From practicing on his first piano—drawn on a piece of paper—to recording albums and launching the podcast and Netflix show “Song Exploder,” Hrishikesh Hirway has lived a marvelous life of music.

Design Matters: Hrishikesh Hirway

MUSICIAN / PODCAST HOST

2021

Hrishikesh Hirway / Song Exploder / The West Wing Weekly / musician / podcaster / Hamilton / Lin-Manuel Miranda / Thomas Kail / Alex Lacamoire

Transcript


Debbie Millman:

A good song tells a story. And behind every good song, there's another story of how that song was born. That is the subject matter of Song Exploder. Every episode explores a single song and goes deep with its creators on where the idea for it came from, and how they turned that idea into the song we know and love.


Song Exploder, itself, also has a story. First, it was a podcast. And now, it's also a series on Netflix. And the hero of this story is the host of Song Exploder, Hrishikesh Hirway. Welcome to Design Matters.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited to be here.


Debbie Millman:

Hrishikesh, I understand when you were little, your favorite soft drink was orange soda. Why orange soda?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Because it was not the obvious choice of Coke or Pepsi.


Debbie Millman:

Now, did you have a favorite brand? Was it Fanta? Or what was your favorite orange soda brand?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

No, I don't think so, because I think I mostly, I only really ever got to have orange soda as a fountain drink. And so, I don't know that I actually paid attention at that point to what brand it was.


Debbie Millman:

Your father was a food scientist. Your mom worked for Sears. And you grew up in Peabody, Mass., where your parents moved after leaving India. What made your folks decide to settle in Peabody?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, my dad first arrived in Oregon. He was doing a food science program there. And then transferred to UMass Amherst. And that's how Massachusetts became our home. And then they moved into an apartment in Malden, Mass., which is where I was born. And I don't know that I've ever actually asked them that much about why they chose Peabody. Oh, in Massachusetts we pronounce it puberty.


Debbie Millman:

Ah, Peabody, sounds like puberty. I'm going to stick with Peabody. It sounds more like the award we all want. Right?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Great.


Debbie Millman:

I'm really fascinated by food scientists, having spent so much of my career in branding for fast-moving consumer goods. I've always wondered what it would be like to either live with or be a food scientist. Did you have a lot of experiments with recipes and things like that? Were you quite an adventurous young eater?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

So, the first job that my dad had when I was born, was working for this hot dog company. And my mom was a lifelong vegetarian. So he would bring things home from work, but she couldn't eat any of it, and wouldn't eat any of it, wouldn't even prepare any of it. And so my dad would be the one who would heat up this new kielbasa or something that he'd come up with. I remember they came out with a, it was like a cocktail weenies in sauce package. It was like a boil-in-a-bag situation.


Debbie Millman:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yum.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I think they were very proud of this product. And it was so convenient. And you could have cocktail weenies in the sauce. So, these are the kinds of things that I ate when I was 6, 7, 8 years old.


Debbie Millman:

I think it's really interesting that we're just a few minutes into this interview and we've already said the words puberty and weenie. [I’m not sure] what that means, but I think it's fascinating.


Debbie Millman:

I understand you first fell in love with music when you heard a cassette your parents had of Lata Mangeshkar, one of the biggest Bollywood stars ever. What about that particular music moved you?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Growing up, that was just the background of our lives. Especially on the weekends, my parents would listen to a radio show that would air on Sundays where they would play a two-hour, three-hour block of Indian songs. But then outside of that radio show, my parents had these cassettes of different Bollywood musical soundtracks. That was just what music was, for the most part. I think my mom also had one Donna Summer record.


Debbie Millman:

Which one?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I don't remember.


Debbie Millman:

I think I'm going to have to get your parents on this podcast, just so that I can ask them all of these questions about your background.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I know. So, that music was just part of my life. But then there was this one tape in particular that I think made me feel my first experience of nostalgia. And I don't know what I was nostalgic for, because all of this was music that was made before I was born. But I understood the feeling is something profounder. I don't know. I liked it. I was both a little bit scared of it and mystified by it, but I found myself drawn to it too. I wanted to listen to that tape over and over and over again to get that feeling. And I don't even know that I knew the word nostalgia, just I knew that feeling and was drawn to it, wanted to experience it.


Debbie Millman:

You first started piano lessons when you were 7 years old. And your parents took you to a piano shop in the local mall for private lessons. Can you talk a little bit about how your sister, Priya, helped you practice?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah. She drew an octave of a piano on a piece of paper so that I could practice. We didn't have a piano, we didn't have a keyboard, or anything like that. But my whole family was so supportive of me learning music. They all wanted to help. And so, my sister had this idea: "Well, here now you can actually put your fingers on these pretend keys and you can practice that way." And so that was my first piano.


Debbie Millman:

And did it work? Did you become a better player while you were practicing that way?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

It definitely worked. It was the only thing I had to use, but it definitely helped me understand what I was doing. And I mean, I only got a keyboard a while after that. So for a long time, that piece of paper piano was my piano. And my parents always dreamt of being able to have a piano in our home, but we never did. But I finally, I have one now. And that was a very exciting day, a few years ago, when I finally got one here for my home.


Debbie Millman:

And you still take piano lessons, is that correct?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I do. I've taken a little break now, for the pandemic, but for a while I've been taking lessons again, which has been really nice.


Debbie Millman:

How good of a player are you?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I would say I'm not very good. I'm maybe a lower intermediate, I'd say.


Debbie Millman:

Your sister also accidentally taught you how to read by playing school [with] you. And I loved reading that, because I actually did that with my little brother too. I would force him to be my only student. I'd have pretend names for fake students, but he'd be my student. And I would teach him. I guess I really wanted to be a teacher when I was a little girl. And I did it so well that he ended up skipping kindergarten, going straight into first grade, which is one of my proudest moments as a sister.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, that's what happened to me too.


Debbie Millman:

Really? The exact same thing? You skipped kindergarten?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I skipped kindergarten.


Debbie Millman:

Oh, wow.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah.


