Music Life

Music Life

60 episodes


Where music stars discuss how they make their music.



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04 September 2020

Getting into trouble with Moonchild Sanelly and Etuk Ubong

BBC World Service
Sanelisiwe Twisha, better known as Moonchild Sanelly, is the ‘future ghetto punk’ star from South Africa, fusing experimental electronic, afro-punk, and edgy-pop with kwaito, hip-hop and jazz. She welcomes a group of musicians at the forefront of their respective genres. First up is Nigerian DJ, producer, and entrepreneur Cuppy. In August 2015, she set off on her first DJ tour, entitled Cuppy Takes Africa, in which she visited Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa. In-demand trumpeter, composer and bandleader Etuk Ubong, also hailing from Nigeria, draws inspiration from the jazz greats, Afrobeat, highlife and ekombi. He also adds the sounds of water, wind and fire, which is why he calls his sound "earth music". And finally, Ghanaian musician, singer, and producer Bryte has established himself as one of the most exciting voices in recent times by fusing African afrobeats with UK funky and bassline sounds. Together they discuss if there are there things they can’t say in their music, what sounds and lyrics are inspired by their environment, and how successful women are viewed in the male-dominated industry.
28 August 2020

Musical dreams with Ishmael Butler and IAMDDB

BBC World Service
Experimental hip-hop artist Ishmael Butler hosts this edition of music life - he's a member of Shabazz Palaces, and was also part of Grammy-winning hip-hop pioneers Digable Planets. He’s also worked with the likes of Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and Animal Collective. He’s joined by IAMDDB, a songwriter and vocalist based in Manchester, UK, who is very much the artist in demand right now. Her performance of the song ‘ause on the music platform Colors has been viewed more than 16 million times, and her 2019 album ‘Swervvvvv.5’ made her a household name in the international community. Bishop Nehru is a young rapper and producer from New York. He has made two albums with elusive rap poet MF Doom, and worked with Dizzy Wright, 9th Wonder and Kaytranada. And KeiyaA is a singer, songwriter and producer from Chicago, now based in New York. She’s previously worked as a session musician for Noname, Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, and Mick Jenkins, and released her debut album Forever, Ya Girl earlier this year. Together the group discuss the chemistry in collaborations, first steps in the creative process, and if they’ve ever dreamt an idea.
21 August 2020

'I forgot to hit record' with Afrodeutsche and Ellen Allien

BBC World Service
This week, we’re celebrating artists that have close ties with the German city of Berlin. Ellen Allien is a globally renowned DJ, electronic musician, producer and label boss based in Berlin. Her label, B-Pitch Control, has shaped the sound of the city over the last decade, and she’s constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable with music and a dancefloor. Catnapp is an experiemental, self-taught electronic music artist and sound engineer from Buenos Aires, Argentina, who moved to Berlin in 2015. She recently appeared in the Netflix series Unorthodox, and in the future she wants to score music for sci-fi films. Mentrix is a Berlin-based vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and composer from Tehran, Iran. Her music blends her experiences of eastern and western culture, and she brings together electronic sounds with traditional Sufi instrumentation. And our host this week is Afrodeutsche, a Russian/British/Ghanaian composer, DJ, producer, and remix artist who’s performed and worked with the likes of Aphex Twin and former Music Life guest Marie Davidson. They’ll be discussing how the sounds of history make their way into their music, feeling the pressure to create, and the importance of finding inspiration.
14 August 2020

The science of soundtracks with Max Richter, Hans Zimmer, Hildur Guðnadóttir and Angélica Negrón

BBC World Service
A huge episode of Music Life this week sees one of the most versatile composers working today, Max Richter (Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror, Ad Astra, Mary Queen of Scots), ask renowned creators of music for film, TV and the stage how they got their starts in the music business, their creative processes, how they convey emotion through their work, and how it’s actually quite difficult to create something simple. Among those answering these questions is a man who really needs no introduction, Hans Zimmer. He’s scored over 100 films so far, putting his signature sound on everything from James Bond to the Dark Knight Trilogy via Thelma & Louise. There isn’t a film that isn’t vastly improved with Hans’ work behind it. Also with Max is Icelandic composer, cellist and vocalist Hildur Guðnadóttir. She won the Academy Award for best score for the controversial film Joker, and you can also hear her music-less score in the haunting TV series Chernobyl. Puerto Rican composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón completes the line up; she writes music for chamber ensembles, orchestras, film, theatre, robotic instruments, and even toys. This is a meeting of minds that’s not to be missed.
07 August 2020

Obsessed with production with Jehnny Beth and Kelly Lee Owens

BBC World Service
Jehnny Beth, frontwoman of noise queens Savages and now a solo artist, leads the discussion with three thought-provoking and inspirational musicians. Kelly Lee Owens is one of the most exciting DJs and electronic producers right now, a Welsh musician who’s collaborated with the likes of St. Vincent, Bjork, Jenny Hval, and Jon Hopkins. Jessy Lanza is an an electronic songwriter, producer, and vocalist from Ontario, Canada. A former music teacher, she grew up playing piano and clarinet, before going on to study jazz and eventually finding her feet in electronic music. And finally, Tei Shi is a Colombian-Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer born in Buenos Aires, but now based in LA. She’s jokingly described her work as "mermaid music". Together, they discuss the history of the studio gear they use, positions they record vocals in the studio, watching films to get inspiration, and the difficulties of recording animals.
31 July 2020

