Meet the DJ behind ‘Master of None’s amazing soundtrack

21 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Master of None’s’ Lena Waithe Talks Accidental Stardom, ‘Failure to Launch’.

Co-creators Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang may have hit the jackpot with their Netflix series, Master of None, a New York-based dramedy that follows Dev (Ansari), an Indian actor looking for love and his next big break. Everybody’s been raving about the show’s music — which The Fader so eloquently described as “killer” — and binge-watchers have Cowie, in part, to thank. Ansari is the bigger name, what with his stand-up career and a lead role on “Parks and Recreation,” but he and Yang were both with “Parks and Rec” from the very first season, before becoming friends and deciding to pitch a show together. Instead of simply providing comic relief, instead of serving solely as reminders of the main characters’ amusingly dysfunctional childhoods, they are fleshed out and treated as figures worthy of respect.

We’re meant to think he’s flying to Tokyo, to win back his ex-girlfriend Rachel. “Pasta?” Dev replies, the question lingering in his voice. “I really like eating it, and I enjoy making it, so a few days ago I just decided to pack up all my stuff and move to Italy and go to pasta-making school.” I mean, sure, who among us hasn’t dreamed of running away to eat and cook under the Tuscan sun, turning a Roman holiday into a Roman way of life? I spoke to Yang about his engaging and already beloved new show—why it’s set in New York, how much he has in common with Kelvin Yu’s Brian, and how the writers hit the show’s confident, breezy tone.

But thankfully, she ended up being cast as the (formerly white and straight) Denise, main character Dev’s deadpan best friend, and the role was then rewritten as a black lesbian. But just how easily could someone hypothetically drop everything and enroll in a journey toward becoming the next Mario Batali? “I don’t know of any [schools] that just do pasta,” said cookbook author, culinary instructor and pasta expert Giuliano Hazan, who has lived in and spent a lot of time visiting Italy. It’s the classic tale of parents who suffered so their children can become spoiled Americans, and it’s as charming a half hour as I’ve seen all year. Hazan recalled how students at the school run by his mother, famed author Marcella Hazan, would learn how to roll and cut pasta by hand. “That definitely is a craft, and that would take quite a while to master, but actually making the dough, you do it a few times and you get a feel for it,” Hazan said. “So it’s not incredibly difficult.” Maybe this trip will be shorter than Dev anticipates, especially since he seems to have mastered it pretty well with the KitchenAid pasta press given to him by Rachel.

Durutti Column are one of my all time favorites and it delights me beyond belief that their prominent placement in the “Finale” episode may turn more ears towards Vini’s incomparable genius. For instance, I notice that E! in particular will have half-hour previews of upcoming episodes of shows such as “Botched.” Do they have commercials for the half-hour previews of the upcoming episodes?

Like, I want to get this accomplished, I want to have dinner with Oprah, I want to have coffee with Sarah Jessica Parker, I want to have my own show, I want to do these things – that wasn’t on the list, but it was a wonderful surprise. So, it was Aziz and I picking everything and she kind of let us goof off while she did all the hard stuff, like clearing music and keeping track of the projects. It was SO HARD to pick the girl punk/post-punk opening and closing jams for the “Ladies & Gentlemen” episode, there are sooooooo many good songs from that realm! Stateside, students study pasta for about 14 days, said chef Candy Argondizza, ICC’s vice president of culinary and pastry arts, though they continue to make it throughout the program.

I, like most DJs right now, caught the African synth bug pretty hard over these past few years and we salute the sound by hiding tracks from both Ata Kak and William Onyeabor in backgrounds of the show. And I haven’t done a ton of jobs like this so I’m going through stuff that I’ve flagged over the past 15 years that I’ve always wanted to use in something. These stories are very personal to us, and we realized the more personal and specific you got to your own experiences—kind of paradoxically—the more universal they became. Schools, tours and workshops geared toward travelers are the best bet for English speakers. “I do teach pasta-making in Italy,” Marchetti said. “Maybe he should come see me in Abruzzo in September.” Price for the week-long culinary tour organized through Abruzzo Presto: $4,950 per person. Arthur Russell was a massive touchstone for us as far as musical direction for the whole season goes and we feature his tune A Little Lost in the “Mornings” episode.

Dev could possibly cobble together a pasta education with a variety of day- or several-day-long classes, such as those at La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese. Described by former Post staff writer Jane Black as “a kind of boot camp for aspiring pastamakers,” the school in Bologna offers one-day classes from around $100 per person. We have an awesome costume designer, Dana [Covarrubias], who told me to do a Pinterest of clothes and things I liked and designers, so I did that, and she and I became best buddies.

