Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

NPR Staffers Pick Their Favorite Music Interviews


Before the end of the year, we thought we'd take a look back at some of our favorite interviews from 2014. The team here at WEEKEND EDITION has been digging into the archives picking out our favorite conversations. Here to do introduce the first in our series of staff picks is Connor Donevan. He's a producer here on the show. Hey, Connor.


MARTIN: OK. So what'd you pick?

DONEVAN: I picked an interview with this band Mozes and The Firstborn. You talked to their lead singer, Melle Dielesen. They're this kind of garage rock band. They sing in English, but they're from the Netherlands. When you talked to them they were just on I think their second American tour.

MARTIN: OK. So we do a lot of music interviews on our show. We do a lot of interviews about a whole lot of things. And of all of those interviews, this is the one that you picked that was most memorable. Why?

DONEVAN: Melle was this total charmer. He was really earnest which I thought was refreshing. You don't see a lot in music interviews. Of course the music is catchy. I'm kind of still listening to it almost a year later. You know, when you're producing something, you hear the music maybe 400 times or something listening back through the whole thing. So that bodes well.

The illusive thing you're always chasing in a music interview is he describes where a song came from. And oftentimes that answer falls totally flat. I think musicians like to keep the process sort of mysterious. But he just came out with this great example of how he came up with this one specific song "I Got Skills."

MARTIN: So let's take a listen to "I Got Skills" and my conversation with Melle Dielesen of the band Mozes and The Firstborn.


MOZES AND THE FIRSTBORN: (Singing) Skills, I got skills. I got skills to make it through your doorway.

MARTIN: So pretty good hook you've written there to that song, Melle.

MELLE DIELESEN: Thank you very much.

MARTIN: How do those come to you?

DIELESEN: For this - for "I Got Skills," it was a friend of mine. A really good friend of mine, his mom used to listen to this mantra music. You know what I mean? Like this...

MARTIN: ...Kind of chanting?

DIELESEN: Yeah, chanting. And me and my friend thought that was just really hilarious. And I was at my friend's place once, and he had a guitar there. And I was, like, yeah, let's play one of those chants. And I couldn't really figure out the chords or the melody. And then I kind of, like, went, like, (humming).


MOZES AND THE FIRSTBORN: (Singing) Skills, I got skills. I got skills to make it through your doorway.

DIELESEN: It kind of stuck with me. You know, I didn't even have to listen back to the recording. It was just in my head the whole time. It was, like, oh, man, I have to get this out. It's just so annoying. It's just going around in my head all the time, so...

MARTIN: We have a phrase for that. We call that an ear worm.

DIELESEN: That's a phrase in Dutch as well - oor worm. It's very similar.

MARTIN: Let's play another song. This one is called "Seasons."


MOZES AND THE FIRSTBORN: (Singing) Babe, I'll take you to a world without seasons, where the fruit has no taste.

MARTIN: So you've got quite a vocal range on this album. There's some spoken word at some points. What we just heard there was kind of this raspy, more intense, almost like a yell at times, also some really mellow crooning. And it's all in English which is not your first language. Right?

DIELESEN: No, it's not.

MARTIN: Did you always write songs in English, or did you ever write in Dutch?

DIELESEN: I only wrote songs for fun, like, for family members kind of on, you know, special occasions in Dutch. It just really makes sense for me to write in English because all of the music I listen to is in English.

MARTIN: I don't suppose you could give me a sample of a little ditty in Dutch, could you?

DIELESEN: Of Dutch singing? (Singing in Dutch). And so on, and so on.

MARTIN: What was that song?

DIELESEN: (Laughter) It's kind of a, you know, carnival which is like the Mardi Gras. It's kind of a song that you play around that time of the year.

MARTIN: So you're on tour right now - your first tour in the U.S., correct?

DIELESEN: No. It's our second tour.

MARTIN: Second tour. All right, you're - this is old hat for you.

DIELESEN: Well, no. It's still new. I mean, I still can't really get used to being in America. I mean, it's just for...


DIELESEN: I guess for us as Europeans, it kind of feels like just walking into a movie.

MARTIN: Can you give me an example of something that has really freaked you out, some moment of profound culture shock?

DIELESEN: One of the things is that we had to do a 12 hour drive from Arizona to Texas. And the fact that you can drive for 12 hours, then you get out of the car and people still speak the same language, people still have the same fast food chains, whereas in Europe, if you drive for 12 hours, people speak really weird. And, you know, they eat different kinds of cheese. And, you know, stuff - it's kind of - it really doesn't make any sense to us.

MARTIN: (Laughter) I want to play "Down With The Band." Let's listen to this one.


MOZES AND THE FIRSTBORN: (Singing) Well, sometimes I seem to forget you're one of my best friends. Not someone that I can just use, yeah, someone I can use.

DIELESEN: I wrote this song for Raven, our drummer. There was a period of time where we kind of grew apart in a way, like, you start out - bands, you start with music, and you do something that you really love. And, you know, mainly you do it because you want to have fun. And you're making music with friends. On the other hand, the ambition has always been to become, well, like every professional band, to become the biggest band in the world. It's just kind of a song that just says, like, you know, sometimes you kind of have to say, like, you know, (bleep) it, we're just friends. And don't let this band ruin our friendship.


MOZES AND THE FIRSTBORN: (Singing) Down with the band. Down with the band.

MARTIN: That was my conversation with Melle Dielesen of the band Mozes and the Firstborn. So this is like a story of friendship. This is not something you hear a lot, like, musicians talking about writing a song for just one of their band mates.

DONEVAN: Yeah, especially, like, two dudes. Like, just wrote it for my buddy.


DONEVAN: And we got to use a bleep. I feel like that's always, like, a special moment.

MARTIN: Always a technical production challenge. Well, Connor, thank you so much for bringing me your pick.

DONEVAN: Thanks for having me on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.