Throwing away lyrics with Chali 2na, Omar, Skye Edwards and Rodney P

BBC World Service
Jurassic 5 founder Chali 2na welcomes Rodney P, Skye Edwards from Morcheeba, and Omar to the show. Ever wondered what the first step in the creative process is for musicians? What kind of obstacles do they face in achiveving success? These are just some of the questions that Chali will asking the group. Plus there’s some hilarious anecdotes and gentle ribbing along the way. Chali 2na has one of the most distinguishable baritone voices in hip-hop. He’s an MC, graffiti artist and founding member of the collective Jurassic 5, and forms half of Ozomatli with DJ Cut Chemist. Rodney P is known as the Godfather of British hip-hop. An MC and broadcaster, he released what is widely regarded as the most important UK hip-hop album of all time with Gangsta Chronicle in 1990. Skye Edwards is known for being the lead vocalist of Morcheeba. She’s also worked with the likes of Nouvelle Vague, Grace Jones collaborator Ivor Guest, and our host, Mr Chali 2na. And finally, Omar is a soul singer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and actor, best known for the hit There’s Nothing Like This. He’s worked with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Kele Le Roc, Lamont Dozier, Common, Estelle and Angie Stone. His father was a studio musician and drummer with Bob Marley, Horace Andy and the Rolling Stones.
24 July 2020

'Synths are my best friends' with Suzanne Ciani and Marie Davidson

BBC World Service
Legendary electronic artist Suzanne Ciani welcomes Marie Davidson, Sui Zhen, and Lorenzo Senni. Suzanne is based in San Francisco and has been nominated for five Grammy Awards. She was the first woman to score a major Hollywood film, and was the first female voice to be used on a computer game. Marie Davidson is a French-Canadian musician, and one of the world’s most exciting electronic producers. Her most recent record, Working Class Woman, considers “the stresses and strains of operating within the spheres of dance music and club culture”. Lorenzo Senni is a Milan-based electronic music producer, composer and visual artist, and has composed for cinema and theatre. He has even created an installation designed to comfort people in the intensive care unit of a hospital. And Sui Zhen is an experimental pop and performance artist from Melbourne, Australia, whose work focuses on the intersections between human life and technology. Joining from different timezones across the planet, they’ll dicuss what it’s like to release an album, the importance of human interactions with machines, and how they first discovered their beloved synths.
17 July 2020

'I get scared' with Azekel and Yukimi Nagano

BBC World Service
Nigerian-born songwriter, producer, and musician Azekel welcomes Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon, Kwesi Arthur, and Shab. Together, they talk about why it’s tricky writing with people you don’t know, what it’s like working with big names, and how important it is to express identity in music. Azekel has collaborated with the likes of Gorillaz, Massive Attack, GAIKA, and Grammy-winning producer Om’Mas Keith (who’s worked with Frank Ocean and Anderson .Paak). Prince also tweeted about one of his songs, and Grace Jones is a fan. The lead singer of Swedish band Little Dragon, Yukimi Nagano has a Swedish-American mother and a Japanese father. The band are back with a new record called New Me, Same Us. Kwesi Arthur is a 25-year-old rapper and musician from Tema, Ghana. He initially wanted to be a footballer but was inspired to pursue a career in music after listening to Drake’s album Thank Me Later. And Shab is an Iranian singer-songwriter who is one of 13 brothers and sisters, a refugee now based in America. Her debut album is due later this year and the first track from it, Spell On Me, is produced by Grammy-winning producer Damon Sharpe (Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez). She describes the track as a “disco ode to female wildness”.
10 July 2020

The art of pop with Soweto Kinch, Charlotte Adigéry and Jordan Rakei

BBC World Service
Saxophonist, MC and poet Soweto Kinch talks to Charlotte Adigéry and Jordan Rakei about pop music inspirations, writing to fit in a genre, and the role ego plays in their art. Charlotte Adigéry is a Belgian-Caribbean musician, born and raised in Ghent to parents from Martinique and Guadeloupe, and she’s hard to define by genre. She also performs as electro-punk alter ego WWWater. When making music, Charlotte has said, “I try and make something without thinking about direction or genre or sound.” Jordan Rakei is a New Zealand-Australian jazz, soul, R&B, and pop musician, singer, songwriter and producer. His breakthrough record came in 2017 with Wallflower, and he released the Origin LP earlier this year. He’s also worked with the likes of Disclosure, Jessie Ware, Loyle Carner and Anna Calvi.
03 July 2020

The best of the guests

BBC World Service
Music Life digs out some of the highlights of the series so far for its 50th episode. The first musician to ever host an episode of Music Life was John Grant, and he’s back to guide us through some of the highlights that have happened on Music Life since the show began last year. Through 50 unbelievable episodes we’ve heard from the likes of Billy Cobham on playing for Miles Davis, Souad Massi on being an artist from a country that frowns upon it, Iggy Pop on genre-crossing, Raye on surviving the lows, Chassol on hilarious creative rituals, Yuna on working with superstar Usher, Rhiannon Giddens on how music can be a tool for social justice, and Niarui from Les Amazone D’Afrique on when the best time to write is. We’ve covered so many subjects with nearly 200 musicians, and no episode has ever been the same or covered the same ground. Here’s to the next 50.