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KAXE's Top 2023 Music Interviews

KAXE's Music Director Kari Hedlund and Centerstage Minnesota Producer Malachy Koons in KAXE's studio. Hedlund is on the right wearing a black blazer and Koons is on the left in a dark blue button up and hat.
Maria Hileman
KAXE's Kari Hedlund and Malachy Koons in 2023.

Highlights from the many music interviews heard on KAXE, including Alan Sparhawk, Dan Wilson, Ira Kaplan, Mason Jennings, Dessa and more.

2023 saw the KAXE music team expand their musician interviews and features to highlight the wide range of music you hear on the radio station. Across New Music and Centerstage Minnesota, hosts Kari Hedlund and Malachy Koons spoke to musicians like Alan Sparhawk, Amanda Shires, Lucinda Williams, LAAMAR, Nat Myers, Dessa, and many more. Giving you a behind the scenes look at artist’s process, inspiration, and personal story.

Here is our roundup of 2023 interviews we think are worth revisiting.

Alan Sparhawk

In November of 2022, Sparhawk's wife and Low bandmate, Mimi Parker passed away from ovarian cancer. Just a few months later in March, Alan spoke to KAXE Music Director Kari Hedlund about grief and the healing power of music.

Amanda Shires

A photo looking over a crowd of people towards a stage where Amanda Shires is singing and holding a violin.
Amanda Shires performing in Grand Rapids at the 2023 Riverfest.

This summer, Amanda Shires released an album she made with the late Bobbie Nelson called Loving You. In September, she performed at the 2023 Grand Rapids Riverfest, both as a solo artist and with her husband Jason Isbell as a member of The 400 Unit. In between, she spoke to Kari Hedlund about the new album, being a woman in country music, her relationship with Isbell, and why they were looking forward to playing in a "small town."


Speaking to Malachy Koons on Centerstage Minnesota, Geoffrey Lamar Wilson (LAAMAR) shared how he can sometimes pinpoint the moment attendees of his concerts realize what he is singing about. Behind the catchy choruses and easy on the ear melodies of his debut EP Flowers, are honest and up-front depictions of everyday hardships faced by BIPOC communities in America. That mixture caught the ear of many at KAXE, and standout single "Home To My Baby" was selected as our top song of the year.

Annie Humphrey

The Leech Lake Anishinaabe singer-songwriter's October release, The Light In My Bones, found Humphrey grappling with loss and her role as a young elder. In her New Music conversation with Kari Hedlund, she shared how her life has changed since the loss of her father, and about entering her Fourth Hill of Life.

Lucinda Williams

The iconic Americana artist had a busy 2023, releasing a new album Stories From A Rock n Roll Heart, and her first memoir Don't Tell Anybody the Stories I Told You, all while recovering from a 2020 stroke that left her unable to play guitar. Williams joined Malachy Koons on New Music to talk about recovery, the new releases, and her love for Minnesota and The Replacements.

Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo

Cult indie rock band Yo La Tengo released their 17th album This Stupid World in February, featuring singles "Aselestine" and "Fallout." In March, co-founder, vocalist, and guitarist, Ira Kaplan spoke to Kari Hedlund about the band's enjoyment of trying new things and how this has kept them going for over 40 years. You also get to hear stripped down performances of the two singles.

Kassa Overall

Many modern jazz musicians have grown up with hip-hop their whole lives, leading to increasingly blurred lines between the two worlds. Rapper and jazz drummer Kassa Overall is a great example of that, and this conversation with Kari Hedlund digs into his 2023 jazz/rap hybrid album Animals. There is also a cute yet hard hitting question from future interviewer Signe Hedlund.

Nat Myers

With his rootsy blend of folk and blues, Kentuckian Nat Myers was one of Americana's breakout acts in 2023. Kari Hedlund caught up with Myers at this year's AmericanaFest in Nashville, discussing his debut album Yellow Peril and growing up biracial in Kentucky.

