Category Archives: Interviews

Behind The Glitz, The Glamour, & The Factory

             
Laurence Leamer – Capote’s Women – A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for An Era 

“There are certain women,” Truman Capote wrote, “who, though perhaps not born rich, are born to be rich.” Barbara “Babe” Paley, Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli, Slim Hayward, Pamela Churchill, C. Z. Guest, Lee Radziwill (Jackie Kennedy’s sister)—they were the toast of midcentury New York, each beautiful and distinguished in her own way. Capote befriended them, received their deepest confidences, and ingratiated himself into their lives. Then, in one fell swoop, he betrayed them in the most surprising and startling way possible. Following the acclaimed publication of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1958 and In Cold Blood in 1966, when Capote struggled with a crippling case of writer’s block. While en­joying all the fruits of his success, he was struck with an idea for what he was sure would be his most celebrated novel…one based on the re­markable, racy lives of his very, very rich friends. For years, Capote attempted to write An­swered Prayers, what he believed would have been his magnum opus. But when he eventually published a few chapters in Esquire, the thinly fictionalized lives (and scandals) of his closest fe­male confidantes were laid bare for all to see, and he was banished from their high-society world forever. Laurence Leamer joins Norman B to talk about, Capote’s Women.

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni – After Andy – Adventures In Warhol Land  

She was the last person to be hired at Andy Warhol’s Factory and she has written a book about her experiences. Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni doesn’t mind divulging she had an affair with Mick Jagger when she was a seventeen-year-old school girl. Ms. Fraser-Cavassoni isn’t one to hold back, in her new book, After Andy – Adventures In Warhol Land, she tells all. It’s a glitzy, fast-paced, juicy, gossipy, name-dropping chronicle. She saw firsthand the end of an era and the establishment of a global phenomenon. From behind the scenes disagreements and the assessment of his estate, which included Interview magazine and his art inventory, to the record-breaking auction of his belongings and the publication of his diaries. Natasha examines the immediate aftermath of Warhol’s death and his ever-growing impact. Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni chats with Norman B about her riveting eyewitness memoir.

Robin Guthrie – Mockingbird Love EP

It is 39 years on from Cocteau Twins‘ revered debut release, Garlands, now Robin Guthrie gives us, Mockingbird Love EP. This is the first new music from Guthrie since the Another Flower album with the late Harold Budd, released just days before Budd’s passing in December 2020. About his new work, Robin Guthrie says, “Of late I’ve been very focused on my instrumental music, which is increasingly an intense endeavor, all the more so as I don’t really share it with anyone. So here I am, finally, with some words about my next releases. ‘Mockingbird Love’, a four-track EP, is the first small collection of music that I have felt comfortable to release for a while. This is my October.” 

(Eli)Zabeth Owens – Knock, Knock LP

The always astute Nancy Kells of Grimalkin Records alerted us to the music of (Eli)Zabeth Owens. Originally from the UK, the Richmond, Virginia-based artist says “They are a poet & producer constantly coming of age”. Owens not only makes extraordinary music (or sound-scapes), they also create exquisite videos to accompany each track on their album. 

 

 

A Conversation With Jez Ryan of Mammal Sounds. Josh Idehen’s Latest.

Located about 4 miles east of downtown Sydney, Australia you find the beautiful (and celebrated) Bondi Beach, where you’ll also find the home of Mammal Sounds and Jez Ryan the charming chap who runs the label. Mammal Sounds a self-proclaimed boutique label caught my attention because a number of their releases and artists have become frequent additions to the LEM playlists., including, Benji Lewis, Lemonade Baby, Golden Vessel, Hotel Decor, and George Gretton. Our ongoing series of chats with indie labels meant we had to learn more about Mammal Sounds and the indie scene in Australia. With the convoluted fourteen-hour-time difference in effect, a Zoom meeting with Jez was scheduled. At nine am, Sydney time, Mr. Ryan was bright and alert with the morning sun beaming through his window, while the night was settling in – the day before on the east coast of America, an engaging conversation began. You’ll hear Jez Ryan’s insights into the Australian music scene and his selections for the show from Lemonade Baby, Daste, Golden Vessel, and Slouch Online. Thank you, Jez and Mammal Sounds.

Our dear friend, the very talented Joshua Idehen sent us his latest release. “It’s a new side project”, says Josh, “with celebrated producer Daedelus and composer Miguel Atwood Ferguson it’s called Standing In My Own Way (Part One)”. Josh recently became a very proud father and he has taken to posting gorgeous photos of himself smothering his young child with love. And, I do believe, Standing In My Own Way (Part One) is in part a reflection on the knowledge Josh has garnered from people like me who have congratulated him on becoming a father but have also cautioned him to enjoy every teeny tiny precious moment of his new life as a parent. Much love, Josh.

 

LEM Vol 253

The Mysterious Mr. Thiel. Questions About The News. New Piano Music. 

What do you know about the billionaire venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Peter Thiel? He has been a behind-the-scenes operator, influencing countless aspects of our contemporary way of life, from the technologies we use every day to the delicate power balance between Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Washington. Yet despite Thiel’s power and ubiquity, no public figure is quite so mysterious – until now. In The Contrarian – Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power, the first major biography of Thiel, Max Chafkin traces the trajectory of the innovator’s singular life and worldview, from his upbringing as the child of immigrant parents and years at Stanford as a burgeoning conservative thought leader to his founding of PayPal and Palantir, early investment in Facebook and SpaceX, and relationships with fellow tech titans Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Eric Schmidt. The Contrarian illuminates the extent to which Thiel has sought to export his values to the corridors of power beyond Silicon Valley, including funding the lawsuit that destroyed the blog Gawker and strenuously backing far-right political candidates, notably Donald Trump for president in 2016. Max Chafkin joins Norman B to discuss The Contrarian.

