What Joe Pera is listening to right now

The turntable in Joe Pera’s apartment is a giant piece of furniture, more antique cabinetry than stereo system. It’s the same one his grandparents had in their living room, and Pera remembers listening to it with her family while they were decorating the Christmas tree. It is a deeply sentimental object, but at this point its core functionality has become something of an issue. “It damages all the records it plays,” says Pera, “and I can not get anyone to repair it.” For this reason, he avoids buying old, expensive vinyl, but notes that he has thrown the dice every time he puts on the latest immersive piano record by the German composer Nils Frahm.

Pera is on the phone from the Brooklyn office, where he recently finished the third season of his gripping and serious show Joe Pera is talking to you, where he plays a Midwestern middle school choir teacher who meditates on the essentials: gardening, hiking, waiting, sitting. As he tells it, the show’s workplace culture is appropriately relaxed and friendly. On Friday, post-production supervisor Benjamin Craig would bake cookies for everyone. One day, Pera Ryan Dann, the series’ composer, found herself in the basement watching a 1992 comedy Beethoven-inspiration for an episode titled “Joe Pera Discusses School-Suitable Entertainment With You.”

Then is backward Talking to yous soothing instrumental score, and Pera says the creation of the overall mood in a given episode is a joint effort. “Ryan will sometimes give us a piece before we start editing, and I think, ‘Oh shit, I have to make this live up to the music he wrote.'” Another bit of Danns score prompted Pera to write one of the show’s distinctive voiceover monologues. “I listened to it and the words just came out,” he recalls.

Much of the music he has listened to while working on the show recently came from a joint playlist with Dann, which he explains below.


Hour: Small houses

Joe Pera: This album is all instrumental; I can not listen to things with lyrics while writing. These are just very beautiful, quiet songs. There were especially a few pieces that I put on and looped while writing, especially when I had to deal with some of the heavier parts of this season.

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