This is an audio transcript of the FT Weekend podcast episode: The art of sound design. Plus: summer hits of 2022

[“BELIEVE IT” PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
You’re listening to a song called “Believe It” by Sound Principle. Don’t worry, it isn’t out yet so if you don’t know it, it’s not like you missed it. But it does sound familiar, doesn’t it? It’s got that smooth early ‘90s sound. You can almost imagine the singers synchronously moving their arms to the beat. The song was composed, produced and sound designed by Errol Michael Henry, whose record label Intimate Records has been around since the mid-1980s. Errol has this incredible way of talking about how he approaches sound design.

Errol Michael Henry
You don’t do sound design. You don’t stop sound design. It’s happening all the time. And what happens is that I need a reason to put the latest iteration together. So, you know, I’ve been listening to elements of sounds and elements of arrangements and all of these elements that have been in my mind. I’ll put them in there and I will overlay the, if you like, the design in my imagination with the thing I’ve actually ended up making. That’s the whole point. Sound design is what’s in my imagination. There’s nothing to compare it to.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Back in April, Errol’s daughter, Yasmin Jones-Henry, published a story in the FT called “My father, the pioneer of sound design”. It was a very moving tribute. So we reached out to Errol. He hadn’t shared his process with anyone before, but he agreed to trust us with his story. Errol is one of the very few black sound designers in Britain’s music business. He’s worked with some pop stars, but more importantly, he’s held on as an independent music producer in a business that’s gone increasingly corporate. And he’s done it all on his own terms.

Errol Michael Henry
I’ve generally stayed away from the, you know, the limelight, from the stage, from, you know, I did a lot of performing as a youngster in a band. I was doing sessions when I was 11, so I was doing gigs and playing shows. So the things that people kind of wanna do later in life, I was pretty much over before I was 12.

Lilah Raptopoulos
(Laughter)

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
Today we’re gonna do something we’ve never done before. We’re going to show you how this producer works by breaking down one of his songs. And then I’ll talk to him about how he’s been able throughout the decades to stay true to his sound. Then to make it a full music episode, I have invited music critic Arwa Haider on. She’s going to give us her round-up of the top hits of the summer. This is FT Weekend. I’m Lilah Raptopoulos.

When we decided to have Errol on the show, we knew this would be a special episode. We’d get to visit an iconic London studio that Errol frequents called Air-Edel. It’s known for films like Harry Potter and The Full Monty. We would also get to use our sound engineer, Breen Turner, as a secret weapon. Breen scores our episodes. He has a deep knowledge of music.

Breen Turner
Obviously, since this is entirely audio . . . 

Errol Michael Henry
Yes.

Breen Turner
It’d be good to start off with, you know, if you could just give us, like, a visual description of the place, the mixing desk, you know, how you, how it is through your eyes, especially.

Errol Michael Henry
OK, so here we are. We’re at Air-Edel Studios, one of the finest facilities of its nature in the world. I’m sat before one of my favourite things in the world, which is a Cadac console. This is a vintage board. There are not many of them left in the world. This is one of the better models. And it’s a complex machine. Lots of different channels, different ways to send and receive effects.

Lilah Raptopoulos
So Errol’s in the studio with Breen next to him. And Air-Edel’s chief engineer, Nick Taylor, is on the computer. The studio itself is pretty nondescript: grey soundproof walls, wall-to-wall carpeting, desk chairs. It overlooks a glass window that looks into a recording booth. But the main focal point of the room is this console. It’s enormous, like six feet wide with hundreds of little slides and knobs. He shows Breen the song on the computer. It has 56 tracks on it. That is 56 layers of sound, one on top of another.

Breen Turner
So there’s a 56 . . . 

Errol Michael Henry
Individual. Yeah. To get it to 56 I have to balance what I’m working with. If I’ve got 100 pieces of material, it still has to end up on a single track, which means I’ve got to decide at some point how these individual pieces fit. So 56 is what we’ve bounced down to.

Breen Turner
That’s the compromise. (Laughter)

Errol Michael Henry
Yeah, that’s the compromise. Exactly.

Lilah Raptopoulos
What Errol’s about to do is something he’s doing for the first time. He’s breaking down the components of his song bit by bit. We’re not peeking into how he normally designs sound. He’s giving us a demonstration. He’s showing us how he makes his secret sauce. So we’re working with “Believe It”, the song we played at the beginning of the show. Errol’s going to pull it apart and then put it back together again.

