All totaled, we recorded over 100 hours of video interviews this year at Radio.com. If we still used film, that’d be something like 200 miles of film rolled out end to end. But we care about the environment, and are not analog fetishists, so we just stick to digital.
Throughout the year, doe-eyed rookie artists and steely-eyed veterans from all walks of life came into our studios in New York and L.A. to share some time with us, for which we are immensely grateful.
Without any more ado, here are some of our favorite times we had on camera this year, from Kenny Chesney speaking candidly about women in country, to RiFF RAFF’s invention of the Versace Libra Scale.
Kenny Chesney offered a lot of insight into his creative process during our Cover Story this past summer. However, one portion of the conversation has continued to resonate strongly for us. During his discussion of his song “Wild Child,” Chesney spoke candidly about how he feels women are too-often portrayed in country songs these days. It’s a sentiment that has been resonating lately with artists, fans and even the industry. Now, with Brandy Clark‘s recent high-profile GRAMMY nominations and female-fronted duo Maddie & Tae earning a No. 1 radio hit, the times may indeed be a-changin’ for women in Nashville. And if so, Chesney’s words are all the more prescient.
Quote: “In the last several years, a lot of the songs about women have been written in kind of an objectifying way. If you didn’t wear cut-off jeans or a bikini top, or sit on a tailgate and drink, then you really weren’t worthy, you didn’t really add up. But ‘Wild Child’ is telling some girl out there that’s got dreams, that’s a free spirit, who’s smart and interesting, that she has a chance, that she is worthy.
“I think it’s an important song, because it’s saying that [women] don’t have to be this one thing that’s been sung about over and over again recently. And I’m proud of that, that we wrote a song that lifts up a woman in that way.”
When we spoke with Jamie, Noah, Sydney and Graham Sierota—the California siblings behind the band Echosmith—earlier this year, they talked about how their song “Cool Kids” seemed to really be connecting with people. This was way before the track off their 2013 debut Talking Dreams, which is about the finer points of not following the crowd, went to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. But even then the Sierotas could see that there was something about the song that people could relate to.
Quote: “There’s a cry to be like the cool kids, like everyone almost has that and it really is a deep emotion, or something that everyone kind of goes through, whether you want to act like it or not. And no matter what situation you’re in, there’s always somebody that you wish, ‘Geez, if only I could do this, if only I could do that,’ And I think it is like a want and an emotion that everyone feels and it’s a very true and authentic emotion and I think that’s why it connects with people so well. We’ve heard a lot of stories like that from fans, people come up to us all the time and say, ‘Oh, that’s my song!’ or ‘That speaks so true to me.’ And I think it’s just a way too for people to hear the song and go through that emotion and I think it helps people.”
When we sat down with The 1975’s Matt Healy at this year’s Coachella he talked about writing a song for One Direction and being an unapologetic lover of pop music, calling Justin Bieber’s 2012 album, Believe an “amazing, quote, amazing record.” With one quote he also managed to strike down this need for people to consider the music they love, but are also embarrassed to like, a “guilty pleasure.”
Quote: “The only thing you have to ask yourself with any music, whether it’s pop or whether it comes from boy bands or whatever, ‘Is it an honest form of expression or is it not? If it is somebody honestly expressing themselves, regardless of how they’re doing it, it’s alright to like it.”
Paramore’s Hayley Williams is used to the “going solo” rumors, which only became more prevalent after she collaborated with B.o.B. and Zedd. So when she sat down with Radio.com, she set the record straight about why she’ll (probably) never go solo.
Quote: “You can never say never in your life in general. But again, I know where my heart is. And from day one, it’s this band. I can’t imagine wanting to do anything else.”
The shock rapper TECH N9NE talks about his label, Strange Music, wanting to host a music and food festival in his hometown of Kansas City.