When we have questions about the news headlines we call Dr. Binoy Kampmark for his scholarly insight.

1. What does the recent German election mean for the rest of the world?

2. Canada grants asylum to refugees who sheltered Edward Snowden?

3. UK’s gas crisis? Real or a test?

4. The new James Bond movie with Daniel Craig – are we desperate to relive a time that never really existed?

5. Russia threatens to ban Youtube after it shuts pro-Kremlin channels?

As always, Binoy unfalteringly tackles each question with expert knowledge and a soupçon of wit. Dr. Binoy Kampmark is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

Also in the show, new piano music from Brighton-based, Poppy Ackroyd. Pause is her fourth, full-length album. A collection of ten solo piano works written during the pandemic and shortly after the birth of her first child, the title refers to the feeling of normal life being temporarily put on hold. Poppy says, “For previous albums, almost as much of the creative process was spent editing and manipulating recordings as it was composing at the piano, however after having my son, I struggled to spend time sitting in front of a computer. The only thing I wanted to do while he was still small, if I wasn’t with him, was to play the piano. In fact, much of the album was written with him asleep on me in a sling as I used any quiet moment to compose. It made sense that this should be a solo piano album, it was important to me that every track on the album could be entirely performed with just two hands on the piano.”

Show 443

A Conversation With James Meija On Hand Drawn Dracula

 

Try to probe James Meija just a little about what he does and you’ll get a limited and not exactly enthusiastic response. But, ask the fellow about music, especially the music he likes, and all of a sudden, you have the man waxing lyrical about My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive of any of the fabulous bands on his amazing record label. You see the unassuming Mr. Meija is a fan, a true fan of the music he likes. And, he likes a lot of different music. After all, James founded and runs the amazing record label, Hand Drawn Dracula. As proud as he must be of the torrent of incredible releases by his Toronto-based imprint and the stellar artwork he creates, James Meija is almost stoic when it comes to acknowledging his keen ear for remarkable talent. Instead, James sings the praises of the different folks he works with, his love of the community, and his joy in being able to do what he loves so much. All of this adds up to why we have been constantly impressed with the new releases from Hand Drawn Dracula. As each new cut came out and we eagerly slotted it into a new show, we arrived at the conclusion that we had two know more about this curious and innovative label. Contact was made, James agreed to a Zoom conversation. The result is enlightening and entertaining. You’ll hear cuts selected by James, including Breeze, Vallens, Michael Peter Olsen, and Tallies. We are confirmed fans of HDD and if you are not already, you will be after you hear this show! 

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Survival of the City. My Sweet Girl.

 
                    
Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation – Edward Glaeser & David Cutler

Cities can make us sick. They always have – diseases spread more easily when more people are close to one another. And disease is hardly the only ill that accompanies urban density. Cities have been demonized as breeding grounds for vice and crime from Sodom and Gomorrah on. But cities have flourished nonetheless because they are humanity’s greatest invention, indispensable engines for creativity, innovation, wealth, and connection, the loom on which the fabric of civilization is woven. But cities now stand at a crossroads. During the global COVID crisis, cities grew silent as people worked from home – if they could work at all. The normal forms of socializing ground to a halt. How permanent are these changes? Advances in digital technology mean that many people can opt-out of city life as never before. Will they? Are we on the brink of a post-urban world? City life will survive but individual cities face terrible risks, argue Edward Glaeser and David Cutler, and a wave of urban failure would be absolutely disastrous. In terms of intimacy and inspiration, nothing can replace what cities offer. Great cities have always demanded great management, and our current crisis has exposed fearful gaps in our capacity for good governance. It is possible to drive a city into the ground, pandemic or not. David Cutler, co-author of Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation discusses the book with Norman B.

My Sweet Girl – Amanda Jayatissa

Dark thriller. Psychological whodunit. Chilling and shocking. Witty and wicked. These are just some of the descriptions that have been used to describe My Sweet Girl the new novel by Sri Lanka-based author, Amanda Jayatissa. Her delightfully charming and smiley demeanor is at odds with Amanda’s deliciously scary, compelling, and original book. In our Zoom conversation, she breaks into fits of laughter, gesticulating madly as if it’s only by chance she has penned such a stunning read. My Sweet Girl is centered on the meaning of identity and all the layers it can have. This is the story of Paloma who thought her perfect life would begin once she was adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage and made it to America. But, she finds out no matter how far you run, your past catches up with you. At thirty years old and recently cut off from her parents’ funds, she decides to sublet the second bedroom of her overpriced San Francisco apartment to Arun, who recently moved from India. Paloma has to admit, it feels good helping someone find their way in America – that is until Arun discovers Paloma’s darkest secret, one that could jeopardize her own fragile place in this country. Before Paloma can pay Arun off, she finds him face down in a pool of blood. She flees the apartment but by the time the police arrive, there’s no body – and no evidence that Arun ever even existed in the first place. Paloma is terrified this is all somehow tangled up in the desperate actions she took to escape Sri Lanka so many years ago. Did Paloma’s secret die with Arun or is she now in greater danger than ever before? 

We round out the show with some dark, deep dub courtesy of Infernal Sounds out of Stoke-on-Trent in the UK with Frenchless and 3C 273. Enjoy!

Show 441

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