Barely two weeks after launching his short story compilation The Gospel According to Blindboy, Blindboy Boatclub had been shortlisted for Newcomer of the Year at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards. The co-founder of subversive rap outfit The Rubberbandits also released a weekly podcast to coincide with the book launch.
Ahead of Publish Or Perish: The Content Conference last year, where he joined us as MC, Blindboy discussed The Blindboy Podcast, what he's termed 'the podcast hug', a digital fireplace, and interfering with a Banshee, with precisely the candour and giddy wit we've come to expect of this Limerick artist...
Podcasts are these lovely artefacts in modern life.
I launched The Blindboy Podcast as a promo for my book The Gospel According to Blindboy, and to test out the idea of an audiobook with ambient music. But I found that I love recording the podcast weekly, and hearing feedback from listeners.
They provide us with this intimate, calming hug in a fairly busy world where we constantly update apps - I'm convinced that's what podcasts do for us. They are a calming rest. I want to explore that further with the medium, and see where I can take it.
The podcast is released on a Wednesday morning. Because Wednesdays are a bit shit, they're a mid point.
On a Wednesday morning, you can appeal to a person’s introspective and contemplative side. On Mondays we need cheering up, on Fridays we want excitement, positivity and loud noises. But a Wednesday is purgatory. It's a space to be weird.
So the podcast is a mix of me reading my short stories, over ambient music that I compose. Like little radio plays. I want the short stories on the podcast to feel like a pleasant fever dream, or when you smoke too much hash, but don't pull a full whitener.
However, it's not just short stories. It's a space for ranting and reflection on all issues, with input from my online followers who ask questions.
Last week's episode was a reflection on Irish attitudes towards death and contained a short story about fingering the banshee as a means of gaining immortality, with an ambient music piece inspired by the work of Phillip Glass.
The podcast is going to organically grow, with the audience; it might start to include interviews, or reviews, whatever. I don't have a rigid plan. I want to treat it like a patch of nettles out the back garden. If you start trying to train nettles, or fertilise them, you'll end up stung, so leave nettles off to do their own thing.
I'm primarily a musician and music producer.
I make all the music for the Rubberbandits project, and I fucking love music and sounds of all sorts. I'm very sensitive to how things sound, and how sounds play with our moods.
A good podcast should be very well recorded. The voice should be deep and clear. The sound of lips, should give people snakey ASMR
tingles. It should immerse the listener fully. That's the job for a podcast. Before content, before subject matter, the listener should be transcended off into a comfy, safe haven where they can give full attention away and feel okay to be vulnerable, not guarded, or defensive. That's the podcast hug.
There's shit you can say on a podcast, that you'd get called a cunt for on Facebook.
Twitter and Facebook put our defences up, our hostilities, our insecurities. So we lash out in the comments. But podcasts can make us feel safe with our vulnerabilities, we're more passively accepting to views we mightn’t agree with. There's humanity to it.
A podcast needs to sound like the inside of someone’s head.
A badly recorded podcast, where you can hear the echoes of the walls in the room, is simply not immersive. I don't want mine to be perfect though. There's a small humming sound coming off my PC tower, and I like to leave that in, coz it's pure like a digital fireplace.
I'm not mad into listening to podcasts loads myself. I enjoy the odd, This American Life, but it's so well made, with daycent budgets, that's there's an insincerity to it. There's a forced formality in how they tell the stories. A lot of American podcasts, in the TAL vein, can be too glossy for me.
I like a podcast to be challenging, to take me out of my liberal feedback loop on my newsfeed.
So I enjoy a bit of Bill Burr, or Joe Rogan now and again. I mostly listen to music when my headphones are on though. I'll do a podcast once a week maybe.
Feedback to the podcast has been overwhelmingly positive.
I've been getting so many lovely messages, and suggestions about things to talk about. It's also been the number 1 podcast on the Irish iTunes charts for two weeks. I wasn't expecting that at all. Right now, one thing I'm sure of, is that I will be uploading a podcast every Wednesday morning. That's the only plan. I bought a nice outdoor mic that goes on my collar, because I'd like to record one beside a river or in the rain.
I won't say that social commentary is easier when it's funny.
Because being funny is difficult. But humour is a great way to convey a message on a touchy subject because it makes people feel safe, and not threatened or reactive,
With Facebook and Twitter, it's organic. I interact when I feel like it, I say what I want. You lose and gain followers - that's the deal. I've been at this since Bebo, like. I tend to post every day though. My followers often feel like friends, which is lovely.
I didn't even know I was the first person to say 'cunt' on the Late Late until I opened up Twitter.
Down in Limerick 'cunt' isn't even that bad a word. It's a term of endearment.
There's nobody I'd pick out specifically as someone I'd want to interview.
It's less about the person, and more about whether the person and I click. That's the key. A good interview is about human conversation. No one really cares about the questions or answers. We want to hear chatting, between two people who enjoy chatting with each other. It's engaging and comforting.
It's the difference between watching a couple that've recorded themselves riding for public consumption, and a porn shoot with hired actors who barely know each other.
Blindboy Boatclub was MC at our inaugural Publish or Perish event at the Science Gallery last year.
If you’d like to find out more – or discover how you can partner with our 2018 event – please click here.