DJ Sessions: Accountants Take The Stage

KCRW’s Anthony Valadez shares the latest music he’s listening to with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson, including two musicians who’ve worked or do work as accountants.

Note: We now have a Spotify playlist for our weekly DJ Sessions segment! The playlist will be updated each week with new songs. Spotify is free to use, but requires a login. See the playlist here.

Songs Heard In This Segment

James Tillman, “Love Within”


Taylor McFerrin featuring Robert Glasper and Thundercat, “Already There”

Taylor McFerrin, performing at the last Jazz Mix Session 2007 in France


Spinnerty, “Noel’s Dream”


The Roots featuring Raheem DeVaughn, “Tomorrow”


The Roots featuring Raheem DeVaughn, ”The Unraveling”



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OK, let's take a few minutes now for the HERE AND NOW DJ sessions.


HOBSON: Anthony Valadez is a DJ with KCRW in Santa Monica. He is with us once again. Hi, Anthony.

ANTHONY VALADEZ: Hey, J-Hob. Great to be back.

HOBSON: I love that you call me J-Hob, and so does Travis Holcombe from KCRW. Well, let's get right...

VALADEZ: Are you serious?

HOBSON: Yes. He was the second one to do it. You started. But it has continued.

VALADEZ: Well, let's establish that. Let's establish that.

HOBSON: Well, let's get right to the music, Anthony. This is Washington, D.C. native James Tillman. The song is "Love Within."


HOBSON: Sounds a little bit like Seal.

VALADEZ: It does. James Tillman is a vocalist - just met him a few years back out in New York City. He had a guitar in hand. He totally had this whole kind of independent artist trying to find himself. But he's originally from D.C. Moved out to pursue a career in accounting and kind of pushed all that aside to focus on music. And he enrolled into the New School in New York City as a vocal major. And his music just moves me. It's very genuine, very pure. It's just - it's beautiful.

HOBSON: And I don't hear any accounting in it at all.

VALADEZ: Totally. That's - I love when - you know, James Tillman is an example of an artist - as I mentioned, I saw him. He was wearing shorts, a beat-up t-shirt and a guitar. And he kind of exemplifies that artist that follows his dreams - moves into the big city and pursues it and does it. And I love that.

HOBSON: OK, the next artist we're going to hear from is somebody who was on a previous DJ sessions - Taylor McFerrin. He is the son of Bobby McFerrin. Here's the song "Already There" featuring Robert Glasper and Thundercat.


HOBSON: What do you hear here in this music, Anthony?

VALADEZ: I hear everything. You know, I remember as a kid record digging over at Tower Records. And there used to be genres and classifications wherever you wanted to find a certain sound. But these three artists - Taylor McFerrin, Robert Glasper and Thundercat - are pushing boundaries.

Thundercat known in the jazz world also in the electronic world, signed with Flying Lotus's record label. And Robert Glasper, you know, a traditional jazz pianist who's playing with the likes of Balogh, Mos Def. And Taylor with the electronic feel. They're just all over the place. And I love what's happening with Taylor McFerrin's record. It's called "Easy Riser," and it's forth coming on Brainfeeder.

HOBSON: And, you know, as you do when you hear the son of a famous musician, you're trying to hear something that's similar, something that was passed down. Do you hear anything of Bobby McFerrin in what Taylor McFerrin is doing?

VALADEZ: Totally. Taylor McFerrin is known for kind of continuing the tradition of the percussion elements with the mouth. He does beat box. And if you watch him live, it's incredible. He creates a song live on the spot where he beatboxes and he samples that. And it's kind of this next tradition of what Bobby McFerrin did but with a futuristic twist. It's really cool.


HOBSON: OK, next up is a producer and DJ named Spinnerty, who actually, Anthony, is someone I went to high school with. The song is "Noel's Dream."


HOBSON: OK, it's funny for me to ask you to tell me more about Spinnerty because, really, I should tell you more about Spinnerty.

VALADEZ: I'm sure you should.

HOBSON: But tell me more about Spinnerty, Anthony.

VALADEZ: Spinnerty's one of the nicest guy that you can find...

HOBSON: That is true.

VALADEZ: ...Riding his bicycle. He's always, you know, always running around town with his cute little helmet on, riding his bike from gig to gig. And, you know, it should be noted, I believe he during the day, he's an accountant. He's an independent...


VALADEZ: ...Contractor. You know, he's kind of like James Tillman, except he's playing it safe. He still has that day job. But at night, you know, he's DJing around the city. And what I love about this song is how he explores kind of jazz textures with the drum patterns and the sounds.

And he has one of the sharpest ears, musically speaking, I must say. And you definitely hear in this song. And speaking of San Francisco, when I listen to this song, I kind of envision and I feel that marine layer coming in at night. And that's why I love Spinnerty. He kind of incorporates this texture through sound.

HOBSON: Well, you know, I know where his musical talents all began because he and I were in "Guys And Dolls" together at our high school way back in the day. And I'm sure he can still do - anybody who's in San Francisco listening to this, if you go see Spinnerty, go as him to do, you know, I got the horse right here. His name is Paul Revere. I bet he could still do it.

OK, Anthony...

VALADEZ: Yes, sir.

HOBSON: ...One more we've got time for. The Roots, currently "The Tonight Show" house band. They're out with a new studio album. Let's listen to the song "Tomorrow."


HOBSON: I just love that.

VALADEZ: Oh, yeah. Isn't that inspiring?


VALADEZ: Well, that features a track by an artist - let's see. His name is Raheem DeVaughn. And what I love about The Roots is they break artists left and right. And previously, they broke Cody Chestnutt, Eve, who's blown up with great mainstream success, Jill Scott, who's gone on to win Grammies. And this is one Raheem DeVaughn who's another vocalist who has been putting a lot of sweat in the game for a long time. So it's great to see him get some shine.

But, you know, as you mentioned, they are the house band for "The Tonight Show." But also, you know, they've been touring forever - 20-plus years and grinding. So it's nice to see them get this love but still remain true to their base and experiments.

And this concept album is really interesting how they explore various situations or topics such as the economy and growing up in America. And I love what they do. They're very smart. It's The Roots. And I love this track. It's called "Tomorrow."


HOBSON: And the album is called "And Then You Shoot Your Cousin," which they described...

VALADEZ: Which I love.

HOBSON: Yeah. They've called that a satirical look at violence and hip-hop in American society.

VALADEZ: Which I love because they're a thinking man's group. You know, they do a lot of stuff and it makes you wonder, like, where did that come from? And then you'll always find Quest Love writing a manifesto about why an album's titles this or that. If you look at their album titles, you know, they do make you think. And I love that about The Roots.

HOBSON: Anthony Valadez, DJ with KCRW in Santa Monica, California. Anthony, thanks so much as always.

VALADEZ: Thanks for having me.

HOBSON: And you can find a full list of Anthony's picks at And you can listen to our DJ session playlist on Spotify. Just search for NPR HERE AND NOW.


Come on, Jeremy. (Singing) I got a horse right here. His name is Paul...

HOBSON: I was Nathan Detroit. The only solo I had, I think, was "Sue Me."

YOUNG: We're going to have to hear that someday.

HOBSON: HERE AND NOW is a production of NPR and WBUR Boston in association with the BBC World Service. I'm Jeremy Hobson.

YOUNG: I'm Robin Young. It's HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.