Debbie Millman:

That's so cool.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Although, I was one of many students my sister had. It was me and six or seven other stuffed animals.


Debbie Millman:

Yeah. I think it's in Barbie Dolls.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah. So, it was a whole class, but yeah. And when I got to kindergarten, there was a day early on when we had some handout or something and I was reading it to my friend who was sitting next to me, and then the teacher stopped me and she said, "Wait, you can already read that?" And I said, "Yeah." And then she called in the first-grade teacher whose classroom was connected. And then they just asked me to read some more of it. And then they asked me a few questions. And then they asked my parents to come to the school. And then about a week later, I was in the first grade.


Debbie Millman:

Interesting, interesting. Now, I know in addition to loving music, I read [that] as a teenager, you used to listen to music while pouring over the lyrics and the liner notes and the artwork, until you could almost feel yourself living in the world of the artist. Were you making any visual art at that point?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I always drew. And by the time I got to high school, it started to turn more towards functionally making posters and things like that for my band. I was in art classes as well, but I was more excited about doing stuff for whatever band I was in. It was also around the time when I started to realize that my desire to draw didn't quite match up with my skills.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

In a lot of ways, when I got to high school, I met so many people who were so good at all the things that they did. And so many of those things were things that I really loved and wanted to do. And I got a little bit dismayed to discover that there were just levels and levels above where I was at from kids who were my same age. I started to feel like I had to find my path because I wasn't so good as I thought at a bunch of this stuff.


Debbie Millman:

So tell us about your first early bands. I know you played drums in a student rock band and also piano and drums in this school jazz band.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah.


Debbie Millman:

How serious were you about being a musician at that time?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I was serious about it in so far as it was the thing that I loved the most. The school had a drum room, one little tiny closet with a drum kit in it that they had soundproofed, so kids could practice in there. And I would just spend hours and hours playing in there.


Debbie Millman:

Yeah. You studied art and design at Yale University. What made you decide to do that? And after you've answered that question, I want to ask how your parents felt about you studying art and design.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, I didn't think that I was going to study art and design until I had already arrived there. When I first got there, I was thinking I was going to do English and philosophy. And that was mainly inspired by a couple of great teachers that I had in high school, who had also gone to Yale. They'd gone to Yale for undergrad. And they'd gone to Yale for graduate school. And then they'd returned to the high school that they went to, which was the high school that I was going to, in order to teach there. And I really loved them and I found them inspiring. I really found their classes enriching. And I thought maybe that was something that I could do. It felt noble and exciting. And then I got there and it turned out I just didn't love writing the paper that you have to constantly write.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

While I was there, I also took intro to drawing class, because I still loved that and still wanted to do art as much as I could. And I enjoyed that a lot. It was also a prerequisite for anything else in the art department. At that time, I didn't know what the term graphic design was. It was only introduced to me in the school catalog as I was going through the art class. The most fun I would have was in the weeks before school started, reading the course catalog. I also played Dungeons and Dragons. And for me, looking at the course catalog of school felt like I was rolling up my own Dungeons and Dragons character, picking like, which skills do you want to choose?


Debbie Millman:

And what imagination for the future you could conjure.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah, exactly. So, I would read, cover to cover, I'd read that course catalog. And one of those was graphic design classes. And I was like, "Oh, wait, this is the stuff that I was doing already for the bands that I was in." The posters and things that I would make, flyers in high school. And so, I took that. And when I took that class, something just clicked in my brain and I thought, This is actually what I want to do. This is so much more exciting to me than the papers that I was reading.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I was really enjoying the books and things that I would get to read, but then having to write the sort of analytical essay, which I had done so many times in high school already too, felt like I was repeating myself a little bit. But the design classes and really everything in the art major, and the chance to have to come up with something entirely new, that felt really satisfying to me in a way that I didn't know that you could major in that feeling. And so, that's what I wanted to do.


Debbie Millman:

Did you envision becoming a professional designer at that time?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

No, I don't think so. I'm not sure that I had a coherent sense of what kind of professional anything I could be. I just knew what I loved. I was playing in bands then too. But I really didn't know what that might lead to. I'd given up, I think, on this idea that I was going to go back to my high school and teach, but I hadn't figured anything else out in the meantime. I did have the sense that like, this is a marketable skill, too. In addition to being something that I really liked … this was around the time when I'd made my first website in high school. And I started doing that more and more. And so, I knew that there was this budding interest for people who could make websites. And I thought, well, if I can make them look good, this is a skill that I could use somewhere in the world.


Debbie Millman:

Before you even graduated, you started your first professional band, The One AM Radio. Why that name?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I think you're being generous to say it was professional.


Debbie Millman:

You've recorded albums. You've toured. I mean, that's professional.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I guess so. I think I wanted it to be professional, but it certainly, I think it would be a few more years before it could come anywhere close to being considered professional. But yeah, at the time I definitely wanted it to feel real and not just like a school project or something like that, or something that I did for fun on the weekends.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

But in terms of the name, the name really came from a couple of different impulses. A lot of the people who I loved had these aliases for their performing names, like Cat Power, or Bill Callahan performed as Smog. And I just, I loved that.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And I think there was a part of me that felt like if I did use my first and last name, and people saw Hrishikesh Hirway, it might just be some kind of barrier to entry in America, or that someone might misinterpret it and think it was like, I made world music or something like that. I don't know. I just knew it didn't … there were a couple of reasons why it didn't feel right.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

So I wanted to come up with a band name. And I have this need for things to live on multiple levels whenever possible. And when I was little and my mom was working at Sears, she worked nights. And I used to go with my dad to go pick her up. And I remember just sitting in the car, listening to my dad, listening to AM radio. I wasn't really paying attention to what was on the radio. But again, the sound of it just made me feel nostalgic, even though it was contemporary radio, the staticky quality of it. And my mom wasn't working at 1 in the morning. We would pick her up, it would be like 9 o'clock, but it would be my bedtime. And I would be in my pajamas in the car.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

So, by the time I was 19, that felt like late at night, that felt like it translated to 1 in the morning. And that intersection between AM radio and 1 a.m. felt like there was something fun in there, and a very specific kind of feeling that existed in that intersection between 1 o'clock in the morning and the AM radio.


