I'm prepping Lives in Music Podcast Series 3. It's different now.
I must start with an apology. I've been quiet on the podcast front. There's a number or reasons for this, obvious and not so obvious.
Our gig scene has been squashed flat.
Firstly: we've lost our live music scene.
This breaks my heart. One of my great pleasures is to settle in for a
night of stonking live music, joining friends and like-minded souls in a
warm and welcoming space, with a pint or something stronger to hand. And then
the show starts, and I'm carried away by great musicianship. It can
be, rarely, in an enormodome. But I prefer smaller venues, where you
can relate to the artist. I especially prefer the smallest venues, where it all starts. I've been in pub rooms with a few
dozen kindred souls, and I've had unforgettable nights. I miss
that so much.
So it's been difficult to document those golden live moments, when... there haven’t been any. I’ve had a lot less to write about. I've also had to scrap some very pertinent interviews with venue owners. I'll hopefully revisit these when we can get out and about again.
For me, the essence of getting a great interview is to share space, to have eye contact, to have an intimate connection. I've been used to travelling across town, hooking up a mic to my subject, and diving into a long conversation, which finds its way into the finished podcast episode. That is no more, for the time being.
Live performances online? I'm grateful, but it's not the same.I follow a lot of people online. I check out their streamed live shows. I'm glad to see them, and I hope that their work generates some revenue. But typing a helpful message of support into Facebook is the only way we can react. The artists can't hear our denatured applause. The compromise of streaming a gig with a live audience – if that can be managed – is the best we have right now.
An alternative, and one that I very much enjoy, is the very produced multi-artist compilation. These work, sometimes to great effect, but it's a different confection. The artists must work to a basic track for timing purposes, so the result is, inevitably, produced. In an upcoming series 3 podcast, I go though this in some detail. But there have been some extraordinary work coming our way, which would not otherwise have surfaced at all.
Now I've surfed back to the working world – long story - I've settled on a new way of working. It's a compromise, but it lets me get back to doing podcasts with musicians, which I love to do. I'm using software which lets me invite my subject to chat to me remotely though their computer. Think Zoom, but with better bandwidth and no time lag. It's the same kind of software that's in use at Radio – you can tell it's that kind of software, because, every so often, the remote link goes down, embarrassingly.
It's good to be working on this series, especially as I want to focus as much as I can on how musicians have broken through this new set of wholly unfair barriers. Let's see how everyone is doing!
The Lives in Music Podcast
I've been doing this for about fifteen months now. These are interviews with local musicians, covering how music has shaped them throughout their lives. Series 3 also looks hard at how lockdown has had an impact. There are some lovely stories. To review the list of artists, here's a link.