Well folks, we’re now twenty episodes deep into the continuing saga of Themes and Variation, our podcast about music and perspectives. As I said on the intro of our latest episode, twenty episodes might not seem like a big milestone (and perhaps it isn’t) but it means a lot to me.
I am incredibly fortunate to be able have this podcast as part of my work with Soundfly. Making each episode takes a ton of time and everyone on our team plays a major role in bringing it to life. From booking guests to co-hosting, to helping with edits and mixing, or editing this very article, I have the good fortune of being surrounded by incredibly supportive and hard-working people everyday, and this show is one of the many fruits of that labor.
Every single episode has been an enlightening experience for me. For years, I’ve had a condition (still unrecognized by any medical journal) that I’ll call “music school brain.” When you study music formally, it can be difficult to turn the analytical side of your brain off when listening to music. Frankly, it can take some of the joy out of it.
Hosting this podcast has brought love of listening back in a huge way. Sure, we still like to dive into the harmony and theory behind some of these tracks, but when I get to hear our guests perspective on why they LOVE the song they picked, I start to really get that joyful listening feeling again. Each guest has brought such a beautiful energy to every episode and for that I must give thanks.
And a huge THANKS to you if you’ve listened to even a single minute of the podcast! We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve talked about Michael McDonald for a micro-eternity, and have had a blast every step of the way.
So here’s to twenty episodes! To help us reach twenty more, please give us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your pods. Thanks for listening!
For our 20th episode (yee haw!), we’re joined (yet again) by Soundfly’s Founder and CEO, Ian Temple, a pianist, composer, and producer, and lover of all things silly, to talk about our favorite whimsical songs. Listen to the episode.
Trumpet player, singer, and songwriter, Rhys Tivey, stops by to discuss the music and mystery of a timeless jazz ballad, a transcendent indie rock song, and a track responsible for countless internet conspiracies. Listen to the episode.
Soundfly community members Carrie Herbert (composer, doctoral candidate, Soundfly student) and returning guest Sırma Munyar (artist, producer, course instructor) chat through cathartic tracks by Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes, BLACKPINK, Ólafur Arnalds, and other musical experiences “That Got Us Through the Last Year.” Listen to the episode.
Returning guests Julian “JSWISS” Caldwell and Charles Burchell (aka BLVK Samurai) come back on the podcast to attempt to break down some of J Dilla’s songs that have had a major impact on each of us, getting into topics like sample curation and the influence that his work has had on producers and instrumentalists alike. Listen to the episode.
Grammy Award winning pop artist Kimbra talks about songs by My Brightest Diamond, Remi Wolf, and Chance the Rapper, and topics like how beautiful spontaneity can be on a recording, how to listen with a “sampler’s mindset,” and lessons She explores in her new online course on Soundfly. Listen to the episode.
Chris Lindsey, Grammy-nominated songwriter and host of the podcast, Pitch List, pops over to chat about Jimmy Webb, Andy Shauf, and Smash Mouth (of all bands). Listen to the episode.
Producer, composer, sound designer, and Soundfly Mentor, Sam Friedman (aka Past Palms) joins to talk about producers who incorporate field recordings and found sounds, like Burial, Clams Casino, Tennyson, and Imogen Heap among others. Listen to the episode.
For this episode, we’re proud to be joined by hip-hop luminaries Speech Thomas and Keenan The First to discuss crucial subjects pertaining to race in America, racial justice, and prison reform, making it perhaps the most urgent conversations we’ve released yet. We also chat about the courage of Sam Cooke, the honesty of Kendrick Lamar, and the long-lasting potency of Speech’s own group, Arrested Development. For the latter, we were lucky to break things down with the artist himself, making this a singularly exciting episode. Listen to the episode.
Our panel is joined by none other than Ian Barnett (drummer, producer, DJ, Soundfly Mentor), who had all sorts of awesome insights to bring to a conversation anchored by tracks by Jaco Pastorius, Cakedog, and Daughter. Listen to the episode.
Kirk Hamilton is a writer, musician, and the host of one of our all-time favorite podcasts, Strong Songs. We pick his brain about solos from Pink Floyd, Violent Femmes, Rage Against the Machine, and more. Listen to the episode.
We get the skinny from our Soundfly colleague Zoë Young, on some unofficial and very unexpected (and some downright strange) holiday tunes from bands like The Rolling Stones (what now?), Spinal Tap, and Ben Folds Five. Listen to the episode.
We’re joined by producer, songwriter, keyboardist and comedian, Hughie Stone Fish, who is also 1/3 of the comedy supergroup Lewberger, to talk about James Taylor, The Doobie Brothers, The Beatles, and other dusty parental grooves. Listen to the episode.
We’re joined by the host of Vox’s Switched On Pop podcast, Charlie Harding, to discuss how Taylor Swift, T-Pain, and Radiohead have each contributed to the world of pop music by blasting open the realms of possibility. Listen to the episode.
Our trusty three-headed panel makes room for the astoundingly talented and accomplished artist, SIRMA (vocalist, songwriter, Soundfly Mentor) to chat about songs with vocal performances deemed “memorable” by Björk, The Singers Unlimited, James Blake and Bon Iver. Listen to the episode.
For this episode, we sat down with actor, producer, and musician, Ari Stidham, who you may know from his work as Sylvester on the CBS series “Scorpion” or from the music he releases as Dr. Television. We dive deep into terrifying tracks from Camille Saint-Saëns, Misfits, and yes… The Eagles. Listen to the episode.
Soundfly’s own Head of Growth and experimental musician, Jeremy Young, drops in to discuss cover song favorites (from Brad Mehldau and Robert Glasper to Peter Gabriel) and what makes a great cover in general. Oh the rabbit hole goes deep in this one… Listen to the episode.
Songwriter, composer, and synth nerd supreme, Neara Russell, joins the crew (alongside T&V newcomer, Soundfly’s John Hull!) to dig deep into some synthy sleeper songs out there by Mac DeMarco, 26 on 12, LCD Soundsystem, Peter Gabriel, and more. Listen to the episode.
Pianist, composer, and the CEO of this whole Soundfly operation, Ian Temple, drops in to chat songs that are truly epic. Mentioned here: Ravel’s “Bolero”, the Alan Parsons Project, Zappa, Quillo, Dream Theatre, King Crimson, and a whole lot more. Listen to the episode.
Today we sit down with MC/lyricist, JSWISS, and bandleader, producer, and drummer, Charles Burchell (aka BLVK Samurai), to break down some of our favorite songs that sample The Isley Brothers’ mega hit “Footsteps in the Dark” — plus a lot of praise for the master sampler J Dilla (see above). Listen to the episode.
Our flagship episode features producer, composer, and Soundfly mentor Martin Fowler. Tune in as the panel gets settled in to the new format and chats about songs from the first albums we ever bought, from Daft Punk to Ben Folds Five to Green Day and all the nostalgic goodies in between. Listen to the episode.
To get all of Themes and Variation’s biweekly episodes right on your phone, click over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or anywhere else you get your podcasts, to subscribe and download. Also, if you’d like to help us keep the show going, please consider leaving us a 5-star review to help spread the word! It would really mean a lot to us.