The Big Listen ended production in May 2018. While this site is no longer updated, all the content remains available for archive purposes.
Hey, pals! When JD Samson was just a fresh-faced kid right out of college, she got hired by the feminist electroclash band Le Tigre to basically operate a slide show for their high-octane live shows. A couple weeks after that, band founders Kathleen Hanna and Johanna Fateman invited Samson to join the band.
The band took an extended hiatus in the mid-aughts (though did reunite for this Hillary Clinton campaign song), but Samson continued making music. She toured with Peaches and started her own band, JD Samson + MEN. She also got hired to write music for other artists, including Christina Aguilera and Junior Senior.
Up to this point, most of Samson’s music has been high energy dance tracks with lots of electronic instruments. But when she partnered with the podcast collective Radiotopia to write some ad music for them, she had to pare down her compositions.
Radiotopia’s executive producer Julie Shapiro told Samson to make her music “boring.” And every time Samson would scale back on the instruments, Shapiro would have the same feedback for her: “more boring.”
Ironically, one of Samson’s favorite podcasts of all time — Strange Animals — has no music in it whatsoever. She says the host’s voice is music enough.
Tell Me More Stuff To Check Out!
- Terrible, Thanks For Asking — In 2014, Nora McInerny lost her father, her husband and an unborn child in the span of a few weeks. So naturally, life was pretty rough for her. But McInerny took her story of loss and made it into something beautiful — a podcast that confronts what grief is actually like on a more granular level. And yes, it’s ok to laugh. Crying is cool, too. (which coincidentally the name of her memoir)
- The Allusionist — Helen Zaltzman is not someone you want to challenge on the definition of the word “nonplussed.” Or any other word, frankly. Zaltzman has a medieval English degree from Oxford, so she knows a thing or two about language. Which is part of what makes The Allusionist so entertaining. If you recoil at the word “irregardless,” this could be the show for you. Bonus: lots of British accents! Check out this episode about the inner workings of the dictionary.
- Potluck Podcast Collective — It’s well documented that Asian Americans often get short shrift in popular media. The Potluck Podcast Collective is trying to do its part to upend that narrative and bring some increased visibility to the community. The collective is a loosely organized group of podcasts made by Asian Americans with a distinctly Asian American perspective. Some of their shows include #GoodMuslimBadMuslim, They Call Us Bruce and Books & Boba.
- Very attractive listener recommendations: An Inexact Science and The Notable Woman
Do you have a podcast recommendation you’d like to share with us? We want to hear it! Give us a jingle on the Pod Line at 202-885-POD1 and leave a message. Then we’ll put you on the radio and you’ll get all the pumpkin spice lattes you want!
Thanks for listening, pals! ‘Til next time…keep listening, America.
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