Debbie Millman:

How would you describe the music you make as One AM Radio?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I've tried to make a few different kinds of records, but I think that they all tie back to some of those first feelings of wanting to make something that felt nostalgic and maybe a little bit melancholy, and things like that. Some of them are overtly sad songs. But I think even when the subject matter wasn't sad, I was always trying to make it sound like it could give you that same kind of feeling that that Lata Mangeshkar tape gave me, or that AM radio late-night pickup gave me—something a little bit cozy, something that you missed, some feeling of longing.


Debbie Millman:

Where does that melancholy come from?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I think there's something just very romantic about it. It's been romanticized certainly in a lot of art. And I think I'm just like a total sucker for it. I really, I fell for it hard in everything, in books and movies, and music too. And so I wanted to just live in that dreamy, magical feeling. And I think it also, there was a depth to it. It was a way to be a teenager making music that felt like I was living in the world on some other level.


Debbie Millman:

Is it true that you tried to make your first album, The Home of Electric Air, entirely by yourself—the recording, the writing, the mixing, the producing and the artwork?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I tried to do as much of it as I could myself. Definitely, there were some things that I recruited others for. There's some violin and cello. And I think there's maybe one part on one of the songs that somebody else recorded. But I was really trying to do it all myself. And then the artwork and the photography. It was a chance for me to express all these different parts of who I was in one object.


Debbie Millman:

I know in an effort to support yourself as a musician, you worked as a creative director at Dangerbird Records. You also took a job as a designer at Apple. Talk about the experience at Apple. You were there just a few years after the iPod first came out.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah. Actually, while I was there, I remember the iPod Shuffle came out during those few months that I worked there.


Debbie Millman:

I remember that.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah. And everybody who is an Apple employee got one. But I was not an Apple employee, I was a contractor because I didn't want to commit to a job there. But I remember they had a, it was right around this time, they had a Christmas party in 2004. And all the full-time employees left to go to the Christmas party. And I stayed at my desk till I keep working on my iTunes designs. And then they all came back and they had iPod Shuffles.


Debbie Millman:

What was it like working there? Did you learn anything interesting?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I learned a lot about Photoshop, actually. There was a big part of the job that involved just output. There were some elements of design, but there were also elements of just production. And so, you had to get really fast. And there's so many Photoshop skills that I learned there.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

This is one of the things in school, at Yale the design program is really about the concepts more than it is about any kind of execution. There's never a class where [someone] on the faculty ever sat down and said, "Here's how you use Photoshop,” or “here's how you use Illustrator." Or anything like that. It was just like, "Well, just make this." And it was a matter of however you expressed your ideas, and the tools didn't really matter.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

So, that was a really nice experience for me in terms of real hardcore, practical learning. There were a few people there who sat down and just said, "OK, well, while you're doing this, you can do it this way, and you can do it this way." And I learned all kinds of things that I still think about now.


Debbie Millman:

Songs you wrote titled “Accidents,” and “An Old Photo of Your New Lover,” were featured in the romantic comedy Save The Date, and on the CW dramas “One Tree Hill” and “Gossip Girl.” You also toured internationally. You released four albums between 2002 and 2011. It seemed like you were right on the precipice of making it big. But in 2012, you pivoted and tried your hand at film composing. What made you decide to do that?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, I actually moved to LA because I wanted to pursue film scoring. I was already doing the One AM Radio. I had started that in college. So, by the time I graduated, I had had this one feeling in terms of what was I going to do for a living.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I remember there was a class where we watched Zabriskie Point, the Antonioni film, Zabriskie Point. And there was this incredible moment where a house blows up and it goes into this extended musical sequence with music from Pink Floyd. And I just thought it was so beautiful. And I remembered something that like a feeling that I had it for a long time, but only just remembered it in crystal form at that point, which was, "Oh yeah, I want to score films." And it was the first concrete feeling of like, "This is what I want to do for a job." And then I didn't know how one does that at all.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Eventually, I moved to LA to try and pursue that, with the idea that I could do my band. It was just me. I could do that from anywhere. So, that was going to travel with me. But if I were going to do any kind of film stuff, I had to get to LA, and find out what was here.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

It took a little while, but then I started working as an assistant to a composer. And I got a lesson, whether it was the right one or not, I'm not sure, but I learned that when you're starting out, you have to say “yes” to everything and do the job that's needed. And that was really not what I wanted to do. I wanted to be chosen for the job. I wanted to be asked to do the job because of who I was, not jump at any opportunity, and then have to be a chameleon.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I had enough success as a songwriter and as a producer, and musician, I thought if I pursued that further, then there would be a greater chance that I could prove to somebody, "This is what I do. And if you want this, then you can hire me." So I hit the brakes a little bit on the film scoring stuff, and instead pursued my band more single-mindedly.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And then in 2011, my friend made this movie and he asked me to score it. And he was somebody who I'd known forever. He made the first music video for my band. And it took a lot longer than I'd hoped to finally score a film, but it felt like the right kind of circumstance for it.


Debbie Millman:

It seems like at that point in your life, you were struggling with what you were supposed to do, fulfilling family obligations and doing what was in your heart. You stated this about yourself in an interview at about that time: "I was the screwup who was following his whims and going off wherever, without much heed to responsibility, either personal responsibility or familial responsibility." Tell me how much that was playing into your decisions about where to go next in your life?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, it was always hard to demonstrate the validity of my career choices to my family and to a culture that we belong to, where the path I was on was something unknown to them. So, as crass as it was, and as meaningless as it felt, in some ways, I was like, there needed to be these kinds of external markers of validation to be able to say, "Look, this was meaningful. This is real. There's some element of success here." And I just wasn't getting that from my music career.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Scoring a film, even though that wasn't like a very lucrative opportunity or anything like that, at least it was something that my family could understand. They're like, "Oh, it's a movie." And then, it was going to go to Sundance. And they were like, "Oh, I've heard of Sundance, I think." And that felt legit. And I had always been looking for that, in a way that, like … my parents didn't know what Pitchfork was. They didn't care that I got to … they barely know what South by Southwest is. If I'm saying, like, "I'm playing a festival," they're like, "OK." They've never been to one. So, that had been on my mind for a long time, for sure.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

