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).

Michael McDonald's distinctive voice is woven right into the fabric of popular culture. You don't need to hear his name to know it's him singing in any one of his many different musical incarnations.

In this session, we slip into the world of Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton. Haines is the lead singer of the electro-tinged rock and roll band Metric, but in her solo work you won't find any wailing guitars or radical synths — the spotlight shines right on her voice and the work of art that is her songwriting.

Hear Emily Haines, solo on the piano, in the player above.

When Rory Graham was 19 or 20 years old, he sang in public for the first time. And he didn't really think there was anything special about his voice. Turns out, the world disagrees.

Ever hear a song that you know you've heard performed by another artist and wonder: Who did it first? Well, we are tackling that question in an ongoing series, "Me and My Shadows," where we pair original songs with covers that might just blow your musical mind.

Some covers bring together artists from completely different sonic worlds, like The English Beat's ska take on Smokey Robinson and The Miracles' Motown classic "Tears of a Clown." Other covers make you hear a song you've heard many times before in a totally new way — see Aurora's take on David Bowie's "Life on Mars."

What do you get when you cross an Australian post-punk drummer with a lute player who is the descendant of Greek musical royalty? Easy: Today's guests Xylouris White!

Xylouris is George Xylouris, from a famed family of musicians based in a mountain shepherding village on the Greek island of Crete. George has been a professional musician since he was 12.

White is Jim White, an Australian post-punk drummer with a deft touch, able to go from thunderous to tender on a dime. Jim held it down in the instrumental trio Dirty Three, and has also backed Cat Power and PJ Harvey.

In this session, you've got front-row seats to a mini concert by Combo Chimbita, who absolutely lit up the World Cafe with what they call "tropical futurism." What does that mean? You're about to hear it in action. But, just so you know what you're in for, Combo Chimbita uses cumbia as a building block but they get psychedelic, trippy and downright freaky, with an inventive combination of rhythms and sounds from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Bette Smith grew up in a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn: Bedford–Stuyvesant, pre-Mayor Giuliani. Her father was a church choir director who once had to protect his kids by running out of the house waving a two-by-four. He taught Bette to sing. He also taught her that a career in music outside the church was wrong, and it wasn't until after he died that Bette really pursued music. She'll tell the story of coming to that decision, and what she imagines her late parents might think of what's she's doing now.

Luna On World Cafe

Dec 4, 2017

Around the time Luna announced it was breaking up back in 2004, lead singer Dean Wareham said, "This is what bands do." But you can bet any fan of Luna's dreamy, moody sound was secretly hoping they would undo it. And after about a decade, Luna did. (Or: undid.)

Since Fleetwood Mac released its debut album nearly 50 years ago, there have been many incarnations, comings and goings, couplings and uncouplings. But here's a new combination — Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie have released a record together!

Dhani Harrison's new record, IN///PARALLEL, feels a bit like walking through a lucid dream. It's complex and artful, and at first listen, maybe a little dark. But as he explains, he uses the dark to inspire catharsis, not fear. Dhani also told me he writes lyrics with caution: "You have to be careful with — with the words you use in the daytime, I think, because the English language, I think, is probably just a big magic spell, and when you say things they can tend to manifest."

Over the past year, we've had some unbelievable artists walk through our studio doors and melt our musical minds. Laura Marling nailed a live vocal performance so perfect you might swear you're hearing a studio mix she'd worked on for weeks rather than a live one-off.

Jack Johnson has been making people smile since 2001. Well, probably before that, but that's when his debut record came out. If you know Jack for songs like "Better Together," "Upside Down," "Banana Pancakes," "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" ... you might have the sense that this is a good-vibes kind of guy. Just how "good vibes"? Well, get ready to find out.

Beck On World Cafe

Nov 22, 2017

According to Beck, listening to his new album Colors may feel like "jogging in a glass box while there is a blizzard outside and you are wearing a form-fitting body suit ... maybe there are some wolves trying to get in or something." Unpredictable and a little wacky? Yep, but that's Beck. Ever since his 1993 song "Loser" brought rap, sitar, steel guitar and a little Spanish together in what became a surprise hit, he's continued to surprise his fans.

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn's new album is called Echo In The Valley. Both artists have built lives on squeezing more sound, story and emotion out of the banjo than you may have thought possible — she in the clawhammer style of her hero Doc Watson, and he from the three-finger school of Earl Scruggs.

