Aaron Dessner Talks with Julien Baker on the Talkhouse Podcast

The National guitarist and the amazing singer-songwriter have kept remarkably busy this year.

We’ve hosted some incredible Talkhouse conversations in 2021, and for our final brand-new episode of the year, we’ve got two people responsible for some of the best records of this year: Julien Baker and Aaron Dessner.

Baker released her third album, Little Oblivions, back in February, and it’s a doozy. Expanding her sonic palette massively, Baker delivered her powerful, vulnerable songs with much bigger sounds. That might have felt like a gamble, but it paid off massively—she produced it herself and pushed herself into new spaces.

Dessner is of course a founding member of the National, with whom he’s played for the past 20+ years. While his main band slowed down over the past couple of years, Dessner has been operating at hyperspeed. He was one of the main co-writers and producers on Taylor Swift’s Folklore and Evermore albums. He won an Album of the Year Grammy for the former, and was nominated for five more Grammys for the latter. He somehow also found time to release a new album with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon under the name Big Red Machine called How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? In addition to loads of guest singers, that record features Dessner on occasional lead vocals.

These two have a fantastic conversation about creativity and, specifically, production: Aaron has done a lot of producing for other artists, and Julien is just getting into it. Julien talks about what it’s like to have a full live band backing her, rather than being a quote-unquote masochist and playing alone. They talk about what it was like to be deprived of live audiences for so long, and Aaron gets into how his studio setup has changed over the years. Also, they both know what it’s like when music can make you cry—that’s the kind of thing we love here at Talkhouse. Enjoy.

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast and thanks to Julien Baker and Aaron Dessner for having such a wonderful chat. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting service and social media channels–we’re everywhere. This episode was produced by Melissa Kaplan and Keenan Kush, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

(Photo Credit: left, Shervin Lainez; right, Alysse Gafkjen; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

Talkhouse curates musicians, actors, filmmakers, and others in their respective fields to speak one-on-one with their peers via the Talkhouse Podcast and Talkhouse Live events. The Talkhouse Podcast offers listeners a unique insight into the creative work of creators across all genres and generations. Subscribe now to stay in the loop on future episodes.