After that movie came out, after the next movie that I scored came out, I was at this moment where I didn't really know what to do next. Like you said, it seemed like maybe with a couple of these things that had happened, maybe I was on some precipice of some kind of success, but I really felt like I had pushed and pushed and pushed for so long to have any kind of real success, and especially any kind of real success that was sustainable. And that just wasn't happening.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And after, it had been 11 years that I had lived in LA, I was feeling really discouraged. In 2013, I was feeling like, well, nothing really ever broke for me. And so, that year I started a new music project. I started a new band, basically. And I started working on making a podcast. And I also started working on a TV show idea. And all of that stuff felt like in some ways, like a distraction from The One AM Radio, and the distraction from what was supposed to be my "real career."


Hrishikesh Hirway:

But with the podcast, especially, I thought, "Well, maybe this could be a way that I could have a day job that was of my own making, and also under my own control, that would allow me to pursue music and not have to worry about it as my means of survival." Because I think that's where a lot of tension was for me.


Debbie Millman:

How did you come up with the Song Exploder concept?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, I had been listening to a bunch of podcasts around that time and really liking them. I'd listened to them on tour. And I was also a big fan of, there's a magazine called Tape Op that I really love, that's called the Creative Recording Magazine, where they would interview a lot of the kinds of artists that I liked listening to about the ways in which they'd record. And there were all kinds of strange and weird ways that people would work to try and get the sound that they wanted outside of a huge commercial of a situation. It was people who were like me, who were recording at home, who didn't have training, but who had made these records that I really loved.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And so, getting to read those interviews was really inspiring for me. But at the same time, it was also print. And I wanted to go further. I wanted to hear the thing that they were talking about. And I thought, well, a podcast could be a place where you could combine these things. You get to explain these ideas. And then you can also hear these things. And better yet, you could not just hear the song, you could potentially hear just the stem of the song, which is just the isolated layer of that one instrument or that one track, which was something I was very familiar with from having made my own music all of these years. The moments where you're solo, just the one track to hear what's really going on in it. So, that was where it came from.


Debbie Millman:

Is it true that Questlove's liner notes were one of the original inspirations for the show?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, many years before that, I remember he had written in the liner notes for the album Things Fall Apart. He talked about this drum sound. That was specifically when I was listening to the record, I had really fallen in love with, because there was a moment where he did what I had been wanting to do, which was make his drums sound like not quite real drums. There's a moment in the record where it sounds like it switches from a live drum kit to like an old drum sample. It sounds so cool. And then I'm reading the liner notes and he talked about that. He said, "I finally got that sound that I'd been looking for." And I wanted to know what it was, but that was it. That was all he wrote, that he had finally achieved it. But I needed to know what the answer was so I could do it myself. So, I was thinking about that too.


Debbie Millman:

Rather than assume the risk of doing all of this on your own, you went to a number of established organizations like Spotify, and you proposed that they hire you to make the show for them in-house, and they rejected you. They turned you down. And you went ahead and did it on your own. What gave you the confidence to go ahead and just do it on your own?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I don't know. I was thinking about something that you wrote about one time about the difference between confidence and courage.


Debbie Millman:

Oh yeah.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And I don't know which one it was, if it was courage, despite a lack of confidence, or if it was in fact confidence. I just knew that it was something that I really wanted, that I would really benefit from if it existed in the world. It had this no-brainer kind of feeling to me.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

It was really frustrating to me that I couldn't convince people to see this thing, the worth of this thing, the way that I saw it. And I think there was some part of me that was just so determined to just prove to myself that I was right, that I thought, Well, I should just do it. And I said I would give myself a year.


Debbie Millman:

Has Spotify since come back with their tail between their legs, so to speak?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

No, they have not.


Debbie Millman:

It's only a matter of time. It's only a matter of time.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

They're doing fine.


Debbie Millman:

How did you raise money to produce the show yourself?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

It didn't actually take any money. At first, that was a nice thing because I was just doing it all entirely on my own with what I already had. So, the real factor was just convincing people to say “yes” to letting me interview them and handing over their stems, and letting me make the story out of those components.


Debbie Millman:

Song Exploder debut Jan. 1, 2014, and featured Jimmy Tamborello of the synth-pop band The Postal Service. Looking back on that show now, how do you feel about that first episode?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I mean, I wish I could redo it. I think I could probably make a better episode now than I did then. But it was the first time I'd ever interviewed anybody, and it was my first time trying to make a podcast. So, I have to give myself a little bit of forgiveness for the first stab at something.


Debbie Millman:

Oh yeah.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah.


Debbie Millman:

I mean, I look back at my first hundred episodes, I'm horrified.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah.


Debbie Millman:

Initially, you didn't want to be in the show at all. And Jimmy Tamborello did both the intro and the outro for the show. That changed when the podcast was picked up by the Maximum Fund Podcast Network. And the founder, Jesse Thorn, felt you should have more of a front-facing role. Why didn't you want that, initially?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I didn't really see the point. The thing that I was trying to make was about this artist and their song. So I didn't understand what I needed to even be doing in there. It could just, it could be this perfect clean little package from the one voice of the creator of that music.


Debbie Millman:

You still edit out a lot of your questions from the podcast episodes. Why? I love you being in it. I love hearing your voice. You have such a good voice.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, I still feel the same way about that, that I wanted it to feel like it's not about me or my point of view. I want someone to be able to just put it on and say, "OK, I'm going to listen to this thing, and I'm going to hear from this creator." I still think of my presence in the show as being purely functional. The thing that Jesse said was, "I think it will be helpful for people to know that there is an author behind the show."


Debbie Millman:

I think you're the soul behind the show.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I guess that's true, but I also feel like you don't see a designer's name. It's not like a painting where there's signature at the bottom. On lots of the most beautiful things that have ever been designed, without some research you'd never know who designed it.


