What goes into crafting a podcast worth listening to?
- Creating and publishing my own podcasts is an exciting prospect. And perhaps a SCARY one, too!
I have long wondered about what kind of conversation, insights, and observations I could share outside of the format of my weekly radio program, which is chiefly music-focused.
As with my freelance writing, I always prefer to have a starting point that’s been predetermined. Case in point, talk to this female saxophonist, Christine Jensen, about her new album and what it means to be a Canadian jazz icon. Then we can break it down from there: who are you, what do you do, why do you do it, how do you do it, what surprised you the most about doing it? You get the idea.
I hope that my interview podcasts featuring King Buzzo and Damian Abraham reveal something about those artists that even the most stalwart fan would find interesting or unusual. Indeed, my favourite aspect of interviewing people is when you flip over a stone and find something living underneath it. Like a devoted metalhead who reveals that he’s deeply into beekeeping.
For example had the pleasure of interviewing Nergal of the Polish death-metal band Behemoth. He was pleased that I had done so much background research on him and knew that he had a degree in museum curation from the University of Gdansk. In hindsight, I was thrilled to the core by his sexy baritone voice and a podcast version of our chat would certainly have brought that extra-value across to the listener, as opposed to the stony silence of the mere pulp-and-ink print version.
*Nergal and Behemoth
Basically, when plotting out a podcast, I try to adhere to the same rules I’d use in creating a radio program, except for my usual on-air edict of “Less talk; more rock!”
Try to keep it clear and simple. And, for the love of all that’s holy, establish some sort of key talking point; a central topic or concept that you can (hopefully) circle back to by the end of your conversation/podcast.
Even if you wander into uncharted territory, keep your audience in mind. Refrain from in-jokes. I tell callers to my radio show, who request such, that “Shout-outs are boring and lame.” And they are. It’s okay to take a pause now and then. What seems like minutes to you is really only seconds on the other end of the broadcast. Catch your breath, swallow that spit, laugh a little, Google that fact, take a sip or a rip. These are all normal activities. But don’t fritter your time (or ours) away either. Roll on!
Consider the working motto of noted movie director Ed Wood:
“Great! Print it!”
I like the idea of creating podcasts in one big go!
Just as my radio show is two-hours of live and uncensored creativity, a podcast can be put out with little or no turn around time.
Yes, you can do it in ONE TAKE — IF : you pay attention and keep it tight. Have something to say before you go on the mic! Tell yourself that there will be no post-recording editing. Set a timer if you’re concerned about length, or better yet just talk until it’s talked out.
After almost two decades of DJ-ing and announcing off-the-cuff, I’m used to looking forward — not back. One and done!
That’s not to say we shouldn’t self-edit and strive for perfection in what we do! You MUST go back and listen to your own material. It’s the best way to pick up on the little improvements that will sculpt and polish your productions.
Do I really “Pop my Ps?” Yes, yes you do.
Little tangents and sideways alleys of thought and discussion are the real meat of the matter. We all know so-and-so had a big hit with “That Song”, but the real pleasure comes from hearing about the singer-songwriter’s passion for homemade jams, jet-skiing, and rescuing hedgehogs. Or whatever…
And, as you can see, I have a predilection for awesome imagery. Podcasting is another opportunity to present imagery in the form of video-casting. Just need to figure out the old soft-focus camera techniques they used on the original Star Trek. What was that? Vaseline on the lens? Genius! She looks like an angel!
It’s a lot of personal exposure. The stakes are high in that regard, but there’s also an ocean of existing (and ongoing) podcasts out there. Sink or swim, but know that there is definitely a “TRY!” in this game.
So much to cover; so much fun to be had!
Electronic wizards Tetrix perform live in-studio during an airing of The Nocturntable on CJSW 90.9FM Calgary, AB
*Follow the link to discover the recently announced “full line-up”!
Read my capsule bios on these of the exciting musical acts that are amongst the 250 band who will be performing at Calgary’s own benchmark music festival SLED ISLAND this June!
Bands I covered for the official Sled Island Festival Guide include:
What’s Wrong, Tohei
Johnny de Courcy and the Death Rangers
Fresh & Onlys
EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NOCTURNTABLE – BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK!
DJ~edi Christine has been rawking the airwaves for the better part of two decades!
