Easily the most stressful project of my university degree was SMILEcast 2013, a daily podcast, proposed and produced by my self over the course of Solent SMILEfest 2013 (an annual music festival, stemming from Southampton Solent University, bringing together live music staged by students, workshops and conferences featuring guest industry experts. Having acquired college qualifications in Music Technology and Performance, and coming to the end of a BA in Popular Music Journalism.
How difficult could it be? As it turned out, very, and not just to the noisy bickering of brilliant presenters Rebecca Rayner and Andrew Yates. This was not helped much by how shortly before the festival, two members of the project, left due to practicality (they lived together, and it was more convenient for them) and a third member disappeared off of the face of the earth halfway through the festival. This left me to produce this podcast, which had a cast and crew of 62 people, alone. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself though.
My mission statement: Create an entertaining daily podcast providing coverage of each day’s events, for distribution by Southampton Solent University, the official SMILEfest 2013 website, and Southampton-based web radio station, Radio Sonar. This is a list of the episodes and their content.
Episode 1: Thomas Yeo of Critical Wave (2’10”), Welcome Pariah (4’15”), Mr Tom (9’05”) and Sons & Lovers (12’00”). The chaotic production process of this episode is best remembered for the nearby police raid’s sirens regularly interrupting interviews (heard in the opening) at SMILEfest 2013’s opening event at Southampton-based club UNIT. Due to background noise, this episode is a total shambles, as my questions were regularly interrupted by background noise, though interestingly, this led to me being compared to Louis Theroux by Sons & Lovers, due to how he seems to favour deliberately induced awkwardness (although I admit that this wasn’t deliberate). I also stupidly left in a statement by the concert promoter who said that he wasn’t sure whether the concert was even part of SMILEfest 2013. However, this irritation is upstaged by Rebecca using the term “YOLO”. Disgusting.
Episode 2: Lumberyack Promotions (1’05”), Posh Cow Promotions (3’45”), YUZU Performers (5’20”) and Cloudi Lewis (7’05”). Due to the particularly lengthy New Riot interview, it had to be cut in two. References to the night’s performance made it in, and regrettably any references to their latest record, had to be removed. This episode was deliberately shortened as an experiment in conjunction with the official SMILEfest website, so that one could go to the site to listen to full length interviews.
Episode 3: Electric Banana (2’30”), The Kaleurs (5’00), Skymarshal (12’30”) and Mitchell Stevens/Cholombian (15’40”). This production was best remembered for the The Kaleurs’ refusal to tell me how to pronounce their name. As a result, I felt forced to type their name into a text-to-speech program to find the result. The result was funny enough that it featured in the podcast itself, channeling my stressed-out mood with an emotionless “*beep* you”.
Episode 4: Karvel (1’40”), Written in Waters (6’45”), All My Sins (13’05”), Old Crows (14’55”), Gnarwolves (16’15”) and Mitchell Stevens/Cholombian (22’35”). This extended edition features the series’ largest list of events and interviewees. At the time, this was a nightmare, but the resulting interviews with multiple performers and promoters (successful showcasing Southampton Solent student talent), conducted by all of the cast’s interviewers led to what became my definite favourite episode. My favourite part of this episode is Rebecca talking about a crate that she can’t resist climbing and dancing on (12’00”). You will not here the word “crate” used in such quick succession anywhere else.
Episode 5: Concert promoter Andy Copping (2’00”), Wall of Sound founder Mark Jones (11’30”) and music journalist Simon Price (14’00). This episode was introduced as the ‘Conference Special’, almost exclusively consisting of interviews conducted by myself, with industry professionals who visited Southampton Solent University. Most memorably, although not in the podcast itself, Andy Copping told me that he loved me, having told him how many years I had been at Download Festival, as well as tell a poor dad joke about how he came to Southampton Solent University. By train, apparently. Also, the Mark Jones interview was very short by comparison, partially because he forced me to chase him around backstage during the interview.
Episode 6? Not quite: The existence of a reflective finale Episode 6, rode upon whether an interview with Jon McClure, frontman of SMILEfest headliners Reverend and the Makers. The episode would have been featured myself, alongside other shattered crew members discussing the last few days with Rebecca Rayner and Andrew Yates, playing clips that were recorded, but removed from previous episodes (several interviews were heavily cut, with removed content made available to the official SMILEfest 2013 website and Radio Sonar) under the guise of being crew members’ favourite moments. Sadly, the episode never came to fruition, so this episode is a mish-mash of daft outtakes and leftover interviews. There are interviews with New Riot (3’50”), The Kaleurs (9’20”), Les Buckingham (14’20”) and Skymarshal (18’00”). In spite of plain profanity being censored in the original five episodes, this compilation created once I had graduated was the only place that I could drop the frontman of Skymarshal breaking the news that he’d heard about how certain cheeses change the taste of one’s semen.
Aside from this cancellation, all of the hardship considered, SMILEcast 2013 was a rousing success. Considering the scale I’m very proud to say that I was at the reins of the project. Mission accomplished.
Presented by Rebecca Rayner and Andrew Yates
Produced by Nick Pollard
Music by Shelley Huckle, Nick Pollard, James Williams and Toby Wise
Idents by Jonny Orwin
Interviews by Nick Pollard (all episodes), Tom Hutchin (Episodes 2 & 4) and Raven Lyness (Episode 4)
Additional Sound Technician: Ines Punessenepisode 2