Brendan McDonald Interview Transcription
Rob Walch Interview Transcription

Harry Duran:
Podcast Junkies are back. Do you know what Podcast Junkies is? I like to call it the Podcaster's Voice. It's the show where we find interesting voices in podcasting and get them to kick back their heels and talk about their shows and whatever else is on their mind. We are up to episode 48. Yes, 48, and today I speak to Vanessa Lowe. Vanessa is the host of Nocturne. If you don't know what Nocturne is, hmm, how do I describe Nocturne. It is ambient storytelling, maybe? She's really creative, really creative, really funny, talented, and other adjectives I could use that don't come to mind right now.

I found out about her podcast, because initially she reached out to me, I guess. She was doing the promo for the show and I get occasional promos and I literally do not have time. I have way too many shows on my podcast, #firstworldproblems, but over a couple – after a couple of weeks, I think I saw it mentioned in a couple of places and I said, wait, I know that name, and I looked in my email and I just listened and I was fascinated.

It takes home the topic of night time as its subject matter and each month is a new story with that as the theme and it covers the gamut. You, whatever you can think of from light pollution from strange goings on with animals and trucks and sleep disorders and what have you. We cover all that in the interview another great ongoing conversation that covers all sorts of topics, some of them not even related to podcasting, imagine that. Enjoy the conversation and stay tuned at the end for the loyal fan hashtag listener retention thing. Listen for the end and I'll give you the hashtag, how about that? Enjoy my interview with Vanessa Lowe.

So, Vanessa Lowe.

Vanessa Lowe:
Hey.

Harry:
Thank you for joining me on Podcast Junkies.

Vanessa:
Thank you so much for having me.

Harry:
So, any plans for the weekend?

Vanessa:
The weekend, yeah, my husband is out of town, so I'm going to take my son to see Minions.

Harry:
Oh yeah, my wife has been talking about that. She's like, oh, it looks so cute, we gotta go see that.,

Vanessa:
Yeah. I see more animated movies in the past few years than I ever thought possible.

Harry:
You like them though?

Vanessa:
I like some of them.

Harry:
What's your..

Vanessa:
Big Hero 6 was great.

Harry:
I have not seen that one.

Vanessa:
I liked it.

Harry:
I like Up, Up and Away and what was the one with the robot? He gets trapped on the planet.

Vanessa:
Robot trapped on the planet..

Harry:
It'll come to me…WALL-E. WALL-E.

Vanessa:
Oh, WALL-E, yeah. He got trapped on our planet. I liked the Kung Fu Panda movies.

Harry:
Those are good too. I have to ask, what microphone is that?

Vanessa:
Oh, this is a Sennheiser short shotgun, but I have a big furry animal on it.

Harry:
I see that.

Vanessa:
People I'm interview it's always like, ahh, but it's good outside and stuff, you know.

Harry:
It looks awesome. See, this is one of the benefits of doing Skype video, because otherwise I would not have known you have this awesome looking mic in your house.

Vanessa:
Yeah, my partner does sound for film, so some of my – most of my gear is really basic, but some of my gear is way over the top, because he was just, like, way in the beginning, ‘go get this!' It's like, not recording for a film here, but sounds good.

Harry:
Are you a gear head as well?

Vanessa:
Not really. I'm more of a leadite.

Harry:
Oh really?

Vanessa:
Kind of. I'm a musician, sort of originally. I really like guitars and I like acoustic guitars, wooden things that don't require fiddle with any electronic parts. So I can take it anywhere and it's not going to crash or malfunction or bite me.

Harry:
Has any of your songs been released?

Vanessa:
Oh yeah. I've got five CD, national music, and yeah.

Harry:
I won't get you to sing on the interview, so don't worry.

Vanessa:
I'm not prepared to sing.

Harry:
So, where the interest in radio? Where did that start?

Vanessa:
It started about seven years ago. My son was little and there were some parenting issues that I thought would be well explored through radio. So, I did an hour long documentary at that point and didn't know at all what I was doing, but I had a lot of fun doing it and right around after I finished that documentary, a really, amazing, experienced radio producer in Berkeley, I saw a bulletin board announcement that she was doing a workshop on how to produce long-form documentary from start to finish and I did her weekend workshop and just like fell in love and ended up working for her for two years on a big project that she was working on and it's been non-stop ever since.

Harry:
And when the interest in podcasting?

Vanessa:
Just about a year and a half ago I think. I did a big hour long special with another producer called Shake It – A Modern Polaroid Love Story and that was a big project. It took us like a year to do and it got distributed all over public radio and it was really fun, but it was like the third of fourth big documentary project I done that took a long time and I was like, I don't really want to do that right away again. I liked the idea of, you know, I was listening to podcasts and hearing more about podcasts and I thought that would be, like, it's a big project, but it cut into little chunks and that really appealed to me and so, yeah, that's kind of how I decided to do a podcast and then I thought for a little while what I wanted to do it about and landed on the night.

Harry:
It's a fascinating, fascinating podcast. I heard your interview on Podcast Digest as well and you talked about the Polaroid and the fact that there's, the Polaroid documentary, there's still a community of people who have got Polaroids, who have got their film and there's a movement underway to actually recreate the film as well, right?

Vanessa:
Yeah, actually that's been going on for a few years now. A company called the impossible project and they actually, they re-engineered the film, because the chemicals are like banned by you know environmental protocols and stuff and also the Polaroid factories mostly closed down, so they re-engineered Polaroid film and it's been like a trial by error process and my partner loves Polaroid, so he always buys their film and the first batch, like I remember from years ago, our son was maybe 3-4 years old and he took a picture of him and he was showing him and it developed and it was really cool and then it just started disappearing and the picture went black and my son started crying, because it was like really scary. It's gotten so much better now and they've got even really good black and white film, they have color, and it's just, it's almost, almost there to what original Polaroid film that magic, glowy, beautiful rich color.

Harry:
There's something about the way you described that that correlation to your podcast and how it's about night and there's probably some visual you can do about taking the picture and the picture slowly fades into night.

Vanessa:
It's true. I've been thinking a lot about the metaphors about night time and darkness that's not non-literal darkness. Yeah, it's very representative.

