WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Talia Schlanger

Talia Schlanger is a host and radio producer at World Cafe, produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. Schlanger joins the World Cafe team straight from CBC, Canada's public broadcaster, where she hosted a triple-A radio show on Saturday and Sunday mornings. She was the on-camera host for two seasons of the CBC television series CBC Music: Backstage Pass, which saw her interview some of Canada's best and brightest artists. Schlanger also hosted several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor featuring Serena Ryder, CBC Music SongCamp and the CBCMusic.ca Festival Special 2015. Schlanger served as the the interim host of CBC Radio 2's Canada Live and was a regular guest host on CBC Radio One's flagship artist and culture show q. She also filled in on Canadian current-affairs radio shows including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Some of her favorite music interviews include St. Vincent, Tanya Tagaq, John Fogerty, Barenaked Ladies and Grimes.

Schlanger's first project at CBC was as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip which won a Canadian Screen Award in 2014. She was also the digital producer for Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest, CBC Music's search for the next great hockey song.

Born and raised in Toronto, Schlanger is a proud alumna of Ryerson's Radio and Television Arts program. She's also a professional actress, singer and voiceover artist. Schlanger spent most of 2012 performing in the first national tour of Green Day's rock opera, American Idiot, at various theatres throughout the United States. (She thought she would be really cool when she met Billie Joe Armstrong after he watched American Idiot. She was not cool at all.) She has also performed on stage with Mirvish Productions' original Canadian company of We Will Rock You, as well as in the ensemble and understudying lead roles in Scaramouche, Oz (Canon Theatre, 2007/2008), and in Mamma Mia! (Royal Alexandra Theatre, 2003/2004).

Neko Case's voice sounds like it originates from the belly of Mother Earth herself. In her music, you can hear the roots of trees, the wisdom of ancient warrior bones, the shift of tectonic plates, molten lava and placid water. "Have mercy on the natural world," she sings on the title track to her latest album Hell-On. It's her connection to and reverence of the natural world that stands out both in the album's lyrics and in the circumstances around making it.

"Stop asking musicians what they think." That is the opening line of the song "1933" on Frank Turner's new album Be More Kind, and a directive I was very happy to ignore when we sat down to talk about his music. Turner is clearly a deep thinker who values discussion and debate as fundamental parts of healthy society, in his words: "How do you have a conversation with someone you disagree with?"

People who love the band Dawes really love the band Dawes. Songwriting and musicianship aside, I think one of the things fans latch on to is that this is a band that feels like a good hang. The band's current lineup includes Taylor Goldsmith, along with his brother Griffin on drums, Wylie Gelber on bass; and Lee Pardini on keys. Whether you listen to its records on long car rides or in college dorm rooms or in dive bars or at wedding receptions, Dawes feels like good company.

A couple years ago, The Record Company released its debut album and earned a a Grammy nomination, a few hits, sold-out headlining shows, late night TV appearances — you get the idea — all off the strength of that one record made in bass player Alex Stiff's living room in LA. This is a surprisingly sharp trajectory if you know anything about how the music business works. But it's not surprising if you know how the band itself works.

There's an intimacy in the way Ray LaMontagne records and performs music that makes you feel like you're peeking through a curtain and listening in on a private moment. And in some ways, you truly are.

Ray is an artist I think of the purest sort. He's in it for the expression, not the attention. That's one of the things that I love about Ray and have loved since his 2004 debut Trouble. And it's the same quality that makes this career path challenging for him.

In this session, we hear the story of how two brothers went from singing in the pubs of an old steel town four hours North of London called Scunthorpe to recording at Rick Rubin's Shangri La Studios in Malibu, Calif.

For an emerging artist putting out a debut album, recording a session for this show, which airs across the country, could be a nerve-racking experience. Especially if your album features a full electric band, you planned to play with them for the session and on the day, one of the members gets sick and you had to go it alone in front of a live audience. That could be extra nerve-racking.

Bettye LaVette's voice illuminates the definition of a true soul singer. It pierces through the physical and awakens the listener's emotional core. A soul singer's voice is only amplified through experience, and as Bettye told me when we spoke, "I've got so much stuff to cry about, and so much stuff to holler about, and so much stuff to laugh about."

As the saying goes, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." So it is for Natalie Prass on her new album, The Future and the Past.

If you think of Willie Nelson as a lot of people do, you might make the same mistake I did on the way up the stairs of his tour bus, Honeysuckle Rose. I imagined we were going to visit a mythical creature or an immortal shaman; in reality, it was better than that.

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