Kai Wright: I'm Kai Wright and I'm joined by our producer Regina de Heer. Hey, Regina.
Regina de Heer: Hi Kai.
Kai Wright: Okay. The last time you join us for a check-in, you gave us an update on this project that you've been overseeing. We've asked listeners to send us the song that they're really feeling this summer and tell us the story behind that summer jam. What it means to them. You've been making a playlist. They're on Spotify, people have been loving it. It's now the end of summer. How did all this go?
Regina de Heer: Daniel Smith started us off with some really great selections. Beyonce, Queen Janet Jackson, really got us off strong. We got emails here and there with people adding songs but if you remember, we were missing some of the stories behind it. After we asked again, things really picked up.
Kai Wright: People started telling a story. We got tons of different things, right?
Regina de Heer: Yes, the playlist was indeed a big hit. I heard a lot of feedback from people even around WNYC, the offices over here. My friend, Luke, who works on another WNYC show, all of it hosted by Alison Stewart. They talk about music and culture all the time, and he had a selection from Prince.
Luke: Hey, this is Luke. Recording this actually in the WNYC offices here in Soho. I'm going to go with none other than the most unstoppable man of the summer of '84, Prince and his song, Let's Go Crazy from his album and movie Purple Rain that made him a megastar. Now, I wasn't alive in 1984 but to me and my parents who were in high school at the time, this song and the album overall scream summer. Purple Rain was released on June 25th, 1984, right when summer reaches its peak, and what better message for the peak of summer than an upbeat, funky, dance rock anthem with crazy solos, telling you to literally forget all your worries and just go crazy?
Regina de Heer: Now, I was also not alive in 1984 but I do know Prince and Let's Go Crazy is definitely a summer jam.
Kai Wright: Definitely a summer jam. I was alive in 1984 and you really can't beat that album. What else do we hear?
Regina de Heer: Yes, we also got a really great email from our listener Ellen who wrote, "I just got a convertible, lifelong dream come true and have been making a convertible B word playlist all summer. Whenever someone rides in the car, I asked them to add a song so I have memories of all of them. Plus, I crowdsource suggestions on Facebook. The playlist isn't just songs I love, but also the favorites from all my favorite people. It makes me so happy." Many Os with the so, very happy. She also sent us some of her favorites like Bleachers', Stop Making This Hurt.
Who she just saw live for the first time this summer with her daughter. Do you know Bleachers, Kai?
Kai Wright: I sure don't.
Regina de Heer: Well, I have some recommendations by him and produced by him. If you'd like some suggestions that's a conversation for another time.
Kai Wright: To be continued.
Regina de Heer: Yes. We also had a listener, Stacy who sent a voicemail that still makes me laugh.
Stacy: My summer jam that's been going on since spring is Tame Impala's I'm A Man of the current album. It's sexy, chill vibe for sexy, outdoor summer evenings.
I'm just thinking about what I said and the implications.
Regina de Heer: I've also been curating the playlist with songs that I'm encountering in my own life. After all, the joy of this project has truly been the creative liberties that I've gotten to take. For instance, the song Yalla Habibi came from my Zumba class.
Big hit, highly recommend.
I even got one selection Night Fever by the Bee Gees from seeing you post a sick reel on Instagram of these twins skating to the song.
Kai Wright: The Griffin brothers. Yes, I love that account and great pick.
Regina de Heer: Yes. It's the best pick. As we end the playlist, I just want to end by thanking our listeners for streaming and participating in the playlist. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have.
Kai Wright: Indeed. I was actually at a public radio conference recently. Shout out to all the behind-the-scenes folks in public radio. I got a whole list of ideas from them. I think my favorite one came from Deshawn in Minneapolis who said Ready or Not by the Fugees was the soundtrack to his young adult life back when he was living here in New York City.
Regina de Heer: Great song.
Kai Wright: I picked that one for a reason because we're ending this playlist project with a big announcement about the show. Minneapolis is actually one of several cities we are welcoming into our community here on Sunday evenings. Starting next week, we are expanding this conversation to a national radio audience. Now, of course, we already have people around the country who follow through the podcast or stream it on YouTube but I'm just really excited about this move into a National Public Radio Network.
It's just going to be an incredible opportunity to keep learning from each other across the country and across our communities. Same show you already know and follow, but with a bunch of new people joining us. Alongside that, we're making two changes I want to tell you about. First, we have got a new name because if we're honest, we are done being anxious, you all. That's just not helpful. We are a lot more focused now on a conversation about the society we want to live in, rather than just wringing our hands over the hateful crowd. As of right now, our show's new name is Notes From America with Kai Wright.
Regina de Heer: Notes From America with Kai Wright.
Kai Wright: That's us. You heard it here. Our second change to go along with this new name. We have a new theme song, and it's going to be the final song we add to our summer playlist. To introduce that new theme, I want to bring on our sound designer and engineer, Jared Paul. Hey, Jared.
Jared Paul: Hey, Kai. Hey, Regina.
Kai Wright: First off, what we're about to do here is an homage to one of your favorite podcasts, right Jared called Song Exploder?
Jared Paul: Yes, Song Exploder, one of my favorite shows. I'm going to imitate their format here for a minute. I hope they don't mind.
Kai Wright: Okay. All right. Take it away. Tell us about our new theme song.
Jared Paul: While we were planning this new phase of the show, we knew we wanted new theme music, but we didn't have our name yet. I had started about a dozen demos, and none of them were really feeling right yet but then I think right after the meeting where we chose the name, Notes From America, I think I pretty much hung up from that meeting and was immediately like, "Oh notes." Once we had the name, I figured we needed some music with a lot of notes, which I know sounds a little silly. Most music has notes but in my mind that meant using the chromatic scale which is every key on the piano, every white and black key, not skipping any.
We all knew we needed a theme that was energetic. Kai mentioned he's into '70s soul. I put down this upbeat, soul beat, put some distortion and filters on it, stuff like that. Added this fun clapping rhythm over it and then I let the beat build.
Then I added some great guest musicians. Shout out to my friends Mel Sue on cello. Spencer Hattendorf on sax, and our very own, Kousha Navidar on trumpet.
Kai often talks about our show as being like a town square for conversation, and I wanted the music to reflect that. I wanted it to build up to a busy climactic ending with lots of instruments in conversation with each other like everyone getting together in the town square with their instruments.
Kai Wright: Now, the Notes from America theme in its entirety.
[music] The new Notes from America is a production of WNYC studios. Follow us wherever you get your podcast and hit us up on our brand new social handles. Find us on both Instagram and Twitter @noteswithKai. Our new theme music is written by Jared Paul who also handles mixing and sound design. Matthew Miranda is our live engineer. Our team also includes Karen Frillmann, Regina de Heer, Rahima Nasa, Kousha Navidar, and Lindsay Foster Thomas. Welcome aboard to our new intern, Vanessa Handy and I am Kai Wright. Thanks for spending time with us tonight and welcome to Notes from America. I'll see you next week.
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