Tag Archives: the theremin

Ep. #85: Carl Wilson + Sean Michaels

Carl Wilson and Sean Michaels are two of Canada’s most esteemed music writers. Based in Toronto, Carl Wilson is the music critic at Slate and has contributed to the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, and many other publications. His 2007 book Let’s Talk About Love has just been published in a new and expanded edition and continues the provocative conversation Wilson initiated about cultural consumption, taste, and why some things are considered cool and some things aren’t. Things like Celine Dion albums for instance. Sean Michaels lives in Montreal, is an award-winning writer and founder of the music blog Said the Gramophone, and he has written for the Guardian and McSweeney’s among others. Random House has just published his first novel; it’s called Us Conductors and it’s a touching, compelling, distorted memoir of Leon Termen, the brilliant scientist but rather heartbroken human who is best known for inventing the mysterious musical instrument known as the theremin. On Tuesday April 8, Wilson and Michaels engage in a tandem book launch at the Monarch Tavern in Toronto, featuring many special guests. Here, Carl and Sean and I discuss our Skype date, why they’re launching their books together, the ways in which music galvanizes and separates us as well, sound as an invisible, intangible force, Sean’s interest in the theremin as both a musical and literary device, investigative music writing, asking questions about loneliness and joy, how Carl’s work resonates with Sean and vice versa and how their station as writers impacts their approach to music journalism, the current state of music journalism as a “post-apocalyptic wasteland,” breaking news versus breaking criticism, the podcast as the last vestige of long-form conversation, whether popularity or the lack thereof should impact cultural production, why the field of music writing is thinning out, how fulfilling our passions is what life is for, why Let’s Talk About Love has been republished in this expanded edition with fresh essays and analysis, how Carl’s book impacted Sean as a music fan, writer, and critic, Sean’s feelings about Us Conductors and its characters now that he’s left them behind so to speak, how the story reflects his own life, the parallels between Lev Terman and Celine Dion, why Sean’s book resonates with Carl, the structure of the launch party in Toronto, which includes performances by Snowblink, thereminist Jeff Bird, RaP BattLez battle by Daniel Beirne (a Thereminist) vs Roger Bainbridge (a Celine Dion fan), DJ Sandro Perri, and host Liisa Ladouceur, what’s next for Carl and Sean, which includes more writing and book tours, possibly a novel about me, and that’s pretty much it.

Related links: bloomsbury.com saidthegramophone.com vishkhanna.com

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