Need something to listen to during lockdown? No problem, let Music Week recommend some key podcasts. Here, Q Magazine editor Ted Kessler talks about why the music monthly decided to make the leap into the podcast world. Recent episodes have included interviews with DJ Shadow, Gruff Rhys and Cate Le Bon.
Why was it important that Q Magazine entered the podcast space?
Ted Kessler: “It was important to enter the space because over the last year I’ve really started to listen to a lot of podcasts. Before then, it wasn’t that important because I hadn’t been listening to them. That’s a glib answer, but it’s true and one of the many amazing things about being an editor: if you have an idea, you can usually make it a reality pretty quickly. We had been doing a version of it live at The Social, but then we had a light-bulb moment about doing it in a studio instead. It’s just another way of Q doing what we like to do best: telling great stories about music and musicians. It all feeds into the same space, but it’s another method of travel. If it helps drive people to the magazine that is obviously fantastic, but it’s not the main aim. The main aim is just to make something worthwhile and enjoyable, that spreads the Q credo, and that one day washes its own face.”
So how does the Q podcast distinguish itself from others out there?
“I like plenty of podcasts that involve the hot air of journalists sharing their gags and insights with each other, but I didn’t think that was what Q should do. What the magazine does best, I think, is get great access to interesting talent and deliver their most intimate and funny stories. So, that’s what we are trying to do with The Making Of. It’s a one-on-one interview about a great musician’s life and career. The one element that we definitely do that nobody else does anywhere is The Biscuit Tin, which is an old Smash Hits technique of asking pop stars silly questions. Watching Aldous Harding decide which animal’s body she’d like if she kept her own face is a life highlight. Hopefully, we also have a different personality to other podcasts. There are lots of football podcasts that co-exist in similar spheres. I don’t see why music should be any different if we’re smart.”
You launched in March 2019. How’s the reaction been so far?
“I ask not to be told of audience figures. I’m an artist, after all. We’ve had some lovely emails, though, particularly about the Green Gartside episode, because he does so few interviews and that one was really in depth. Podcasts are so intimate, aren’t they, and it’s great that ours has tickled so many intimately. People seem really into it and during our recent break after the first season we’ve had lot of concerned messages about returning soon. We’re back early July. I have loved each one that I have hosted. I even enjoyed Mike Scott [of The Waterboys], which Q deputy ed Niall Doherty hosted, though it pains me to say so. Highlights: Jah Wobble’s East End tales, particularly nearly being killed in a pub brawl for burning his squat-mate’s furniture; Aldous Harding’s utter disdain for The Biscuit Tin; Fat White Family’s Saoudi brothers’ beatbox pod theme tune; Green Gartside arriving with a ring-bound folder of colour-coded anecdotes; Joan Wasser doing her ident in the style of Sly Stone’s Family Affair; Loyle Carner’s tales of inspiration…”
What are your goals with the podcast in the long run?
“I like the format. I think we’ll keep it like this and just refine it as we go along. I like simple ideas that can accommodate lots of different kinds of personalities. I’d like to do a live version too, though, and I think we will. It would be lovely to have a sponsor, as well. I’ve become quite evangelical about podcasts. I absolutely love them when they are good. They’re only going to grow as a way of communicating with more people because you can carry them anywhere.”