Community Connections #2: November

On November 3rd, WRBB’s Ben Hussey and Annika Eske asked passersby in the Curry Student Center, “If you could have a conversation with one artist, who would it be?” People would often need a good minute before answering the question. It’s a tough one. Nonetheless, we heard some great answers, from Céline Dion to Yves Tumor, and some inspiring stories to go along with them.

Akshitaa would want to have a conversation with Taylor Swift.

The first music artist that came to mind for Akshitaa was Taylor Swift, “because my friends are really excited to go to a concert that’s coming up,” she told us. Akshitaa had just turned 22 and listened to Taylor Swift’s song “22” in celebration. “I was actually just watching an interview recently, and she was saying that her past experiences is what she draws from when she writes things…So I would want to know how she really switches on and switches off when it comes to things like that,” Akshitaa continued. She noted that this was interesting to her because performing music is such an immersive process. “Because when you’re writing a song, you will be completely thinking of those experiences writing them down, and then you sing it and you live all of that all over again,” she observed. “All those sad songs that she writes…How does she get over it and get back to her life?”

Cassidy would want to chat with two seemingly opposite music artists.

“So my favorite two artists of all time are Carrie Underwood and AC/DC. And I would want to have a conversation with Carrie Underwood so I could tell her how important her music is to me and my mom, and I would want to talk to AC/DC because I think they’re really cool,” Cassidy told WRBB succinctly. When asked whether she thought having both artists in the same room would be interesting, Cassidy told us she doesn’t think the artists are quite as different as they may seem. “[In] her most recent album, she started doing a lot of like rock influence in it — or like trying to kind of bring that in more, and she did a lot of stuff with Guns and Roses…So like, I feel like they’re two degrees of separation.”

Alex would love to talk with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.

“A lot of musical artists are very controversial or bad people. Weird Al is not one of those people,” Alex told us. He would like to chat with Weird Al not only because of his music, but also because he simply seems like a very interesting person to talk to. Alex added that he could relate to the song “White and Nerdy,” saying that the song felt particularly relatable back in middle school, where Alex was first introduced to Weird Al – apparently, an eighth grade unit on satire has the power to introduce people to some pretty cool music.

Izzy would want to chat with Tyler the Creator, but told us to use this (lovely) photo of Earl Sweatshirt alongside her response.

Izzy has watched enough Tyler the Creator interviews to conclude that he is a truly fascinating person. She described him as “out-of-pocket” and told WRBB that she thinks it’s respectable that he says and does exactly what he wants to. Later, another student passed by and told us she wanted to anonymously back up this answer. It seems that Tyler the Creator’s authenticity has not gone unnoticed by Northeastern students.

Friends Katelyn and Juliette stopped by to answer this month’s question.

Katelyn told us that Dermot Kennedy is an Irish artist who really resonates with her. She appreciates hearing her own accent in music, as it doesn’t happen very often. Whether Kennedy is singing about Irish coastlines or love in Ireland, Katelyn finds that listening to his music makes her feel at home. Specifically, she would want to ask him about his thoughts on love. “Me and the girls always…we’re trying to decipher if he meant like if he hurt someone else, or if he was hurt by someone.” Similarly, Juliette would want to have a conversation with an artist who, in some way, offers up comfort through their music. Juliette often finds herself returning to Janet Jackson’s album, “The Velvet Rope.” This past summer, Juliette moved to NYC, started a new job, and met lots of different people. Yet, the soundtrack behind it all was Janet Jackson’s “The Velvet Rope” – Juliette told us that it grounded her to listen to something familiar and said that she looks up to Janet Jackson, as Jackson is a powerful woman of color. Juliette heads WRBB’s curation team: be sure to check out the team’s latest playlist here!

Swarna swears by listening to Ed Sheeran whenever she needs a mood boost.

Swarna told WRBB that her go-to artist is Ed Sheeran. His song “Perfect” is a constant on her playlist, and she sometimes listens to it for comfort when she’s feeling down. She also loves “Shape of You,” by Ed Sheeran. Just talking about the songs seemed to bring a smile to her face. When asked what she would want to chat about with Ed Sheeran, Swarna took a second to think about it. She realized no specific question came to mind, but she was sure of one thing: “I’d want to dance with him,” she laughed. Fair enough, Swarna – sometimes, silence says it all.

Jonathan would want to have a conversation with Frank Sinatra, who is one of the inspirations for Jonathan’s own music-making process (check out his R&B and hip-hop music here).

“If I could pick one artist to have a conversation with, it would be Frank Sinatra,” said Jonathan decisively. He would want to ask Sinatra about his mafia connection, and how Sinatra got into music. Jonathan described Sinatra’s songs as “timeless,” and mentioned how the Yankees still use Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” as an anthem. Having roots there himself, Jonathan would want to talk with Sinatra about New York. Granted, Sinatra was born just across the river in Hoboken, New Jersey, but the singer certainly spent a good amount of time in New York as well. Mostly, though, Jonathan would want to hear those crazy mafia stories.

