BadBadNotGood Talks with Laraaji on the Talkhouse Podcast

The music of laughter, and vice versa.

This week’s episode, while not particularly hilarious, might set a new Talkhouse record for the sheer amount of laughter. You’ll see why when you listen: It’s the members of BadBadNotGood in conversation with Laraaji. 

BadBadNotGood is a Canadian band that straddles the line between jazz and instrumental hip-hop, but has gone well beyond those two things in the last decade, incorporating electronic elements, Brazilian sounds, and much more. They’ve collaborated with everyone from Kendrick Lamar, who sought them out after seeing them at Coachella, to Tyler the Creator to Ghostface Killah to Future Islands’ Samuel Herring. The list goes on and on. BadBadNotGood returned last year after a five-year album gap with a collection called Talk Memory. On it, they proved more collaborative than ever, bringing in a bunch of incredible musicians to expand their sound.

One of the musicians they called on was the legendary yet under the radar Laraaji, who’s had a remarkable career over the past 40 years or so. After a winding road that included acting and stand-up comedy, Laraaji was eventually discovered while busking in Washington Square Park by none other than Brian Eno, who produced and released Laraaji’s Day of Radiance album as part of his Ambient series. Since then, he’s released dozens more recordings.

Laraaji’s main instrument is an electrified zither, which as you’ll hear in this conversation, came to him in kind of a magical way. Once you hear him talk, though, that won’t surprise you: He’s obviously open to whatever experiences the world wants to bring him. On record that most recently includes a collaboration with the improvisational ensemble NOUS and his old friend Arji OceAnanda called Circle of Celebration.

In this conversation, you’ll hear Laraaji laughing a lot, because in addition to his music, he leads laughter workshops—which are exactly what you might think they are. You’ll also hear about Laraaji’s past, about the brain that exists inside your abdomen, creative trances, and why the color orange has played a big part in his life. Enjoy.

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Laraaji and the members of BadBadNotGood for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

(Photo Credit: left, Daniel Oduntan; right, Jamal Burger; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

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