A podcast by Berklee Online, featuring interviews with musicians and music professionals from all corners of the industry.
Divinity Roxx on Playing Bass with Beyoncé and Victor Wooten
2022 has been a banner year for Divinity Roxx. In the spring she graduated from Berklee Online, and in November she was nominated for a Grammy! Help celebrate her success by listening to this “Music is My Life” interview from our archives.
Bruce Hornsby on New Album and Having the Most Diverse Array of Collaborators Ever
Bruce Hornsby discusses his humble start in a Grateful Dead cover band, his mega breakthrough with “The Way It Is,” and his recent indie rock resurgence via his collaborations with members of Bon Iver. And yes, he also discusses how surreal it was to play 100+ shows with the real Grateful Dead!
Drummer Cindy Blackman Santana on Carlos, Lenny, and Visitations from Jazz Greats
Cindy Blackman became Lenny Kravitz’s drummer after a lifetime of jazz drumming. In this wide-ranging interview she discusses being visited by the spirits of the jazz greats she befriended during her time in New York City, and how she and husband Carlos Santana stay in harmony, onstage and off.
Black Flag Bassist Kira Roessler on Being in a Band with Rollins and Ginn, and Her Solo Debut, at 60!
Kira Roessler played bass in Black Flag for two years, during which time the legendary hardcore band put out seven records. Now, at the age of 60, she’s an Emmy- and Oscar-winning dialogue editor and promoting her solo debut.
Arooj Aftab on ‘Vulture Prince,’ Grammy Noms, Genius.com, and Berklee
Arooj Aftab began getting notice with a viral cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” more than 15 years ago, but with two Grammy nominations, she has finally arrived. Her “Vulture Prince” album is a stunning work that frequently reaches transcendence.
Zombies Singer Colin Blunstone on His Career ‘Odessey’ and the ‘Time of the Season’ for Playing Live Again
Colin Blunstone started singing with the Zombies at the age of 16. They broke up shortly after releasing their 1968 masterpiece, “Odessey and Oracle,” but reformed in 2000, and have been going strong ever since.
Don Letts on the Culture Clash of Punk and Reggae and ‘There and Black Again’
Don Letts introduced punks in the 1970s UK scene to reggae, kind of. He was a good friend of Bob Marley, sort of. He is the embodiment of punk’s ethos of empowerment, freedom, and individuality, totally!
Butch Vig on Recording Drums, New Garbage Album, and Producing Nirvana
You know Butch Vig as the drummer and producer of Garbage, or the producer of mammoth 1990s recordings from Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. But there is a lot more to him than that. For one, he has been playing with most of the people he makes music with for nearly 40 years.
Sly and Robbie Drummer Sly Dunbar on Revolutionizing Reggae Drums
If you’ve heard any reggae music in your entire life then you’ve heard Sly Dunbar’s drumming, or at the very least, his influence. As one half of Sly and Robbie, Sly says he’s probably played on a million songs.
Anna Bulbrook on Toxic Violin, Kanye West Epiphanies, and Girlschool
Anna Bulbrook began studying violin at four. She quit at the age of 21, but then changed the terms of the relationship after a gig with Kanye West, and went on to become a founding member of the Airborne Toxic Event.
Margo Nahas and Jay Vigon on Making Album Covers for Prince, Van Halen, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac
Margo Nahas and Jay Vigon are partners in life, love, and business, and have designed classic album covers by iconic acts like Fleetwood Mac and Prince. The pair discuss what it was like to work with these artists as well as how they met, why they moved from LA to Iowa, and the secret to a long-lasting partnership.
Huey Lewis and the News on His Hearing, the Power of Love, and More
Huey Lewis: Some of his lies are true, including the ones about stowing away on a plane to Europe, playing soccer with Black Sabbath and Ozzy, and being dressed by Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. He also touches upon his meteoric rise to fame in the 1980s and his struggles with Ménière’s disease.
Lady A on Musical Life and Legal Battle with Band Formerly Known as Lady Antebellum
Lady A (the Seattle-based singer) discusses her ongoing dispute with Lady A (the Nashville-based trio), as well as her long career in music and how her life experiences brought her to this moment.
AJR Brothers Jack and Ryan on ‘Bang,’ Concert Livestream, and Tour Tips
AJR is comprised of three brothers—Adam, Jack, and Ryan Metzger. Their first initials are where the name comes from. Their music career began on the streets of New York City, where they would busk together for hours at a time for years. The two brothers who take part in this interview—Ryan and Jack—say that years of trying to get people’s attention off the streets was formative to their work ethic and the constant need to one-up themselves with their live show.