[STRING SOUND CLIP PLAYING]

Errol Michael Henry
I wanna start with this piece, because that’s where I began on this particular record. [Plays sound clip] OK. So that sound doesn’t make any kind of sense, really. But if I tell you what it’s either announcing or putting together or tying together, it actually makes complete sense.

Breen Turner
So . . . (inaudible)

Errol Michael Henry
Yeah . . . (inaudible) [Plays sound clip] . . . (inaudible) for is coming in. Yeah? [Stops sound clip] So that random part is precisely halfway through that segment and it’s gonna tell some other instruments to do something else.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Errol has chosen these clips in advance, and he sent them to Nick, who’s now cueing them up on the studio computer in an audio editing programme. And Errol is telling him which tracks to select and how long to play them. What Errol is saying is that the instruments talk to each other. So when he was recording each part, he left space for other parts to come in. The trick isn’t to make each instrument sound great individually. It’s to make the whole thing sound great together.

Errol Michael Henry
(Inaudible) [Plays sound clip] Silence . . . OK? Then, cello. [Plays sound clip] So that random sound is talking with instruments. So you’re making music. But artists have a responsibility to provoke conversation and introspection. So life is constantly variable. But it’s always the same, in that it’s always, life is always changing. I can communicate that in, with six bars of music. OK (inaudible). [Plays sound clip] So, you notice, this is one part. [Plays sound clip] They’re changes. And . . . [Music fades]

Breen Turner
So, the . . . even at this point . . . 

Errol Michael Henry
Yeah.

Breen Turner
The average listener . . . 

Errol Michael Henry
Yeah.

Breen Turner
If they hear your track . . . 

Errol Michael Henry
Yeah.

Breen Turner
That’s probably not the part they’re gonna take away and remember . . . 

Errol Michael Henry
They . . . I doubt they’ll even . . . I doubt . . . 

Breen Turner
No, that’s the style, that’s the rule of the track . . . 

Errol Michael Henry
 . . . they’ll even hear any of this. So the cello part, when the general piece is put back together, you won’t hear it. So the question is, why bother? That’s the job. Because somebody will get a sense of something, I don’t know, whatever detail, because it is evoking emotion. [Plays sound clip with vocals] So suddenly that cello part is in a conversation with the vocalist.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Errol goes on for a while, dropping bits of wisdom. Like to be a good sound designer, you have to think about three-dimensional space. Music also has height from bass to treble.

[MUSIC CLIP WITH VOCALS]

Lilah Raptopoulos
There were five vocalists on this track, but doesn’t it kind of sound like there are more? Errol did that on purpose too. He had the singers do a take and then he switched their positions and then had them do another take, over and over again. Then he layered those tracks too.

Breen Turner
Why do that — is that to build more depth or?

Errol Michael Henry
Build interest. You won’t know. You’re like, you’re in, won’t know what’s changing. But it’s changing. And this idea of constancy but change is important to me because I think otherwise you have boredom and I can’t do boring. It doesn’t . . . I just can’t be boring.

[BASS SOUND CLIP PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
Errol brings in a bass and something called a bell tree. (Sound of instrument) There’s a cool reverb effect that Errol uses to create not just an echo but also rhythm.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
And all of that builds into a full-fledged song, one that’s soulful and smooth and kind of sexy and has its own internal momentum.

[“BELIEVE IT” PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
All of this comes so naturally to Errol that I wanted to know what it’s like to be inside his head, like where his creative decisions are coming from and why he’s been driven to do this for basically his entire life. So after my team visited Errol at his studio, I invited him to ours.

Errol, it is so lovely to meet you. Welcome to the show.

Errol Michael Henry
Thank you. Lovely to meet you too.

Lilah Raptopoulos
To start, I would just love to hear your story. How did you first get into sound design? Was there like a moment that you realised you had an ear for music?

Errol Michael Henry
I can’t tell you the day. I don’t remember when I made the decision, but at some point early, I mean, I must have been three, four or five years old, I heard the radio or the TV or the gramophone. Something was playing. I heard a piece of music and somehow either I understood it or it understood me, but something just connected. And I think to myself, you know what, I want to go to there. I don’t know what I’m listening to, you know, I don’t know what style of music this is. I don’t know what these people are doing. But just . . . because I always spent a lot of time outside, I was very conscious of sound anyway.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Errol Michael Henry
You know, the sound of trees rustling, the sound of birds, the sound of, you know, cats making noise three gardens away. I was, I found myself very much open to the influence of sound. It just so happens that music contained lots of sounds that interested me. So I ended up chasing that rather than becoming a sound effects guy for films or other kinds of sound design. Music was the thing that generally captivated me.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
Errol knew early that music was his path. He even got into the Royal Academy of Music at 11 years old, behind his parents’ back. But his parents didn’t want him in the music business, so he stayed in school and played music the rest of the time. As he got older, Errol got a day job and he worked nights at a music studio. He did that for two years for free. In the meantime, he started putting together his own music label. He figured that chasing the popular sound of the day wasn’t gonna make any sense because it would all be out of style before he got any good. So he worked on his own style, and it worked. He started getting calls from producers.

