Ep44: Ken Stringfellow (The Posies / R.E.M. / Big Star) on saying “yes”

Ep44: Ken Stringfellow (The Posies / R.E.M. / Big Star) on saying “yes”

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A fixture on the music landscape, indie and otherwise, since the debut of his band The Posies in 1988, Ken Stringfellow has over a quarter century of experience as a performer, composer, producer, arranger, programmer and more.

In addition to his 8 albums with The Posies and 4 solo albums, Ken spent a decade touring and recording with R.E.M.; he was also involved in the rebirth of Memphis cult band Big Star, playing with Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens from the band’s first reunion shows in 1993 until Chilton’s death in 2010.

Ken has played onstage or in studio with such artists as Neil Young, the Afghan Whigs, Mercury Rev, Thom Yorke, John Paul Jones, Patti Smith, Wilco, Robyn Hitchcock, Ringo Starr, Damien Jurado, Nada Surf, Brendan Benson, Mudhoney, the Long Winters…a very long list indeed. In fact, Ken has appeared on over 300 albums (totaling 9 million sales), and performed in 96 countries.

** The Posies play their first livestreamed gig this Saturday 24th July 2021 – watch live or at any time over the following 24 hours. GET TICKETS. **

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • putting in the work – how to be a super productive musician
  • the importance of treating everyone the same in the studio, regardless of fame or experience
  • going viral in the late 1980’s, and how The Posies’ outsider status in the ’90s Seattle scene has led to longevity for the band
  • how sharing a stage with your musical heroes gives you no choice but to level up

Things to do next:

+ Follow Ken on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and why not book him to work on your music?
+ Follow The Posies on Twitter and Instagram.
+ Listen to “For The Ashes” (The Posies), “Find Yourself Alone” (Ken Stringfellow) and “Not Today” (from Ken Stringfellow Imagines Puleo).





This podcast is powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

+ Sponsor a future episode here.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo


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Ep43: Lou Barlow (Sebadoh / Dinosaur Jr / The Folk Implosion) on building a body of work…however the fuck he wants to

Ep43: Lou Barlow (Sebadoh / Dinosaur Jr / The Folk Implosion) on building a body of work…however the fuck he wants to

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A founding member of the groups Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion, Lou Barlow is credited with helping to pioneer the lo-fi style of rock music in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His stunning fourth solo album “Reason To Live” is out now.

After decades on the road and the never-ending hustle of life as an artist, Barlow has tapped into a new confidence in the chaos. In 2021, the concept of balance feels particularly intimidating. Now more than ever, it’s clear life isn’t just leveling out a pair of responsibilities. Instead, we’re chasing after a flock of different ideals with a butterfly net. On “Reason to Live”, he has come to an understanding of that swirl rather than trying to contain it.

After albums with Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr., Folk Implosion, and under his own name, listeners may have felt they knew the construction of a Barlow song, even that they knew Barlow himself. “People have this vision of me as this heartbroken, depressed guy, but this record feels so true to who I am, to this rich life I now have full of people I love,” he says. “The songs culminated over the last five years to show that music has returned to its central comforting role in my life. Now I’m home.”

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • letting go of self-criticism and comparison to focus on creating a body of work
  • making albums at home – how combining digital tools with cassette tape recordings makes for something unique
  • the quest for an undeniably beautiful song
  • the self-inflicted anguish of releasing music into the world

Things to do next:

+ Wrap your ears around Lou’s new album “Reason To Live”
+ Listen to “Certain Dance Circumstance” (Lou Barlow) and “Waltzin With Your Ego” and “Someone You Love” (The Folk Implosion)
+ Subscribe to Lou’s YouTube channel, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.





This podcast is powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

+ Sponsor a future episode here.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo


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Ep42: Shingai (Noisettes) on finding creative freedom through generosity

Ep42: Shingai (Noisettes) on finding creative freedom through generosity

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Transcript to follow…


Content warning: two brief mentions of suicide, in the context of having lost friends.


Shingai is the legendary front woman and bassist from the Noisettes. Dubbed “The new afrofuturist pop goddess” by Rolling Stone, her debut solo album “Too Bold” was released in October 2020 and marks a new chapter of her journey. This sonic odyssey through an effervescent soundscape fearlessly infused with a soulful yet spontaneous spirit is the sound inspired by Shingai’s London, Bantu and Zimbabwean heritage.

