What Are You Listening To?
Three New Yorkers take off their headphones and chat.
So what were you just listening to?
“Heart of the City” by Jay-Z.
Listen: “Heart of the City”
Are you a big hip-hop fan?
I am. More and more recently.
What do you think of Jay-Z and Kanye’s collaboration?
Watch the Throne? I absolutely love it. I think it’s a great album.
That surprises me. A lot of people thought it was a disappointment. Including me.
I might be biased because I love Kanye. It could’ve been better, I guess, but I was pleased. I enjoyed it.
What’s your favorite song on Watch the Throne?
“Niggas in Paris” is probably my favorite.
Listen: “Niggas in Paris”
That shit cray?
That shit is cray. Yeah, that’s the favorite. I heard the tour was amazing and the shows were awesome. I wish I got to go.
So what got you more into hip-hop recently?
Actually, I’m not from New York and I don’t live here. One of my best friends who lives here actually got me into hip-hop, I guess. I was into everything before but not so much the old school hip-hop like Biggie. That’s definitely a more recent development; before, I listened to mainstream rap. Now it’s more East Coast.
Where are you from?
Portland, Oregon, but I go to school in Tennessee. In Portland, hip-hop is definitely not as big. In the South, they have their own version of rap. On the West Coast/Portland, it’s more grunge — Nirvana, all that kind of stuff.
Is there any artist or genre of music that, if found on a romantic partner’s iPod, would be a dealbreaker? Ke$ha?
No; I appreciate other people’s taste in music. I’m not judgmental.
It’s probably because you’re not from the East coast, because here we're just mean, snarky assholes.
Probably. And Ke$ha is from the South — she's from Tennessee, I believe. So she gets that hometown love, I guess. She represents Tennessee.
What artist or song would you put on to get someone in the mood?
Gosh, you’re putting me on the spot. I feel like Marvin Gaye is the classic choice so I don’t know if I want to say him.
Well, have you ever soundtracked one of your own romantic moments?
I do remember that there was one of John Mayer’s albums that became a key player… there’s a song on his Continuum album that became a seller.
Listen: “I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)”, John Mayer
What are you listening to?
“Shark in the Water” by VV Brown.
Listen: “Shark in the Water,” VV Brown
Is that a favorite?
Yeah, I would say it’s a favorite.
What’s your taste in music like?
I’m all over the place. If this was on shuffle there would be Lady Gaga, Regina Spektor, Cobra Starship… I just hear things and say, “I like that. What is that?”
Do you have a guilty-pleasure song?
Yes! This is so embarrassing. Why am I saying this? There’s a song called “Call My Name” by Charlotte Church. I turn that on when I’m in a bad mood and dance around my room to that. Awful!
Listen: "Call My Name”, Charlotte Church
Have you ever had a song ruined by an ex?
Yes, I have. It was “Fix You” by Coldplay
Listen: “Fix You,” Coldplay
You needed an ex to hate that song?
Yeah, I used to like it, and then my ex loved it and when the relationship ended, I realized I hated the song.
Is there any song someone has to hear if they’re going to date you?
Yes, “Postcards From Far Away” by Coldplay. It’s not long at all, but I just love it. I don’t know why.
Listen: “Postcards From Far Away,” Coldplay
If you had to pick one artist to be a groupie for, who would it be?
I would have to say Sam Sparro.
Listen: “Black and Gold,” Sam Sparro
What were you just listening to?
I was listening to The Doors.
Listen: “Riders on the Storm,” The Doors
A lot of people learn about certain classic rock bands through their parents. How did you start listening to The Doors?
My grandfather was always a big fan of The Beatles, so I was listening to them since childhood. As I got older, I just wanted to know more about rock music from that time. I just started searching around for different musicians.
Is that mainly what you listen to?
Oh no — right now, what comes to mind is The XX, Crystal Castles, Laura Marling — she's a folk singer. She's nice. Bat for Lashes as well.
Do have a guilty pleasure?
Probably Rihanna. I love her new song, "You Da One." It's so catchy.
Listen: "You Da One," Rihanna
What is the best concert you've ever been to?
My favorite concert was an Odd Future concert in San Francisco.
You like Odd Future? I didn’t expect that!
Yeah, I guess that's another guilty pleasure. The show was really fun; it was my first rap concert experience. It was pretty tough — a lot of people were slamming into me. At a point I just thought, "Oh my God, please don't hit me." I was with my friend. I had just moved to the U.S. from Moscow to study, so I didn't have many friends at the time. It was a really crazy show.
Listen: “Yonkers” Tyler the Creator
Do you listen to a lot of Russian music?
No, I don't. I listen to some bands, but not a lot. There's one band from the '90s that I like, a rock band, but other than that, no.
Is there a big difference between contemporary Russian music and U.S. music?
Oh yeah, of course. It's a really big difference. I don't really like modern Russian music. The singers are all pretty poor and the lyrics are stupid.
If you could go back in time and see one classic rock band play live, who would you choose?
Probably The Doors. Jim Morrison was really hot.
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