Pat Blythe – The Pandemic Interviews – Conversations in a changing time…..and music

Tuesday, January 26 at 6:01am my first podcast was posted on Podbean. It’s been a work in progress since last May….well technically last August/September. Let me ‘splain…..

Phase One – the easy part

The world of arts and entertainment has come to a complete halt for almost a year. No clubs. No concerts. No art gallery openings. No live music. No photographing. No…..nothing! Since this column is, theoretically, supposed to be about music, particularly live music, I had a slight issue…..there wasn’t any. I wrote a four-part jazz series (and that’s a TBC), combed the internet, put out the call for new releases, wrote a few pieces on the pandemic, held five concerts on my back deck and stuck my literary toe in the water of politics. I was quickly running out of news and tunes. Everyone was in hibernation and the general media were getting more and more depressing. There’s only so much fluff ‘n stuff one can write about.

Three months into the pandemic I started to reflect back to the past year, musing on how drastically life had changed, in literally a heartbeat. It’s one thing going back and forth to the office every day, it’s quite another when you essentially live on the road, performing and traveling the world with a multitude of people, ten months of the year. I thought about checking in with the local musicians I knew, wondering where they were at this time (summer of 2019) and where they thought they’d be (or were supposed to be) now. I also wanted to touch base, preferably in person, to see how they were coping and surviving isolation. Separation from family and friends can be debilitating…..emotionally, physically and psychologically.

None of this was happening…..

I ran my idea by a few musician friends, who gave their thumbs up, so I proceeded to compile a list of names. My first conversation was June 10, 2020. Thank you Mike Celia for agreeing to be the first. The last interview was…..well, I’m actually still going into 2021. I’ve spoken to 50 Canadian artists/bands both locally and internationally. It’s been both an enlightening, humbling and wonderful experience. By the time I wrapped up for 2020, my short list of conversations starters had grown from eight to nineteen.

Phase Two – fear of the unknown

Then some bright spark (who shall remain anaughtymouse) asked if I was recording the interviews. You know when you want to reply with a really witty, dripping with sarcasm answer but you can’t, because you never think of those witty, dripping with sarcasm answers until much later…..so I just said “of course”. So bright spark proceeded to suggest I do a podcast. I laughed. Then bright spark two suggested it, agreeing with bright spark one. This continued like the old Fabergé shampoo commercial (and so on and so on…..) for a couple of months.

After much thought, and discarding every reason I could think of to say no, I finally acquiesced and agreed, out loud, to give it a shot. Once you do the “out loud” part, especially to the artist you are currently talking to…..you’re committed. Decision made and armed with that growing list of “conversation starters”, I forged ahead.

The world of Podcasting was completely foreign to me, and I was actually scared to take the leap. Researching what was already being published made my heart stop! Sure, it’s fine being a small fish in a big pond, but the podcasting pond seemed more like a tsunami, and this wee fish was little more than a squeaky toy your pet plays with.

I’ve never considered myself a broadcaster or an interviewer. In fact both terrified me. I prefer a few key questions and then just let the conversation flow. As for “speaking into the mic”…..ummmmm…..no! I’m really a behind the scenes kinda gal. I was lucky I knew or had photographed and met everyone I spoke to, which made the conversations/interviews a tad more relaxing.

Phase Three – pick one!

After completing umpteen interviews, I started researching podcast platforms and reached out to a couple of podcasters for some guidance. After a couple of weeks of procrastination, more research, and a lengthy conversation with my eldest son (the project manager), I registered Luvthemusic with Podbean. My son had basically told me to stop overthinking, get off my ass and just do it. Either that or continue to focus on my writing. I had two choices (to coin an overused but apt phrase), shit or get off the pot! Now I had all those interviews to edit and no idea how to do it. I had no inkling of what I was getting myself into…..100% clueless!

Phase Five – bump in the road

I hit a bit of a bump in the motivation/low mojo department for about six weeks…..mid-November until January 2. I kept myself super busy, but not with what I should have been working on. My heart wasn’t in it, so I kept my guilty-feeling self busy focusing on anything but….. The Christmas season is “my” time of my year. It’s my special favourite holiday, and I love to celebrate, pulling out all the stops. I especially look forward to my annual Christmas open house and seeing family. My whirlwind starts the beginning of November and I go nonstop through to January 1. Not this year. Although the few days over Christmas were lovely, psychologically, the overall season proved to be a much bigger bummer than I had anticipated. My usual “zippyness” vacated the premises. Not even the tree got properly decorated.