I'm so happy to share our latest session with David Crosby. He made me howl with laughter, he's got so much heart, and he was truly generous in sharing his stories. Crosby is here to talk about his new album, Sky Trails, which features some of his contemporary collaborators — Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis, Mai Agan, and Michael League of Snarky Puppy. But we covered a lot of ground on Crosby's formative cronies, too, including The Byrds, Crosby Stills & Nash, Miles Davis, Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell.

We're in South Louisiana — somewhere between Arnaudville and Leonville — in the backyard of Louis Michot, looking out at his pond. In 1999, Louis and his brother Andre co-founded the band Lost Bayou Ramblers. And the sounds we hear in their backyard in the bayou actually appear on their latest album, Kalenda. So does music, of course; the band isn't here to play the cricket or the frog — more like Louis on the fiddle and vocals and Andre on accordion and lap steel guitar. But the music really does take you to a real place.

William Patrick Corgan would be the first to admit that many people's image of him was locked down back in 1995 as Billy Corgan: frontman of The Smashing Pumpkins. The Pumpkins had just released Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the album with the song "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" -– you know, the one where despite all his rage, he's still just a rat in a cage?

This past spring Grandaddy released its first album since taking a 10-year hiatus. It's called Last Place, and features everything that has made Grandaddy great since they formed and released their first cassette tape in 1992 — the meeting of fuzzed-out indie rock and the lo-fi psychedelia of video games.

Phoebe Bridgers has one of those voices that can make a rowdy arena crowd go silent and then leap to its feet. I saw it happen when she joined Conor Oberst on stage this past summer at the WXPN XPoNential Music Festival. I can't imagine many people in the crowd knew who she was before they heard Conor invite her on stage for a duet. By the time she was done — standing ovation.

Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, Cale Tyson felt no love for his parents' taste in country — he was more of a screamo kind of a kid. His 14-year-old self was, as he puts, certain that there was "was no way in hell I will ever like, or play, country music."

In the end, Cale not only came around to his parents' tastes, he ended up moving to Nashville and making a couple honky tonk records. Those have been followed by his latest release, a straight-up country-soul offering he's named Careless Soul.

As the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant has one of the most recognizable, and some have said, best voices in rock and roll.

Watching my guest Josh Ritter stand on stage and perform, you would swear that his feet aren't touching the ground. It looks like he's been lifted straight up by the music he's playing, somewhere between standing on his tip toes and actual levitation. His smile is huge. And you get this overwhelming sense of joy.

We know. Halloween can be a weird one. You have to exercise an excruciating amount of self-control around office candy. People are making bad puns. You have to come up with a last-minute replacement for your Wonder Woman costume because you just realized it's the most popular costume of the year and you were really hoping to be an original (sorry to be the one to tell you).

My guest David Rawlings has a new album. Well, a new old album. It's called Poor David's Almanack, and in writing it, Rawlings set out to craft new folk songs that evoke old folk traditions.

There can be no more personal or generous a gift from an artist to their fans than to say: Here is the museum of my heart as I prepare to die. Please come in. This room smells like Chanel No 5. It's the scent of all the letters sent by my old flame. That room is an exact replica of my baby's nursery. It's where we performed our old "Bedtime" routine: "I'd get you to your crib, slowly lower you down. Then pull my hands away, as if from a bomb. Then I'd step away, one step at a time, the floors were full of sounds, all the creaks of time." That window looks out at "The Lake," Lake Ontario.

We get a lot of music in the mail here at World Cafe and sometimes a song and a story hits me right in the gut. Kyle Vanes, of the band The Dales, wrote to tell us the story behind "Still the Love," a song inspired by finding, and losing, the love of his life Heather Marie Allman. She had stage 4 breast cancer when they met. Kyle and Heather were friends for a while before they fell in love and stayed together until she died in January of 2015.

In this session, we welcome Son Little, whose new album, called New Magic, is bumpy blues meets rooted R&B meets old school nu soul meets... well... magic.

Son Little was born Aaron Livingston, in Los Angeles. He's since settled in Philadelphia — that's where he first met the Roots and Questlove, who became his community and his collaborators.

Before he could legally drive, my guest in this session had his first platinum record. Jonny Lang was 15 when he released Lie to Me, the explosive album that earned him accolades as part the next generation of virtuosos who would keep the blues blazing.

Success when you're that young? You can imagine it comes with a few perks and a few growing pains. For Lang that included some partying and some drinking, but he cleaned up after one particular sobering moment – which we will talk about.

There's nothing quite like a compelling story song.

Pages