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John Cale, ever restless, keeps moving out of his comfort zone

John Cale says hip-hop is the avant-garde of today.
Valerie Macon
AFP via Getty Images
John Cale says hip-hop is the avant-garde of today.

With a legendary musical career that spans decades, John Cale is still restlessly creating and collaborating on new music.

Who is he? The Welsh musician, producer and avant-garde royalty was one of the founding members of The Velvet Underground, and had a part in some the most iconic experimental music of the late 20th century.

  • Cale has collaborated with and produced for artists like Nico, The Modern Lovers, The Stooges, Patti Smith, David Byrne and Nick Drake, just to name a few.

Want more on musical legends? Listen to Consider This dive into the life of the late Tony Bennett.

What's he doing now? At the age of 81, Cale is still performing, collaborating and finding inspiration.

  • His most recent Album, Mercy, was released at the start of the year and includes collaborators like Weyes Blood, Sylvan Esso and Animal Collective.

What's he saying?
Cale spoke with All Things Considered host Juana Summers earlier this year about the longevity of his music career.

On why he wanted to work with these specific artists:

On being influenced by trap and hip-hop:

On pushing himself past musical precedents he has set before:

So, what now?

  • Here's Cale on what's next for him: "I have this uncanny kind of idea that if you go and end up in a corner that you feel uncomfortable in, something will happen, and you will come up with a solution. So that's kind of my mantra."
  • Mercy is out now.

Learn more:

The interview with John Cale was conducted by Juana Summers, produced by Noah Caldwell and edited by Sarah Handel. contributed to this story

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Manuela López Restrepo
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.