Sound curator Arman Naféei launches another season of his popular podcast series “Are We On Air?” on Thursday with an impressive line up of guests, including designer Rick Owens, photographer Mert Alas, K-pop star CL, German art dealer Johann König, Swedish singer Ulf Ekberg and legendary French singer Amanda Lear.
Now on its third season, the show has seen guests like Patti Smith, Dua Lipa, Jane Birkin, Wolfgang Tillmans, Gia Coppola, Luka Sabbat, and Lykke–Li, Laura Harrier, and David LaChapelle share the tales of their lives and careers through song choice.
Naféei said the idea of starting the series came from his more than a decade’s worth of curating sound experiences for luxury brands and high-end hotels like the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, where he served as the director d’ambiance for the past four years.
“Out of that role, I’ve met a lot of great people. Being in the lobby every night and meeting all these cultural greats, the conversation always returned back to music. I thought why not record these conversations and share that with the world because I received so many great stories and knowledge and great tracks,” Naféei told WWD during a call from Jamaica, where he is developing a new project for later this year.
The new season starts with Lear, who has been on the top of Naféei’s wish list for many years.
“She has been in obscurity for many years, but I finally got to her and we met at Le Meurice in Paris last October, and it was just incredible,” he recalled.
The conversation with Owens happened after he reconnected with the designer via his partner Michèle Lamy, whom Naféei interviewed for the first season of the podcast.
“Rick is, of course, a big music head, just like Michèle. Obviously, technology plays a big role. But what was very surprising was to hear his love for disco, which is one of my favorite subjects. It was quite surprising to hear him talk about disco because you would expect it’s going to be very dark and hard techno, which is part of it, but it’s not everything.
“That’s exactly the idea of ‘Are We On Air?’ Like with Patti Smith, you would expect she just listened to rock ‘n’ roll, but no, it was opera that got her into music,” he said.
Naféei believes that music is a good subject to let people open up so that he can then dive deeper with the guests about their careers and lives.
“I’m not a journalist, so it’s always been an artist-to-artist conversation. The general feedback I get from our listeners is that they have never experienced some of these people in such a personal and intimate, but very interesting and amusing, way. They feel like they’re part of the conversation, that they are sitting with us at the table, at the bar, in the café, in their studio, wherever I do these recordings,” he added.
Speaking of the future, Naféei plans to film some parts of the conversations, like the one with CL, and eventually publish a book summarizing the series.
As for future speakers, he wants to get people from the film industry who are not in promo mode to have an authentic conversation about music and life, as well as more music legends. People on the top of his bucket list include Francis Ford Coppola, Wes Anderson, Diana Ross and Keith Richards.
He is also experimenting with a new segment called “Voice Notes,” which serves as an audio diary to let his 300,000 listeners keep up with what he has been up to.