Gavin Rossdale on 25 Years of Bush, Jamming with His Children, and More
Gavin Rossdale had tracked all of the songs on what would become Bush’s multiplatinum debut, but he was still painting dentist’s offices. In this wide-ranging interview, he talks sudden (and enduring) success, his favorite Gwen Stefani tunes, and more.
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry on Bob Marley, Dub, Reggae, and Production
Lee “Scratch” Perry passed away on August 29th, 2021. We were fortunate enough to interview the Upsetter in 2020, for the 50th episode of the Music is My Life podcast. What follows is a very surreal interview about his life, dub, reggae, and revolution.
Joe Wong on ‘The Trap Set,’ Scoring for Netflix, and Solo Debut
Joe Wong has been in and out of indie bands since the late 1990s, starting a touring life at the age of 17. He has played drums for the likes of Marnie Stearn, Parts and Labor, and Mary Timony. At the age of 40, it seems like he has finally arrived, with a solo debut and scoring gigs for popular Netflix shows.
Molly Tuttle on Weaving Her Bluegrass and Punk Rock Music Backgrounds
Molly Tuttle’s “… but i’d rather be with you” is a collection of seemingly disparate cover songs—running the gamut from Rancid to the Grateful Dead—that got the singer through tough times in her life. She recorded it as a coronavirus lockdown project to get others through similar tough times.
Speedy Ortiz Leader Sadie Dupuis on SAD13, ‘Haunted Painting,’ Lizzo, and More
Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz, on the eve of releasing Haunted Painting, her second album under the SAD13 moniker, discusses her life in music, words, and math. Math? Yes, math!
Martha Reeves on Dancing in the Street, the Vandellas, and the Motown Sound
Summer’s here and the time is right for this interview with Martha Reeves, reflecting on the timeless appeal of “Dancing in the Street,” how the social movements of the 1960s compare to the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as her storied career with Motown.
Janet Billig Rich on Management (Nirvana, Hole) and Music Supervision (‘Rock of Ages,’ ‘Moulin Rouge’), and More
Janet Billig Rich discusses her long career in the music business, which started in merch sales, grew to an internship at Caroline (where she signed Hole), led to a career in management (where she managed acts like Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr.) and now has settled into music supervision.
Vanessa Carlton on Pandemics, Psychedelics, and Stevie Nicks
Vanessa Carlton engages in a candid discussion about the seedy underbelly of the music industry, why followups to “A Thousand Miles” were more successful than some of the men on her team wanted her to believe, and why “Love Is An Art” marks a new beginning for her.
Eddy Grant on ‘Electric Avenue,’ Heart Problems, and Lost Luggage
Eddy Grant began his career in the 1960s with the Equals, and 20 years later he made some of the biggest hits of his life, like “Electric Avenue” and “I Don’t Wanna Dance,” by fusing rock, reggae, and elements of electronic music. He continues to pioneer new sounds like soca and ringbang.
M. Ward on ‘Migration Stories,’ She & Him, and Songwriting
Matt Ward shares how a Beatles songbook and a closeted $25 guitar helped define his path as a musician, a journey which has led to create the poignant new M. Ward album, ‘Migration Stories.’
Black Belt Eagle Scout on How being a Booker Prepared Her for Saddle Creek
Katherine Paul (AKA Black Belt Eagle Scout) discusses growing up on the Swinomish Indian Reservation in Washington state, and the changes that happened after she discovered Madonna, emo music, and how to put on a great show.
Spider Stacy on the Pogues, Lost Bayou Ramblers, and ‘A Fairytale of New York’
Spider Stacy met Shane MacGowan at a Ramones gig in England when they were both teens. Shortly after, they formed the Pogues, which meant Spider had to learn to play the tin whistle pretty quickly.
Andy Stack Talks Wye Oak, Joyero, Everclear Covers, and More
You may know Andy Stack as one half of the duo Wye Oak, along with Jenn Wasner. But he’s also one whole of Joyero, whose debut came out on Merge in 2019. He talks about his solo project and the future for Wye Oak.
Soul Rebels on New Orleans, Collaborations, and Challenging What it Means to be a Brass Band
Lumar LeBlanc, Julian Gosin, and Marcus Hubbard, three generations of the New Orleans band Soul Rebels discuss hometown sounds, what it’s like to keep a band together for 30 years, and backing up the likes of Katy Perry, Nas, and Metallica.
Ritzy Bryan of Joy Formidable Talks Music Business, Relationships, and Finding Her Sound
Ritzy Bryan of the Joy Formidable discusses why her Welsh heritage is so important to her music, how her time on Atlantic Records helped inform her understanding of the music business, and how her guitar acrobatics hurt her Fender as well as the forehead of Joy Formidable bassist Rhydian Dafydd.