Errol, so can you place us in that era in music? So as you were starting to get these phone calls, what year was it? And like, what was big? I guess, how do you see your place in that scene as you were making music?

Errol Michael Henry
I started making, if you like, music professionally in 1985, 86. At that time in England especially, there’s a thing called acid house.

[ACID HOUSE MUSIC PLAYING]

Errol Michael Henry
It’s just a shocking high-tempo, 130, 140 BPM club music with loads of sounds of really bleepy, you know, internet-y, kind of really techy sounds. And it’s just not music that I would personally listen to. But it was huge.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Errol Michael Henry
It was dominating the charts. Obviously it was dominating the clubs. And that tells me after 5 minutes, acid is gonna burn out. I’m not getting involved. So I continued trying to make these über-sophisticated, soulful records in a marketplace that didn’t want them.

[SOULFUL MUSIC PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
Because Errol’s record company was called Intimate Records, Errol’s sound got a name. People in the industry started calling it intimate sound. It combined the smooth, high-production sound of American soul with the rhythm of his parents’ home country in Jamaica. One of his big breaks came when an American R&B group called The Jones Girls came to London to record an album. They were big in the ‘70s, and this was meant to be their comeback album.

[SOUND OF PHONE RINGING]

Errol Michael Henry
So I got a phone call, said, “Look, the Jones Girls are in town doing an album. Do you have a song for them?” And I was like, “Yeah, of course I do!” (Lilah laughs) I didn’t. (Laughter) So they booked the studio. I mean, we had the coversation Sunday evening, the studio’s booked for Monday morning.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Oh, wow.

Errol Michael Henry
I wrote the song on the way to the studio.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Oh, wow. OK.

Errol Michael Henry
The song called “You Threw Our Love Away”.

[“YOU THREW OUR LOVE AWAY” PLAYING]

Errol Michael Henry
But all of this was just organic growth so I I just kept making the records I was making in the way that I was making them, staying true to my values, staying true to my principles.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Another artist that Errol worked with is Lulu. She was another top 40 singer angling for a comeback. The two recorded a song together called “You Left Me Lonely”.

[“YOU LEFT ME LONELY” PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
All the while, Errol kept producing his own work at Intimate Records and under his artist name, Sound Principle. He says the goal was always independence, so he learned to play every instrument from bass to keyboard. He ran his own legal affairs, his own financials. He did his own press, which got noticed by big London DJs like Tony Monson.

Errol Michael Henry
You know, I still now have very few friends. You know, very few friends because people stop calling you when you never go out. People stop coming for you when they come round to your house and you are not going out because you’re practising.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mmm.

Errol Michael Henry
And I was practising seven days a week.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Errol Michael Henry
So my school friends stopped coming for me because they’d come around to my house, “are you going here?” “No.” “There’s a party at so-and-so’s house, are you coming?” “No.” I’d always say no because the thing I was doing was more important to me than going out and, you know, getting red-faced drinking, (laughter) the way that people do, normal people. I was chasing sound, different sounds . . . 

Lilah Raptopoulos
Right.

Errol Michael Henry
 . . . different things, learning to play different instruments. And I’m self-taught on all those instruments, which means all the mistakes a person can make, I made them all.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Right. But Errol, you know, where did you get inspiration if you weren’t going out?

Errol Michael Henry
Well, because music and sound is all around you.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mmm.

Errol Michael Henry
So say, if you, if you know, I was going still, I’ll say by law, they made me go to school, which is I think was a waste [Lilah laughs] of the government’s money. So I’d walk to school, I’d be hearing sounds, and there’d be radios on in the supermarket or, you know, waiting at the dentist surgeon and you’d hear the radio playing and also as well as music on, at home, there’s music at, you know, at church. I was hearing . . . 

