FINAL FRIDAY: Juan's Basement

A special feature posted on the final Friday of every month in THE PLG's +1 blog!


By Duck Kolenik

(Juan Pieczanski pictured above with the band Homeshake)

I'm super tickled to kick off the ‘Final Friday Feature’ (end of each month on PLG’s +1 blog) with this interview.  I recently got to gab with the host of ‘Juan’s Basement’ and serve him my best concoction of thoughtful, yet tasty questions.  For those of you who don’t yet know Juan Pieczanski, or his basement, the show is a live video series currently airing on Pitchfork.  And for those of you who don’t yet know Pitchfork (and live below a boulder?), it’s essentially musical gospel; a must read with all the cred and all the chops.      

The skinny premise is Juan invites a rad band to come over to his house in Brooklyn and jam out in his basement, then have a chilled chat to conclude.  My fantasy interview series actualized!  He has already nabbed some of the brightest bands on the block: Vampire Weekend, Deerhoof, Beach House, Broken Social Scene, Dr. Dog, Iceage…  just to throw a few of my favorites at you.  I can’t divulge exactly who, but there is a collection of gems set to stop by this season, so be sure to tune in.

A little backstory: I’ve known this musical mastermind (who is quite humble and will be embarrassed I wrote that, but it was worth it) for over a decade.  He is the wildly clever bassist in the band, Small Black, a record producer, sound engineer, Extraterrestrial enthusiast and an extremely charming show host.  I spent many a nights sweating and swaying in the now notable Park Slope basement, and I’m still at heart just a big admirer of Juan and the show.  Unabashedly borrowing a descriptive from ‘Almost Famous’, Juan’s easy vibes mixed with the diverse talent he interviews is... incendiary!

Check out the interview below, then rock on and click to see an episode of the show! 

DK: What’s your favorite moment from any season of Juan’s Basement?

JP: The moment David Berman from Silver Jews wrote and recited a new poem in my backyard :)

DK: Since your show combines two worlds… What are you watching on TV right now? AND what record can you not stop listening to? 

JP: I’m obsessed with Masterchef Australia, it’s the most relevant and passionate cooking competition on TV. I’m also very into food, I wanna add a cooking segment to my show one day. I also love Grace and Frankie!

DK: Something no one knows about you? For instance, when I scratch my knees I cough. Bizarre, I know.  

JP: Hmmm… I’m very double-jointed, and highly ticklish. 

DK: Favorite song recorded by an artist on your show? 

JP: It’s gotta be The Walkmen playing “The Rat”, for nostalgic reasons. I grew up with their music and they’re from the same area in DC, so it was everything coming full circle. 

DK: The best piece of advice you were ever given by a fellow musician?

JP: I’d have to say the best advice was to remember the sound guy’s name!

DK: What was the last thing you laughed really hard about?

JP: I really enjoyed a standup set by Aparna Nancherla on Netflix’s show “The Standups”.  She’s phenomenal. 

DK: What’s the most irritating thing you hear in a song these days? For example, as a writer, it drives me crazy when in a script someone at a bar says, “I’ll have a beer”.  No specific kind or anything.  Why! 

JP: I really hate anything with that millennial whoop, especially in indie music or mainstream pop that references folk music. I won’t name names… 

DK: What is something you’d like to be asked in an interview but never are?  Answer it …

JP: What would my final meal be? Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, a chocolate milkshake, and a slice of red velvet cake.

DK: What’s your main motivation for creating? Reason behind deciding to start Juan’s Basement?

JP: It feels like the best use of my limited time here. I dabble in a lot of areas, playing live music, TV production and sound engineering. I don’t feel like a total master at any but I also couldn’t commit to just one.

DK: Any fun & embarrassing stories that happened to you during a taping, interview, show, outing, etc.?

JP: Tons! Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene showed up still drunk from the night before, he really gave me a hard time on camera, but I was such a fan and happy they played that I just went along with it to the best of my ability! Their performance rocked though which is the most important thing, but you can never predict people’s moods and it’s live TV, so you gotta just roll with it…

DK: Is there anything you’d like to get off your chest about anything happening in the world right now?  This is your chance to be free!  

JP: I think I’ve said it all, I’ve said too much! Lol.  No, but seriously, let’s get UFO disclosure happening for everyone! People have the right to know. 

DK: Any inside tips about this new season?

JP: I really want to diversify the show into other genres like Rap, Pop, R&B, Jazz, so hopefully you’ll see a surprising booking sometime this year!


DK: Favorite house/ apartment / whatever you ever lived in?  What was magical about it?

JP: Obviously my favorite is MY house! It contains my much needed basement space!

DK: If you could buy a house anywhere on the planet where would it be?

JP: If I could get a place anywhere it'd be... hmmmm... I hate to say it, but a house in LA. I love it there but always am drawn back to NYC. But having a place out there would give me access to Vancouver, all of the beautiful areas in CA, and Mexico. It's a no-brainer for me.

Juefeng Ge