Invasion of the Pod People
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Hrishikesh Hirway is fascinated by the art of editing. Through his podcast Song Exploder, Hirway works with musicians – from Björk to U2, The National, Chet Faker, Courtney Barnett, Carly Rae Jepsen and Iggy Pop – to unpack their tracks piece by piece, exploring how their music was edited into being.
Hirway is the host of the podcast, but sees his role on Song Exploder as primarily that of an editor. In the process of building each episode, he works with each artist on their core concept and their choice of song – then, after recording, he edits meticulously to remove himself from the conversation, directing focus on the artist as they share how they brought their chosen song to life.
Join Hirway, with Miyuki Jokiranta, for a conversation about music, story and the art of the edit.
Hrishikesh Hirway is a musician and composer, and the host of Song Exploder, a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Past Song Exploder guests have included Björk, U2, The National, Chet Faker, Courtney Barnett, Wilco, and many others.
Miyuki Jokiranta is a radio maker and writer who currently produces for Earshot at ABC RN. Previously, she produced and presented Soundproof, RN’s playground for the sonically curious; within her own radio arts practice, she crafts a space between music and words. She has also produced for RN’s Books and Arts, Poetica and Off Track, and – while living and studying in the US – for a range of National Public Radio programmes including Radiolab, Radio Rookies and Radio Diaries.
In the last few years, podcasts have matured into the storytelling format du jour – with a little help from a certain sensationally popular true crime serial (ahem). Yet the surge of interest and excitement around audio features and podcasts has been gaining momentum for even longer, propelled by a diversity of formats.
Take the narrative artisanship of This American Life or the sonic vivacity of Radiolab; the topical deep dives of Slate’s Culture Gabfest or Phillip Adams’s Late Night Live; the animated storytelling of The Moth or Sum of All Parts; or the intimate conversations found in Death, Sex and Money or WTF with Marc Maron. The influence of these and countless other shows can be felt in today’s most interesting podcasts (insert shameless plug for the Wheeler Centre’s own successful forays into richly-produced feature-making, including Andrew Denton’s Better Off Dead, and The Messenger, here).
Beloved for their sense of proximity, their active listenership, portability and in some cases, ambitiously-crafted audio, podcasts have a unique ability to keep listeners in the company of their own choosing – and to render mundane tasks bearable. And since design show 99% Invisible’s record-breaking Kickstarter campaigns – podcasts have also shown promise in otherwise dim times for media businesses. What’s next for podcasting – and how could it be done better?
In celebration of all things audible, we’re bringing you some of podcasting’s best and brightest to share their thoughts and insights on the art (and business) of listening.