Talia Schlanger

Talia Schlanger is a host and radio producer at World Cafe, produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. Schlanger joins the World Cafe team straight from CBC, Canada's public broadcaster, where she hosted a triple-A radio show on Saturday and Sunday mornings. She was the on-camera host for two seasons of the CBC television series CBC Music: Backstage Pass, which saw her interview some of Canada's best and brightest artists. Schlanger also hosted several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor featuring Serena Ryder, CBC Music SongCamp and the CBCMusic.ca Festival Special 2015. Schlanger served as the the interim host of CBC Radio 2's Canada Live and was a regular guest host on CBC Radio One's flagship artist and culture show q. She also filled in on Canadian current-affairs radio shows including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Some of her favorite music interviews include St. Vincent, Tanya Tagaq, John Fogerty, Barenaked Ladies and Grimes.

Schlanger's first project at CBC was as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip which won a Canadian Screen Award in 2014. She was also the digital producer for Hockey Night In Canada Song Quest, CBC Music's search for the next great hockey song.

Born and raised in Toronto, Schlanger is a proud alumna of Ryerson's Radio and Television Arts program. She's also a professional actress, singer and voiceover artist. Schlanger spent most of 2012 performing in the first national tour of Green Day's rock opera, American Idiot, at various theatres throughout the United States. (She thought she would be really cool when she met Billie Joe Armstrong after he watched American Idiot. She was not cool at all.) She has also performed on stage with Mirvish Productions' original Canadian company of We Will Rock You, as well as in the ensemble and understudying lead roles in Scaramouche, Oz (Canon Theatre, 2007/2008), and in Mamma Mia! (Royal Alexandra Theatre, 2003/2004).

I usually try and squeeze a little extra singing out of my favorite guests. Like, "Oh that song was important to you when you were a kid? How did it go? Do you remember the first song you wrote and will you sing some of it?"

"Who are you and why are you calling me?" According to Dawn Landes, that's what Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster said when she rang him up out of the blue and asked Foster to produce her new album. Foster founded Monument Records, he signed Dolly Parton and he produced most of Roy Orbison's hits in the 1960s. These days, he's in his late eighties and mostly retired.

Ry Cooder On World Cafe

Sep 7, 2018

For Ry Cooder, records were not only a first love, but an escape. As a boy growing up in Santa Monica, Calif. in the 1950's, listening to records was a lens into a wider world. He says the first albums that caught his imagination were from traveling blues and gospel musicians.

Leave it to Matt Mays to infuse a daytime studio visit with the spirit of a super sweaty, late night at your favorite dive bar. Mays performs big rock songs from his latest album Once Upon a Hell of a Time featuring the sound of three simultaneous guitars and one heck of a growl. Mays credits Melissa Cross' "The Zen of Screaming" with saving his vocal life.

"What inspired this song?" That's one of the most basic questions we ask artists when they share new music. Sometimes that question leads to an interesting answer, sometimes it leads to a cryptic answer, but rarely does it lead to a flight across the country to spend a day at the zoo with a remarkable nearly 9-year-old girl and her family.

Today's guest made me cry in a church and I'll never forgive him. Dermot Kennedy was performing a showcase for SXSW. It was super dark, Kennedy was standing up there at the altar wearing this black sweatshirt and holding a guitar, and from the moment he opened his mouth, it was like hearing someone drag their own heart through their vocal cords and send it right up to the heavens: relentless emotion. It was like time stopped.

Normally when a guest sits down for a World Cafe interview, our producers or I help them adjust their microphone to the correct distance and angle. And if a piece of technology is misbehaving, we'll sort it out and hopefully our guest will be none the wiser. Not Vanessa Parr. On the day she visited the World Cafe studio, Parr couldn't resist adjusting her own mic to absolute perfection and helping us troubleshoot some finicky recording software. Call it an occupational hazard for someone who is used to making other people sound their very best day in and day out.

It is overwhelming and profound to imagine just how many molecules and how many mountains Aretha Franklin has moved with her music. From the deeply personal, private moments of listening she has summoned in every individual listener, to the church choirs who have sung her arrangements, to the collectives that have raised their voices to the gospel of her songs, and stretching all the way up to the divine.

I'm sure you've had this experience at some point: You hear the voice of an artist who was important to you at a particular time and all of a sudden, the sound of it sends you tumbling back through your own memory right to where you were – that college dorm room, those bleachers on that football field, that cross country road trip with your first love — the first time you heard that voice.