Catch her show The Nocturntable live every Saturday night from 8-10pm MT
Listen online via Calgary, Alberta, Canada’s
radical rebel radio station
Also available for your listening pleasure on:
Telus TV: channel 7065
LinkedIn: Christine Leonard-Cripps
Read: The Nocturntable’s blog for everything a culture vulture desires!
Exciting and informative interviews, reviews, and articles about art, music, food, literature, and more!
Metzler doc has Fishbone shining
Everyday Sunshine has vet Cali act navigating the racialized waters of ’70s L.A.
Interview and article by Christine Leonard
We’re all familiar with the images of public school desegregation in Texas back in 1956, black children being led into their formerly all-white schools under guard as angry mobs jeer from the sidelines. Flash forward some 20 years, and the next generation of African-Americans were met with a similar circumstance, as Los Angeles began bussing students from outlying black neighbourhoods into the city’s more affluent and predictably white high schools. Despite protests by white parents, the likes of Fishbone’s Angelo Moore and Norwood Fisher were soon ushered into a previous unexplored environment, one that exposed them to the surf and punk rock culture of their newly acquired peer group.
Already well-acquainted with the worlds of funk, jazz, reggae and R&B, the singer and bassist pooled their talents with drummer Phillip “Fish” Fisher (Norwood’s brother), guitarist Kendall Jones, keyboardist Chris Dowd and trumpet player Walter Kirby to form the original 1979 lineup of Fishbone. Tracing the groundbreaking ensemble’s twisted roots, filmmakers Chris Metzler and Lev Anderson have gone to remarkable lengths to uncover the ins and outs of one of North America’s most influential bands in Everyday Sunshine, screening at this year’s iteration of the Calgary Underground Film Festival.
“They are the storytellers of their age,” explains co-director and writer Chris Metzler. “They grew up in the first post-civil rights generation in the 1970s and were raised with the promise and belief that came with that. The challenge of making the film was to reveal that era of L.A.’s history; it’s one of the most racially polarized yet multicultural spaces in the world. Through Fishbone, we wanted to tell the story of the black experience and the insolence that came from them as a result of the city they came from.”
Of course, no trip to the Hollywood Hills would be complete without some bonafide star-spotting, and Everyday Sunshine doesn’t disappoint. According to Metzler, the directors had a difficult time narrowing down the number of celebrity interviews they could include in the movie. Having spawned innumerable acts in its three-decade career, Fishbone has attracted some pretty impressive followers.
Everyone from Flea to Perry Farrell to Ice T to Gwen Stefani chimes in on Fishbone’s no-holds-barred, genre-straddling, mosh-pit-igniting performances. Stefani, in particular, expresses a deep affection for frontman Moore — his persona has been the single greatest influence on her style as a lead singer. Another of the film’s gems is a smooth and informative narrative thread furnished by none other than Laurence Fishburne, who provides insight into the events and conditions surrounding Fishbone’s meteoric rise to an equally mercurial fall, one that finds the band in court for trying to kidnap/force an intervention on one of its own.
“We tried to stay away from the cache of name recognition in dealing with the celebrities in this film,” says Metzler. “We wanted to stick to people who were family members and close friends for this one, but there are so many who have been personally touched by the band. Contemporaries, followers, friends outside music — there is a lot of admiration for them and a lot of relationships to be talked about. Fishbone has been involved in punk, ska, rock, metal, hip hop…. Everyone wanted in! Laurence knew the band from his days working as a nightclub bouncer back in the ’80s; he was the perfect voice to explain the issues surrounding the film.”
Determined to witness the life of Fishbone firsthand, filmmakers Metzler and Anderson spent three to four years tracking the band on tour, delving into members’ home lives, and watching over their shoulders, as Fisher struggles to get Moore’s alter-ego, Dr. Madd Vibe, to step away from the theremin. Recent and archival concert footage is interwoven with Ground Zero reports, family album-calibre interviews and Fat Albert(ish) animation to deliver an awe-inspiring yet completely sobering account of Fishbone’s tumultuous swim upstream.
“The tough thing about working on a documentary film is that there’s a fine line as to how much filming effects the action,” says Metlzer, of Fishbone’s reaction to being immortalized in celluloid. “In the end you can’t really separate the two, but having a lot of people asking those questions certainly makes the band reflect on things, even when they’re not on-camera. Angelo and Norwood are thoughtful guys, and a lot of the things that came out in the film had been on the tip of their tongues and ruminating in their heads for a while.”