Leading from the heart, “Too Bold” transports us to a higher vision of the future while acknowledging what it will take for us to get there. The album treads many paths and themes about rising above perplexing times, being resilient, standing your ground and confronting the struggle – an invitation to keep the optimist alive within us and try to be better in every way.

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • making music that’s a movement, too
  • the importance of creativity in a happy household, and how music helped Shingai navigate a childhood packed with grief
  • stepping off the major label conveyor belt and making music against the odds as an independent artist with integrity
  • the detrimental effect of social media and influencer culture on everyday creativity

Things to do next:

+ Listen to Shingai’s latest album “Too Bold” on Bandcamp or via her website
+ Follow Shingai on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
+ Listen to Noisettes’ back catalogue





This podcast is powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

+ Sponsor a future episode here.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo


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Ep41: Juliana Hatfield on drawing without looking

Ep41: Juliana Hatfield on drawing without looking

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Attention Engineer is back after a short break and, in keeping with my continuing quest towards a life of digital minimalism and mindful productivity, will now be beaming into your ears fortnightly. Visit this page if you’d like to find out about the other things I’m going to be making and sharing alongside this show…


Juliana Hatfield is an artist whose work has been part of my record collection for as long as I can remember, encouraging and inspiring me to share my innermost thoughts and record my own music. In 2018, I was beyond delighted to be invited to support The Juliana Hatfield Three in London and Bristol, and it was a huge treat to get to speak to Juliana for this episode.

Juliana Hatfield is a musician and songwriter who has been releasing excellent albums since 1987, first with Blake Babies, then The Lemonheads, then solo. I first heard Juliana’s work via The Juliana Hatfield Three, whose 1993 album “Become What You Are” spawned two hit singles, “My Sister” and “Spin The Bottle”, which was used in the film Reality Bites.

Alongside seventeen solo albums, Juliana’s extensive back catalogue also includes work under the name Juliana’s Pony, and collaborations with Matthew Caws of Nada Surf (under the name Minor Alps) and Paul Westerberg of The Replacements (under the name The I Don’t Cares). She’s also worked with Aimee Mann, Susanna Hoffs, Tanya Donelly, Exene Cervenka and John Doe. She even had a part in a Christmas episode of My So-Called Life…

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • writing about the truth, rejecting society’s expectations and demonstrating alternative ways of living
  • finding creative freedom in limitations
  • sensitivity as a superpower
  • home recording – Juliana’s tough transition from analogue to digital recording, and how her new album “Blood” is her most misanthropic yet

Things to do next:

+ Grab your copy of Juliana’s brilliant new album “Blood” here (or wherever you get your music)
+ Visit her website for information on upcoming live streams, back catalogue and art work for sale





This podcast is powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

+ Sponsor a future episode here.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo


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Ep40: Laura Kidd (Penfriend) quizzed by Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff) on “Exotic Monsters” and always going deeper…

Ep40: Laura Kidd (Penfriend) quizzed by Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff) on “Exotic Monsters” and always going deeper…

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Welcome to a very special episode of the podcast, where my friend Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff turns the tables on me and steals the host microphone to quiz me on my new album “Exotic Monsters”!


[Content warning: as always, some friendly swearing.]



In this conversation, we discuss:

  • being a doing person – how completing little projects gives me energy
  • the role of letter writing in my life from childhood to now
  • taking the time to get things right in your work, so they won’t haunt you forever
  • facing up to your ghosts, and finding new freedom through music

The three pieces of my own work I recommended are:




This podcast is powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

+ Sponsor a future episode here.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo


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Behind The Song: Seventeen

Behind The Song: Seventeen

Letterbox Podcast Process


Get the song.

This bonus musical mini episode of “Attention Engineer” is also available on your favourite podcast platform.

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released regularly – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Behind The Song: Black Car

Behind The Song: Black Car

Letterbox Podcast Process


Watch the music video and get the song.

This bonus musical mini episode of “Attention Engineer” is also available on your favourite podcast platform.

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released regularly – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Ep39: Stephen Jones (Babybird) on surviving chart success and finding true connection with music fans

Ep39: Stephen Jones (Babybird) on surviving chart success and finding true connection with music fans

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Transcript to follow soon.


Welcome to my conversation with Stephen Jones, recorded on 9th April 2021. Stephen’s latest compilation of songs, “An Introduction To Babybird” is available on Bandcamp now, and you can explore his musical world here.

[Content warning: as always, some friendly swearing.]