Jon Kull on Orchestrating Some of Hollywood’s Biggest Blockbuster Movies
You know who Jon Kull is, even if you don’t know that you know who he is. You’ve heard his orchestrations in films like all of the “Hunger Games” movies, “King Kong,” “Avatar,” “Black Panther,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” and so many more.
Songwriter Bonnie Hayes on Sexism, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll
Bonnie Hayes talks songwriting for Bonnie Raitt (and winning a Grammy for it), touring with Bob Seger, playing keys for Billy Idol, and being blown away by the Sex Pistols in 1978, and how all of that led to her coming to teach at Berklee College of Music and Berklee Online.
Chip Taylor on ‘Wild Thing,’ Hendrix, and ‘Angel of the Morning’
Chip Taylor wrote “Wild Thing.” He really doesn’t need to write any more songs. But that doesn’t mean he’s showing any signs of stopping. He’s got a new album out, and is eager to discuss everything leading up to this moment on this edition of the Music Is My Life podcast.
Evan Dando (Lemonheads) on Songwriting, Guitars, and Mrs. Robinson
Evan Dando has been releasing music for more than 30 years, reaching a commercial high point in the early and mid 90s with the Lemonheads albums “It’s a Shame about Ray” and “Come on Feel the Lemonheads.”
Red Sox and Patriots DJ TJ Connelly on Playing Music for the Masses
TJ Connelly is the DJ for the 2018 World Series Champs, the Boston Red Sox, the 2019 Super Bowl Champs, the New England Patriots, and more recently the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics. He got his start as a DJ at a comedy club!
Tony Trischka on Banjo, Pete Seeger, Steve Martin, and Springsteen
Tony Trischka’s list of collaborators includes Pete Seeger, Bela Fleck, Earl Scruggs, and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, so it’s no surprise that he has been called “perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world.”
Darlene Love Talks Holidays, Phil Spector, and ‘20 Feet from Stardom’
Whether you know Darlene Love from her smash hit, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on the Phil Spector holiday album, or from her profile in the film, “20 Feet From Stardom,” this Rock & Roll Hall of Famer is a force to be reckoned with. She just turned 80, and she can still bring it, onstage! This 2018 interview with her is one for the ages.
Tanya Donelly on Belly, Breeders, and Throwing Muses
Tanya Donelly discusses her life in music, including her beginnings with Throwing Muses and the Breeders, and her major breakthrough with Belly, a band she’s currently enjoying a reunion with.
Taj Mahal on Working with Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, the Rolling Stones, and More
Taj Mahal has spent his 50-year career bending genres to his own signature style. His work includes moving explorations in jazz, funk, reggae, country, rock ‘n’ roll, and more.
Marlon Williams on Finding American Country Music in New Zealand
In the US, you probably know Marlon Williams for his contribution to the “Wild Wild Country” soundtrack. But in New Zealand, you know him for his consistent output of great music since his teen years.
Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiondo) on the Guitarists That Shaped Him
If the name Michael Melchiondo does not ring a bell, it’s because he is known professionally by his stage name of Dean Ween. Click to check out what Deaner was talking about. (That’s a Ween reference!)
DJ Mike Henderson (ENDO) on Learning to DJ with Traktor
Mike Henderson (also known as ENDO) is a DJ who has pioneered harmonic mixing, developed DJ-friendly apps, worked in tour management for other DJs, and developed Berklee Online’s first DJ course.
Stephen Davis on Writing about Zeppelin, Stevie Nicks, and More
Stephen Davis has written nearly 20 books about music, including the Led Zeppelin book, “Hammer of the Gods” and the brand new “Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks.”
Cindy Wilson of the B-52’s Talks Solo Debut, ‘Rock Lobster,’ and More
After 40 years in the music business, as one of the leaders of the B-52’s, Cindy Wilson is finally releasing her solo debut! “Change,” on the Kill Rock Stars label marks a drastic, er, um, change.
Lisa Roth on Rockabye Baby Series and Growing up with Van Halen’s David Lee Roth
Lisa Roth’s first job at a record label was as a nutritionist! She eventually invented a wildly successful series of musical releases that would make baby showers a lot more fun.
Nathan East on Playing Bass with Absolutely Everyone
If you haven’t heard the name Nathan East before, you’ve heard his bass. He’s played on upwards of 10,000 songs by the likes of Beyoncé, MJ, Lionel, Clapton, Phil Collins, and thousands more!
Prince Charles Alexander on Transitioning to Bad Boy Records
In PT II of this podcast, Prince Charles Alexander shares how he walked away from fame (but not fortune) and how his path eventually led to Diddy, and engineering iconic albums.
Glenn Kotche Talks Wilco, Solo Projects, and Soundtrack Work
Music is Glenn Kotche’s life. From the age of three through his study of classical percussion in college to playing with Wilco, music has always been a part of this drummer’s narrative. Hear his story.