Debbie Millman:

That's changing a bit though. I know that James Victore signs his designs now. Stefan Sagmeister often does. Paul Rand, I think, did occasionally. In any case—


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Would you ever?


Debbie Millman:

Not my design work, no, only illustrations or artwork.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And why not? Aren't you the soul behind that design?


Debbie Millman:

No. And all of the corporate design work that I've done, I worked with a team of people. And very little branding actually comes from a single mind. And so, there's always somebody that's doing the market research and somebody that's doing the implementation, and so on and so forth. Even working on Tropicana, there was somebody that was airbrushing the droplets on [an] orange. And there were like 79 droplets or something; every one was numbered and corresponded to. Talk about Photoshop, that was a big file.


Debbie Millman:

So, I wouldn't feel comfortable ever saying that I designed that on my own because it was just a real group effort. But with illustration or with artwork, definitely. When I'm the sole creator, then I do feel comfortable.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah. I think that's part of it, is that, like, I'm not the sole creator of that show. It doesn't exist without the raw material of that artist's work and their ideas. And so, I'm presenting their music and their ideas, and shaping it in a way that I think will hopefully serve the song and the story. But I think in the same way that you're describing the teamwork on branding, it doesn't feel right to say, like, "Oh, and this is my creation."


Debbie Millman:

Well, we can argue about this offline. Now, you've said that getting the raw tracks of the songs, the stems, is the main challenge of making the podcasts. I also think it's one of the greatest things in the podcast, is having these isolated tracks of voices, or drums, or sounds. Why is it so difficult to get those things?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

It's becoming easier, certainly nowadays. Any music that's been made in the last 10 years is usually at some point made in some kind of digital format where the tracks have been isolated or something like that. It's easier. But with older songs, it's really, really hard. You have to hope that somebody digitized that, or if they haven't, that the tape exists, the original raw tape exists, and then you have to talk somebody into letting you digitize that. That can be really tricky. But I don't know that I'd still say that it's the greatest challenge of the show. It's our challenge. It's a technical challenge for sure. But I think I realized the bigger challenges lie in the interviewing and in the storytelling.


Debbie Millman:

What are the challenges in doing that for you?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I think artists can be a little bit cagey about their own intentions. Sometimes I don't know if an artist is even aware of their own intentions, or where things come from. My hope in the show is to try and connect the dots between an experience or a feeling, or some memory, or something that started somebody off on a path, where they had that moment where one day there was nothing there and then some idea occurred to them. And then that got translated into what eventually became a song. So, all of the moments in between, I want them to chart those, not just what they did, but also the reason why, when they say, "Well, and so I had that idea. So, I turned to the piano and then I played these notes." I'd love for them to be able to explain why the piano and why those notes, and then why that chord afterwards.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

But music lives in this place that so much art does, between intention and instinct, something that's actually consciously considered and something that's just felt. And some artists are really good at being able to take the integral of that curve and find those discrete moments and decisions. And some artists aren't; they're just like, "I don't know. That's just what I did." But for me, the best episode is one where you can really say, "I had this happen. And then I did this because I had this feeling, and then I turned it into this sound." And if I can do it, then I feel really good about it. But that's I think where the challenge is mostly.


Debbie Millman:

Since your launch, you've created nearly 200 episodes. I think you're about to approach the 200th. A big breakthrough for you came in June of 2015, when U2's Bono and The Edge joined you for an episode. And you said that once that episode came out, you felt that there was no limit to who could be on the podcast. Has it been easier for you to book guests now that you have achieved this level of success, and now have also brought the show to television?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

It's easier for sure than when I first started the podcast. But there are still many artists where it takes a lot of convincing to get them to do it. Or not necessarily convincing them, but to get through the layers of gatekeeping before you can get access and convince somebody that, "Yes, this is going to be worthwhile."


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And machinery around musicians, I should say, is so carefully demarcated around the promotion of a particular track or a particular song, or something like that. And if you don't line up precisely with what they want, it can be really, really hard.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

People always ask, like, "Why don't you do this song or you do that song?" And it's like, "Well, if that artist is not in the mode where they're doing interviews, that's not going to be possible." And if they have, say, a newer album or newer song, everybody's going to say, "You have to be talking about that only. You can't talk about your hit from four years ago." So, that's still really hard. And I think that's always going to be hard. But at least I can say, "Hey, here's the show. These are the people who have been on it." And it doesn't seem like potentially as frivolous as it might've once seemed.


Debbie Millman:

You have an extraordinary selection of guests. One week you're talking to Grizzly Bear, then another week you're talking to Selena Gomez, than another you're talking to R.E.M, or St. Vincent, or Yo-Yo Ma. You've got range. How involved are you now in choosing who joins you on the show? Do you still send out the invitations personally?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah. I mean, all the artists that are on the show are ones that I've chosen. But nowadays I get pitched a lot more. When I first started, I asked every publicist that I had ever dealt with to send me their press releases, so I could see what new releases were coming out. And so, I still, I look at that and I will go through and ask a publicist, "Is there any chance that this artist would want to do an episode?" But I'm reacting to the fact that artists are putting out something new. And that means that they're probably more willing to maybe do an interview at some point. And then I get hit up directly from people saying, like, "Will you have this person on?" But ultimately, it's still whoever I am choosing.


Debbie Millman:

You spend far more time editing than anybody I've ever heard of in the podcast world. From what I understand, it takes about 20– 25 hours per episode for a show that is usually about 20 minutes.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I think that might be a little bit low, actually. I think it's more than 25 hours.


Debbie Millman:

Wow. I mean, do you find it tedious? Do you find it interesting? Do you find it inspiring?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

There are parts that are tedious for sure. I get frustrated at the distance between what's in my head and the time it takes to actually assemble that in audio. I'm like, "OK, it should go like this and then this, and this, and this, and then this, then we should hear that and then should be like that." But then to actually go through it, then you're like, "OK." And then you move this. And then I have to make this cut. Oh, I got to crossfade it correctly. Oh, I have to clean this up. Oh, the sentence didn't land. It doesn't sound like the end of a sentence, so I have to find a replacement, so it sounds like the end of the sentence. All those things, that's where it can get tedious for sure. But then you finish that little bit and then it sounds the way you want, and it feels so good. That I have to count on that satisfaction to carry me through to the next piece of tedium.