In this conversation, we discuss:

  • the importance of making music that’s for you first
  • the strange and inappropriate uses of “You’re Gorgeous” in pop culture, from Prince William to Barack Obama
  • how Bandcamp is the best internet version of DIY
  • the awkward glamour and excitement of making a million-dollar music video with Hollywood royalty

Explore Stephen’s work:




About Stephen Jones

Million-selling songwriter and cult hero Stephen Jones has spent the last decade reconnecting with his DIY roots, exploring new styles and approaches with self-recorded and self-released music projects. Independence has allowed him to dig deeper creatively, taking more risks without having to worry about commercial expectations. These projects also breathed new life into Babybird, reborn in 2015 as a completely self-sufficient musical enterprise.

Along with the gold discs, millions of sales, a string of Top 40 hits, two Brit Award nominations, critical acclaim, and a dedicated cult following, Babybird has also survived the curse and repercussions of a smash hit single, cringe-inducing endorsements from members of the royal family, issues with record labels, huge changes in the music industry, and even a heart attack.

Stephen Jones remains dedicated to his cause, and has recently been making some of the best music of his career, over 20 years after his commercial peak. Meanwhile, people are still listening to albums such as “Ugly Beautiful” and the fan favourite “There’s Something Going On” decades later.

Visit Stephen’s Bandcamp page to listen, and follow him on Twitter if you dare!


This podcast is 100% powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Ep38: David Brewis (Field Music) on leaning into the editing process – inspiration is overrated

Ep38: David Brewis (Field Music) on leaning into the editing process – inspiration is overrated

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Welcome to my conversation with David Brewis, recorded on 11th March 2021. Field Music‘s new album “Flat White Moon” comes out on 23rd April 2021 and is available to pre-order now.

[Content warning: as always, some friendly swearing.]


In this conversation, we discuss:

  • inspiration – it’s nice when it happens, but it’s overrated, and having to work on your idea doesn’t make you a worse artist (plus it’s fun!)
  • the importance of sharing our experiences, to help younger artists have the encouragement we didn’t get ourselves
  • being prepared for the highs and lows of releasing albums – actually planning it in
  • how learning to do everything yourself can be faster than explaining what you want to someone else
  • the futility of playing support slots (even if they’re with your favourite bands)
  • why you don’t go to see Field Music for a good night out

Explore Field Music
Listen on Bandcamp




About Field Music

David and Peter Brewis have been releasing records as Field Music since 2005. The pair record at their own studio in Sunderland and have amassed a large and unwieldy catalogue which includes solo records, collaborations, a score for a silent documentary about the herring industry and a concept album about the aftermath of the First World War, as well as regular studio albums and occasional production work for other artists.

David’s third and most recent solo album as School of Language, 2019’s “45”, imagined the rise of Donald Trump as a funk musical.

Field Music’s new album, “Flat White Moon”, arrives in April 2021.

Visit Field Music’s website to find out more, and follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


This podcast is 100% powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Ep37: Ryan Miller (Guster) on constantly throwing seeds…even if a lot of them will never sprout

Ep37: Ryan Miller (Guster) on constantly throwing seeds…even if a lot of them will never sprout

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Transcript to follow soon.


Welcome to my conversation with Ryan Miller, recorded on 10th March 2021. Visit Guster’s website to explore their musical world and scroll down for some of their recent videos, including the new “Things Come Around” film shot in 2020.

[Content warning: as always, some friendly swearing.]


In this conversation, we discuss:

  • the life of a multi-hyphenate artist – how giving yourself permission opens up the canvas of possibilities
  • not being scared to try new things, because your fans don’t remember your failures
  • how a lightbulb moment led to Ryan scoring films from Nobody (which he also co-wrote) to Safety Not Guaranteed, The Fundamentals of Caring and Mr Roosevelt
  • the band / fan relationship – how Guster invented street teams in the 90s, and put their fans at the centre of everything they do
  • how overlapping your interests is like putting more colours onto your canvas

Explore Guster
Listen on Bandcamp




About Ryan

Ryan Miller is the lead singer and guitarist of alternative rock band Guster.

Formed in 1991, Guster have released eight studio albums, performed with symphony orchestras and played a LOT of gigs.

Since co-writing and scoring the film “Nobody” with Rob Perez, Ryan has composed music for “Safety Not Guaranteed”, “The Kings Of Summer”, “The Fundamentals Of Caring”, “Mr Roosevelt” and “The Last Summer”.

After moving to Vermont from New York, Ryan began hosting a TV series on Vermont PBS called “Makin’ Friends With Ryan Miller”.

Visit Guster’s website to find out more, and follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


This podcast is 100% powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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