There may be more theremins than pieces of furniture in Marc Chouarain's apartment on the classic Parisian street Rue Montorgeil. The multi-instrumentalist, film composer and rare instrument enthusiast believes he has one of the biggest theremin collections in the world and invited us over to learn about the the very first electronic instrument. The theremin was invented in 1920 by scientist Lev Sergeyevich Termen, also known as Léon Theremin, and was originally used in very serious classical contexts before it came to signify plot twists in sci-fi films. To play the theremin, you don't touch the instrument itself, but rather manipulate the electromagnetic fields it creates. As Marc explains, it's "like pinching a string in the air." While that may sound like magic, it involves an incredible amount of musicality and control, which I learned as Chouarain gave me my first lesson.
Jack White And Brendan Benson On The Raconteurs' Return
This summer, The Raconteurs released its first new album in 11 years. Called 'Help Us Stranger', it's the crunchy rock and roll manifestation of four musicians with undeniable chemistry — Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler. We recently sat down with Jack White and Brendan Benson to talk about their long-standing friendship and mutual admiration. It all began in the late '90s where, before The White Stripes took off, Benson was the first of their peers in the Detroit garage rock scene to get signed to a major record label. Benson shares what happened when he tried to help give White's then-burgeoning band a boost. 'Help Us Stranger' marks the first Raconteurs album recorded at White's studio in Nashville and the band's first since Benson got sober. White discusses reining in his unbridled onstage energy when recording with a band and reflects on his tendency to make jokes that can get him into trouble with the media. White and Benson also share the advice they would give to their younger songwriter selves.
Bruce Hornsby Seeks Out The Strange
Bruce Hornsby has an appetite for the unusual that may surprise those who know him best for his 1986 smash hit "The Way It Is". His latest album, 'Absolute Zero', has a "bitonal pop song" where Hornsby plays in different keys with each hand. Another song is based on the sounds made by found objects in his studio. The album also features collaborations with artists who are known for pushing boundaries themselves. There's production from Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, and contributions from the experimental chamber ensemble yMusic and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. When Hornsby stopped by the Cafe, we talked about his long-standing appreciation for modern classical music, and how film cues he composed for director Spike Lee formed the basis for 'Absolute Zero'. He also shared stories from touring with Grateful Dead along with his theory on what makes them such a beloved band.
Japanese Breakfast Has A Full Plate
Michelle Zauner has an incredibly rich creative life. She makes music as Japanese Breakfast with her collaborator Craig Hendrix, she scores video games, she directs music videos for people like Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst and she's currently writing a book based on 'The New Yorker' essay she wrote called "Crying in H Mart." H Mart is an Asian grocery store chain and it's a place that holds some of Michelle's memories with her Korean mother who died in 2014. Michelle talks about how the loss of her mom informed her own sense of identity as well as her first two Japanese Breakfast albums.
A Trumpet Made Of Bullet Casings
In the aftermath of the Parkland mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, some of the surviving students came together with their parents to form Shine MSD. The organization is devoted to promoting healing through the arts, and their latest project is a trumpet made out of bullet casings that's touring the country. It's called the "Instrument of Hope". In this World Cafe special, we meet Shine co-founders Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Peña, as well as Josh Landress who created the trumpet at his shop in New York City.