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Errol Michael Henry
Music everywhere.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Errol Michael Henry
But I just wasn’t going out to . . . actually I think I have to clubs. I wasn’t interested in going out to hear what’s going on in the clubs. That’s gone on already.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Errol Michael Henry
Whatever’s in the clubs was made six months earlier.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Errol Michael Henry
I don’t want to do recon based on what other people are doing.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Errol, you know, Yasmin wrote in her piece about you that there were very few black designers in the history of audio innovation and in sound design, and that she hopes that your story will help correct history.

Errol Michael Henry
Mm-hmm.

Lilah Raptopoulos
That it will bring out more stories of black designers that have gone unnamed. I’m curious where and how you felt that absence through your career, how you think about that?

Errol Michael Henry
Well, first of all, my party is called The Sound Principle.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Errol Michael Henry
Because for me, the sound is the principal thing.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Errol Michael Henry
And sound has no colour. So I didn’t feel it in the way that people might think, because I wasn’t looking for black inspiration or white inspiration. I was looking for good inspiration.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Right. It sounded like her concern was like the structural inequality kept black people from going into the music . . . 

Errol Michael Henry
Oh, it’s much more difficult. It’s much more . . . 

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Errol Michael Henry
I mean look, let’s not be silly. It’s much more difficult . . . 

Lilah Raptopoulos
Right.

Errol Michael Henry
For black people to make it in the music industry. And more so black men.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Right.

Errol Michael Henry
Much, much more so. I mean, the industry is endemically racist. A lot of the people at the top don’t even deny being racist. Their views, what can you do about it? My view was quite a lot and my thing was independence protected me from a lot of that racism. But there is no question that any industry where you have people that can and do behave badly and it’s allowed, then things like racism or sexism and all the other -isms are going to be more extreme because it’s not frowned upon.

Lilah Raptopoulos
These days, Errol does a lot of advocacy. He has an organisation that helps unaccredited artists get rights back to their work, and he does all that because he knows first-hand how much effort goes into making great work.

Errol Michael Henry
And the question no one ever asks is how is art paid for? I don’t mean the piece of music that you buy. I mean, what people lose to learn to do it.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Errol Michael Henry
And this is the thing. Art is paid for with life. Real artists essentially give up life, normal life, in pursuit of an art that most people don’t appreciate or respect. And you do it knowing that. So, I don’t expect special privileges, I don’t want to be noticed or recognised or admired or revered or any of those things. I’m just doing something that I do because I love it and I do love it and I’ll do it again. If I have to do it all over, I’d do it again. Absolutely.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
Errol, thank you so much. This again, it was a total, total honour.

Errol Michael Henry
My pleasure. Thank you.

Lilah Raptopoulos
You can find Errol’s records online, both under his artist name Sound Principle and under his label Intimate Records.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
Earlier this summer, our music critic Arwa Haider saw Lady Gaga perform live. She thought she’d like the show, maybe not love it, but it turned out to be one of her favourite shows of the year.

[“FREE WOMAN” PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
There was this one particular moment Lady Gaga was singing “Free Woman” off her album Chromatica. She’s wearing this gold puffy robe. She’s surrounded by dancers and she parades from the main stage to a smaller one in the middle of the stadium.

Arwa Haider
She’s kind of swishing through the crowds, singing this incredibly exuberant, exhilarating and empowering, house-based track played live. It kind of explodes and projects out. And you’re hearing in communion with all these other people.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Arwa Haider
And it was quite extraordinary to watch her almost like engulfed by the audience.

Lilah Raptopoulos
“Free Woman” is a quintessential summer banger. It’s upbeat, it’s carefree. It’s got a beat drop. And that moment for Arwa encapsulated something about this summer in particular.

Arwa Haider
It’s really hit me over the last couple of months, just the sheer appreciation and joy that you feel around you when you’re in a live crowd again and just see how happy and appreciative everyone is to be able to be back in this space. It’s really an overwhelmingly lovely feeling.

Lilah Raptopoulos
So I invited Arwa on to talk through her top hits of the summer. Arwa, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for joining.

Arwa Haider
Oh, thanks so much for having me. It’s brilliant to talk to you.

Lilah Raptopoulos
I’m so excited for this. So we would love to talk through basically the best music of the summer. And I thought that to start, maybe you can tell me sort of like what you think the defining elements are of like a really hot summer track.

Arwa Haider
I think if you had to kind of crystallise the defining elements of a, you know, classic summer track, it would be liberation from the everyday and reality. And I also think it would be a communal experience. It has to connect with listeners in a way where it immediately transports us to somewhere — a place of escape, a place of excitement, a place where, you know, we can release ourselves from the constraints of everyday pressures.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah, I was looking into sort of like some of the biggest summer tracks over the past 20 years or so.

