Song Exploder

Song Exploder

United States

A podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.


James Vincent McMorrow - Get Low  

James Vincent McMorrow is a singer/songwriter whose first albums fell somewhere on the folk music side of things. But his sound has changed over the years, incorporating elements of R&B and electronic music. On the album We Move, James worked with the producer Nineteen85, whose credits include tracks by Drake and Nicki Minaj. In this episode, James breaks down the song "Get Low" from that record and how it was inspired by Clipse, minimalism, and Los Angeles.


Phantogram - You Don't Get Me High Anymore  

Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter started Phantogram in 2007. They’ve worked on crafting a particular sound and they’ve had a particular way of making their dense productions since the beginning. But for their new record, Three, things changed. The song "You Don’t Get Me High Anymore" took the band outside of their comfort zone. And, in this episode, Sarah and Josh break down how they made the original demo, and how outsiders like The-Dream and co-producer Ricky Reed influenced the way the song ultimately turned out.

Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks  

In 2006, Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John released their third album, Writer’s Block. For months and months after that, it felt like you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the first single from that album, "Young Folks." It was on top 10 lists for song of the year in places like Pitchfork and NME. It’s been covered by James Blunt, and remixed by Kanye West, along with countless other versions out there. Now, ten years later, Peter Bjorn and John break down the song and how it all came together, and how it almost didn’t come together at all.


Mitski - Your Best American Girl  

Mitski has been making records since 2012. Her third record, Puberty 2, came out in June 2016 and was critically acclaimed Pitchfork gave it Best New Music status. Her music has been featured in the tv show Adventure Time. In this episode, Mitski breaks down her song Your Best American Girl, along with her long-time collaborator Patrick Hyland.

Tobacco - Gods in Heat  

Tom Fec, aka Tobacco, has released four albums since 2008. He's also the frontman of the band Black Moth Super Rainbow, and he created the theme music for the HBO show Silicon Valley. In this episode, Tom breaks down his song "Gods in Heat" from his newest album, Sweatbox Dynasty, recorded entirely on cassette.

Andra Day - Forever Mine  

Singer/songwriter Andra Day put out her first record in August 2015. Since then, she’s been invited by the Obamas to perform at the White House on multiple occasions, and the record was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B album. In this episode, Andra breaks down her song Forever Mine along with the track’s producer, Rob Kleiner.

Patrick Carney feat. Ralph Carney - BoJack Horseman (Main Title Theme)  

BoJack Horseman is a Netflix original series, an animated comedy about a washed up 90s sitcom star who's trying to figure out his life and career without drowning in self-loathing and existential despair. It won the 2016 Critics Choice award for best animated series. The theme song for the show was created by Patrick Carney, who is one half of The Black Keys, and his uncle, Ralph Carney, a multi-instrumentalist who has worked artists like Tom Waits, St Vincent, The B-52s, Galaxie 500, and a lot more. But the track wasn't written for the show, originally; it was just something that Patrick and Ralph made without knowing what it was for. In this episode, the two break down how the song was created, and how it went from their long-distance collaboration to become a TV theme song.

Band of Horses - Solemn Oath  

Band of Horses released their 5th album in June 2016. In this episode, the band’s frontman, Ben Bridwell breaks down the song Solemn Oath, and how in the process of writing it, he confronted writer’s block, and balancing his life in the band and at home as a husband and father.

Grimes - Kill V. Maim  

Grimes is the project of Claire Boucher. In 2015, she released Art Angels, her 4th  album. In this episode, she breaks down her song Kill V. Maim, her feelings about singing, and how the experience of writing songs for other artists opened up the way she writes for herself.

Andrew Bird - Roma Fade  

Andrew Bird is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, maybe known best for his violin playing and his whistling. In this episode, Andrew breaks down his song Roma Fade, from the 2016 album Are You Serious?

CHVRCHES - Clearest Blue  

CHVRCHES is a trio from Glasgow, Scotland. In this episode, they break down the song "Clearest Blue," from their sophomore album Every Open Eye. You'll hear the band's original demo as well as why they start songs with a set of rules, but then quickly abandon those rules.

ODESZA - Kusanagi  

In September 2014, Odesza put out their album In Return. It debuted at #1 on Billboard's Dance/Electronic charts, and spent 13 weeks in the top 10. But the song Kusanagi isn't a dance track. It slows down the pace of the album, and in this episode, Clay and Harrison of Odesza explain why. They tell the story of how they made the track, along with their friend and collaborator who they named the song after, Sean Kusanagi. This episode was recorded live at Moogfest in Durham, North Carolina.

Old Crow Medicine Show - Dearly Departed Friend  

Old Crow Medicine Show is a six-piece band from Tennessee, who have been around since 1998. They were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2013, and they won the Grammy for Best Folk Album in 2015, for their record Remedy. In this episode, bandleader Ketch Secor tells the story of how they made "Dearly Departed Friend," one of the songs from Remedy.

Busdriver - Worlds to Run  

Busdriver is a rapper from Los Angeles, and since 2001, he's been releasing albums with a signature hyperliterate, intellectual style. But over a decade later, Busdriver has found himself reaching for something more intimate and personal. In this episode, he breaks down the 2015 song "Worlds to Run," along with the track's producer, Kenny Segal. It features guest vocals from Anderson Paak and Milo, and you'll hear how their contributions shaped Busdriver's vision for the song.

Carly Rae Jepsen - When I Needed You  

Carly Rae Jepsen released her third album, Emotion, in 2015. The closing track on the record is When I Needed You. In this episode, Carly tells the story of how the song was made. You'll hear the first demo for the song, a version she co-wrote with her longtime collaborator Tavish Crow. And you'll hear how that led to the album version. Plus, producer Ariel Rechtshaid breaks down some of the parts that he created for the recording.

The Lumineers - Ophelia  

The Lumineers released their second album on April 8, 2016. Their first album went platinum, and they spent months touring relentlessly in support of it. That schedule took a toll on their relationship, but they ended up putting it into their songs. In this episode, Wes and Jeremiah break down their song “Ophelia." You’ll hear their demos and a version that didn’t make it to the album. They’ll explain how the final track is not just a product of what they put into it, but what they decided to leave out.

This episode is sponsored by SeatGeek and Lagunitas Brewing Company.

Weezer - Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori  

Weezer's 10th album, the self-titled "White" album, came out April 1, 2016. In this episode, Rivers Cuomo breaks down the meticulous process of making the song "Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori," through the different demo versions that the track went through, and the array of spreadsheets that he uses collect, analyze, and harvest his ideas.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - Astonished Man  

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down released the album A Man Alive in March 2016. In this episode, Thao Nguyen breaks down the song "Astonished Man." Thao talks about working with Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards, who produced the album, and she speaks candidly about her relationship with her estranged father, the subject of the song.

Iggy Pop - American Valhalla  

Iggy Pop is a pioneer of punk rock, whose legendary career began over fifty years ago. In 2015, he began collaborating on music with Joshua Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age. The result was Iggy Pop’s 23rd album, Post Pop Depression. In this episode, Iggy and Josh break down the song "American Valhalla," and tell the story of how it was shaped by reverb, opera, and the military.

Oneohtrix Point Never - Sticky Drama  

Daniel Lopatin has been making experimental electronic music as Oneohtrix Point Never since 2007. In this episode, he takes apart the song "Sticky Drama," from his 2015 album Garden of Delete. He breaks down how he created artificial voices using software for the vocals, and how he sees his songs as pieces of science fiction.

This episode is sponsored by Loma Vista Recordings, Slack, and Moogfest. To win a pair of tickets to Moogfest, enter here.

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