Harry:
So, how would you describe the podcast to your grandmother?

Vanessa:
My grandmother. Well, first I'd have to talk about what a podcast is and that would be a really long conversation. I would tell her that it's a podcast that explores the night time. I would probably tell her my tag line, which is an exploration of the night and how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are transformed in the dark and just I would tell her it's about just how things change at nighttime and how people change and how different parts of the world and people's identities emerge when this other half of the 24 hours is here.

Harry:
And she would say?

Vanessa:
Oh this sounds really interesting, honey.

Harry:
It's always fun. I guess the podcasting not withstanding, because that's the biggest hurdle, right, do what? What is that?

Vanessa:
Can you curse on the show?

Harry:
Yes, definitely and then just be like, what the hell is that? Like, is that like radio and then you gotta describe all the different varieties of podcasts, right, there's the interview show, there's the storytelling, there's the narrated drama.

Vanessa:
Oh, that would just be a pointless conversation. No, but she does understand there are computers and actually for a while – they live in New York and I'm in San Fransico area and I sent them an iPad so we could Facetime. That would worked for like a year and half until the iPad needed to be updated and that was, they couldn't handle that, but she just loved being able to see us thing. So, she like understands that there's this technology, so if I said radio and like through the computer, she would probably understand it. She's 96.

Harry:
Oh, wow. Good for her. So, how many different topics did you go through before you landed on Nighttime as a subject for the podcast?

Vanessa:
Yeah. Trying to remember, because I really only thought about it for like a month before landing on Nocturne. I don't think very many, in fact, I'm having trouble remembering. I vaguely remember my partner Kent being like, you know, that sucks, that's terrible, I don't like it, but I don't remember what the ideas were, because I just became so consumed that I don't even remember what I was thinking about. I don't remember anything about my life before doing Nocturne.

Harry:
What's funny about it and you talk about it in the intro episode and the first episode is that you are not a creature of the night yourself.

Vanessa:
Not at all. Although, I'm getting a little bit better. I've been working at night lately, which I don't usually do, because I just feel very sorry for myself at night and I just get really mopey, but I've been working till like 11:30.

Harry:
Wow.

Vanessa:
I'm not a night person.

Harry:
What you found is actually a term for people like you, like you're not a night owl, you're not a lark.

Vanessa:
Yes. I'm a hummingbird. I like that.

Harry:
I love that.

Vanessa:
I have a lot of – I'm sitting at my office right now and I often see hummingbirds outside my window so I'm like, yo.

Harry:
It's my people!

Vanessa:
Yeah. My peeps.

Harry:
But isn't it true when you land on a topic, a subject or a topic or like for example when you buy a car, like I have a Peris and all of a sudden I notice all the Perises in the neighborhood, so now that this concept of like hummingbird is like top of mind, do you find that you just notice them ore?

Vanessa:
No. I always loved hummingbirds, so it's like a happy accident to find that I'm one of them. Yeah, I like them in other ways too, because I move fast. I actually move fast and I knock into things. I always have black and blue marks all over my body because I get teased about – I'm always moving really fast and like I graze the doorway as I'm going through. Hummingbirds aren't like that. They just move fast and gracefully, but yeah,

Harry:
Yeah, very cool. How much time goes into the preparation for each episode?

Vanessa:
That's a good question, too much right now. It really does, because I'm perfectionistic and a little bit obsessive about it. It's hard to say too, because like, so when I'm working on an episode, well, I stopped transcribing interviews. I hope that's over forever. I was transcribing all of my interviews, which in a way is really good, because you get really familiar with all the material when you transcribing it and I would have a lot of ideas, but it just sucks so bad to sit there for hours transcribing.

So, that, hopefully I've cut like four or five hours out of each episode now, but I would say, on average, they're taking me 7-10 days to do pretty intensively each day and then when an episode is over and that doesn't really include the interview, so like when the episode is over and I'm like interviewing, setting up lots and lots of interviews and doing lots of research and stuff, so it's kind of all the time and then trying to fit other work in around that, which is not how it should be.

Harry:
What's, because you can hear it in the way they're put together. They're very layered and it's almost conducive to listening to them on headphones, because it's just a more intimate experience especially with the subject matter that you've selected. Like in the second one with Portal, Tom, that one was very trippy because he starts talking about his visions and he didn't want to ascribe it to past life. I mean, for me, that sounded straight out of like past life stuff, because he's like where else would those visions come from? But what was funny is that Kent tries to make a conscious effort to disorient us with the music too at the same time, because it was like this, he was like the way the character, the guy you were interviewing, Tom, was talking about his experience and there was like this, I don't know, it was like this funky violin-ish going on in the background, so I thought that was really, really cool.

Vanessa:
Cool, I'm glad.

Harry:
Do you talk a lot back and forth about that, what do you think sounds good or do you just kind of put it in his hands and like, okay, work your magic?

Vanessa:
No, actually, he doesn't usually – a lot of the music from him I take a library of his music and every once in a while I'm looking for something like this and he'll compose it, but I cut it in wherever I want.

Harry:
That's good.

Vanessa:
He doesn't really know where it's going to end up.

Harry:
What's amazing is you have a great library of music to select from.

Vanessa:
Yeah, it's really cool and just be able to say, I need something that sounds like stars or, you know, I need this and he an do that and then there's another good friend of ours who is a musician and they do a lot of music together named Jeffery Foster and I've been using his music a lot too and I'm drawing from other people, I think Kent is the resident composer. He really, his music is like the mood of Nocturne.

Harry:
You're making a lot of podcasters jealous, because they would love to have that library of sound effects.

Vanessa:
I know. The sound effects are a whole other thing, because since he does sound for film, he has a huge library of film sound effects. Like everything, trucks and animals and right now actually he's out in the Olympic National Park wilderness in Washington State recording for a movie, so like, you know, can be like, do you have waterfall like a night with the sound of (#16:50?) , yeah.

