Reflections on Art of Darkness
Making a New Podcast
“There are too many damned podcasts.” This is probably the least controversial fact of contemporary online life. We could, if we leveraged this insight, secure world peace, feed the hungry and ensure no puppy is ever left behind.
But to do that and remain honest, we would have to stop podcasting, and podcasting is too much fun.
For those really “in the know,” my partner in crime Brad Kelly and I had an old, rambling podcast called Righteous Yammer that went on for a few years in a kind of Escher loop. It was fun, unruly, a kind of semi-private spectacle. We learned a hell of a lot about how to record, interview, do post and build a modest audience. And then we scrapped it to focus on other projects, around 2018.
I went on to launch getthispodcast.com, a straight-ahead interview show about things people love. That show has been featured at thepodcastradio.co.uk and has been a fun excuse to talk with people I wouldn’t otherwise spend an hour with, about positive things that motivate them. There’s enough negativity in the world. A little room to talk about what keeps us going seems like the right move.
Now in 2020, during the time of the stupidest plague in history, Brad and I reconnected a determined to do a podcast with more shape than our previous effort. The idea struck us that we wanted to interrogate the lives of famous and not-so-famous artists, creatives and intellectuals with an emphasis on their “dark side.” The rough edges. Everyone knows “artists are troubled,” and we live in a neo-Calvinist era of cancellations, freak-outs, witch-hunts and triple standards, so it seemed to us a good idea to go over the biographies of great artists of the past and dig into the dirt both to help us understand the creative process generally and to reassess these artists in light of today’s climate.
That led us to “Art of Darkness” - the name of course is a riff off the Conrad novel, a podcast journey from the cozy Thames down the dark biographical rivers of the likes of Burroughs, Wilde, Woolf, Kubrick, Kafka, etc. etc. It’s also going to be featured at the Podcast Radio UK soon.
The format of the show is this: once monthly, Brad and I dig into a given biography and prepare our show. The other comes in more or less cold, and we record the biography. “What do you know about XYZ?” kicks things off. Then we go into the biography, and finally (after the person has died - every subject is dead) we ask: “What would XYZ be doing today?”
Pineal Colada provides the show art, from headshots of the subjects.
After each episode, we record a quick deconstruction / talkback between ourselves for Patreon subscribers, called After Dark. Those can be heard at patreon.com/artofdarkpod.
Feedback has been good so far, we’re getting 100+ listens weekly with no promotion, and we regularly hear from people about the subjects we’ve covered. It’s the kind of project we’d do whether it ever got heard at all, so that’s a sweet spot.
And yes, there are too many damned podcasts. But here’s another one.
Interested in further missives such as this?