Arwa Haider
Mm-hmm.

Lilah Raptopoulos
And I just, there are so many bangers, there’s like “Crazy in Love”, Beyoncé, 2003. There is “Umbrella”, Rihanna, 2007.

Arwa Haider
Brilliant.

Lilah Raptopoulos
I think that one of the ones that really sticks in my head is “Despacito” in 2017.

Arwa Haider
Right, right.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Like, that was sort of the ultimate, ultimate summer banger.

Arwa Haider
Yeah. And all the different variations on that that came out as well. I mean, that’s, you know, they’re all, they’re really good examples of tracks that are very immediate and evocative and also at any point are gonna kind of prompt this up for us to the dance floor, I think.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Totally. Arwa, let’s talk through some of the year’s hottest new album releases. We would be remiss not to talk about Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance, it dropped very recently. Can you talk about the album first and sort of the impact it’s had so far?

Arwa Haider
You’re absolutely, absolutely right that there was so much, so much of a build-up to Renaissance and so much excitement around “Break My Soul”, the lead single and the samples that she’s used on that.

[“BREAK MY SOUL (OG CLIP)” PLAYING].

Arwa Haider
The album came out, yeah, early August. And it is a fantastic body of work. It is multi-layered. It is audacious. It is also very astute. Beyoncé serves this material with such elegance. But, you know, it’s also very savvy. It draws from all these club culture influences. It pays testimony to the integral influence of LGBTQ culture in mainstream culture. Obviously, the mainstream has sidelined and co-opted gay cultures for forever, but I think we’re at a point where it’s more acknowledged and she creates an album that, again, just feels extremely liberating to listen to, whether, you know, it’s the high-energy disco elements on there or the house themes that are on “Break My Soul”.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Arwa particularly recommends “The Queen’s Remix” of “Break My Soul”, which also features Madonna.

[“BREAK MY SOUL (QUEENS REMIX)” PLAYING]

Arwa Haider
The original version is a brilliant track, but “The Queens Remix” of “Break My Soul” takes it further down the catwalk and it opens with the immediately recognisable, sleek intro to Madonna’s “Vogue” and Beyoncé just really runs with it. She is fierce. She is just joyously camp. It is just a really glorious work of dance music.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Arwa’s favourite track on the album right now and mine is called “Move”.

[“MOVE” PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
It features the legendary Grace Jones and a new Lagos-based artist named Tems.

[“MOVE” FADES OUT]

Lilah Raptopoulos
I also wanted to talk to Arwa about Latin music, which over the past few years has been embraced globally. J Balvin, Maluma, Karol G. The biggest success story has been Bad Bunny. He’s a Puerto Rican rapper whose music is described as part reggaeton, part Latin trap. But it’s also sort of surreal and hard to pin down. Bad Bunny dropped a surprise album in May called Un Verano Sin Ti (A Summer Without You) and it’s been blasting off speakers and out car windows across New York City all summer. I love it. I love the album. I love him.

Arwa Haider
And someone like Bad Bunny as well. He’s just a really excellent and really distinctive vocalist as well. I love that he has such a characteristic style. It’s quite, he sounds quite trippy . . . 

Lilah Raptopoulos
(Laughter) Yes.

Arwa Haider
 . . . in a really appealing way.

Lilah Raptopoulos
He has this low, kind of monotonous, yeah, voice.

Arwa Haider
And there’s something quite mesmerising about his delivery.

[“PORTO MI BONITO” PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
This is “Porto Mi Bonito” from Verano Sin Ti.

You wrote a piece for us in 2018 about how Latin music is becoming mainstream, but it feels like it’s gone even more insane now, like, Bad Bunny is lapping the world’s most famous pop stars on the charts. US Latin music revenue grew 35 per cent in 2021, which is huge. It’s breaking records everywhere and in non-Spanish speaking countries. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Arwa Haider
Yeah, I mean, I think what happened a few years ago was something of a turning point in the what usually is the case is that mainstream industries have a wake-up call. All this creativity and talent goes on and it has its audiences. And particularly when it’s not English-language based, suddenly there’s a tipping point where they realise actually there’s a huge audience for this and also there’s potentially huge revenue to be made.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Arwa Haider
So with the kind of turning point a few years ago, a big part of that was the fact that a lot of tracks were being kind of played on YouTube and kind of really spiking on YouTube.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Arwa Haider
And so their numbers were evident. I would actually hope that we’re moving beyond like English being a lingua franca . . . 