Harry:
Yeah, sure, no problem. Well, yeah, speaking of animals, What The Baker Saw was really like, I don't know, what the word is to describe, I mean, that sound the guy made when he was trying to describe what he had heard outside. I'm not trying to recreate it, I'll let people listen to that, I can't imagine, like, being him having heard, I'm trying not to tell the story, because I want people to go listen to the episode, but it has to do with animals and obviously night and you know, there might be some killing involved, we'll leave it at that, but it was – what was funny is that you commented on that episode something to the affect of, if you pay attention, you'll notice the struggle all around you, which I thought was awesome.

Vanessa:
Right, thanks. Yeah, yeah. Okay, that's trippy. My son can't listen to that. It's scary. Like my heart rises when I – I went there to try and record, you know, ambiance at night to have behind a lot of this stuff and not as late as Eduardo was there when he was baking, because that's like why he was there and I was like freaked out. It's really isolated imagining like, yeah, coming out and seeing something dramatic and violent and natural and wild, yeah.

Harry:
We'll leave it at that.

Vanessa:
We'll leave it at that, yeah.

Harry:
So, where do you find these people and I'd imagine it gets easier now as the show gets more and more popular?

Vanessa:
Yeah, the first couple of episodes were friends, you know, one person. Tom, I was, I put out there, you know, what are you doing and I said, oh, I'm doing a podcast about the night. Oh, I have an idea for you, it's weird and I don't know if you'll be able to do anything with it. It's like, yes, and then, you know, the first were friends and then there's the one Alter Hours, the Nocturnal brilliant Nocturnal science writer Amanda Gefter, that, you know, I was at a radio conference in Chicago talking to another radio producer who lived in Boston and so I just started talking about Nocturne, telling everybody I'm doing this thing and in that case the producer I was talking to said, oh, I have a nocturnal friend and she kept talking about something else, it's like, excuse me? You know. Just trying to reel in anyone, so I just talk about it to everyone. Now, you're right, I get these emails, next week I have pre-interview with people that contacted me after hearing Nocturne.

Harry:
Wow.

Vanessa:
People are just, it's amazing. All these people that, you know, are really connecting and have these incredible stories and just wanting to share them. I've been getting these really long emails with lots of detailed information. It's like wow. Let's record this.

Harry:
You might have to get a bigger team and release more frequently.

Vanessa:
Yeah, something like that is in the works, because there are more stories than I ever, I have a notebook full of stories, but then most of the ones I'm doing are not in my notebook, so there's a lot of stories.

Harry:
Yeah, Alter Hours is interesting because I guess I didn't know there's such a thing as sleep-awake conversion.

Vanessa:
I didn't either, yeah. I got an email from someone recently who has the same thing, they had heard it. I didn't know there were other people like this.

Harry:
What's fascinating is that she said her circadian clock is closer to Mars.

Vanessa:
Yeah, because she has a couple of things going on. She has the sleep-wake conversion and then she has this non-24 hour circadian rhythm difference, so her internal clock thinks the day is 25.5 hours, which means that the day is always shifting an hour and a half forward. I didn't include a lot of that stuff in the episode, because it's really, really confusing. Like I couldn’t keep track of it all the time, but so like, she just keeps shifting and moving around the clock, but now, well, I don't want to talk too much about the details, but she's kind of got that under control. One of the cool things about Nocturne, even the people I didn't know before that I interviewed for the show, like we stayed in touch, she's with a daytime boyfriend. Like, they are..

Harry:
Yeah.

Vanessa:
Actually, I think it's okay to say, they moved in together. So, it's really nice.

Harry:
Awesome. It's like when you watch those shows on TV and they say six months later and…

Vanessa:
Yeah, I should do a follow up.

Harry:
Apparently melatonin is a life saver.

Vanessa:
Melatonin is a life saver, particularly, yeah, if you have sleep-wake conversions.

Harry:
I love how we are dancing around the periphery of the episodes, because I think this is intentional, because I want the listeners to just get a peak of what the podcast is about and if they're not enticed to listened after this interview, then I don't know what's going to do it. So, the Hole in the Night then, I think it was just another case of where does she find these people, because this guy's story was crazy and he was so matter of fact about it, you know, with what happened to him, his event in the night, and he just goes on like nothing had happened afterwards.

Vanessa:
I know.

Harry:
It's crazy, right?

Vanessa:
It's crazy, yeah. Yeah, it's really fun to realize how different people are and how people have these experiences you would never imagine and you react to them you would never, ever imagine.

Harry:
Yeah, because you put anyone else in that situation and they are just like, no, my life has changed permanently.

Vanessa:
Traumatized forever.

Harry:
What's awesome is, you know, it happens at night and it happens during, there's a rainstorm, and you just really put the listener in that moment, you know, with the sound effects and the rain, like I said, it's really engaging. You stop what you're doing and feel like you're being transported to that moment in time.

Vanessa:
Thanks, thanks. Yeah, that was a really fun one to do, because it's such a dramatic, again, we're dancing around the episode. This involves a truck driver out on a rainy night in a remote part of Oregon and something dramatic and intense happens, which you have to listen to the episode A Hole in the Night to hear. Yeah, but like, one of the most interesting things about that episode to me is this guy, this truck driver, Al Wilkinson, goes through this incredibly, horrendously dramatic event and he's like, yeah, shit happens. Like, totally unfazed, which to me is one of the most interesting things, but that's like that compelling, you know, so like for me, the part I wanted to emphasize was the drama around what happens and then it's even more interesting when he's just like, eh. You know?

Harry:
It wasn't just him, it was like a sequence of events that happens that you just, I think I was walking to the store and I had to stop and I was like, wait, there's more and then more and then one more thing.

Vanessa:
Yeah, but he's just kind of like, often in a story, your whole goal is to like, how is the person changed, how did they grow, what did they learn, and the reality is sometimes things happen that are really dramatic and you don't learn or grow necessarily, you just go on with your life and that's interesting too. I think that's super interesting.

Harry:
Yeah, it's almost like a fascinating experiment in character study and as you get deeper and deeper with these stories, I'm sure that's what you're going to find.

Vanessa:
Yeah, yeah, I think so. I don't know what to say about that except it's like a combination of character study and then just like an other aspect of people's characters that you don't necessarily show all the time.