Dan Wilson

Minnesota favorites Semisonic returned in 2023 with Little Bit of Sun, their first new album in 22 years. Lead singer and primary songwriter Dan Wilson joined Malachy Koons on Centerstage Minnesota to talk about the album and his childhood summers spent in Grand Rapids, MN.

Brandy Clark

In another AmericanaFest conversation, Brandy Clark shared about her relationship with Brandi Carlile, who produced Clark's 2023 self-titled release. "I think you’re working with one of the greatest singers to ever live,” Clark said, “and so she can ask things of me vocally that someone who’s not one of the greatest singers in the world can ask because she can do it.”


Rapper and singer Dessa holding a microphone. Her hands are up in the air and she is wearing black sunglasses.
Lorie Shaull
Minnesota singer and rapper Dessa performing in Grand Rapids, MN at 2023 Riverfest.

Minnesota rapper and singer Dessa was a guest on New Music ahead of her Bury the Lede album, and her opening slot on the 2023 Grand Rapids Riverfest lineup. The always eloquent and thoughtful musician touched on everything from Picasso's Guernica to the cultural differences of her two homes, Minneapolis and New York City.


St. Paul group, Heiruspecs have been mainstays of the Minnesota hip-hop scene since forming while attending St. Paul Central High School. Right at the end of 2022, known for their live-band approach to hip-hop, the group released their first album in eight years, Pretty Random But What Happened to the Heiruspecs? In this Centerstage Minnesota conversation, MC Felix and bassist Sean McPherson shared how they have continued to give back to their community through an arts scholarship.

Ross Thorn

This Duluth-based singer-songwriter stopped by the KAXE studios for a live session and interview in July. Hear stripped down performances of "Gravedigger's Son", "Gimme A Coin" and "Lion's Den", all from his debut album Hugo.

Bettye LaVette

Over 60 years into her career, legendary soul singer Bettye LaVette shows no signs of slowing down. In June, she released a collection of songs written by Randall Bramblett called LaVette! that was selected as KAXE's Album of the Week. She spoke to Kari Hedlund about her connection to Bramblett's songs, and the highs and lows of her lengthy career.


Inspired by a Beatrix Potter novel, HALEY titled her new album Hunca Munca. In a Centerstage Minnesota interview with Malachy Koons prior to the album release, she shared why Potter's children's novels are still relevant, and why they continue to resonate with her.

David Wax Museum

In a conversation that is sure that give you all the feels, David Wax and Suz Slezak spoke to Kari Hedlund about their latest album You Must Change Your Life. During their talk the conversation naturally moved to an unexpected topic - life after the band - bringing Slezak to tears. Watch the included video interview for the full effect.

Mason Jennings

Western, born in 2022, is not Mason Jennings first child. But he is the first that came hand in hand with a creative burst. The time spent with his newborn, led to Jennings 2023 album Underneath the Roses, and the singer-songwriter talked on Centerstage Minnesota about the unlikely source of inspiration.


Nur-D is a musician whose humor and positivity shines through on all of his songs. On his 2023 album, Crush, he took that to a whole new level. In this interview he explains where that comes from, and how his music helps him to overcome negative thoughts about one's self.

Keep your eyes peeled for more in-depth and honest conversations in 2024. Stay up to date on new interviews by following KAXE on Facebook and Instagram.

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Malachy started his radio career at a college radio station, where he played weird music in the middle of the night to possibly no one. On a good night maybe his parents were listening. Nonetheless, he was hooked on public radio and is still doing it today. He joined Northern Community Radio in 2022, where he gets to share his passion for local music as Producer of Centerstage Minnesota, an all Minnesota music show airing Fridays at 2pm.
The music director at KAXE since 2014, Kari (pronounced Car-ee) Hedlund reviews music on the daily. She also hosts New Music every Wednesday (2 and 10 p.m.) and Sunday (noon), along with the KAXE Morning Show on Thursdays.