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yes.

Arwa Haider
 . . . of pop music.

Lilah Raptopoulos
So we’ve had a lot of fun releases this year. Beyoncé and Bad Bunny, Lizzo, Harry Styles, Burna Boy. But there have also been political ones. In August, Pussy Riot released a new album. You know Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk collective. They’d play unauthorised guerrilla gigs in public places. Most famously, they staged a set in 2012 in a Moscow cathedral to protest the links between Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Orthodox Church. It put some of the members in prison for nearly two years.

Arwa Haider
So 10 years on from that sentencing, that verdict, Matriarchy Now is a new album that’s been released. It’s actually about seven tracks. So it’s . . . 

Lilah Raptopoulos
It’s short.

Arwa Haider
It’s a fairly brief release.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Arwa Haider
But it’s also very punchy and enjoyable and fun in how it takes sort of pop music and makes it sort of a subversive force.

Lilah Raptopoulos
The result is a bright, surprisingly Europoppy album. Some of the songs were produced by Swedish artist Tove Lo, including this one.

[“PRINCESS CHARMING” PLAYING]

Arwa Haider
Yeah, I mean, the first track I think is “Princess Charming” and it’s, yeah, it’s kind of coquettish and sweet in tone, but very spiky, insulting in its content. And it’s basically about ownership, empowerment, power balances. It takes a form that is often construed as being quite childlike as bubblegum pop.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Mm-hmm.

Arwa Haider
But it’s really not childlike in its content. And am I like, I like that kind of is quite stealthy like that.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Arwa has tons of other recommendations. I’ve put them in the show notes. She’s also excited about the autumn release of the British-Japanese singer Rina Sawayama. And also, there’s this one other artist that she really wants us to know about.

Arwa Haider
Do you know what else is coming out later this year actually? I’ve got to say on a very, very different musical tip, which I’m really excited about.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah, tell me.

[OPERA MUSIC PLAYING]

Arwa Haider
Surprisingly, for me, I am excited to hear an album by an amazing American soprano, Julia Bullock, who’s based in Germany. But she, I mean, she’s already been, you know, highly acclaimed on the classical and opera scene, but she hasn’t released an album yet. She will release an album later this year. And it just draws from all these different influences. And I just think she’s just an extraordinary persona. She connects worlds that you wouldn’t have thought had an affinity. And for someone like me who felt very excluded from classical and opera growing up . . . 

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Arwa Haider
She presents what feels like an epiphany. So, you know, what is to come will span a multitude of genres.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Arwa, this was so fascinating.

Arwa Haider
It was really fun for me. Thank you for your time.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
That’s the show this week. Thank you for listening to FT Weekend, the podcast from the Financial Times. Next week we’re talking about the streaming wars with Chris Grimes and then bees. Jonathan Guthrie puts a monetary value and a very high one on the debt we owe them. Special thanks this week to Air-Edel Studios, to Nick Taylor, who helped with the session, and to Errol’s daughter, Yasmin. Also a big shout out to Lulu Smyth, our producer who produced that recording.

If you want to say hi, we love hearing from you. You can email us at ftweekendpodcast@ft.com. The show is on Twitter at @ftweekendpod, and I’m on Instagram and Twitter @lilahrap. I ask a lot of questions that feed into the show on my Instagram. Links to everything mentioned today are in the show notes alongside a link to the best offers available on a subscription to the FT. Those offers are at ft.com/weekendpodcast, make sure to use that link.

A reminder that the FT Weekend festival in London is coming up. This is your last chance to get tickets. It’s on Saturday, September 3rd at Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath. We’re really excited to meet you. I will be there. I’ll be interviewing Jamaica Kincaid and Enuma Okoro. We also are gonna have a table set up with some mics. So if you want to be on the show, you can. You can buy a ticket at ft.com/ftwf. That link and a discount code, especially for listeners of this show, is in the show notes.

I am Lilah Raptopoulos and here’s my incredible team: Katya Kumkova is our senior producer. Lulu Smyth is our producer. Our sound engineers are Breen Turner and Sam Giovinco, with original music by Metaphor Music. Topher Forhecz is our executive producer and special thanks go to Cheryl Brumley. Have a wonderful weekend and we’ll find each other again next week.

This transcript has been automatically generated. If by any chance there is an error please send the details for a correction to: typo@ft.com. We will do our best to make the amendment as soon as possible.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2023. All rights reserved.
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