Harry:
How much work is involved on your part to sort of tease these stories out? Are these people just ready to like spill the beans with you? They're like, oh yeah, or do you have to figure out if there's a story there?

Vanessa:
I have to usually figure out if there's a story. I do a pre-interview with people on the phone. You know, I want to hear their voice and like, that's important, you know, and also just how really open they sound about the story, because that's, you know, but usually if someone is willing to talk to me and most people are just like really wanting to talk about stuff and then I do a lot of work editorially, you know, with kind of shaping the story and there's a fair amount of narration.

Like, some people do non-narrated pieces of this kind, but I tend to really like to build something really like cohesive, which isn't to say non-narrated stories aren't cohesive, because that's a huge amazing skill to have, but I'm so compulsive that I like to not necessarily sum things up, just sort of build it and shape it. You know, cutting the interview up and then also just kind of adding to it with sound and narration and music and all that.

Harry:
Do they give you feedback after they've listened to the episode?

Vanessa:
Almost everybody, well, everybody that has been in touch with me afterwards has really, really liked stuff and some people haven't – mostly sort of, not the main interviewee, but a couple of the, I don't want to call them ancillary, but just haven't responded. But that probably has more to do with maybe, we're a city official talking about something, but they weren't so happy to be talking about.

Harry:
Maybe the guy who is not so fond of mockingbirds.

Vanessa:
No, he actually got back in touch with me and that was really interesting actually, that was so much fun, talking about kind of people's characters emerging, so I stayed in touch with the – so this is an episode called, (This is Not) A Love Song and it's about the affect of mockingbirds on people at night, positive and negative, and in that story there's a woman that runs birdwatching.com and loves birds and actually thinks birds, teaching people to appreciate birds will help save the world, people saving the environment, so she just like, lovely kind of zealot about birds and then there's Todd who was plagued by mockingbirds and became kind of violent in his reaction, so he got back in touch with me and said after listening, you know, I really liked the episode.

He was a little bit, you know, uncomfortable with one of the characters thinking he was evil, but you know, that Diane woman, the mockingbird.com woman, she's a really smart cookie. It never occurred to me to listen to the mockingbird, to like, rather than to fight against the sound all night long. So, that was neat and i get to tell her that and she was so happy to sort of opened his eyes to a bird, so it's actually neat to see the aftermath and the affect a little bit of some of these episodes.

Harry:
What's funny is that he said he never took the time to listen, if he wasn't listen to the mockingbird, what was happening?

Vanessa:
That's the thing. Diane's advice was don't fight against it, don't put a pillow over your head, don't put your earplugs in, don't try to get the mockingbird to stop or don't try to get yourself not to hear this thing. Her whole advice was, listen to the sound, hear how many times it makes the same sound over and over and over again and appreciate it and our goal in life is not to be asleep, it's to experience life, so that's her thing, you know, and he was just like anything he could to make it stop, so basically, you know, he had never really thought of kind of meditative experiential possibilities of dealing with the mockingbird. He never thought of letting go and not fighting it and after hearing the episode, he was like, oh, I could have tried that.

Harry:
See, you're changing lives.

Vanessa:
Exactly, Nocturne is just changing lives one episode at a time.

Harry:
One mockingbird at a time and then the Vanishing Dark, which is sort of, it's almost very appropriate in that you'd have this topic on, because it brings to light what everyone should be aware of. The fact that we're losing the night sky and that's something we take for granted and I'm only aware of it when I go, like, outside the city. We went to Death Valley last year and you really have to get away from the city lights to really appreciate the beauty of the night sky.

Vanessa:
yeah, it's true. I went to Death Valley a few months ago trying to see the milky way, because I realized I never seen it and unfortunately, I still didn't get to see it, but yeah, when you truly are in a dark place and you're swallowed up by the stars and the sky, it's just like this incredibly transformative magical experience and so watered down when you live in an urban area, it's incredible and yeah, and so, that was a fun episode to do.

That was challenging episode, because you have this issue of light pollution, like, it was kind of the most research heavy episode I done and I also felt really compelled to like try to stuff as much information as I could in, because it's so important instead of like not really people aren't that aware of it. Although, there was one review on iTunes of a guy being like, this is old news, what the..? But most people actually I talked to are just kind of starting to think about light pollution.

Harry:
It's not like your podcast is a news show.

Vanessa:
I know, right?

Harry:
Like, hello, light pollution.

Vanessa:
Right, you get to have whatever feelings you have, yeah. It was super fascinating and it was a fortuitous episode, because I had interviewed this author Paul Bogard who wrote a book, I interviewed him a couple of months ago about his book, he's got two books, this is called The End of Night where he talks about the issue of light pollution and then I came across this thing that was happening in Richmond, California just like two towns over from me where the city just kind of like randomly doubled the lighting fixtures outside in this little historic part of Richmond called Point Richmond and the residents went nuts, like all of a sudden they were living in a massive parking lot just like bathed in bright lights and then like the struggle and challenge and process of fixing that. It's really fascinating to see, you know, there are so many issues involved with light pollution. The whole rest of the interview could be about this.

Harry:
So, now I'm going to get a review on this episode, guys, this is an old topic, why do you keep talking about this for? So, then finally, getting you current with your episodes, you did a little bit of this in the beginning where you stepped outside and you walked around in the night, I guess, to get a feel for what you were about to get yourself into, but now, and then with episode 8 – Into, Under, and Through, you actually jump with both feet into it and it's just fascinating to hear, like, your fear and –

Vanessa:
You're like, I thought it was funny.

Harry:
Yeah, well, now that you made it out safe, then we can say that. If it had been some sort of Blair Witch Project thing where it was just Vanessa's last recording, you know, the..

Vanessa:
It so could have easily gone that direction.

Harry:
Yeah, it's like found on the beach and then just like, it would have been like, wow, and people would been like going crazy about it as well I'm sure.

Vanessa:
Then it would be really popular.

Harry:
Yeah. So, at some point I guess you felt, well, I keep talking about the night and I've documented how uncomfortable I am with the night, so you must had to put that to tape.