To my ear, serpentwithfeet's debut full length album soil is one of the most intriguing albums of the year. serpent blends his classical music training with his church choir upbringing and swirls it all together with ideas about love, sexuality, identity and honesty in a way that is devastating and uplifting at the same time.

No matter what you listen to in your life right now, no matter how far your musical tastes have come, the music you grew up with will always be special. Today's guest, Boz Scaggs, can tell you that firsthand. He played with the Steve Miller Band in the '60s and became a household name in the '70s thanks to songs like "Lido Shuffle" and albums like Silk Degrees.

"They'll blow your socks off if you have any on," reads a fan's Facebook post about the live capabilities of Rainbow Kitten Surprise. And it's true. This undefinable five-piece band from the small town of Boone, N.C. boasts a blend of charisma, musical chops, sing-along harmonies and breakneck creativity that's made it a nearly instant favorite among the nation's sandals-wearing music festival crowd.

If you ask today's guest what she's been up to since the last time she was on World Cafe about a year and a half ago, she might say something like, "Oh, not much. Finished my Masters of Fine Arts, raised a toddler, toured in my husband's band the 400 unit, completed another record of my own, won Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Awards ... and slept at some point."

Looking back on the past year of some incredible sessions this week, World Cafe is digging into the archives for some of its best performances and interviews since last July. You'll hear sessions with artists including singer-songwriter Natalie Prass, "the Croz" himself, David Crosby, Australian rocker Courtney Barnett and more.

Dessa On World Cafe

Jul 18, 2018

Can you insure your heartache through GEICO if you use it as a professional asset for writing songs? If you're a self-proclaimed "bottle-blonde, fair-skinned woman" whose mother is Puerto Rican but you don't look it, what's the best way to be a responsible rapper? Can you locate the spot your ex occupies in your brain through MRI scanning?

Neko Case's voice sounds like it originates from the belly of Mother Earth herself. In her music, you can hear the roots of trees, the wisdom of ancient warrior bones, the shift of tectonic plates, molten lava and placid water. "Have mercy on the natural world," she sings on the title track to her latest album Hell-On. It's her connection to and reverence of the natural world that stands out both in the album's lyrics and in the circumstances around making it.

"Stop asking musicians what they think." That is the opening line of the song "1933" on Frank Turner's new album Be More Kind, and a directive I was very happy to ignore when we sat down to talk about his music. Turner is clearly a deep thinker who values discussion and debate as fundamental parts of healthy society, in his words: "How do you have a conversation with someone you disagree with?"

People who love the band Dawes really love the band Dawes. Songwriting and musicianship aside, I think one of the things fans latch on to is that this is a band that feels like a good hang. The band's current lineup includes Taylor Goldsmith, along with his brother Griffin on drums, Wylie Gelber on bass; and Lee Pardini on keys. Whether you listen to its records on long car rides or in college dorm rooms or in dive bars or at wedding receptions, Dawes feels like good company.

A couple years ago, The Record Company released its debut album and earned a a Grammy nomination, a few hits, sold-out headlining shows, late night TV appearances — you get the idea — all off the strength of that one record made in bass player Alex Stiff's living room in LA. This is a surprisingly sharp trajectory if you know anything about how the music business works. But it's not surprising if you know how the band itself works.

There's an intimacy in the way Ray LaMontagne records and performs music that makes you feel like you're peeking through a curtain and listening in on a private moment. And in some ways, you truly are.

Ray is an artist I think of the purest sort. He's in it for the expression, not the attention. That's one of the things that I love about Ray and have loved since his 2004 debut Trouble. And it's the same quality that makes this career path challenging for him.

In this session, we hear the story of how two brothers went from singing in the pubs of an old steel town four hours North of London called Scunthorpe to recording at Rick Rubin's Shangri La Studios in Malibu, Calif.

For an emerging artist putting out a debut album, recording a session for this show, which airs across the country, could be a nerve-racking experience. Especially if your album features a full electric band, you planned to play with them for the session and on the day, one of the members gets sick and you had to go it alone in front of a live audience. That could be extra nerve-racking.

Bettye LaVette's voice illuminates the definition of a true soul singer. It pierces through the physical and awakens the listener's emotional core. A soul singer's voice is only amplified through experience, and as Bettye told me when we spoke, "I've got so much stuff to cry about, and so much stuff to holler about, and so much stuff to laugh about."

As the saying goes, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." So it is for Natalie Prass on her new album, The Future and the Past.

If you think of Willie Nelson as a lot of people do, you might make the same mistake I did on the way up the stairs of his tour bus, Honeysuckle Rose. I imagined we were going to visit a mythical creature or an immortal shaman; in reality, it was better than that.

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