But this pasta obsession — there’s a picture of spaghetti (or is it bucatini?) on Dev’s fridge, while the first descriptor in Ansari’s Twitter profile is “pasta lover” — is kind of an American thing. (A rep for the show said Ansari had to “politely decline” our request for a pasta interview.) Correction: A previous version of this post misstated the number of days students spend studying pasta in the International Culinary Center’s Italian Culinary Experience program. Is that something that you felt self-conscious about at all, that you felt like you were representing a group that hadn’t been represented before, or were you just like, I’m just so excited that this is happening?

Here’s an all time favorite Dilla production from 2006’s The Shining release featuring the great D’Angelo (D’s music appears as a background in the “Indians On TV” episode). Part of what makes that episode so cool is that there’s very little outside of the two characters, so the music had to be just very fragile and I just didn’t have a place for this song but I love it.

I invited my parents to New York for the premiere to watch the episode—because it was really special to me and I wanted them to be there, along with my sister. Q: You have a pretty eclectic range of artists on the soundtrack — Young Buck, New Edition, Johnny Cash — but Arthur Russell and Serge Gainsbourg are the major players. I’m not sure why you’re not here.” And he arrived later at the theater in a panic and said, “I got the date wrong.” He had gone to see a production of the musical “Matilda.” So he missed the screening. But he left halfway through, so hopefully he’s going to get to see the end of “Matilda” at some point too. [Laughs] I hate that I tore him away at the end of that narrative. If you go into Baby’s All Right (a Brooklyn-based club) and hear what the DJ is playing in between bands, it’s the kind of stuff that we play in the show.

There’s a scene where Denise and Dev are at this party where she wants to hook up with a straight woman, and you have this very quick, funny discussion of the woman’s skin tone that is not a conversation that we see on TV too often. And we already had an Aphex Twin song planned for the last episode — that’s Aphex playing when (Dev’s) looking through all of the food reviews, trying to find tacos — so I kind of knew that Aziz was down.

I never want to seem like I’m ungrateful towards this amazing place that allows immigrants to come and start the process of integrating themselves into the culture and making new things and opening up new viewpoints. Q: What about the Ladies & Gentlemen episode where Dev’s stumbling home drunk to Don’t Worry, Be Happy and his female coworker is being harassed to Halloween? Like, you can’t pick a deeper musical juxtaposition and I was so amazed and impressed when he sent that idea over and then terrified because I was like, “How do we clear this?” But it worked! We started polling the crew, like, “Do you know what a redbones is, or have you heard of redbones?” There was a black guy on the crew, and he was like, “Yeah, I’ve heard of that before. It means light-skinned or fair-skinned.” Aziz was like, “Oh, so it’s like a black thing.” The writers quickly found that it’s a thing we say in the black community.

Because for me, when people talked about the good old days—how things were better before—I was always like, well, I don’t think I could have dated someone outside my race, even in the ‘60s. So that’s all part and parcel with let’s not be complete curmudgeons—although there are great shows where the main characters are, like “Curb [Your Enthusiasm],” but you know, that’s not what our show is about. But we did take a few episodes off to really think about this show, and the fact that we have this opportunity where we’re going straight to series and the show was definitely going to exist. And because we had that time, and we traveled around a little bit and did some more thinking, the more we thought about it the more we realized, what if we could do a show that covered anything we’re excited about? We wanted to say, if there’s anything in the world that we can have an excited conversation or argument about, why don’t we do an episode about it?

You guys are going to love each other, you’re similar ages, you’re both among the younger people there.” I hadn’t seen that much of the stuff he’d done, I didn’t really know who he was that much. And working on the show, we had a lot to talk about and a lot to discuss, because [“Parks and Recreation”] was being shaped and the character [Ansari’s character Tom Haverford] was being shaped, and I feel like I was the one Aziz could trust in the writer’s room—obviously he trusted Mike [Schur] a lot too. I would say, specifically for this show, one of the hardest things was integrating the, for a lack of better term, issue-based topic into a story that is compelling and funny. And that is very difficult, when you’re doing these topics. “South Park” does it really well, when they’re tackling issues that are tricky and controversial and heated.

You don’t want to hear too much one side and the other, you don’t want to make light of the issue so much that you’re coming off as grim, and you don’t want to sound so heavy-handed and preachy that people are just turned off and not interested in the story. That’s when writing that doesn’t ring true or scenes that seem contrived or chunks that seem too preachy or message-y or not what a person would actually say, that’s when those things get exposed. And again, not to insult those shows, many of them are some of the greatest shows ever made, but we wanted our show to look a little more dramatic. [Laughs.] Yeah!

We didn’t want it to be too nice, but we didn’t want it to be in like, “Friends” land, where these unemployed actors have 3,000 square-foot apartment. There’s just so much going on, and it’s so dense, and there’s people everywhere and there’s activity everywhere and there’s 50 new restaurants and bars opening every night, and it can be exhausting and frustrating and overwhelming, but it’s also just full of possibilities.

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