Jemaine Clement is best known as part of Flight of the Conchords. In his Guest DJ set, he shares some of the artists that inspired the Kiwi comedy duo and delves into a couple tracks that scared him as a kid. Flight of the Conchords will tour the U.S. later this year and Jemaine currently stars in the vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows, which marks his directing/filmwriting debut.
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1. Kate Bush - "Wuthering Heights"
2. Supertramp - "The Logical Song"
3. Harry Nilsson - "Coconut"
4. Prince - "Housequake"
5. Beck - "Debra"
Dan Wilcox: Hey, this is Dan Wilcox from KCRW, and I am here with Jemaine Clement. He is best known as part of the comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, who just announced they are touring together later this year with new material. He also is the star two new films, People, Places and Things, which just premiered at Sundance, and the vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows, which marks his directing/filmwriting debut.
We’re here to talk about some of the songs that have inspired throughout his life as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Welcome Jemaine.
Jemaine Clement: Thank you. (whispers)
DW: What do you have for us?
JC: I thought I would start with fear.
This song used to freak me out when I was a child, “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush.
You know when I was four or five, this thing would be on TV the whole time, she’s a ghost, floating out to the window of this poor man. I even remember being about 15 and I would set my alarm to PM instead of AM or something and the radio came on, and it was that song and it was a stormy night and still as a teenager it freaked me out.
I lived in a house in the country, with big trees outside of my window. I can’t remember if they scraped on my window, but the combination of this song and the trees...this song had a big effect on me. I knew that she was speaking as a ghost. She wants to drag him into death, that’s what she’s talking about. She’s asking him to go with her into death...that’s terrifying.
DW: Now I’m freaked out.
JC: Rightly so.
DW: Let’s give this a listen. This is "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush here on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project…
Song: “Wuthering Heights” -- Kate Bush
DW: Well, let’s get into the next one you’ve got for us. Why don’t you tell us about this one?
JC: This wasn’t themed intentionally, but this is another one that used to scare me as a kid, “The Logical Song” by Supertramp.
JC: I know it’s quite a bouncy song, but if you listen to it, which I did, he is describing what it is like as a kid. When I was young, life was so magical and wonderful, all these kinds of words…
Song: “The Logical Song” -- Supertramp
JC: And then...they sent me away, told me how to be logical, clinical, you know all of these things that…just the idea of growing up is this scary thing.
That’s how it seemed to me in the song, anyway. And it made me think a lot as a kid about the difference between adults and kids. All kids wanted to play, but not many adults did.
There seemed to be something in this song that was describing what happened between childhood and adulthood that scared me.
And I think it actually, subconsciously, was kind of always in my head as a thing. You know, something to avoid, being too serious or clinical.
DW: Alright well let’s give this a spin, this is Supertramp with "The Logical Song" as selected by Jemaine Clement.
DW: Okay Jemaine, we just listened to Supertramp’s "The Logical Song," where are we going next?
JC: Now we are going upbeat. The “Coconut” song by Harry Nilsson.
What I like about the Coconut Song is it says that any problem can be solved by putting a lime in a coconut and drinking it all up.
DW: That’s not true?
JC: No, I think it’s true. I think it’s partially true, you can forget about problems quite easily with a distraction or with a refreshing drink. It’s not even alcohol, it’s just lime and coconut.
DW: I know, I’m like, aren’t they missing something…
JC: You have to drink it all up...it does seem like there’s an ingredient missing, I guess you can add it yourself.
DW: And here it is, “Coconut” by Harry Nilsson.
Song: “Coconut” -- Harry Nilsson
DW: We’re here with Jemaine Clement on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. What’s the next one you got for us?
JC: Next is just a song from a great album, Sign O’ The Times by Prince, it’s a classic. And I think “Housequake” is probably the one that I’ve played the most. I enjoy the funky beat. (Imitates Prince.) Something like that. I’m no Prince. As much as I try.
DW: That was pretty good.
JC: Prince kind of back-chats with himself, you know.
DW: What kind of an influence is Prince on Flight of The Conchords?
JC: He’s a big influence on us. We’re often trying to sound like Prince and failing, but failing enough that sometimes people don’t realize that that’s what we’re trying to do and they think that’s just our general sound.
But I think a lot of bands are doing that, you know. They try to make one thing and their own personality or style turns it into something else. That’s quite often for us, we’re try to be Prince.
Song: “Housequake” -- Prince
DW: Okay that was music from Prince. And what’s the last track you got for us?
JC: So, when Bret and I formed our band, this was the CD that was playing quite a lot. It’s from Midnight Vultures by Beck and the song is called "Debra".
Song: “Debra” -- Beck
JC: We kind of had a discussion at the time, why isn’t there an album that just has songs like this? You know, sometimes people put one funny song on, like Harry Nilsson would, but why isn’t there music all like this?
And I think that’s kind of what we were trying to do.
And I think people have noticed that, yeah, we’re very influenced by this one song.
And, you know, when we came to LA for the first time to play a few shows we’re extremely excited just to see things like a sign that says “Glendale”... “it’s Glendale like the song!”
And Zankou Chicken was one of the first places we had a meal because of the song. We went to Zankou Chicken and had fluorescent food from there. Very tasty though, but it’s an unusual color.
DW: Well here is some clever wordplay from Beck with his song “Debra”. Jemaine thank you so much for joining us.
JC: Such a pleasure.