Vanessa:
Well, yeah, I didn't actually know how uncomfortable I was going to be. I didn't think I was going to be quite as uncomfortable, I don't want to say too much, but yeah, I just feel like, so I have other episodes kind of coming up about being out at night and woman being out at night and being out at night in the dark in the wood for me sort of tip-ifies the essence of night.

At first I was saying to Kent, you know, I should go out and take a walk at night, maybe like around our neighborhood. He's like, what? Our neighborhood? Here's this guy, you know, he's like 6ft, to him, that's just so fucking lame and then I was like, well, I could go up to the Berkeley Hills, but actually people have been killed there over the past couple of years, so that's really stupid, so then he and – I was kind of on my own for a weekend and I was like, okay, well, I'll go for a walk in the woods and I just imagined, you know, I'd look at the stars and have sort of, you know, a connect to the universe kind of thing.

Harry:
How did that work out?

Vanessa:
I briefly had that experience, yeah, this episode was interesting for me as I continued to think about it after having done it like the night is like a blank slate for lots of things, you know, for like fears, for me, like particularly I'm realizing, like I'm pretty susceptible to scary ideas and messages, so I think you can just find a lot of information about what you're scared of or what you're anxious about just by walking into the night, because really in most cases it's not that dangerous is what I'm finding, but you can really find all the places your mind goes to find the danger.

Harry:
What was the most surprising thing for you?

Vanessa:
About this episode?

Harry:
Yeah.

Vanessa:
What continues to be the most surprising thing for me is I still can't figure out, like I still vacillate between thinking oh my God, I'm such a chicken shit, like walking into – because I go to this place all the time during the day, I still feel really lame about freaking out so much and then I vacillate to like feeling oh that was really foolish, you know, when I talk to some people at the end of the episode and they're like, particularly this park ranger who is like, why would you need to go out at night in the woods? I'm like, oh, so the most surprising thing to me is like even now it's been a couple of weeks since I finished making the episode, I released it just earlier this week, I still can't come to a settled place about what that was all about. So, to me, that's awesome, actually, because it means, wow, the night, I've got so much more to figure out and work on and explore, because it's rich, it's really incredible.

Harry:
Well, it's a unique opportunity because as the producer, you were able to almost insert yourself into the story.

Vanessa:
Yeah. I mean, yeah, for the most part. It's kind of funny actually, there I am experiencing something and then I'm narrating over what I'm experiencing it.

Harry:
Have you ever seen Adaptation?

Vanessa:
Yeah, yeah.

Harry:
It's kind of like that, right? Charlie Kaufman and he's like writing a movie about a guy writing a movie and then he puts himself in the movie and then he's in the movie and it's like so trippy.

Vanessa:
You know, Kent actually mixed that movie.

Harry:
No way.

Vanessa:
Yeah.

Harry:
That's awesome.

Vanessa:
It's funny that you mentioned that and I didn't even think of it. Charlie Kaufman, yeah, he trips me out.

Harry:
So, you're the Charlie Kaufman of podcasting.

Vanessa:
Don't say that! I mean, I respect his work, but I do not want to be him.

Harry:
So, that episode, it was definitely coming because you had to sort of come to grips with where you were at this point in the journey, so without giving away too much, what do you have in the works for the next couple of episodes?

Vanessa:
The next couple of…well, the next many episodes don't involve me, so there's that. I have an episode coming up about a woman who is the opposite of me who for the past four years has been traveling around the world by herself particularly with the love of walking at night and documenting her walks at night alone in foreign countries and remote places and kind of what propels her to do that, so that's really interesting and then I have an episode coming up about 3am and the madness can ensue when one awakens with where your brain can be at 3am and the distinct quality of thoughts that is different from day time thoughts. I don't want to say too much about it, but it's interesting. It's really like a different reality that can happen.

Harry:
Is that a function of not getting any sleep?

Vanessa:
No, actually it's not and in fact I interview a like a neuroscientist about – so there's an actual interview subject talking about her experience and then I wanted to talk to a professional about what is the mechanism, like why, because I have experienced this thing of like you wake up at 3am and you weren't worried about anything during the day.

You didn't have any cares and there's nothing going on that's particularly stressful and you wake up at 3am and somebody is like, oh my God, things are dire, this is awful and a part of your brain is going nothing is wrong, but you just feel uneasy and uncomfortable and then 6 o'clock in the morning rolls around and you can't even remember what it was that you were freaking out about, but you remember you forget about something. Like, you are looking right now, I can see you, the listeners can't, but you're looking very confused and skeptical, like you never experienced this.

Harry:
No, it's almost a function of, um, waking up mid dream or something like that and there's something about the dream world interfacing with the real world and there's a point where you wake up and you don't know which is which.

Vanessa:
Something like that, yeah, yeah, or something about memories or like, the emotional kind of quality of a certain place in your sleep cycle that maybe then when you wake up from that, it's like, you're, yeah, it's just a different filter.

Harry:
Is there an aspect of the show where you just might naturally go into lucid dreaming or dreams, I'd imagine, I mean, since it happens at night there's some opportunities for that.

Vanessa:
Yeah, yeah, no I actually have been in contact with somebody about that topic, definitely and there's all sorts of weird things that happen to people when they're sleeping, that's like so strange, right?

Harry:
Yeah.

Vanessa:
You're conscious and mostly mobile and like freaky, amazing shit can happen.

Harry:
The worst is the, that one where you feel paralyzed and you can't move and there’s like someone coming to do something to you and you can't lift your arm. It feels like it's attached to the floor and you can't lift it up and they're getting closer and I let out a scream a couple of weeks ago, totally freaked my wife out. I was like wahhh and she's like what happened to you?

Vanessa:
That happens to you?

Harry:
Yeah.

Vanessa:
I've never had that happen, thank God, I've never had that happen. I do have the one where you're – have you been dreaming and you wake up and you go about your mundane tasks and you realize you're still dreaming and then you realize you're dreaming and like, and then like how do you wake yourself up and then I have to like, shake myself to wake up, that's – I don't like that one.

Harry:
For some reason I thought that only happened in the movies like Freddy Krueger, the girl would wake up and she'd be like, oh, thank God that was a dream, and then Freddy attacks her and she wakes up again.

