Input/Output – February Edition

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We’re one month and 12 days into 2018 and it’s time to check in.

Input (What I’ve been putting into my eyes and ears this year…)

Podcasts

Podcasts now far outweigh TV shows and films as my medium of choice. I use Stitcher to listen and have a number of absolute core shows I listen to.

Hellbent – The tagline is ‘a feminist podcast for those who resist and persist’. the two hosts, Devon and Drexel are great and their remit covers all kinds of important topics – lots of current affairs and politics especially as it relates to equality, healthcare, family law etc. The tone is strong and honest and bold. This one is a new find but I love what I hear so far.

Inflection Point – Presented by Lauren Schiller and always with a fascinating roster of guests. The tagline is ‘how women rise up’ and there’s some great episodes like How to bring Joy into the Resistance and one about Alex Bernadotte’s Beyond 12 programme for underserved college students including first gen immigrants and low income families.

Slow Burn – This is an incredible series about Richard Nixon and Watergate made by Slate. The theme is fascinating enough but this podcast goes beyond the standard stuff we all know about the enormous garbage fire that was Watergate and goes deep with lots of interview content with those close to the various stages of the story.

The Gender Knot – Exploring the new masculinity and femininity is their remit and the topics are far-reaching and always interesting. It’s thought-provoking and contemplative with broad topics like Does Gender Shape Business? as well as topics that reflect the current climate such as How Will #Metoo Affect Dating?

Up and Vanished – Late to the party, I know but to the 7 of you that haven’t listened – DO IT NOW. I’m just glad I discovered it when all the episodes were available so I didn’t have to wait in between. It’s made by Payne Lindsey and focuses on a 12 year old cold case  – the disappearance of 30 year old Tara Grinstead in Ocilla, Georgia. It really is extraordinary to listen as it turns from a cold case to an active case during the course of, and as a direct result of, this podcast.

Last Podcast On The Left – I. LOVE. THIS. SHOW. Hosted by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski. If you want in-depth investigations into true crime, cults and aliens, finding this will be like all your Christmasses come at once. This is the podcast that makes you snort with laughter on the Tube and wake up the snoozing commuter next to you. It’s really hard to pick a favourite episode but I will say I keep episode 81: Female Serial Killers on my downloaded list at all times because it is gold.

Output

February’s turned into a lovely month for gigs so you can see me as part of a small, a medium AND a large ensemble setting across England –

19th – Calum Gourlay Big Band @ The Vortex, London

21st – What Love? @ The Lescar, Sheffield

22nd – Deep Tide Quartet @ Claptrap, Stourbridge

23rd – What Love? @ Listen, Cambridge

I did a pretty in-depth interview for LCoM which was published today as one of their Alumni profiles. Read it in full here.

Here’s a snippet…

 Some of your recent work has involved the use of graphic scores and the visualisation/sonification of data. How important to you think it is for jazz musicians to push the boundaries of musical notation?

I think it’s important for musicians to be true to themselves and that it’s ok if your voice as an artist sits outside of the mainstream. I’m at home in the world of improvised music and graphic scores because it feels very honest to me. Part of developing as an artist is about trying lots of things on for size and figuring out what fits and what doesn’t. Visualisation and sonification of data is something I’m really excited by at the moment. For example, I wrote a score for the Visualising Music event at the RA called Feeling Truth, which took data sets from the Earthquake Swarms in Oklahoma caused by the oil industry’s wastewater injection process. Through that performance, I’ve started working with an artist called Liz K Miller on a graphic scoring project and I’ve quite a few things in the works for this year in that field. I LOVE hearing people talk about their work and about artistic process, so I try to incorporate that into my work, too. I mainly use my website for that purpose.

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Thinking about podcasts…

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Last week I took my first steps into the world of audio production and editing, working on a podcast for Sebastian at London Jazz News. I don’t think the flood of job offers from podcast companies, the BBC, Channel 4 etc will start just yet but I did enjoy myself and managed to get to grips with the basics.

See the brilliant London Jazz News to hear the Essiet Essiet podcast I edited, plus a whole host of other articles, features and reviews.

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting up a podcast myself for a while now and what this job proved was how far you can get with a piece of free software like Audacity. It also got me thinking about what I look for in a podcast and which are my favourites…

Reply All – My all-time favourite podcast. It’s the only one where I’ll check pretty much daily to see whether a new episode is up. It’s about the internet, broadly speaking, but the scope is massive. What ties it together is that the two presenters, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, have strong chemistry and are great storytellers. Each episode will be focused on one topic with a couple of themed segments popping up regularly – Yes Yes No, where their boss brings to them a tweet he doesn’t understand and they decipher it and Super Tech Support where listeners essentially get in touch to propose stories for them to look into. Very well produced and I haven’t come across a bad episode yet.

Episode to check out: #81 – In The Tall Grass

Intercepted – This is the podcast version of online news publication, The Intercept_ and is focused on following the often surreal and terrifying activities of the US government since Trump became president. Presenter Jeremy Scahill, a well-respected political journalist and award-winning author, deals with one main issue per episode including an interview with someone connected to the issue. His conversation style when interviewing is strong and direct but not bull-headed and he presents facts and figures in a way that makes you come away feeling like you’ve learned something vital.

Episode to check out: Wikileaks vs. the CIA 

WTF with Marc Maron – I’m pretty sure if you’ve ever listened to podcasts, you’ll have at the very least heard of Marc Maron’s one. This podcast perfectly sums up what podcasting is about for me; conversations and honesty.  The traditional interviewer/interviewee set-up can often end up being a little stiff and reverential. It’s an artificial social situation and it feels that way. With WTF, it’s more like you’re a fly on the wall during a conversation. There are over 800 episodes and the guest list is amazing – from Edie Falco to Al Gore.

Episode to check out: 794 – Louis Theroux

I’ve searched a little for podcasts on music and books, two of my life’s great loves. But every one that I’ve found has fallen short; so many are dry or fawning. No personality.

I’m always on the look out for more to listen to, so drop me a line if you’ve any suggestions!

PS – I find my podcasts on Stitcher and Spotify.