Debbie Millman:

It's incredible. I often think about what it takes for Curtis Fox, my producer, to edit my show. And I feel so guilty, he has to go through it word by word by word. And it's just such a talent. I don't know how you do it. It's extraordinary. I read that in an effort to make sure the podcast doesn't get too geeky, you conduct a mom test. What is a mom test?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yes. My mom and my dad both actually, we should give credit to my dad too, would listen to every episode when it came out. And my dad still does. My mom has passed away recently. But my dad listens to every episode. And he's so sweet. He will call me afterwards and say, "I listened to the episode," and let me know. And because of that, it was a kind of stand-in for an invisible audience member that might not have some frame of reference for whatever artist is on the show and whatever musical concept they might be talking about.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

So, my parents, no offense to my parents, don't have any frame of reference for any of this stuff. So, I could think about, well, what needs to be explained and what needs to be demonstrated with music; when do you need to really lean into the explanation part of this so that it doesn't feel too abstract or too esoteric? While at the same time, I didn't want it to sound like it was dumbed down.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

For the people who were on the show, I didn't want it to feel like they didn't get to talk about their ideas and their experiences in the language in which they think about them. If they think about it in terms of like in chord progressions, and they say, "Well, I wanted to go from that to the relative minor, because …" And there comes a moment where I'm like, "Well, do I have to explain what that is?" This is an instance where having the music, having that kind of show-and-tell format with their words and the music really helps, because sometimes you don't need to explain what the words are at all. You can just play the music. Because all the words are an attempt to describe the music. So, then I can just play the music and don't have to worry about the description at all.


Debbie Millman:

In March of 2016, you launched a second podcast titled The West Wing Weekly. In each episode, you and actor Joshua Malina, who played Will Bailey on the show, discuss an episode of “The West Wing,” which for young ones listening is the early 2000s television drama set in a fictional White House with Martin Sheen as the president. It's a fantastic show. Why a podcast about "The West Wing"?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I had been trying to do this TV project. The TV project that I mentioned in 2013 was something that I was doing with Josh. We had made this game show and we had sold it and made the pilot. And then it was just languishing in this weird TV limbo. For a long time, it wasn't getting on the air. It wasn't getting to the next point. And then the people who had bought it, their company got bought by a different studio.


Debbie Millman:

It sounds exhausting.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

It really was. It really was. And it was my first experience really in trying to make work in a medium that was so disconnected from being able to do it yourself, the way that I had learned with everything that I'd done before. You really just can't make a TV show on your own. You just can't.


Debbie Millman:

Yeah, it's like branding.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah. So, while we were waiting for the coin to land on whether or not we were going to get to actually do this or not, I said to Josh, I was like, "I've been making Song Exploder now for a couple of years, and I've really enjoyed it. And it's been really fun. And it's a way to put something out into the world that we could actually do ourselves. And I think there might be an audience for it." Just I thought there might be an audience for Song Exploder, based on my own instincts of what I really wanted.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And what I really wanted was a discussion of “The West Wing,” something that could exalt its highs and also criticize some of the things that had always bothered me about the show. A show that I love, but there were definitely flaws and things. And I wanted to be able to talk about both of those things. But I also wanted to do it with a little bit of the DNA of Song Exploder, where you have the perspective of somebody who was actually involved in the show.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Josh wasn't on the show for all seven seasons. He came in later. But he was on the show. And he had worked with Aaron Sorkin, with the creator of the show, on “Sports Night” before that, and A Few Good Men before that. So, he would have this insider perspective that I thought would be really interesting. And it took a little while, but I convinced him to do it.


Debbie Millman:

How did you get Lin-Manuel Miranda to write and perform a “West Wing”–themed rap for the podcast intro music?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, I'm not sure how he and Josh knew each other, but they knew each other somehow. And Lin-Manuel is a big “West Wing” fan. He sometimes would tweet about it or reply to the account that I had set up for our podcast, our Twitter account, he would reply to that. And I was like, "What?" And he would have a comment about stuff, or he would post a “West Wing” GIF in reaction or something.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And then when I heard Hamilton, for the first time I heard the soundtrack, I heard all these “West Wing” references in the music. So, by the end of [our] first year of doing the show, I had made this extended instrumental track of our intro music. The original idea was to do a super cut of all these moments of Martin Sheen saying President Bartlet's catchphrase, which is, "What's next?" Which is how we would end every episode of the podcast. We'd say, "What's next?"


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And so, I went to just clip all of the different times when he said it. And then I realized they had a little bit of a cadence and musicality to them. And I started to arrange them with this remix of [our] intro track. I'd been making beats for rappers for a few years. And I was like, this works in a way where it could be like, that could be the hook. And then there's room for 16 bars in between.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And so, I made that track and I said to Josh, "Is there any chance that you would ask Lin if he'd want to rap over this?" And then it took a little bit of pushing, but then Josh was like, "OK." Because this was at the absolute height of Hamiltonsuccess. Josh was like, "What are you thinking? Why would he even respond to this?" But he sent it to him. And then, I think 11 days later, we had a finished track sent back to us.


Debbie Millman:

That, it's just incredible.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah.


Debbie Millman:

Lin-Manuel Miranda also stars along with the glorious Tommy Kail and Alex Lacamoire, in a brand new episode of season two of your Netflix series Song Exploder. Congratulations.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Thank you.


Debbie Millman:

Hrishi, it's just an extraordinary accomplishment, and just congratulations on such a spectacular show.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Oh, thanks so much.


