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'Song Exploder': Deconstructing the music of Julia Holter

Musician Julia Holter joined Song Exploder to break down her song
Musician Julia Holter joined Song Exploder to break down her song "Horns Surrounding Me"

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Hrishikesh Hirway is a musician and composer who hosts and produces the podcast Song Exploder through Maximum Fun. You can find new episodes twice a month on iTunes, tunein and on the Maximum Fun website. Twice a month, Hirway contributes an adaptation of a Song Exploder episode for a regular segment on The Frame. 

A word about Song Exploder: On the podcast, Hirway doesn't simply offer a glimpse into the enigmatic processes of songwriting and recording — he provides musicians an opportunity to get down and dirty deconstructing the tiniest pieces of their music. Exploring elements from personal influences and lyrical inspirations to quirky recording techniques, Song Exploder blows up all pretense and immerses the listener in the mind and world of the musical artist.

On the newest episode adapted for The Frame, you hear L.A.-based musician Julia Holter deconstruct her song "Horns Surrounding Me." Holter creates layered, experimental songs that have drawn comparisons to artists such as Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush. Her most recent release, 2013's "Loud City Song," was named Album of the Year by The Wire.

She reveals secrets to the song, such as her elaborate use of staged field recordings and her efforts to try to sing like a man a la Bryan Ferry.

Interview Highlights:

On the track's vocals:

Somehow I was trying to be a man in this song [laughs]. I just was trying to be a scared man, like how would a scared man sing? I don't know. I don't even know how to sing like a scared woman, except maybe I'd be kind of quiet. And I think I was kind of trying to be like Bryan Ferry for this song [laughs]. And that was my closest comparison. So I guess trying to evoke the fear of a man was kind of fun.

On realizing the feeling of being chased:

We actually staged a chase on the top of a building. And I was just doing what I needed to do for the song, and just running. I was getting really literal with that, I guess [laughs]. I just love atmosphere a lot, and cinematic moments.

You can hear the full episode of Song Exploder with Julia Holter here.

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