Dawn Richard Talks with Torres on the Talkhouse Podcast

Taking risks, making a lot with a little, and how running and performing can both be like exorcism.

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got a pair of visionary artists who came from different backgrounds but ended up in the same place—sort of.

Dawn Richard jumped into the deep end when she auditioned for the reality show Making the Band 3 back in 2004. She made the cut and subsequently became part of the Diddy-manufactured girl group Danity Kane, which hit it pretty big for several years. Richard then formed Dirty Money, which eventually added Diddy himself as a member. But Richard’s artistic ambitions went far beyond mainstream pop, and about 10 years ago she leaned into more experimental music—while also filling her time with a vegan food truck, representing brands, and working with Adult Swim. She’s often compared to artists like Bjork and Imogen Heap, which makes sense in that she’s always surprising her audience. In what seemed like an unusual pairing, she signed with indie powerhouse Merge Records for the universally acclaimed album Second Line. She’s subsequently released an album with sonic experimentalist Spencer Zahn, and as you’ll hear in this chat, she plans on working with him again. Check out “Babe Ruth,” which is taken from Richard’s most recent EP, The Architect.

Torres—aka. Mackenzie Scott—has also found a home at Merge Records, and her records—powerful, emotional indie-rock with big aspirations—are perhaps more in line with the sound the label was built on. The sixth Torres album just came out, and it’s got the best title you’ll hear all year: It’s called What an Enormous Room, and it’s the most expansive set of songs she’s ever done, with big hooks and big emotions to match that big title. Torres just kicked off a big tour that’ll take Scott and her band around the world this year, so whether you’re in Berlin or Boise, you can check them out. And you should. In the meantime, check out “Jerk Into Joy,” a song that Richard loves, as you’ll hear in this conversation.

Elsewhere in the chat, Scott and Richard talk about whether full albums and bigger concepts can compete with digital singles and instant internet culture, and they get into how running is a vital part of their creative processes. Richard tells Scott that the secret to getting everything done is not sleeping, and they compare church upbringings, and how religious songs left a big impression on both. Enjoy.

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Dawn Richard and Mackenzie Scott of Torres for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting service, and check out the wide variety of other shows available on our network. 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, Brit O’Brian; right, Ebru Yildiz; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

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