Vanessa:
Yeah, luckily I've never had like a scary guy wearing a mask with big long claws, but now I probably will. That's the thing, right, we're really vulnerable at night, like psychologically, not necessarily physically, because really what's the difference at night. There's less light and maybe some nocturnal animals are out, but really, we're not physically more vulnerable, but psychologically and emotionally there's something so different and so, I don't know, intense and like, just more poignant about how we were interacting with the world. Like, we're more raw, we're more undefended, at least I am.

Harry:
No, I mean, it is a time when we retreat to like the security of our bedrooms and we think, okay, now we're in a safe and secure and I see it with my dog sometimes, like when he wants to go, when he wants to be somewhere safe he goes underneath the couch or he goes underneath the bed or jumps into bed with us. We as a species have that too, like we feel like at the end of the day, like, our last bastion of peace and serenity supposedly is like our beds, right?

Vanessa:
Right, yeah. Well, that's true. I mean, it's just so nice to not do anything. Although lots of stuff is happening when you're sleeping and you are doing stuff. It's restorative, rebuilding.

Harry:
Yeah, restorative is probably the most important thing. I think I probably don't get the requisite seven or eight hours and I think that people say – you notice it the next day when you can't function. I went to, my wife and I went to burning man for the first time last year and so we had a couple of nights where we just didn't, you know, we didn't go to sleep, so we saw two or three sun rises and it's a magical time, I mean, you know, the 1-2am and you start to get to 3-4-5 and you just literally see the whole cycle of sun down complete dark – complete darkness, there was some music and some DJing involved.

Vanessa:
There were some lighted vehicles being cycled around I'm sure.

Harry:
Yeah, but then there's a point where everyone's sort of like, let's out a collective sign and we've made it through another night and we get to watch another sun rise, which was magical.

Vanessa:
That's so cool. I don't think I've ever, ever stayed up the whole 24 hour period.

Harry:
Really?

Vanessa:
No. I get so tired, but I think that's like, I'm going to have to do that, right?

Harry:
It's research, yeah.

Vanessa:
I'm going to have to do it, yeah. Did you do it without substances? You can say I don't want to answer.

Harry:
Well, you can, obviously, probably be harder.

Vanessa:
Yeah. I use coffee just like for my day time alertness, so I would have to drink a lot of coffee.

Harry:
I remember I was waiter years ago and we went out and I had a shift the next day and everyone is like, oh, let's go to the bar, so we just proceeded to go to the bar, you know, waiters and bartenders, they all get out late. We went to the bar and it was 3-4-5am, I don't know what it was and I had for some reason, at some point you were drinking and you were like, oh, my shift is at 7, I don't care, I'll just go straight there. I think maybe I tried to nap for like half an hour, but then when you get to work and there's some aspect of you not having slept, you – it's so weird, you're so disoriented, I don't know how else to describe it, it's like this dizzy state of mind and it's like, you can't last that long in that condition, but it's funny even just one night of no sleep will do to you.

Vanessa:
You just jogged my memory and so I lied, I remember one night I did stay up all night when I was in highschool. I grew up in New York City and I remember partying all night and the reason I remember is because the diners were open all day, like, all night, 24 hours and going to have, you know, like breakfast in the middle of the night and dinner, I just remember the continuous meals and I remember that feeling of, it's almost like a deep meditation kind of.

Harry:
Yeah.

Vanessa:
Like the transcendent thing, you're so – it almost feels like ultimate relaxation when really it's massive exhaustion.

Harry:
It's waves.

Vanessa:
It's calmness that's like right before you collapse.

Harry:
I grew up in New York City as well.

Vanessa:
You did?

Harry:
Yeah. We're in LA now, but a little over a year ago we moved, we were living in the East Village, but I grew up in Yonkers.

Vanessa:
Okay. Yeah. I was born in the Bronx.

Harry:
Oh, cool.

Vanessa:
And then I grew up on upper east side and then the upper west side.

Harry:
I lived on 83rd and 3rd.

Vanessa:
I lived on 92nd and 3rd [cuts out] and then 81st and Columbus.

Harry:
We probably frequented the same bars at some point.

Vanessa:
Yeah, yeah.

Harry:
How was growing up in New York?

Vanessa:
It was great. It was really fun. I had like, you know, my parents were divorced and I had a lot of freedom and it was really fun and I had a fake ID and that was like the time, I'm dating myself here, like Danceteria and Limelight and Studio 54 were still kind of going and all sorts of mischief and misbehavior. Looking back I'm like, oh my God, I can't believe I'm still alive and I have a kid now and I'm thinking how do people raise kids in New York City, like, I don't, my parents either really trusted me or they were just kind of completely checked out.

Harry:
That's so funny, your jogging memories totally with those clubs. Danceteria, Platinum.

Vanessa:
Oh, Platinum! Yeah.

Harry:
Limelight. I was just talking to someone about that as well. Those are, I mean, talk about night life, I think you've got to find someone who can kind of tell both stories like New York night life back in those days, because it was just like a crazy time and it's almost like one part of the city goes to sleep and this other part of the city wakes up and it's just like they're completely different people, like it's like a whole another tribe is waking up, like okay, time for us to take over the city and then you'd have the after hours club. There's one called Saved the Robots. I don't know if you had heard othat.

Vanessa:
No, I've never been in an after hours club.

Harry:
You are a respectable young lady, of course not. So, we used to hang out at Lucy's on the upper west side. They called it the Retired Surfers bar, but it was on Columbus and then there was one time we're like, do you want to go to after hours, I'm like, wow, what's that? It's the bar that keeps going. You know, this closes at two or three and then we'd go – so it was in East Village and we'd go down there and there were serving drinks out of like milk cartons with the tops cut off, it was just so weird.

Vanessa:
Oh, memories. Childhood.

Harry:
So, I would think there's an aspect of an upcoming episode of Nocturne that will probably delve into city night life somewhere.

Vanessa:
Yeah, yeah, maybe. You know, that's going to be a push for me. I always had a problem with city night life just in – I liked dancing, but I still, even when I was a kid, other people seemed to be able to have conversations in those settings and I just could never, not only could I not hear people, but I could never focus on anybody, because it was like noisy and there was so much going on that – that would be exhausting. Like, I would get really tired, so that would be a push for me to do that, plus it's, you know, recording in those environments, it's like why, what's the point?

