwriter, and activist Ani Cordero has toured as the drummer for the legendary Os Mutantes, and was a founding member of the celebrated Mexican rock band Pistolera. She's written love letters to a complicated wor...
WNYC Studios author

Queer Punk Pioneers Team Dresch Are Back on Active Duty

Formed in the 1990’s in the Northwest, queercore icons Team Dresch were one of the first “out” bands who wrote about homophobia (fearing holding hands with their partners in public, and railing against conservative Christian anti-gay policy), and searc...
WNYC Studios author

Rwandan Band The Good Ones Offers Strength and Peace

The Good Ones are Rwandan genocide survivors who write acoustic folk songs. They’re often sung in the Kinyarwanda street dialect of the outskirts of their nation's capital, Kigali, (the area had for centuries been known as the region for producing poet...
WNYC Studios author

Dusty Psych-Soul and Fiery Groove From Black Pumas

Both old and new, Austin-based band Black Pumas is centered around guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada and 27-year-old songwriter Eric Burton. Grammy Award-winning Quesada has played in Grupo Fantasma and Brownout, and accompanied artists from Prince...
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L.A. Band La Santa Cecilia Sparks Joy With Salsa-Punk

Los Angeles-based band La Santa Cecilia named themselves after the patron saint of music when they formed in 2007. Their Grammy-winning sound embraces cumbias, corridos, mambos, rancheros, rockenroll, reggae, and even a bit of New Orleans jazz. With to...
WNYC Studios author

Splashy, Body-Moving Rubbery Dance Punk by !!!

New York-based band !!! (chk chk chk) has gone to the synth side, with their latest rubbery-funk dance punk. Their candyfloss melodies and beats conjure technicolor dance parties at the end of the universe. They play in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Set list:...
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Love Fame Tragedy Deals in Raw Synth-Rock Intimacy

Named for an exhibition in the Tate Modern, Love Fame Tragedy is how Matthew “Murph” Murphy, frontman of the indie-pop band The Wombats is scratching an itch to explore new musical avenues. Murph, plus a bunch of guests, including members of The Pix...
WNYC Studios author

Chamber Soul-Pop by yMusic and Emily King, In-Studio

New York’s top-notch and prolific classical six-piece group yMusic "serves as a ready-made collaborative unit for bands and songwriters, and has lent its distinctive sound to dozens of albums, most recently In The Blue Light by Paul Simon" (yMusic's Ba...
WNYC Studios author

The Simple Beauty of Devendra Banhart's Poignant Songs

The folk songwriter, visual artist, and poet Devendra Banhart offers tenderness, introspection, and space in music, poetry, and art. Part Dylan, part Dalí, Devendra Banhart’s so-called psych-folk, (or “freak folk”) comes with what might be fantastical...
WNYC Studios author

Seratones Rocks Your Socks Off

Seratones is a band from Shreveport, Louisiana, who combines strutting groove, fuzzed-out slinky guitars, grounded tremolo organ, lush strings – and soaring over it all, frontperson AJ Haynes’s powerful singing voice, first honed at Brownsville Baptist...
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Futuristic Day-Glo World Pop by Gruff Rhys

Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys is also a composer, producer, filmmaker and author. Recently, while recording the track “Vessels” for Damon Albarn’s world music collective Africa Express, he met South African electronic producer Muzi. They have...
WNYC Studios author

Nordic Klezmer Band Mames Babegenush Jazzes It Up

Danish outfit Mames Babegenush cooks up a Nordic-Jewish-Balkan musical stew both manic and melancholy. Their tunes embrace the ambience of Nordic snowscapes as well as the lively weddings of Romania, all the while incorporating the vibrant dance music ...
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Icelandic Duo Hugar Creates Glacial Soundscapes In-Studio

The Icelandic duo Hugar is multi-instrumentalists Bergur Þórisson & Pétur Jónsson, who sculpt dreamlike layered soundscapes using keyboards, guitar, and electronics. Occasionally they’ll include other chamber players, including one Ólafur Arnalds. ...
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Drummer Marcus Gilmore Creates Continuous Melodies

Drummer and composer Marcus Gilmore looks to the creative openness of his drum elders – like his grandfather, Roy Haynes, tabla master Zakir Hussain, or renaissance man and drummer Milford Graves - and underscores the drum set as melodic instrument – e...
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Pop Songwriting Mastermind Skylar Grey, In-Studio

