What Are You Listening To?
"I never knew Jeff Goldblum had it in him, but he totally pulled it off…"
What do you do?
I'm a writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
That's a pretty cool job. Are you in awe that you get to watch The Roots perform every day?
Yeah, it's kind of amazing. And they just get so many incredible bands on Fallon. They're willing to take risks and put on unknown indie bands. And those bands do great, the videos go viral, and people get a chance to see those people. We had Odd Future on the show and it was amazing. They went ape-shit in the studio and you could just feel the energy, and that was a really awesome performance to be there for. Actually one of my favorites was seeing Huey Lewis and the News perform a couple months ago [laughs]. It was just great, 'cause I remember all those songs from the '80s, and we did a couple of web exclusives, and it just a really fun awesome show.
What about the other performances that have gone viral? Give me the inside scoop on Jeff Goldblum's "Just A Friend."
I was in the studio when Jeff Goldblum did "Just A Friend." It was the oddest pairing, you know? But it totally worked, and everyone was singing along, and it was really pretty incredible. I never knew Jeff Goldblum had it in him, but he totally pulled it off. It was probably one of my favorite moments from the show.
What were you listening to right now when I intercepted you?
I was listening to this song "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People. It's like summer in song form, distilled — just a happy, airy song. It's perfect for when it's nice like this.
Listen: Foster the People – "Pumped Up Kicks"
So in five years, that's the song you're going thinking about when you think of summer of 2011? You're not going to be thinking about Katy Perry?
[laughs] Definitely not going to be thinking of "California Gurls." Although they do play that song a lot in the NBC gym, so it does get stuck in my head. I feel like I do listen to very different music in the summer — stuff that's a lot more beach-appropriate and light and sunshine-y.
Give me some more sunshine-y jams. What else is stuck in your ear these days?
There's this band called Ducktails, which I do think is a play on the cartoon —
What, like, "Life is like a hurricane, here in Duckburg?"
Yeah, it's just variations on the DuckTales theme song. That's all they do. No, it's this guy who makes very nostalgic, sun-drenched music that makes you feel like you're on a beach. It's entirely instrumental, but there's something about it that is so serene and puts you in such a nice mood. It's very emotional, and I love when music can do that without a single lyric.
Listen: Ducktails – "Hamilton Road"
What's the last song that made you cry?
I think it's been a very long time since a song has made me cry. It was probably, like, "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette, when my eleventh-grade girlfriend broke up with me. But that was probably more because I had other issues going on in my life. And there are probably some Radiohead songs that can definitely, if I'm in the right mood, make me misty-eyed.
What's a band or artist that you think should stop making music forever?
I would have to say Weezer. I think they just need to give up. They keep putting out albums, and they keep being atrocious.
So you won't be going on the Weezer cruise?
I will not. I don't know, that's just a band that started out with so much potential, and they were so amazing. I hate shitting on Weezer — I think enough people do that, and I don't have a personal vendetta against them — but I feel like it's time for them to call it in.
Who would you be a groupie for?
I would follow Radiohead.
It's following them around, but we're also talking about sexual acts here.
Sexual acts? Yeah. I happen to find Thom Yorke incredibly attractive. I think has to do with being so obsessed with his music, but still. He's a very sexy dude. When you can come to appreciate a man's lazy eye, you know that you're a fan. I would be willing to do some sexual acts to Thom Yorke.
What's the most embarrassing song you have on your iPod?
Some people might not find this embarrassing, but I would have to say "Galileo" by the Indigo Girls. It's just a song that I remember being super into in middle school, without realizing that it made me a forty-five-year-old lesbian volleyball coach at a summer camp. But every now and then, you want to put on the Indigo Girls and just rock out in the shower. You can cut this whole part out of the interview, right?
What are you listening to right now?
I'm listening to DJ Arafat, and it's like… classic. He's from the Ivory Coast. That's the kind of music I like.
Listen: DJ Arafat – "On Va Sauter"
What else are you into right now?
I listen to mostly French music. If not that, then rock music, Spanish music. I love any kind of music — it doesn't matter. As long as it sounds good.
What kind of rock music are you into?
Probably Cream, right now. I have to look down my playlist to see. I have so much French music on here. Oh, I like Katy Perry.
Oh yeah? What's your favorite Katy Perry song? Mine's "Firework."
So other than Katy Perry, who are you into right now?
Probably Lady Gaga. I like some of her songs… Kelly Clarkson. Nicki Minaj.
That's a good one. She's a lot of fun. Kanye West.
Listen: Nicki Minaj – "Super Bass"
What's your favorite Kanye song?
"Dark Fantasy," or "Power."
What's your guilty pleasure music? Something you might be a little embarrassed about?
[laughs] Probably Beyonce's "Love Songs."
Oh, that's not bad.
Maxwell, maybe. Or Ginuwine.
"Pony?" "In Those Jeans?"
[laughs] Not really.
What are you listening to right now?
I've been listening to "Marquee Moon" by Television on repeat.
Listen: Television – "Marquee Moon"
Are you into '70s rock?
Nah, usually I'd be listening to something like MF Doom, but that song somehow ended up on my playlist.
Which MF Doom album is your favorite?
Probably Doomsday, his first major album.
There's been talk of him collaborating with Danger Mouse again. Are you excited about that?
For sure. He's also got things coming up with Ghostface and the album Madvillainy 2. There are a lot of things that are different about him — his samples, his wordplay. He produces ninety percent of his own music, too.
What do you think about him always wearing his mask, though? Have you ever heard the rumors that he has doppelgangers perform as him during live shows?
I love it, man. And I'm pretty sure those rumors are true. But even still, his music brought together a whole bunch of people who enjoy what they are watching. If I went to a show and saw an imposter, I wouldn't be too bummed about it. It'd just be cool to be surrounded by thousands of people who enjoy his music the way I do.
Who's an artist that you'd recommend for others to check out that they may not have heard of before?
Madvillain, for sure. Or Quasimoto. Or J Dilla. I'm surprised at how many people have never heard of J Dilla. Ruff Draft and Donuts are good albums of his. His style of production is insane. You can listen to anything he's done and you just kind of wonder about his process — the way he loops things.
Listen: J Dilla – "Workinonit"
Has anything come out recently that you were really disappointed by?
Kid Cudi's new album. I'm not even sure why I didn't like it. Maybe it was the exact same thing he did last time, but this time it just wasn't right. It just didn't click. The collaborations on the album were with big-name artists, too.
Interviews by Austin Duerst, Danielle Gibson, and Alex Heigl.