Dominic would love to chat with Michael Jackson about the singer’s past – and about his dance moves, of course.

Dominic has many questions he would have loved to ask Michael Jackson. Why does he choose to sing in such a high vocal range, despite having a deeper voice? What would he do differently, if he could? Would he have chosen to be a child artist? And, most pressing: how did he come up with all those dance moves? Dominic told WRBB that Michael Jackson’s music brings back childhood memories of playing “Michael Jackson: The Experience,” a music video game on Wii. Dominic grew up listening to Michael Jackson, and considers that music to be a shared experience he has with his family. Another passerby named Jason (not pictured) was quick to agree that he would want to chat with Michael Jackson. Jason told us he is distantly related to Michael Jackson and sang us his rendition of Thriller with all the moves to go along with it. How we wish we had a video…

Friends Ella and Lizeth would want to have conversations with music artists that aren’t afraid to be true to themselves.

Ella would love to get to know Yves Tumor. She told WRBB that she had just seen the music video for their new single and became a big fan. “It was so fucking good,” she insisted. She’d ask them, “How do they think like that? How do they make such good art?” Ella “dabbles” in art, and would like to find out more about Yves Tumor’s inspirations and their creative process. She would recommend the new single, “God Is a Circle,” as well as “Kerosene!” and “Gospel For A New Century.”

Meanwhile, Ella’s friend Lizeth would love to be able to have a conversation with Kurt Cobain. She appreciates the courage it must have taken for him to incorporate so much emotion into his music. She told WRBB, “Obviously emotion has always been hand-in-hand with music — but just like…not portraying the best emotions… being overwhelmed or sad.” What Lizeth likes about grunge music is how honest and raw it is. She says she admires that the genre seems to say, “I’ll show you both the pretty and the bad.”

Luke would like to have a conversation with Kanye West to gain some clarity on his thoughts. 

Luke told WRBB that Kanye West had been someone that he looked up to for a very long time. “I really liked his music, and [he] would be someone that would be interesting to talk to,” he said. Luke felt that it would be nice to hear what Kanye has to say in person rather than indirectly. “I feel like, yeah, it’s just he’s someone that I’ve seen speak a lot in like videos and recordings. I feel like people are always trying to take his words out of context. But I’d like to just hear them,” Luke concluded pensively.

Brad would love to invite Kanye West to a Shabbat dinner.

With dance ribbons in hand, Brad told WRBB that he too would like to have a conversation with Kanye West. “I’ve been really hurt by Kanye’s [antisemitic] comments. So as a Jew, I feel like if anyone could convince him, it could be me,” Brad said. When asked if he was a fan of Kanye’s music, Brad explained, “I was a big fan. I still think I can separate the artist and music pretty easily. I listen to Michael Jackson too, so it’s not that deep. But it’d be nice. I mean, he’s still so popular and, like, it’s hard to support something like that now. It sucks.” Brad then remembered fondly that he had attended a Kanye West concert at Madison Square Garden after Kanye’s album, The Life of Pablo came out. Brad recalled, “It was one of the greatest concerts. He had the elevated stage. It was sick. He’s such a performer. I love Kanye. Yeah, I’ll just invite him over for a Shabbat dinner.” Give Brad a call, Kanye.

Aditya would like to have a conversation with Pink Floyd.

Aditya is a fan of Pink Floyd, and believes the band was far ahead of their time. He recently went to a Roger Waters concert, and told us with conviction, “There are new bands that could learn from him.” If he could ask any specific question to Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, he would ask where the music artist’s creativity comes from. Aditya also noted that Pink Floyd’s albums are often extremely coherent in terms of their themes. Hence, he would love to ask the band how they come up with such concrete themes to connect each of the songs in an album.

Twins Pedro and Luzmila shared some heartfelt thoughts to answer this month’s question.

Pedro is a saxophone player who works with a Berklee professor, and would love to have a jam session with Prince. “Would you play sax while Prince does the vocals?” asked his sister, Luzmila. “He’s pretty out there… whatever happens, happens,” smiled Pedro, in line with the true spirit of a jam session.

Luzmila, a Bouvé alumnus, told WRBB that she would like to talk to Céline Dion. Since childhood, she and her grandmother had dreamt of seeing Céline Dion live. When her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer however, Luzmila knew that there would be no time for the dream to become a reality. Hence, one day, she found Céline Dion concert recordings on YouTube and watched them with her grandmother while they cooked Peruvian food together. Specifically, this reminded Luzmila of the song, “Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word).” She told WRBB that the song has become an homage to the women in her family.

Interviewers/writers and photographers are welcome (and needed!) to help out with future articles for Community Connections. The time commitment is whatever you choose it to be. Fill out the Google form here if interested!

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