From pop and hiphop to love anthems, Grammy-nominated songwriter Skylar Grey has multiple hits to her credit. She's the co-writer on Eminem's 'Love The Way You Lie' featuring Rihanna, and featured artist on Diddy's 'Coming Home', and has written and re...
WNYC Studios author

Flatpicking Acoustic Guitar-Folk From Courtney Hartman

Singer, songwriter, award-winning flatpicking guitarist, and Colorado native Courtney Hartman has musical roots in the bluegrass world with her family band, The Hartmans. She recorded and toured with the Grammy-nominated group Della Mae for seven years...
WNYC Studios author

Modern-Day Troubadour Pete Yorn's Jangly-Pop

Multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Pete Yorn’s latest record of anthemic, lyrical jangle pop is called Caretakers. It’s also the first release on his own new label, Shelly Music. The New Jersey native joins us in-studio to play some of these tunes...
WNYC Studios author

Nashville-based Lillie Mae's Countrified Americana-Pop

Nashville singer, songwriter, fiddler and guitarist Lillie Mae’s sound has a bit of dark twang, some psychedelia, and the intimacy of front-porch singing. She started out in a countrified sibling band Jypsi and now has two solo records to her credit on...
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Quiet Reflection in Acoustic Songs by Daughter of Swords

North Carolina singer and guitarist Alexandra Sauser-Monnig records under the name Daughter of Swords, in which she "combines the eerie sound of old Appalachian folk music with elegant guitar playing and touches of lo-fi pop." (John Schaefer) She’s als...
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The Calm Spark of South African Jazz Master Abdullah Ibrahim Persists

The South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim (aka "Dollar Brand") has had a notable career, helped early on by Duke Ellington,and  acknowledged later by Nelson Mandela, who called Ibrahim “our Mozart.” In 2019, Abdullah Ibrahim became a Nati...
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Cosmo Sheldrake's Eccentric, Strangely Alluring Pop

London composer Cosmo Sheldrake is also a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. He’s got a knack for refreshingly playful and whimsical pop music that often incorporates natural sounds. On his latest record, The Much Much How How and I, the mu...
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The Slamming Wordplay of Poet and Rapper Kate Tempest

London-based Kate Tempest is a spoken word performer, poet, recording artist, novelist and playwright. Her visceral writing demands foreground-listening with its physicality of emotions, spoken-sung, delivered as incantation, slammed poetry, swaggering...
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DOOMSQUAD's Personal and Political Outsider Dancefloor Jams

Toronto electro-psych dance-rock sibling trio DOOMSQUAD brings a mix of protest music, catharsis, and groove, plus banging flute solos to their outsider electronica. They’ve written songs about the anarchist and activist Emma Goldman along with New Yor...
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Sound Artist Lea Bertucci Transforms and Extends the Saxophone

NYC-based sound artist, sax player, and composer Lea Bertucci uses tape technology, resonant spaces, and sounds that occupy a gray area between music and noise. She augments her alto sax with processing and delay, turning it into a polyphonic instrumen...
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Anything Goes From Swedish Pop Trio Peter Bjorn & John

Hear songs about darker days through a largely upbeat pop lens from Swedish trio, Peter, Bjorn and John. The Swedish trio will “probably never live down the whistling in their song “Young Folks”—an earworm if there ever was one.” (-John Schaefer) Their...
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Indian Tabla Master Zakir Hussain's Percussive Wizardry

Genius Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain, is one of the world’s exceptional percussionists. The son of Ustad Alla Rahka (who would have been 100 years old this year), Zakir is also a composer, improviser, and a great communicator in Persian, Gujarati, ...
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The Big Sound of Bayonne's Experimental Electro-Pop

Bayonne is quite literally a one-man band. That one man is minimalist composer and experimental musician Roger Sellers, who’s based in Austin, TX, not actually Bayonne, NJ. Partly inspired by the big-sounding symphonic pop of the 1960’s, Roger stacks a...
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Quantic's Dancefloor-Ready Jazzy Grooves