Debbie Millman:

You've had many offers to bring Song Exploder to television over the years. What made you decide to do it now and with Netflix?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

The now of it is really just a matter of that's how long it took. It took so long to make the show and bring it to life. I think we pitched the show. And by we, I mean, myself and Morgan Navel, who is a filmmaker, who I partnered with on the production of the show. We pitched it to Netflix in April of 2018. And then the show debuted in October of 2020. So, it was a really long time for it to come out. It's not so much that I chose a moment, so much as it's just that's how long it took.


Debbie Millman:

[Inaudible] they chose you.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah. There was a moment where at the end of 2017, beginning of 2018 or so, where I switched gears from saying “no,” turning down invitations to make Song Exploderinto a series or adapting it. And changed from reacting to those things, and instead, try to imagine what it would be if I started from a blank piece of paper. And well, and the other thing that I had to do was remove the obstacle of my own practicality.


Debbie Millman:

In what way? What do you mean?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, I'd been so used to this DIY mentality for everything, that when I'm coming up with ideas, my first instinct is to reach for something that is within my grasp. Like Song Exploder, I was like, "Well, this is the idea. And also it's something that I can make. I have all the tools." And same thing with like the way that I made music: "OK, I've bought the recorder. I bought the microphone. I have this keyboard. I have this guitar. And I have this drum kit. What can I make out of these tools?" But I wanted to see if I could get rid of that kind of pragmatic instinct and say, "All right, well …"


Hrishikesh Hirway:

The way my friend put it, my friend who had directed Save the Date, he was making a show with Netflix called “Everything Sucks,” and I had done the music for it. And so, I had been involved in all the conversations and stuff. And he said, "Imagine you were to do the show with Netflix. And just imagine you had an infinite budget—what would the show look like then?" Because he knew I was like a little bit bummed because I felt like none of these ideas that were coming my way were right. And yet I also felt like if I didn't do something, somebody else would.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And it started to feel like Song Exploder was starting to get a little bit swallowed up by these other outlets that were doing like Song Exploder–ask series, especially in video, like The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and Genius. All these different websites were doing these high-budget, I don't know “versions” is right, but that's what it felt like to me. So anyway, he said, "Just imagine what you could do, if you had infinite budget." And then I wrote my own presentation and that actually got me excited about making a show.


Debbie Millman:

Lin, Tommy and Alex talk and deconstruct “Wait For It,” Aaron Burr's anthem in the musical Hamiltonin their episode of Song Exploder on television. Lin has said that “Wait For It” is perhaps the best song he's ever written. And I was like, "What? What about ‘Helpless?’ What about ‘Blow Us All Away’?" Which every time I hear, I can't help but just projectile cry. Did you believe him when he said that?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

He and Tommy Kail did an episode of The West Wing Weekly, like a special episode. And while we were discussing that, they were going to come to my house and we were going to record it. And he said, "Maybe if there's time, also in addition, me and Alex can do an episode about ‘Wait For It.’"


Debbie Millman:

You think, it's like, oh my God.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I know. Unfortunately, there wasn't time, but he had already volunteered which song it was that he wanted to do. I didn't have to have that moment in the conversation. He was just like, "Well, what song is it going to be?"


Debbie Millman:

So interesting to get a sense of what people think about their own work and what is best about their own work. Both the podcast and the episode on television are remarkable in really understanding the process, the collaboration, the way in which Lin, and Tommy, and Alex all worked together to create this anthem. What are the biggest differences between producing the podcast and producing the television show?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I think the biggest difference probably, well, certainly the fact that you have something to see on screen. And there's a need to feed people's attention spans, especially in a context of something like Netflix and making the kind of show that we ended up making. It's not a sit-down interview talk show, and it was never intended to be. Again, because in my dream version, I wasn't going to be in it at all.


Debbie Millman:

I love the fact that you're in it. Hrishi, I really do. I mean, it's interesting because you talk about the intimacy of the artist in the podcast. But I think that what keeps the integrity of the intimacy in the television show is having you a part of it.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, that's what Morgan's argument was. And I didn't buy it at first. But I thought that for the same reason, it made sense and made something unique in the podcast to take me out of it, it would work in the TV show. Morgan pointed out that actually, taking the interviewer out, putting the interviewer behind the camera or something like that, was not unique, but that's actually the typical format of documentaries. And so, it wouldn't feel intimate. And what would feel special and unique would be if the audience could feel like they are witnessing what was by nature an intimate conversation.


Debbie Millman:

Well, I also think that a great interviewer asks questions that the audience is either thinking about or wants to know about. And you are able to do that. You capture that moment where you're like, "Oh, ask that." And then you're asking it while somebody is thinking it. So, do you like doing the podcast and the TV show equally? Or do you like one more than the other?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Well, it's conceivable for me to do an entire episode of a podcast without any outside interference or without any outside input potentially. And that's just not the case with the TV show. And I think that I learned so much by getting to collaborate in those ways with the TV show. But I like being able to do both for sure. Because what I want most, I think what my brain craves most, is newness and new experiences.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And one of the things that helps with the podcast is that every episode is a different artist, a different song, which presents different challenges and different ways of having to edit and think about a story. By doing the TV show too, I got to think all of those things, plus all of the unique challenges of an entirely new medium that I'd never worked in before.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And that was really exciting, and having to figure out how to translate what felt instinctual to me, to somebody else, to an editor. The fact that I wasn't the one editing it or editing is such a part of the show. That was such an interesting challenge to my communication skills, to the strength of what the show was, to the ideas that the artists presented. I'm definitely glad I got to do both. But I'll say that the podcast is for sure easier to make and easier on me spiritually, partly just because I don't have to see myself.


Debbie Millman:

Yeah. I understand that's one of the things I like so much about doing a podcast, is I don't have to look at myself. I don't even like to listen to them once they're out.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Yeah.


Debbie Millman:

The show debuted with four episodes on Netflix, and then you have season two that's just dropped with four more episodes. One of which is the remarkable episode about “Wait For It” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, with Thomas Kail and Alex Lacamoire. Do you see doing more? Do you have any sense of whether you'll be doing more episodes?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

It's another thing that's entirely out of my hands. It's really, it's just a—


Debbie Millman:

Oh, that must be so hard for a control freak.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

It really is. Yeah. Because I don't even know what the factors are that are going to go into the decision. It's just one day I'll find out whether we're making more episodes or not.