One highlight, however, was a wonderful piece of music arriving in my email in mid-December. It was the keyboard and guitar tracks of my “sting”, Luvthemusic’s theme song. I wept. I couldn’t believe this had actually been written for me. When the drum tracks were added the entire piece came together so beautifully and….well……I just love it! (insert teenybopper squeal) I cannot thank Eddie and Quincy Bullen and Paul DeLong enough for what they’ve done. You three…..you have no idea what it means to me. That was my first nudge and huge one. Then on January 2 I read something that lit the fire.

Phase Six – Let’s get ‘er done

Time to get serious! So, really how hard is it to learn new recording, editing and mixing software? Really?  Pfffffft! I found out it’s not just understanding the software.

I was recommended two software apps for editing voice. After trying both I settled on Pre Sonus’s Studio One 5. It’s incredibly full-featured, overwhelmingly so. I now have a new and very healthy appreciation for audio engineers! I had no idea what I was walking into. I had worked on a number of interviews in the fall, but by January it had been a few months. I had to fire up the memory cells. That took a few frustrating days. Once I remembered the barest of basics, I loaded a new track and started all over.

The list started to grow. With one track done I now had to figure out which parts of the sting I would use for the intro and extro, record my introduction, write and record the artist intro, load two of the artist’s songs, write and record two lead-ins (one for each song), record two ‘welcome backs’ coming out of each song, figure out where, in each interview, I would place the songs, write and record the verbal extro, and finally, stick everything exactly where it should be so the whole segment would flow. I now had 14 colour-coded tracks! Fuuuuuuuck!!!

My computer screen of mass confusion

I accidently found the “mixing board”, went bug-eyed and decided that was a road I was unwilling to travel for now. Lost a week’s worth of work in one night (still have no idea how) and spent two solid days recreating and editing six of those fourteen tracks. I discovered more features, was shown more features, got extremely overwhelmed and shut it down for a few days.

Still hadn’t worked out how to load 14 tracks onto Podbean. Then my friend Frank  Zirone (who had been guiding me through the Studio One process) asked if I had done a “mixdown”? Now is when you visualize the “deer in the headlights” look. Apparently, in order for all fourteen tracks to live as a single track, they need to be mixed. Sigh. Gilda was right, it’s always something. Found the mixdown feature and without further ado, the tracks were mixed in about 38 seconds. Voila! We have a podcast at the ready. Then of course I need to make changes.

Phase Five – and now we wait…..

The podcast was submitted to iTunes, Spotify, Google Music, Amazon Music and TuneIn+Alexa. Each one will have its own link to the series once the submissions have been accepted/published. The links to Podbean and Spotify are at the end of this column. I’m just finding out I won’t have the other links for a couple of weeks.

The “conversation list” continues to get updated while the interviews resume and carry into 2021. I did eventually invest in a lapel mic with a 6.5 foot cable once I realized the podcast thing was becoming real. A good friend has also offered the use of his studio where I can see the person I’m interviewing and interact with them, while still being mindful of staying within the protocols. As I become more familiar with the software, watch more YouTube videos and pay attention to what I’m shown, the podcasts will improve. I think this journey is just beginning.

Many thanks to Tracy Brett, Frank Zirone, Paul DeLong, Al Joynes and Lisa MacIntosh for all your advice, moral and technical support. Eddie, Quincy and Paul, I really can’t thank you enough for a spectacular sting/theme. That is incredibly special!

…..next week we’ll be back with our regular programming……

https://open.spotify.com/show/0TzFSLXGsKdecqTVMqVIOw

https://luvthemusic.podbean.com

The very talented musicians of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (previously) performed a wonderfully funky cover of the classic ZZ Top song “Gimmee All Your Lovin’”. Vocalist Leisa Reia sang the verses, while the rest of the group provided beautiful harmonies. Founder George Hinchliffe and Richie Williams played a couple of badass solos off of each other as well.

Gimme All Your Lovin’ – Ukullele Orchestra of Great Britain

Lo Vas A Olvidar – Billie Eilish, Rosalía

A brand new release by three crazy talented, creative artists who push the envelope every time. Live…..they are amazing! …..and then there’s Karli Forget’s voice!

Femicide – Hot Lips

Turn Down Day – Cyrkle

Smile a Little Smile for Me – The Flying Machine

Later – Amaal

One of the most skilled and moving guitarists of his age, Michael Murray has been posting these little streams and vignettes for the past few months. Here’s a taste!

Weiss – Passacaglia – Michael Murray

This Mortal Coil – Song to the Siren – Liz Fraser

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay sane.

Cheers!

Photograph of the crowd scene taken at the Revival during Indie week 2017 © Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

One Response to “Pat Blythe – The Pandemic Interviews – Conversations in a changing time…..and music”

  1. Congrats, Pat! What a compendium!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: