Sounds from the Gowns

ADAM TYNAN talks to DR JASON RENTFROW, Senior Lecturer of Psychology and Fitz PPS DoS, about Jazz, Samba and East 17.

black keys country rock DoS down with the kids east 17 Favourite things first love Fitz guilty pleasure jason rentfrow Jazz John Coltrane mas que nada musical hell phish psychedelia psychology samba sergio mendes and brasil 66 sounds from the gowns

First Love

What was the first song you remember falling in love with?

When I was 19, I fell in love with a band called Phish. The band is known for it’s lively, free-spirited, and psychedelic performances, which are attended by thousands of Phish heads – people who travel the country in caravans to see every show. When I fell for Phish, I was intoxicated by the sophistication of their compositions and the breadth of their repertoire (they can’t be pinned to one genre). This particular song was my all-time favorite. It’s uncharacteristically long for a ‘rock’ song, but there are so many changes throughout the piece – from rock, to blues, to funk, to jazz, to guitar hero solo and back again – that it’s impossible to get bored while listening.


Music Hell

Is there a song you find abhorrent?  Imagine a track being used on repeat as a ritual torture method and you get the idea.

This is an extremely difficult one. Although I like most styles of music, I find the manufactured candy pop performed by boy bands completely detestable. I find nothing creative, original, or inspiring in the music. It’s like junk food, too much of it will make you ill. I have no particular attachment to this specific song other than it makes me nauseous to hear more than 5 seconds of it.


Down with the Kids

An opportunity to demonstrate how in touch you are with the current undergraduate population. Any track that you think is trendy and relevant to the students of Cambridge today.

I don’t have nearly the amount of time now to discover new music as I did when I was younger, but my research helps expose me to new music periodically. Among the current bands that I enjoy is the Black Keys. I like their lo-fi country rock sound. I like the grit and edginess of this particular song. It reminds me of being younger and having a more carefree approach to life.


Guilty Pleasure

You love it. But you’d rather everyone didn’t know about it.

I discovered the album ‘Herb Alpert Presents Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66’ while digging through a box of old records at the Salvation Army while I was at University. I thought the photo on the album cover was very 1960’s kitsch, and it was only 25 cents, so I bought it. Every time I listen to this song it makes me smile. There’s something very silly about it and its lyrics, but I love samba and this is really fun samba pop music.


The Cambridge Entrance Test

For this final category imagine that instead of traditional Cambridge entrance requirements (interviews, results, personal statements etc), each candidate sends in a CD containing one track. What song would win, without fail, a hallowed place in your department?

Once I grew out of the Phish phase and discovered that there was much more than just their music, I became and have remained an avid jazz listener. There are so many jazz artists and pieces that I love that I find it very difficult to identify just one. That said, John Coltrane is among my all-time favorite jazz artists and this song represents, to me, all of his brilliance. This is a lighthearted Christmas song that was performed in the Sound of Music, but Coltrane introduced complex harmonies and made it much more cerebral and darker.