British producer, musician, and DJ Quantic (aka Will Holland) builds up jazzy, groovy, and dancefloor-ready music around funk guitar and bass riffs, keyboards and synths, punchy drums, sometimes featuring a vocalist, sometimes not. Sometimes he’ll expl...
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Pianist and Programmer Dan Tepfer - Man Vs. Machine

Dan Tepfer is a sought-after composer and pianist who also studied computer programming and physics. His album of improvisations on Bach’s Goldberg Variations drew a lot of attention some eight years ago. Now, he’s released Natural Machines, a record ...
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A-WA's Timeless Yemeni-Jewish Traditional Songs Meet Arabic Pop

The Israeli band called A-WA had a huge hit on its very first attempt when their song "Habib Galbi" (“Love of My Heart”) – which blended traditional Yemenite folk music with modern dance beats – became the first Arabic-language song to ever become the ...
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Blick Bassy Heals By Remembering The Stories

France-based Cameroonian musician Blick Bassy’s quiet and beautiful songs fall somewhere on the spectrum of blues, folk-soul, and pop, and embody a deep reverence for the traditional music of Cameroon and other parts of Africa. On his latest, record, 1...
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The Sweet, Slow Burn of Nakhane's 'Anti-Gospel' Pop

London-based Xhosa singer, actor, musician, and author Nakhane (born Toure) grew up on a musical diet of Mozart, Handel, and South African choral pieces, along with Marvin Gaye and the O’Jays in South Africa, eventually wrenching himself away from a co...
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Sinkane's Funk Exploration of the Immigrant's Journey

The Sudan-born, Ohio-raised and Brooklyn-based singer and musician Ahmed Gallab records under the name Sinkane and the latest Sinkane record, Dépaysé, is an irresistible mix of western and African funk, Sudanese folk music, 1960s psychedelia, with pop,...
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Ambient Chamber Space Pop By Big Bend, In-Studio

Big Bend is a collaborative project led by pianist Nathan Phillips, who assembled a rotating cast of musicians, including ambient zither player Laraaji, the renowned slide guitarist Susan Alcorn, and many others. Although Phillips is a composer, the Bi...
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Tamino's Intimate and Confessional Pop, In-studio

Belgian singer and songwriter Tamino is of Egyptian and Lebanese descent and has had recent success as a model. Comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke might be inevitable; his is a voice that feels like a cuddle, with an incredibly rich falsetto at...
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Arabic Poetry-Infused Chamber Jazz by Layale Chaker and Sarafand

Violinist and composer Layale Chaker has done something exquisite in her music with the Ensemble Sarafand from the record, Inner Rhyme: she has gone about capturing the “shape and essence of epic testimonials on life, death, war and love that make the ...
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Australian Bass Virtuoso Tal Wilkenfeld Shines a Light

Australian-born Tal Wilkenfeld has made her sizable reputation by playing bass for some of the music world’s biggest stars – Prince, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, the Allman Brothers. In March she released her first album of her own singing and songwriting, ...
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Baroque-Pop and Folk-Leaning Songs From Henry Jamison

It would be easy to label the Vermont-based singer/songwriter Henry Jamison as a folk musician. After all, his voice sounds a little like Nick Drake, and he’s covered a song by Canadian folkie Gordon Lightfoot.  His songs are full of vivid and arrestin...
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Saying What Must Be Said, The Oddysy Combines Funk, Bass, Beats, And Samples

The Oddysy is a funk/rock/hip hop duo comprised of KJ (Kevin Jacoby, formerly of the psychedelic salsa band La Mecanica Popular) and DJ Johnny Juice, a Rock N Roll Hall of Famer best known for his work with Public Enemy and Rob Swift. They’ve got a lot...
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The Playful Arty Post-Punk and Swirling Psych of Michelle Blades

Michelle Blades was born into a well-known family of salsa musicians in Panama – you may have heard of her Grammy-winning uncle Ruben Blades. But she grew up as a multi-instrumentalist nomad who is now based in France. Her own music draws on rock, espe...
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Guitarist Sarah Louise's Experiments in Drone-Folk

North Carolina based composer and guitarist Sarah Louise is also one-half of the duo House and Land. Her music evokes forests and creeks and frogs, and when she’s on a 12-string acoustic guitar, combines both drone and folk (somewhat reminiscent of the...
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