Debbie Millman:

You talked about newness and loving newness, and needing newness. And I totally understand that. If Song Exploder, the podcast and the television show, and The West Wing Weeklyweren't enough to keep you busy, you've also created two more popular podcasts. One is the Partners. And the other is Home Cooking with chef and writer Samin Nosrat.


Debbie Millman:

You said you've come to the realization over the years of making Song Exploder that what was driving the way that you interviewed was feelings. Can you talk a little bit about that more in relation to your newer shows and how that notion of interviewing with feelings has manifested in these other podcasts?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I think there's a version of Song Exploder that could exist that's very technical to the point of almost being clinical, almost like instruction manual for a song. But that wasn't interesting to me. For me, it was really about the human part of using your imagination, harnessing some idea and then turning it into something. And as I started to do the podcast more and more, I realized, yeah, that thing that I wanted was for them to talk about their feelings. I wanted them to talk about how they felt about this experience and how they felt about this song.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

For me, what was the most exciting moment in an episode was when [they] talked about what they wanted somebody to feel or what they themselves felt from something that they had made or something like that, because it felt more universal. And making a song started to feel like a little bit of a standard for any kind of creative pursuit or even just the feeling of possibility. And so I started to edit towards that and lean into that. And I started to enjoy that so much.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

So, Partners was an exercise in just focusing on that part, just doing the feelings part. It's dialogue between two people. The thing that it shares in Song Exploder, is that, OK, there's no song that they're creating, but the thing that they've made is this partnership between them, this intangible glue between them that gets formed, that bond. How do you make that?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I had this thesis for the show, which was that every partnership, no matter what kind of partnership, if it's successful, then there's is a love story. I wanted to basically make a podcast that was all love stories and edit [it] that way without being too overt about it.


Debbie Millman:

You have four podcasts now and a television show. How are you feeling about your burgeoning multimedia empire?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I have mixed feelings about it because all of it really comes from a pivot away from music, which was the thing that I really wanted to do and still want to do. I haven't put out a record since I started Song Exploder. I still want to. So, it's a little bit strange, I think, to have so many projects that are different from the project that I intended to do, and then to be making more. Like starting Home Cooking is yet another podcast, and it's like, well, but I haven't started another record. But I guess with those shows, I knew there was an audience for them in a way that I don't know that I always have the confidence about my music.


Debbie Millman:

Confidence or courage.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Exactly. I've been thinking about that quote so much because I've been thinking about my next year. So, my next year is going to be different because The West Wing Weeklyis over, the Home Cooking is over. For now until further notice, the TV show is done; that might be the end of that. And so, maybe it's a chance for me to finally try and make another record, but it's not something that I have a lot of confidence in. So, it's going to require some level of courage to just be like, "Well, I'm just going to do this." And just make it regardless.


Debbie Millman:

Hrishi, the last thing I want to talk with you about is an interview you did on the podcast 10 Things That Scare Me. And I was actually really deliberating about whether or not to ask this. But you've brought up the idea of nostalgia several times over our interview, so I think it would be a nice way to close it out.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

OK.


Debbie Millman:

In that episode, you stated this: "I always want to be in a neverending embrace, and having a great, stimulating conversation. And if I'm being really honest, every single moment that I don't have that is a little bit painful. When I was growing up, I felt like I had that. When I think of my family, I think of the four of us, me and my sister, and my mom, and my dad on a Friday night, piled up on the couch in the house where I grew up, watching a movie. My mom would make delicious snacks. And it was just cozy and comfortable and fun. I think my entire adult life, I have been trying to recreate that feeling." Hrishi, do you think that with Song Exploder that maybe you've done that?


Hrishikesh Hirway:

I don't think so. Not with Song Exploder. I think I have this feeling of wanting to have had that experience. I end up living with that interview and those stories for so long. And I'm trying to edit in a way that's not just clean presentation of the story, but also presents the artist and their story as compelling and lovable as a way as possible, that if I've done it well, by the end I've fallen in love with them a little. And so, by the end, I'm like, "This is my buddy. This is my friend." I've spent all this time with them. I've thought so much about them.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

And unfortunately, it's very rare that that actually ends up being the case that I do become friends with the people who I'm interviewing or who I'm talking to on the show. I would probably love to be friends with all of them. I think the thing that is at the heart of that feeling, that thing that I'm trying to recreate is some feeling of closeness, a mutual closeness. And while I'm getting closer to the people I'm talking to, I don't know that they're feeling that so much in return.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

There've been a couple of instances where people have, and they've written to me after the podcast comes out, and they say, like, "I listened to the thing that you made and I can't believe it." And I've formed friendships or relationships from that. But it's vastly, vastly, vastly the minority of instances. It's most of the time, they just go on, and we just go our separate ways.


Debbie Millman:

Well, I actually think that as a listener and a fan, that neverending conversation is one that you're giving your audience. So, thank you for that.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Thanks so much.


Debbie Millman:

Hrishikesh Hirway, thank you so much for making so much magic. And thank you for joining me today on Design Matters.


Hrishikesh Hirway:

Oh, it's my pleasure. I mean, I partly wanted to come on the show so that it might introduce Song Exploder to some people, but really I was coming on here for research. I wanted to learn from you and get to understand what it's like to be on the other side of one of your interviews, of which I've listened to so many. And it feels like a real privilege and luxury to get to have this conversation with you.


Debbie Millman:

It's such an honor. You can hear Song Exploder, the podcast, on any podcast app. And you can watch “Song Exploder,” the TV series, on Netflix. And you can find out more at songexploder.net.


Debbie Millman:

This is the 16th year we've been podcasting Design Matters. And I'd like to thank you for listening. And remember, we can talk about making a difference, we can make a difference, or we can do both. I'm Debbie Millman. And I look forward to talking with you again soon.

And remember, we can talk about making a difference, we can make a difference, or we can do both.  — Debbie Millman