“Sharing these details outside of the self often spurs us on to share even more,” he continues. “What started as a compelling project has become a catalyst. The band is curious to see what happens next. They really loved seeing these interviews; if they had one piece of feedback it was that they wanted to see more of the people. It could have been a 10-hour movie!”
A List of The Nocturntable’s
Favourite Albums of 2013
: as featured on our weekly program airing Saturday nights from 8-10pm MT on CJSW 90.9FM
- CAVE Threace (Drag City) *Recommended track(s): “Sweaty Fingers”, “Arrow’s Myth”
- White Denim Corsicana Lemonade (Downtown) “At Night in Dreams”, “Pretty Green”
- Red Fang Whales and Leeches (Relapse Records) “Blood Like Wine”
- Daft Punk Random Access Memories (Columbia) “Get Lucky”
- Queens of the Stone Age …Like Clockwork (Matador) “I Sat By the Ocean”, “Smooth Sailing”
- ASG Blood Drive (Relapse Records) “Avalanche”
- Russian Circles Memorial (Sargent House) “Lebaron”
- His Electro Blue Voice Ruthless Sperm (Sub Pop) “Spit Dirt”
- Polvo Siberia (Merge) “Total Immersion”, “Anchoress”
- And So I Watch You From Afar All Hail Bright Futures (Sargent House) “Ambulance”
SHOOTING ARROWS AT THE SUN: Christine Leonard interviews Indian Handcrafts’ Brandyn “Bruce Lee” Aikins
More than just your average roadside attraction, Indian Handcrafts is an exceptionally sharp and hard-hitting power duo from the sweltering burbs of Barrie, Ont. A serious contender for album of the year, the outfit’s November 2012 debut on the Sargent House record label, Civil Disobedience For Losers, is an action-packed thrill ride that leaves no doubt that two can sound as good as four, or more. One half of Indian Handcraft’s devastating onslaught, drummer Brandyn Aikins feels fortunate that destiny arranged for him to meet up with guitarist/vocalist Dan Allen at the recording studio of a mutual friend.
“Dan and I started jamming for fun,” Aikins explains. “But, before we knew it, what was basically a fun distraction grew into the foundations of full-fledged band. By 2003, we had formed an indie folk group, called Fox Jaws, which featured my sister, Carleigh, on vocals. Still, Dan and I loved, and had a tendency to want to play, heavy music. So, it was only natural that the whole time we were in Fox Jaws we experimented with other directions we could go in. After a time, we kind of decided that, if we were going to be completely satisfied with what we were doing, we need to change things up and said, ‘Why don’t the two of us try out some of those heavy riffs Dan’s been working on?’”
Leaner and meaner, the trimmed-down twosome of Aikins and Allen began stretching their performing and songwriting skills to achieve the ample-yet-calculated sonic manoeuvres that characterize their sound. Taking themselves outside the box and out of their usual element, Indian Handcrafts conjured the fighting spirit of Bruce Lee on a track named in his honour and succeeded in exorcising their heavy metal demons the old-fashioned way.
“We had a surplus of energy built up coming out of the old band and that helped us write a lot of songs. Lyrically, we were all over the place, stabbing at a lot of themes, ranging from goofy, psychedelic tales, like ‘Terminal Horse,’ to songs about the uprising of Indigenous populations, or Soviet Union-era politics, or individuals who struggle with mental illness, as we allude to on ‘Centari Teenage Riot.’ I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but I have yet to link arms with strangers to stop a tank in the streets. It may not be too deep, but by making my music the way I want to, I can put forth my convictions in my own way.”
Soon to become a worst-kept secret, Indian Handcrafts is preparing to embark on a cross-Canada tour with Billy Talent, Sum 41 and Hollerado. Having made waves at Edgefest, the band that‘s louder than acts three times their size anticipates that they’ll be kicking off 2013 with a bang. And they’ve got the tenacity to hang in there. After all, Allen recorded their stunning new album with a broken hand!
“We try and sound huge and put out that heavy vibe that we’ve always loved and wanted to play. The fact that it’s so much easier to get our act together, as a pared-down two-piece, is purely a bonus. There’s a lot of serendipity in how it’s all come together for us. For now, this is part of my life. It’s what I’m interested in. And, it’s quite an honour. But, I never forget that it’s important to have fun and I’m looking forward to experience things I never knew existed before.”
Originally published in FFWD Weekly Magazine — March 2013
By Christine Leonard