Essential Tremors A show in which musicians and other creators talk about the songs that shaped who they are.
Essential Tremors

Essential Tremors

From WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore

A show in which musicians and other creators talk about the songs that shaped who they are.

Most Recent Episodes

Vijay Iyer

Jazz pianist Vijay Iyer is one of the most respected musicians of his generation, as borne out by the accolades he's received to date, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 2013, a Doris Duke Performing Artists Award, and a lifetime appointment as a Professor of the Arts at Harvard University. His work is far from coldly academic, however: soulful, delicate, nuanced, and mesmerizing, it reflects a complex but highly focused mind dedicated with singular purpose to his craft. See for privacy information.

Alan Sparhawk

Alan Sparhawk, along with his spouse (and previous Essential Tremors guest) Mimi Parker), have, as Low, managed to not only maintain a collaborative and marital union for the better part of thirty years, but to constantly forge ahead artistically over the course of their 13 studio albums. Somehow managing to sound familiar but also intriguingly new with each release, the band has consistently retained the intimacy of their earliest work while also taking bold risks that continually endear them to new listeners and earn them ever greater critical accolades. Their newest record, HEY WHAT, was released by Sub Pop on September 10, 2021. See for privacy information.

Ellen Fullman

Composer Ellen Fullman has spent the past 40 years developing and exploring the Long String Instrument, a sui generis room-sized installation capable of creating a galaxy of tones and overtones. In this episode, she discusses the influence of traditional Ainu music, Central African polyphony, and com poser Pauline Oliveros. See for privacy information.

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson is an English singer-songwriter whose work spans over five decades and who has likely influenced many of your favorite bands and musicians with his distinct, virtuosic guitar-playing. Thompson could also be credited with bringing Celtic and other traditional folk influences to bear on mainstream rock music through his work with his first band, Fairport Convention, in the 1960's. His song choices here reflect this legacy as well as his own family's personal history. See for privacy information.

Mary Timony

Washington, DC-based singer/guitarist Mary Timony has built a deeply respected career through a series of bands like Autoclave, Helium, Wild Flag, and Ex Hex, as well as solo music. In this episode, she talks about how the music of Jimi Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, and Moondog shaped her own work. See for privacy information.

Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega has spanned four decades with her deceptively cool singing voice and urbane songwriting. On this episode, she discusses how the music of Bob Dylan, Philip Glass, and Lou Reed guided her path. See for privacy information.

Stephen Morris (Joy Division/New Order)

Stephen Morris drove the shift from punk to postpunk as the drummer for Joy Division and New Order, and helped further open postpunk to new sounds. On this episode, he discusses how the music of Can, Terry Riley, and Grandmaster Flash shaped his course. See for privacy information.


Tricky has created his own sound world over the past 25 years, built from broken hip-hop beats, forlorn chanteuses, and shadowy mutters. In this episode, he talks about the impact of Nirvana, Billie Holiday, and T. Rex on his life. See for privacy information.

Mdou Moctar

Singer/guitarist Mdou Moctar has blazed a trail for electrified Tuareg music from his native Niger through the music venues of Europe and the U.S. In this episode, he talks about how Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen, and Tinariwen shaped his own music. See for privacy information.

Kristin Hersh

Kristin Hersh has built a devoted following with her one-of-a-kind singing and songwriting, as a solo artist and as leader of the bands Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave. On this episode, she discusses how traditional ballads, Nick Drake, and Vic Chesnutt impacted her own work. See for privacy information.