Xeni Jardin is an expert in all thing tech culture and has an offbeat taste in music, choosing everything from a romantic classical piece to punk for her Guest DJ set. She celebrates the curation of “borrowed parts,” something that both music sampling and blogging have in common, and features an exclusive composition for electronic music pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto. She is co-editor of the blog Boing Boing, and executive producer and host of the daily internet video program Boing Boing tv.
For More: http://xeni.net
1.) Tomita - Claire de Lune
2.) Bad Brains - Banned in DC
3.) David Byrne and Brian Eno - The Carrier
4.) Lucho Gatica - Encadenados
5.) Ryuichi Sakamoto - Boing Boing TV
Chris Douridas: Hi this is Chris Douridas from KCRW. I'm here with Xeni Jardin who is co-editor of the award-winning collaborative web blog "Boing Boing" and co-host/co-founder of "Boing Boing TV". She's also a frequent contributor to Wired Magazine and NPR. Your specialty is all things tech-culture, but today we're here to talk about the music that's inspired you over the years. Welcome!
Xeni Jardin: Well, it's great to be here. Thanks Chris.
Chris Douridas: Was it fun putting together this music list?
Xeni Jardin: You know it really was. I do this kind of stuff all the time to annoy my friends and people I love, so it was great to annoy the entire world.
Chris Douridas: I have to say I was -- I was really impressed by the list because these- they're offbeat choices here. These are very unique selections and I actually played a version of this Claire De Lune piece the other day but this one, it's been a while since I've heard this.
Xeni Jardin: Yes. For me there are certain songs that are so precious and so personal, I can't even listen to them very often. Like I can't carry them around in my iphone, I can't have them in a playlist in my computer. They're that loaded and for me this is one of them. My biological father who died when I was ten was a painter and a composer. The very first smells I remember in our house were turpentine and the rabbit skin glue that he would mix to prepare his canvasses with and the first sounds I remember were him playing his piano downstairs and I would fall asleep to that. Towards the end, painting was too much for him physically. But the last memories I have of him were kind of right next to the piano, you know with an oxygen tank, and composing and playing that song, Claire De Lune. That was his favorite.
Song: "Claire De Lune" by Tomita
Xeni Jardin: And I remember, this particular song, a vivid dream that I can still remember like I'm dreaming it now. I was in kindergarten and me and my kindergarten teacher and all the other kids in my class we were like floating in the middle of space and I was hearing this behind that dream.
Chris Douridas: Music of Debussy the Suite Bergamasque number 3 "Claire De Lune". A version by Tomita. I'm Chris Douridas. It's KCRW's Guest DJ set here with Xeni Jardin. A song for her father Glenn Han.
Xeni Jardin: Coming into your teenage years there is a lot of turmoil and there is a lot of exploration. And for me all of that culminated in hardcore punk. I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and it was really close to DC. I think the very first show I ever saw -- and this was just a few years after my dad passed away and I was still really young, like 13 or something -- was the Dead Kennedy's and Bad Brains. And HR, the leader of this band, you couldn't see him on the stage because he was up in the rafters and when that first guitar chord struck, he jumped out of the rafters onto the stage. It was like this magical dangerous world that I had to be a part of.
Xeni Jardin: And I can remember being in this club and you know still being very young and very vulnerable but trying to be tough and being in this environment where everything smelled like beer and cigarettes and hormones and adrenaline it was just astonishing.
Song: Bad Brains’ Banned in DC
Chris Douridas: It's “Banned in DC” from Bad Brains. I'm Chris Douridas, Guest DJ project set here from Xeni Jardin. Brian Eno and David Byrne…
Xeni Jardin: For a while all I cared about was punk. And I think gradually, like the people I was hanging out with, I was living in these punk squats and kind of abandoned buildings with artists and some of the artists in this one place, it was called "the dairy," it was an abandoned dairy building and I like kind of lived there with a bunch of other homeless punk kids and got in trouble and went to school with at the same time. And the thing that I remember around that time was first bumming money for art supplies and secondly hearing music that incorporated sampling and electronics in a way that was different than anything that had existed before. The album was "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" by David Byrne and Brian Eno. We think of sampling as something that is so common now, it's mundane, but back then, like in the early 80's, the idea that you could do this and the artist's voice didn't need to be a part of it for it to be valid. That was an amazing revelation.
Song: The Carrier by David Byrne and Brian Eno
Xeni Jardin: This idea that you could construct something that was a whole from little borrowed parts in different places and a friend of mine says that's kind of what blogging is too, right? Kind of like being a DJ? That you take little bits and pieces of things from the world and somehow add value to that in the assembly and the curation and this becomes more than just cut and paste.
Chris Douridas: That's called "The Carrier," it’s from "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts," a 1981 work from David Byrne and Brian Eno. With us in the studio is Xeni Jardin. I love that you picked out this piece by Lucho Gatica.
Xeni Jardin: Yes it's called "Encadenados". I was adopted when I was a teenager and the man that I call my father today is also a musician. He taught me everything about the tradition of Boleros, Mexican and South American popular music, taught me how to sing. And many of the classics that he would teach me about voice with were songs that like his mother would sing loudly while she was doing her laundry and cry to.
Song: Lucho Gatica’s Encadenados
Xeni Jardin: I think this song just captures the kind of deep and rich sadness, just the emotional force of this genre of music. I don't think that even in any other language that you could capture this kind of mixture of grief and love at the same time so forcefully.
Chris Douridas: "Encadenados" which I guess means, ‘chained we are.’ Lucho Gatica. I'm Chris Douridas. It's KCRW's guest DJ set here with Xeni Jardin. How's this love of music and passion for music finding its way into your web work and your blogging and your boing boing TV work?
Xeni Jardin: I think that if you really love music, that it finds its way into everything that you do. It's something that helps you make sense of the overwhelming kind of ocean of emotion and confusing bits and pulses of life. There's this code that carries you through different phases of your time on earth. That's what music is.
There was an episode of boing boing TV, the program that I produce and host, where we wanted to do something with this guy Joi Ito, he's a venture capitalist and entrepreneur. He's like a guy who has two or three computers - one for World of Warcraft, one for Doom, and one for work. (Chuckles) He's super digital, but I knew that he also had this more traditional side so we asked him to take a video camera into his backyard in Japan and tape the unearthing of bamboo shoots to make this traditional spring time dish in Japan. Joey also happens to be the CEO of Creative Commons and we were bugging him about music that we might use to score the episode and we just couldn't come up with anything right with him so he said, "Well I could ask Sakamoto Son.?" And I'm like wait a minute, ‘Sakamoto Son meaning Ryuichi Sakamoto? The award winning composer, "Last Emperor," did the last Olympics…’ And he said, ‘Well yes, I'll ask him. I'll be in New York.’ And Sakamoto Son very very very generously offered to simply score the episode from new. Just this home video of someone digging up roots in their backyard and pickling them and making them in a salad turned into this beautiful kind of emerald gem of a movie. Walking through this bamboo forest. And you kind of hear the tapping of the garden tools and the sort of whistling of the leaves.
Song: Ryuichi Sakamoto’s composition for Boing Boing TV
Xeni Jardin: This really embodies to me what is so fun about what we get to do. Like you're taking tradition, you're taking ancestry, you're taking history, and technology, and future and it's all, it’s right there.
Chris Douridas: It's been so good to have you with us.
Xeni Jardin: Well, it's been my pleasure.
Chris Douridas: You've put me through an ocean of emotion just in listening to this stuff. Thanks for sharing your passions.
Xeni Jardin: That was so lame that that rhymed. I didn't mean to.
Chris Douridas: It meant a lot to me though. I appreciate it very much.
Xeni Jardin: Thank you, Chris.
Chris Douridas: Xeni Jardin on KCRW.com. It's our guest DJ set. Thanks so much for listening.
[PLAYLIST GOES HERE]