With her debut album Switched-On Bach, composer and electronic musician Wendy Carlos brought the sound of the Moog synthesizer to a generation of listeners, helping to effect arguably one of the most substantial changes in popular music’s sound since musicians began using amplifiers. She composed the soundtracks to Clockwork Orange and The Shining, films with huge cultural significance. She is also a transgender woman, an identity that shaped nearly as many aspects of her life and public reception as her music, musicologist Amanda Sewell asserts.
Sewell joins us to discuss her biography of Carlos—Wendy Carlos: A Biography—in a livestreamed conversation with author Samantha Allen. Sewell shares that Carlos’ story is not only one of a person who blazed new trails in electronic music for decades but is also the story of a person who intersected in many ways with American popular culture, medicine, and social trends. She examines how societal factors surrounding the treatment of transgender people affected many of the decisions that Carlos has made over the decades, and how the perception of transgender people has colored the reception of her music. Join us for this essential exploration of gender and popular culture through the story of an overlooked composer.
Amanda Sewell is Music Director of Interlochen Public Radio. Her research about music has appeared in textbooks, academic journals, and music encyclopedias. She holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Indiana University, and frequently contributes program notes for performances of classical music. You can follow her on Twitter @amandasewellPhD.
Samantha Allen is the author of the books Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States and Love & Estrogen. She is a GLAAD Award-winning journalist, and her work has been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Out, and more. She holds a Ph.D. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. You can follow her on Twitter @SLAwrites.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.