What is your favorite lyric, and from what song?

The answer to this always changes, but right now it has retreated to Belle and Sebastian's "But if there's one thing that I learned when I was still a child it's to take a hiding" (from "I Don't Love Anyone"). It's exactly what you think it means.

If you were in a band, what would it be called and what kind of music would you play?

Zaogao! Contrary to the chaos our name might suggest, we would make music that serves the sole purpose of sounding cool to walk down the street while listening to; think brassy, movie-climax music. Rodrigo y Gabriela should collaborate with Jens Lekman on this, and then let me join them.

What's the best new music you've heard?

I've been listening to a few surf-influenced bands that haven't quite accepted that the '90s are over, like Surfer Blood, and then some dancier acts, such as Phantogram.

If you could meet any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Kathleen Hanna, because the more I find out about her, the more amazed I am by how many girls' lives she's influenced. She was in several punk and electro bands, started zines, taught an art class at NYU, married a Beastie Boy—I'd love to hear about what she's been up to recently.

What is the best love song ever written?

"Eye Know" by De La Soul. It borders on being silly, but is so wonderfully sincere.

If you could dedicate a song to someone, who would it be and why?

I dedicate all great music to my sassier half, Melissa Parker. Who says I need a reason?

What music gets you in the mood?

Stereolab strikes the perfect balance between being bouncy and low-key, and can take full responsibility for getting me out of bed most mornings.

If you were to sing a duet with someone alive in front of a 6,000-people audience, what would you sing and with whom would you sing it?

Again, I would have to invite Ms. Parker to this, and protest though she might, we would sing Sleater-Kinney's "Burn, Don't Freeze." But if it were in front of 6,000 people I'd have to go with "You're No Rock N' Roll Fun."

If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?

"In the Aeroplane Over the Sea." It took me a few years to listen to the whole thing because I was obsessed with playing certain tracks for months before eventually moving on to the B-side.

What's the first album you were ever gifted?

I have never received an album as a gift, but I do have a friend who makes me a mixtape for my birthday almost every year. He usually includes one or two of his original songs, which are always winners.

What's the best concert you've ever been to?

Arcade Fire at Radio City Music Hall, the opener was The National and the show was just as epic as it sounds—not to mention that it was also on a school night. So much street cred.

If you could title your own album, what would it be?

"Sparkleface Bakes Snickerdoodles."

Best road trip soundtrack?

"This American Life" has proven to be great between whole albums on road trips, especially following something energetic that I know all the words to, such as The Pixies' "Doolittle."

Listen to DJ Ahmed's playlist by visiting the Orient Express at


- Compiled by Mariya Ilyas.