Nardwuar, the Human Serviette is a journalist famous for his interviews with all your favorite artists, but you've probably never heard of him. If you have, you know that he's hands-down the best interviewer in music journalism today and you know that's not an exaggeration. Born John Ruskin, the 46-year-old radio DJ is from Vancouver, Canada — which he reps every chance he gets.
Nardwuar got his start in radio. He stills runs a show on the public radio station CiTR-FM, where he's worked since the mid-'80s.
His schtick can be a lot to take in at first encounter.
These days he's best known for his interviews with rappers, though he's interviewed all kinds of musicians in his career — from Ludacris to Kurt Cobain to Lady Gaga.
His earnestness, clear passion for music, and respect for his interview subjects, as evidenced through his rigorous and unmatched research about them, make people open up like they rarely would otherwise. He presents his subjects with gifts pertaining to significant but little-known moments from their lives or their influences — ranging from rare vinyl records to collectible figurines and puppets to posters.
1. Nardwuar x N.E.R.D.
2. Nardwuar x Mikhail Gorbachev (1993)
Nardwuar actually got his start by interviewing politicians, which is kind of insane to think about now. But here he is in 1993, sneaking in a a question or two during a press conference.
Of the encounter, Nardwuar told Spin last year:
For this encounter I attempted, in Russian, to tell Mikhail Gorbachev to 'Keep on rockin' in the free world' and also to ask him (in English), 'Of all the world leaders you have encountered, who has the biggest pants?' Before Gorbachev could really answer, the organizers of the news conference cut off his microphone. However, as I was getting kicked out I could hear the translator say, 'Sorry, I did not understand your Russian.' I also spotted a smile on Gorbachev's face.