Quote: “It’s called the Dark Barbecue. Probably be a three-day thing, people will come in town. One day it’ll be Slipknot playing, the next night it might be Ice Cube and Brotha Lynch and Tech N9ne. Third night, Eminem…it’s just got to be humungous. You have all the barbecue places from Kansas City set up. Jack Stack, Oklahoma Joe’s, Gate’s, Arthur Bryant’s, Smokehouse…everybody. You can sample the barbecue…it’s elaborate. It takes place at night, so during the day all the people that come to see these shows will be roaming the city, so it’ll be mayhem. That’s what I like.”
The young electronic music producer Porter Robinson talks about his love of “cheesy 2000 era pop rock” and Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton.
Quote: “I just use the white keys, more or less. Those are my favorite chords. It has this certain kind of epic emotional atmosphere that I don’t like to break. I just love those chord progressions. I was listening to this Michelle Branch song called ‘Breathe’ the other day, and I just love the chorus’ chords. I would totally use them. I think it’s just the notes they tend to go for and the harmonies. They’re not incredibly sophisticated, advanced harmonies, but they’re not straightforward pop triumphant harmonies either a lot of the time. I think that there’s a little bit of vulnerability there. (Vanessa Carlton’s) ‘A Thousand Miles,’ as much as it had all these syncs and now people kind of laugh about it, but the first time I heard that song…the radio would be on in the car all the time when I was real little and I would never take interest in pop music. But I heard that one and I was like, her voice is so beautiful and that riff is so awesome.”
Madib & Freddie Gibbs
Freddie Gibbs talks about the song “Real” (a jab at former affiliate Young Jeezy taken from the great Piñata album with Madlib), and his thoughts on a potential lyrical retaliation.
Quote: “Who can run at me lyrically? I ain’t really worried about him making no track back or saying nothing. I could care less about that, man. All that was was how I felt that day and I spoke on it and put it on wax. I ain’t worried about nobody coming at me lyrically. I’ll make these n—-s dis records look like ‘Kumbaya.’ You come at Gibbs, that sword better be sharp lyrically, because I’ll dig in you. I can do this s–t all day. I got plenty energy to do that. I don’t think no rapper want to go to that level with me, man. Because he’s gonna want to fight me. I’m gonna make him feel real bad about himself. I don’t care how much money you got, I don’t care how many records you sold. I’ll make you hate me, I’ll make you think about me when you go to sleep at night.”
Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!
Laura Jane Grace (a 2014 Radio.com Winner) talks about being seen as a role model since coming out as a transsexual.
Quote: “There’s definitely been people that come out and say they were inspired by what I did, but I always try to drive it home the fact to them that making that connection is the support I need, too. Part of coming out and being public with it is that, you know, I was really isolated where I was in St. Augustine (Florida), and I didn’t know a single other transsexual or transgender person. So having the opportunity to meet people just through being open…if they’re looking for support from me, I’m looking for an equal amount of support from them.”
Mike Shinoda talks about the inspiration behind the Linkin Park‘s latest album The Hunting Party and its first single, “Guilty All the Same.”
Quote: “One thing that I really kind of honed in on in the very beginning was that there are records that I grew up on like The Shape of Punk to Come by Refused, and bands like…I missed the hardcore movement when it happened, but I got onto it later, bands like Gorilla Biscuits and Inside Out and Undertow—I could keep going. There’s an energy and aggression and a meaning. This attitude that I’ve got something to say, and I need to get this out, you know? And we felt like that’s where we were at. There was something going on emotionally in the band and it manifested itself in way that wasn’t just lyrics, it was in the music, too, where we just needed this outlet for this really high energy thing. It came from stuff that predated our first album by a lot.”
As is the case with a lot of artists who had their heyday during hip-hop’s golden era (mid-’80s through the early ’90s), Ice-T is generally not often impressed with the current crop of MCs (with some exceptions: he’s a fan of T.I., Kendrick Lamar, Young Jeezy and Lupe Fiasco, to name a few). But in an interview promoting the new Body Count album, Ice lamented the state of hip-hop, and along with it, the state of television news.
