The Trap Set podcast – hosted and co-produced by recording artist, composer and producer Joe Wong – recently returned after a hiatus with Episode 301 featuring musician, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, author and entrepreneur Questlove. Throughout the 90-minute episode which Questlove notes is “the best, most open interview I’ve ever given in my life,” Wong and Thompson discuss mental health, therapy, and how going on tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers influenced the way The Roots communicate (11:00); race, religion, vulnerability, self-love; the hip hop ethos (“Hustle, survive. Hustle, survive.”), J Dilla; and much more.
Born Ahmir Thompson in Philadelphia, Questlove began playing drums as a toddler. He was touring as a member of his parents’ band by the time he was in grade school. Many artists begin as imitators and, unable to accurately copy the objects of their imitation, fail into a unique style. As someone who could replicate Bernard Purdie licks at age 3, Questlove’s trajectory runs counter to this archetype. Reading his memoir, music serves as the mnemonic scaffolding bolstering his consciousness, drawing from his broad encyclopedic knowledge of music and to focus on sonic elements that most casual listeners don’t even consciously hear. Thompson has successfully synthesized a wholly unique, yet widely, imitated style.
The Trap Set is a weekly podcast and terrestrial radio show about the lives of musicians. Although the craft of music-making is discussed, it is a springboard for larger discussions about life. Because of the emphasis on human-interest stories, the show has cultivated an engaged audience of music fans and non-music fans alike, averaging over 50,000 unique weekly listeners. Launched in 2015, The Trap Set’s initial focus was on drummers but after the first 200 episodes, the show broadened its focus beyond drummers to include all musicians.
Past guests include pop stars Phil Collins and Sheila E.; outsider artists such as Dot Wiggin (The Shaggs) and Drumbo (Captain Beefheart); punk legends such as Tessa Pollitt (The Slits), Budgie (The Banshees) and Ian MacKaye; New Music luminaries Milford Graves, Steven Schick (Bang a Can All Stars); and genre-defining artists such as Clyde Stubblefield (“The Funky Drummer” James Brown), Sly Dunbar, and Fluke Holland. Most recently, the podcast has featured interviews with the likes of Sharon Von Etten, Angel Olsen, Jim Eno (Spoon), Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield, Makaya McCraven, and more.
Check out the The Trap Set interview with Questlove below: