Series: The Steer

Hosted by Joshua James Amberson, Karleigh Frisbie Brogan, and Jeff Alessandrelli in Portland, Oregon, The Steer features leading musicians talking about their favorite writers and books and leading writers talking about their favorite musicians and albums. Conversations often go elsewhere and following each talk is a playlist of songs or sounds discussed during the interview. New episodes drop every two weeks.

Novelist Chris Harding Thornton

We talk to writer Chris Harding Thornton about her debut novel, Pickard County Atlas, out this week on MCD Books. We discuss overrated bands, noir, life as an opera major, working at a record store in the 1990s, what our families think about our writing, and the books we hate.

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Chris Harding Thornton–Playlist

Some songs to accompany our talk with novelist Chris Harding Thornton and her new novel Pickard County Atlas.

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Musician Matthew Kallman (of Real Estate)

We chat to Matthew Kallman of the band Real Estate about ordering records from paper catalogs in the ’90s, adaptability, music biographies, the cultish earnestness of The Blue Nile, instrumental music, Real Estate’s new album The Main Thing, and his work as music supervisor for the new HBO miniseries I Know This Much Is True.

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Halloween Special!

On our bonus Halloween episode, we ask: What is Halloween music? Is Halloween music actually spooky? And, if not, what makes music spooky? To figure out the answers to these questions, we discuss and listen to everything from goth to surf, horrorpunk to horrorcore rap, old-time music to modern outsider artists, singing saws, theremins, and novelty songs.

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Replay: Musician & Multigenre Writer Dao Strom

A replay of our conversation with Portland-based writer, musician, and visual artist Dao Strom. We also get caught up with her about her evolution as an artist in the time since this interview and talk about her new book Instrument, as well as its companion album Traveler’s Ode.

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Essayist Elena Passarello

Superstar Oregon essayist Elena Passarello discusses what it’s like to write and think deeply about Elvis Presley in 2020. We chat about her short-lived attempt to be the world’s first prominent female Elvis tribute artist, find out how to sleep in Elvis’ childhood bedroom, and learn all about her SECRET VEGAS WEDDING. We also consult Public Enemy, Gillian Welch, Nick Cave, and Lester Bangs for their thoughts on the so-called King of Rock & Roll.

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Elena Passarello–Playlist

Songs to accompany our chat with essayist Elena Passarello and her writing project on Elvis Presley. Within: deep-cut songs by Elvis, songs about Elvis, songs written for (or almost performed by) Elvis, and songs we wish Elvis would have lived long enough to cover.

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Chelsea Bieker–Playlist

Songs from our conversation with novelist and short story author Chelsea Bieker. Nina Simone, Reba McEntire, Blink-182, Selena, and more.

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Novelist & Short Story Author Chelsea Bieker

Our conversation with Portland writer Chelsea Bieker about her new novel Godshot, and her upcoming short story collection Cowboys and Angels. Within: lost mothers, the power of Nina Simone, Blink-182 t-shirts, the pelvic floor.

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Journalist & Music Writer Santi Elijah Holley

Our chat with Portland journalist and music writer Santi Elijah Holley. We talk about his upcoming Bloomsbury 33 1/3 book, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads, as well as his book-in-progress on the Shakur family and the history of Black liberation movements. We also take a deep dive into the folk ballad “Stagger Lee.”

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