Harry:
The craziest thing I have ever seen, I saw, that was, we were at a club, I think it was (#49:57?) or something. This was maybe ten years ago an there was a group of people dancing and upon closer inspection, it became obvious that these people were deaf.

Vanessa:
Oh, so dancing by the vibrations?

Harry:
So, they were dancing, but they were just like, going by the vibration of the music.

Vanessa:
Yes, cool.

Harry:
Well, obviously, the more you looked at them, then they started doing sign language to each other and I was like, wait a minute, these people are deaf! But it was just enough vibration with like the base of the speakers for them to go to enjoy, which I thought was like, oh my God, so fascinating.

Vanessa:
That is really cool. Yeah. I mean, it was, the sub would like thump. That reminds me of, I don't know what it's called, you probably do, they're like this phenomenon now where people put on headphones and so like you're dancing, but you're dancing to music that like, everybody is dancing, but only they can hear it in their headphones.

Harry:
Silent parties.

Vanessa:
Silent parties. So, it's everybody listening to the same music or?

Harry:
Yeah, what happens is the these are for places where you can't play music loud after a certain period of time, so I've gone to like parties or festivals and they have this as a separate area and it's great because the DJ is playing the music, so you've got the music very, very intimately close to you because you’ve got headphones, like the ones we're wearing now, so the music sounds fantastic and then the DJ is playing, but the weirdest thing is to, if you ever go into these places and you don't have the headphones that everyone else does, because everyone is just like, you know, I'm actually showing Vanessa, for the listeners, I'm dancing on camera, so if you're wondering why there's five seconds of silence, it's me dancing.

So, yeah, they're just like dancing and they're all hearing the same music, because there's points in the music where they're like, oh, they all raise their hands and then it's just like, ahh, but it's great because you're not disturbing the neighbors. It's fun and then someone lent me their headphones and I put them on and it was like you're in the party, because the person you're looking at, we're hearing the same song, we're like yeah.

Vanessa:
I think it would be cool to have, here's like a mix party going on, so maybe you have three different groups and they're all listening, like, each three different groups are listening to different music, but they could be in sync with each other, so they're all dancing to the same beat or you could have three different groups dancing to different rhythms. It could be kind of cool or jarring. Also depending on how, if you're really, if your consciousness is altered, it could really mess with you.

Harry:
So, I don't know where we go from here.

Vanessa:
We've really, really kind of diverged, haven't we from all sorts of things.

Harry:
So, when you think about what's happening with this podcast renaissance, was that something that was like a driving force for you to think that you wanted to do something or you just always knew you were going to put together some sort of program?

Vanessa:
No, I just got the idea for my own, to do my own podcast, you know, maybe a year and a half, two years ago. It's cool that there's a renaissance, they say there's a renaissance, but no, that wasn't really, because I didn't know what this was going to turn out to be, like at all, if it was going to be well received or not. More just felt like a cool project to do and something that wouldn't be boring for me. You know, that's a big deal. I like doing longer projects.

I don't really like, occasionally I like doing a short piece of four minutes, but I like doing longer projects that I can immerse myself in, but if you're going to do a long project, it's gotta be something that's really interesting otherwise it gets really tedious, so I just like the idea of kid of doing a series about – so you can get deeper into a topic without having to also, it's like doing a really long, I'm like rambling, it's like doing a really long project, but in little chapters, so it makes it even more personal and interesting to me, which is what it's all about, but no really, why would you do a big project unless you really have fun and it's a really great bonus that other people like it too.

Harry:
What has the reception been?

Vanessa:
It's been really good, it's been really good. It's kind of, I don't want to say shocking, it's not shocking, but it's like, just been really lovely. I get all these emails and tweets and iTunes reviews and it's just been really nice and just really fascinating, because I've had a lot of people contact me and say I have a special connection to the night and I really connect to Nocturne and the vibe and it's like, wow, I'm not a night person, although I do appreciate non-literal darkness and maybe that's why, because they are recognizing something about the night in these pieces and I'm trying to create something is about the night, but it's wild to me that so many people that are night people are going like, yeah, that's night, you know, because I don't really know that much about the night, I'm just learning.

Harry:
It's interesting. The Heard.

Vanessa:
The Heard, yeah. The Heard is awesome.

Harry:
Who's idea was that? So, the Heard is the, you want to describe the Heard?

Vanessa:
The Heard is an awesome independent podcast collective. It was started by, the idea was Jakob Lewis's and he has a podcast called Neighbors and the origins story is documented elsewhere, but he wanted community and support and he was looking for something, so he reached out first to Johnathan Hirsch of a podcast called Arrvls about this idea of starting a collective and then they reached out to me and then I reached out to a couple of people. Right now there are six of us, which feels really good right now. It's like a really good number. There are six podcasts, we're all independent, we're all story driven.

Harry:
Did you guys know each other before?

Vanessa:
None of us have ever met.

Harry:
Wow.

Vanessa:
So, now some of us have met, various different, you know, on different trips and stuff. No, we're scattered all over North America. Every week we have a Skype conversation, our meeting, and then we communicate everyday through this thing called Slack.

Harry:
Oh I love Slack.

Vanessa:
Slack is like my other home now.

Harry:
Slack is awesome.

Vanessa:
So, yeah, the Heard is we do all of these storytelling podcasts and we all like each other's shows and it turns out we all really like each other.

Harry:
That helps.

Vanessa:
We spread the word about each other's shows, but different people will compose music for different people's episodes. We do editorial support, we do taped syncs for each other, which people don't think about everything it takes to make a podcast or an audio show, like all the technical details that cost money or are hard to come by or the expertise or the institutional knowledge, so we offer all that to each other and it's just great and the creative community and we crack each other up, which is fun.

You know, because when you're doing a podcast, you know, we're both sitting here in our own little rooms with our headphones on and like you can go days, you can get really super smelly and have to pee really bad and not brush your teeth and just like this hermetically sealed person making something. It can get kind of freaky and lonely, so it's fantastic to have this community of other people that are doing a similar thing. That's the Heard. TheHeardRadio.com. You can find out all about all the – can I tell you who the podcast?