Quote: “Guys went from ‘Fight the Power’ to ‘What does Kim [Kardashian] have on today?’ I said, ‘What the f–k is going on right now?’ 99% of the news today is gossip, it’s not really things that are going on. And now you have the real news organizations like CNN giving up gossip. Once CNN, or CBS, or NBC bring me a story that was first aired on TMZ, the world’s f–ked up. Ya’ll are going to TMZ? You’re the news!”
“Jimmy Page” and “humility” don’t often end up in the same sentence. And fair enough: he’s the undisputed leader of one of the greatest, most groundbreaking and most successful bands of all time, Led Zeppelin. But in a surprising moment in an extensive Radio.com interview promoting the reissue of the first three Zep albums, he discussed how his bandmate Robert Plant began writing his own lyrics after the band’s debut (which featured Page-penned words).
Quote:“I wasn’t confident about my lyrics. And on the second album, where you’ve got ‘Living Loving Maid,’ that’s a lot of my lyrics on that. There was a level of sarcasm that I knew was underneath a lot of my lyrics. This is the way I saw it—I could be misguided—but the way I saw it was, whoever was coming in to be the singer, I wanted to encourage them to write the lyrics that they would sing. Because after a while, my lyrics weren’t going to sit, by about three or four albums in, as well as if [the singer] was doing his own. So it was a really important thing to bring Robert on as a writer. It got to the point where, on ‘Thank You,’ I got to the ‘little drops of rain’ bit as a lyric, and he said, ‘I’d like to take this….’ And I said, ‘You go ahead.'”
Don’t call them a “boy band.” First off all, R5 has a girl—singer/keyboardist Rydel Lynch—and also, everyone in the band plays instruments. But they are pop that young people listen to. The thing is, young people like tattoos, and R5 told Radio.com that they’ve seen quite a few fans with R5 lyrics inked into their bodies. As singer/guitarist Ross Lynch says, “The first time that we ever saw our lyrics on a tattoo, I definitely flipped out a bit. It’s pretty frequent now, a lot of people have been getting tattoos of our lyrics. Just the other day, we tweeted [out] our R5 logo on their forearm. Or they’ll get ‘say you’ll stay.’ Riker said in an interview, ‘You love who you love,’ or something like that, and a whole bunch of people got that tattooed. That must mean something really important to them if they’re willing to get it tattooed on their body.”
You’re not going to get a better quote in an interview than on RiFF RAFF‘s Twitter (e.g. “SOMETiMES iS GOOD TO GO iNTO A PiTCH BLACK DARK ROOM ALONE AND CRY VERSACE TEARS AND OPEN MY SOUL UP AND HOPE THAT GOD REMEMBERS ME.”). But in our interview earlier in this year, RiFF RAFF told a story about the “Versace Libra scale,” the simple machine that keeps the entire entire cosmos in balance.
Quote: “Today’s music world is not what it was ten years ago. It’s not Motown or something where you’re like ‘Hey I see something in you where you have the potential to be very lucrative for our company.’ It’s a Versace Libra Scale. You want more radio play, more promotion , more TV time we’re taking more of your money. That’s gonna cost you, so now you’re getting 20% of your money, but you’re out there. Or you want to keep this side, you’re independent, but you don’t have radio play. And you have to find some type of home base where it’s a label, or a situation with a lot of good connex that will put you in a place where you need to be and where you want to be.”
Jason Aldean says it is important to him that his music hits listeners at their core—whether they love what he does or hate it. Either way, he hopes his music creates a reaction.
“I want people to either love what I do or hate it. I don’t want there to be any in-between,” he explains. “I think one of the worst things somebody can say is, ‘Hey, have you heard that new Jason Alean song? And somebody goes, ‘Yeah, it’s OK.’ That means it has done absolutely nothing for you. I want it to hit a nerve one way or another. If you hate it, you’ll be talking about it, and that’s all I want.”
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