Music Journalist Dave Tompkins: Interview on the Sound of Young America

Dave Tompkins

Dave Tompkins is a former columnist for The Wire who writes frequently about hip-hop and popular music. His work has appeared in Vibe, The Village Voice, The Believer and Wax Poetics.

His new book, How To Wreck A Nice Beach, describes how the vocoder was created to guard phones from codebreakers during World War II, and soon became a voice-altering tool for musicians. In this way, we see the vocoder as it was used by FDR, JFK, Stanley Kubrick, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Kraftwerk, the Cylons, Henry Kissinger, and Winston Churchill.