Artists, Makers, Thinkers
Hrishikesh Hirway is a true modern Renaissance man, which is to say he’s the (v successful) wearer of many hats.
His podcasting hat is probably the one you know him for (Song Exploder is how we first “met” him), but he’s also an artist in his own right.
A a singer/songwriter and composer for film and TV, a recent(ish) New York Times profile noted his work tends to “circle the question of what it takes to make something in the world”.
We therefore asked him to make something in the world for us. The result is a series of “postcards” inspired by summer in California and our Seltzers, and with an accompanying playlist.
The ideal way to consume this work would be to pop on the playlist, crack a can of Seltzer and take in the interview and postcards below.
All at once, all together.
A sort of synesthesic tri-factor, or a sensory peek into the mind of Hrishikesh Hirway.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Hrishikesh Hirway. I’m a singer and songwriter, and I make a few podcasts: Song Exploder, Partners, The West Wing Weekly (which I co-host with Joshua Malina), and Home Cooking (which I co-host with Samin Nosrat).
Where are you and what are you doing right now?
I’m at home in Los Angeles, sitting on my couch next to my dog Watson, who is specifically named after Joan Watson, the version of Watson played by Lucy Liu in ‘Elementary.’
As someone who interviews others a helluva lot, do you have a go to opening question? If so, please answer it for us now…
I usually interview people within very specific parameters: how they created something, or how they met someone. So I always start by asking them what was happening in their life around the time that story started. Partly so they can tell me the story, and partly so they can start to wade back into those memories and relive them as we talk about whatever creative project it is I’m interviewing them about.
What’s the weirdest answer you ever got to a (seemingly) normal question?
When I interviewed Rivers Cuomo about how he wrote a Weezer song, I was very surprised when he introduced me to his intricate system of taking stream-of-consciousness writing and transferring it into a spreadsheet organized by syllable length, for later use as lyrics.
Where do you seek inspiration?
In film and literature, most often.
How do you keep your creative wheels greased?
I don’t know that you can keep your creative wheels greased. I think you just have to keep your regular work wheels greased, and work regularly, and hope that creativity might come out every now and then. I set aside every Friday for making music, and some days I’m able to write a song, or part of a song, but some days I’m not able to. I spend those days refining songs that I’ve already started.
Your storytelling spans so many different mediums, do you have a preferred/go-to medium these days? Why?
I’ve recently started writing a newsletter, and I wouldn’t say it’s my preferred medium, because it’s a new and therefore challenging way for me to express something. But I appreciate the newness of it.
How has storytelling changed over the course of your career and where do you think it’s headed next?
I’m not sure that storytelling has changed. Maybe the technology that people use to access or deliver it changes form here and there, but the fundamentals of storytelling are as old as human history.
A quick fire round.
Top snack in rotation right now…
Tony’s Chocolonely Milk Dark Pretzel Toffee bar.
Best spot to enjoy a Seltzer…
In my hammock, in my backyard
A song you love that you think people will be surprised you love…
I don’t know! I’m not sure what people might think my taste in music is. Maybe they’d be surprised by my love of “Vulgar Display of Power,” the best album by seminal 90s metal band Pantera.
Someone whose work really excites you…
Best/coolest/most eye opening new discovery of late…
I’m blown away by, and also scared of, the art created by the artificial intelligence program Midjourney.
What did you think of our drinks? Any favourites?
I expected to love the Yuzu seltzer, which I did, but I wasn’t expecting to love the Hibiscus & Rose seltzer. Rose was a favorite flavor of my mother’s, but I found it too overpowering, and I never really cared for it when she was alive. But the flavor of this seltzer is subtle and balanced. I really enjoy it, and it makes me think me of her, which is even better.
Tell us about something
The trees that my hammock hangs from are oak trees, and they’re protected by California law. They are not to be cut down or removed or damaged.
Tell us about nothing
I’d love to create seltzer flavors that capture great, non-olfactory summer feelings: “Cool Side of the Pillow at Night.” “Crickets Chirping in the Distance.” “Squinting in the Hot Saturday Afternoon Sun after Walking Out of the Movie Theater.”