Harry:
Yes, please.

Vanessa:
Because they're great. So, there's Neighbors by Jakob Lewis and there's Anxious Machine by Rob McGinley Myers, which is a story about, well, Neighbors is kind of self-evident. Like, it's about people, how neighbors affect each other.

Harry:
It's about peeping Toms.

Vanessa:
Anxious Machine is Rob's show about technology humans create and how it affects human beings. Johnathan Hirsch has Arrvls, which is stories about migration and change and transformation. Marlo Mack has a podcast called How to be a Girl, which is super interesting about raising a transgender child and then Tally Abecassis, I think I'm saying her name right, she has a show called First Day Back, which is about after having kids, going back to her work as a film maker, documentary film maker. All these shows are really well produced and really compelling story driven shows.

Harry:
What's fascinating is that you guys didn't know each other. I thought for some reason you did and I think that's just so cool that like minded souls tend to gravitate towards each other.

Vanessa:
Yeah, it's kind of one of those weird synchronicity things and we all, you know, we get together on these calls every week and sometimes we'll do cheesy things like everybody close your eyes and just take a couple of breathes and it's just like, wow, we feel so close to each other by this point. It's kind of like this, you know, it's almost ridiculous how much we like each other and having never met before hand. Yeah, I would almost consider these guys some of my best friends by this point. They know more about me, a certain part of me, that anybody else does.

Harry:
So, you mentioned the story of the Heard was covered elsewhere. Is that on a podcast episode?

Vanessa:
No. There's an interview that Jakob did with Rich (?) for Irrelevant.com..? Or .org. I'm not sure what the thing is, but yeah, he went over the whole. He was on a bus sitting next to a unsavory person, I guess, there's a whole context.

Harry:
If there's a link just somewhere online that folks can listen to it and just send it to me and I'll put it in the show notes.

Vanessa:
Okay, the origins story. Yeah.

Harry:
It's important.

Vanessa:
Yeah, it's cool. It's just neat to like different, like you were saying you know, this renaissance of podcasting and it's such a wide, open thing. There's different models, there's – this is like, we're not like super, we all want to make money, obviously, but it's like so not that thing of, it's not a business model so much as a creative model. We're like riffing on what indie record label are we like. Can't remember if it was like Killer Rockstars or Sub Pop that we landed on, but we're like, the Sub Pop of podcasting.

Harry:
Sounds like you guys can take that show on the road.

Vanessa:
Right. Coming soon.

Harry:
I mean, like The Moth, right?

Vanessa:
Yeah.

Harry:
You never know.

Vanessa:
Actually Johnathan of Arrvls has a live show that's going around the country and he's coming to San Francisco and I'll be collaborating.

Harry:
Very cool.

Vanessa:
Yeah. That's the other thing we do. We do collaborative projects.

Harry:
Cool. Well, Vanessa, this has been a really fascinating conversation.

Vanessa:
It's been a lot of fun.

Harry:
And you are real easy to talk to and I think people can get a good feel for your narrative style hopefully as a result of this podcast and if they're not listening to Nocturne already, then there'll be incentivize to.

Vanessa:
Thank you so much. This is fun.

Harry:
So, if folks want to track you down online, what's the best place?

Vanessa:
Nocturnepodcast.org

Harry:
Okay.

Vanessa:
With an E at the end. Nocturne with an e at the end.

Harry:
So one thing I've been doing lately is I put in sort of like a loyal listener hashtag. I'm trying to think what it'll be for this episode, so maybe you can help me think of one that would be specific to what we talked about.

Vanessa:
What is that? A loyal..

Harry:
Oh, so basically what I do is I say, if you've made it this far, just send a tweet to Vanessa and I and they'd put the hashtag, blah, blah. Maybe hummingbirds.

Vanessa:
Okay. Hummingbirds with headphones.

Harry:
Hummingbirds with two Hs. No, just one. I don't want to confuse people. #hummingbirds if you made it this far and you got nothing else better to do with your day than listen to use ramble for over an hour now.

Vanessa:
We can go longer.

Harry:
Yeah. So, I'm glad you reached out to me Vanessa. I'm a fan. I'm looking forward to your next episode and I'm wishing you guys nothing but the best, hopefully we get to meet up at come point.

Vanessa:
Yeah, it'll be great. Thanks a lot.

Harry:
I hope you enjoyed that. As usual we covered a wide range of topics as is (#63:34?) for Podcast Junkies and for Podcast Junkies, Junkies. Wink wink, you know who you are. This show, the music is composed by Cedar & Soil. I want to make sure I call them out every episode and give them credit. Good friend of mine. Go to CedarSoil.com for more music and you can find out just how amazingly talented he is. He's a good friend of mine and he's been a supporter of the show since day zero, so I want to show him some love.

Vanessa is awesome. I don't know what else to say. I think you can tell that we had a fun conversation and I'm just fascinated by these storytelling type shows and hers stands out, I'm almost afraid to go check out the rest of the podcasts in the Heard. I'm afraid I might like them too much. It's already bad enough that I listen to 2X for a lot of these shows. I may have to find a podcast player that plays it 3X.

It's just so much good stuff out there and I know you'll agree and the fact that you're listening to my words right now means that you think this episode and this podcast is worthy of your time, which I sincerely appreciate. I can't tell you how much it means to me that you listen week in and week out loyal folks that you are and I just look to continue to grow the fan base, so if you like the show and if you like who I'm talking to and you like the format and you like me, then tell a friend.

There used to be a commercial called phone a friend, I forget what's that for, but that just suddenly popped into my mind. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, text 33444 and text the word PodcastJunkies, all one word, and you'll get signed up right away. I think that's it, right? So many things to talk about. As usual, ratings and reviews, podcastjunkies.com/iTunes. They are the life blood of this show and we recently showed up in What's Hot in business in iTunes which was a nice surprise. No one understands how that freaking algorithm works, but when stuff like that happens, it's cool. So, take care guys. Have a fantastic week.

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