David LaChapelle, Marina Abramović and Nadia Lee Cohen tell their life story through music in Are We On Air? series two

In the popular podcast, leading cultural figures such as David Shrigley and Wolfgang Tillmans curate a playlist and discuss how each track relates to their life and career, with host Arman Nafeei.

12 April 2021

“I believe that everybody has a soundtrack to their life, from your local baker to the Pope,” Arman Nafeei tells It’s Nice That, describing the drive behind his music podcast Are We On Air? After a successful first series launched in lockdown one, featuring interviews with leading cultural figures such as David Shrigley, Patti Smith, Jane Birkin, Michèle Lamy, Yto Barrada, Sarah Andelman and Wolfgang Tillmans, the podcast has returned, announcing another stellar line-up of interviewees. Season two features Dua Lipa, David LaChapelle, Maisie Williams, Marina Abramović, Benji B, Julie Mehretu and Nadia Lee Cohen.

Described by Vogue as the “coolest music podcast in the world,” the format is similar to Desert Island Discs, inviting guests to curate a playlist and chat with Nafeei about how each track tells a story of their life and career. The interviewees come from music, art, design and science spheres, and provide an eclectic and fascinating selection of music and insights to their work. Nafeei, formerly sound director at super cool LA institution Chateau Marmont and founder of creative agency StudioNeu, says that doing the podcast “feels like I’m doing my PhD in culture, my horizon widens with every single guest”.

While the guests come from hugely varied backgrounds and sectors, Nafeei says it’s “fascinating to see common threads amongst the broadest spectrum of opinions." For example, “who knew Bach's Goldberg variations are what connects the architectural design duo Studio KO with the techno heroine Miss Kittin and the performance artist Marina Abramović?” In choosing his interviewees, Nafeei says his own tastes are “eclectic” hence why the line-up “touches on so many different worlds”. He also hopes to share his discoveries with a wider audience by having megastar Dua Lipa alongside the likes of conductor Elim Chan, for example. The focus for this second series was to make it more female-focused, Nafeei adds, and more global. “Being Persian/German myself, I find it important to talk about our cultural heritages – life is better in colour!”

Nafeei remembers seeing a concert poster for Abramović’s The 7 Deaths of Maria Callas and being “immediately mesmerised” so discussing Callas for the episode was “pure bliss”. But he admits his favourite moment from this series was a “fascinating” two-hour chat with LaChapelle. Starting with “him being slightly hungover from his dinner with Stevie Wonder the night before,” there are stories about being woken up in bed by Tupac at the Chateau Marmont, with his boyfriend hiding under the sheets, and hearing about what Andy Warhol or Michael Jackson were like in real life. “What I really learned from Andy,” says LaChapelle, “was how bitchy people are.”

Are We On Air? is available to listen to via Apple and Spotify.

GalleryCopyright © Are We On Air? podcast


Illustration by Luke-Edward Hall

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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