If you have ever waited for a bus there is a saying here in the UK that goes like this – You wait forever for a bus to come along, and then two come at once! Well this week’s Q&A follows this metaphor in a similar vein, minus the frustrating delay & bus bit. This week guys we have another informal, fan favourite chat with not one amazingly talented podcasting person, but two!
As fans, we were left with our jaws on the floor following the enthralling, spiralling, madness that are the final few episodes of SYIYN which will no doubt leave a gaping void on Wednesdays for me! Fear not anyone who might suffer SYIYN withdrawal symptoms old Kev is on hand to fire off some contextual questions for your reading pleasure.
Like haunted insomniacs, we return to Einhorn’s Epic Productions, and iHeartRadio’s insanely addictive ‘See You In Your Nightmares’ with questions for one part of the creative writing team Heather Einhorn. The other questions are for Sarah Gibble-Laska, the lady who has quite frankly raised the audio bar with her trademark 3D sound.
Ladies thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedules to respond to my questions. For an indie critic writer like myself, it feels humbling to know that my writing is being received, and hopefully making an impact.
Another special mention to Jenn Powers from iHeartRadio for being the best middlewoman with getting my questions across to the guys for review.
For further context check out my previous review of See You In Your Nightmares.
Questions for co-creator Heather Einhorn
Let’s start with an easy question! For my followers that may not be aware of your career to date, how did you get into scripted podcasting?
We had been excited by the new and interesting things going on in podcasts, so the first character we created as EEP was Tig Torres, a podcaster on the trail of a serial killer. We loved how storytelling was growing and evolving in the podcast arena, and were inspired by both fiction and non-fiction podcasts, and wanted to bring our own personal creativity — our own brand of style and character — into the audio space, and we were lucky enough that people connected with Tig and wanted to hear more!
Where did the initial idea and concept for SYIYN come from?
Well, I come from a family of insomniacs, so it really starts there! The initial inspiration came from the idea of bringing dreams to life in audio. We’re fans of comics that explore dreams and unbound fantasy spaces, like Sandman and Shade the Changing Man, and we also wanted to challenge ourselves to go somewhere we hadn’t gone before with our other podcasts.
As the podcast was created by yourself and Adam Staffaroni, how does that writing dynamic work? Does one of you have the initial idea, or is it a Lennon and McCartney partnership?
Every concept is different! It’s really a back-and-forth — some projects start with a title, or a mission, or a character — and from there we each add different pieces of the puzzle until we begin to form a complete picture. We know we can’t move forward with a project unless we both love it and find it really engaging so that organic exchange is key.
Where did your idea come from, for the blossom device our characters wear?
The more we grew the concept, the more we noticed what was happening in tech and digital marketing with this concept of someone who could literally be inside someone’s head. How many times have you heard someone say Amazon or Google must be reading their thoughts with the ads they serve up? And with the way we envisioned the setting of the story, the Lutwidge Wellness Center, we knew that a deep surveillance state inside the center would be a perfect fit.
Being from the UK it was great to hear a character like Alfie (Obi Abili), who sounded like someone from London. Was Alfie’s character always written as a Londoner?
Yes! Alfie was imagined as British from the very first mood pieces that Adam wrote that became the foundation for our first episode. From there our head writer, Ren Dara Santiago, took the Alfie character and made him her own — Obi and Ren were already friends, and Ren even gave Alfie the last name Abili to “subtly” suggest who we should cast for the role! After hearing Obi at our first table read, with the energy and fun and personality he brought to the character, we couldn’t see anyone else playing him.
As I mentioned within my review Dr Carter was another firm favourite of mine. Where did the inspiration for Dr Carter come from?
Dr. Carter was very much inspired by Elizabeth Holmes, and we were really inspired by the language and branding that she built up around Theranos to inform how we envisioned the Lutwidge Center. There was something so fascinating about a character that had this forceful, trustable charisma and was using it to cover up all kinds of questionable decisions. How the pressure to maintain the image of what she built undermined the integrity of it bit by bit until there was nothing left.
How long did the production take? And was it hampered by Covid?
We had pivoted to remote production in the middle of our previous podcast, Daughters of DC, so we were planning for remote production from the beginning of the project. It still didn’t make things easy! With any remote recording, there are always tech issues which Sarah (who was both our sound designer and engineer) did an amazing job of working through on a regular basis. And I cannot say enough about the amazing work of our director, Jordana Williams. Directing remotely is no easy feat! We are all in awe of her ability to work with all our wonderful actors to bring these complex characters to life via Zoom!
During the writing & production were you conscious that there could be parallels drawn between SYIYN and Netflix’s Stranger Things?
We are HUGE fans of Stranger Things, so we’re honoured that people are putting us in that league! We grew up in a time when we were watching and reading things from John Carpenter and Stephen King, and those things fuelled our real nightmares as kids! Those masters of the horror genre understood better than anyone how to encapsulate and give form to the roots of people’s fear, so it was impossible to build something true to ourselves and our own lives without those inspirations.
I know we are only halfway through the season however, do you have any other exciting projects coming up in the near future you can tell my readers about?
We have an entire slate of YA scripted podcasts with our partners at iHeartRadio! Next up is Lethal Lit Season 2 which we are releasing in conjunction with a Lethal Lit book series from Scholastic. We’re also in the midst of launching our latest project, House of Slay, which is a digital superhero comic and fashion line.
Questions for Sarah Gibble-Laska on sound design
How did you go about creating the immersive 3D sound experience?
I come from a sound-to-picture background and have loved movies since I was very young for the simultaneous ability to both escape and connect. When you move to an audio-only platform, not having the visuals to help tell the story really necessitates a different decision-making process. On top of that, since you are no longer just working on an xy axis, a lot of sensitivity is involved in proximity, levels, timing, etc. There are so many avenues you can take, but it’s important not to overwhelm the listener, and to pay attention to how things react within a space.
All of a sudden, something that was previously only to your right or left can now be positioned behind you, above you, all around you. It’s important to remember that most people experience sounds in this way every day and as such are expecting an experience that is similar to the way they interact with the physical world. If the listener’s attention is no longer occupied by visuals as it would be when watching a film, AND they are now hearing sounds as they would, in reality, they will be acutely aware if something sounds out of place. On one end of the spectrum, it’s enveloping, beautiful, and powerful. On the other end it can be jarring, distracting, and can pull you out of the story. Every decision I make with sound is pushing towards the goal of bringing the listener further into the story.
A mentor of mine once told me that we are not the dreamers, we are the dream-makers. I take the responsibility of helping to actualize someone else’s dream, of telling someone’s story, very seriously. If I can achieve that by creating a world, an escape, a connection, or a memory for someone, even for a small portion of their day, then I’ve succeeded.
And finally do you have any other up-and-coming projects that you can share with us?
I will be working on Season 2 of EEP’s Lethal Lit, which I am very excited about. I also work on a few podcasts for Crooked Media, the Wall Street Journal, and iHeart Media.
I am also working on an unnamed Disney project, a project with the company Star Atlas, and another project with a company that creates VR experiences for education. Aside from that, more film work and more podcasts are on the horizon!
End of this weeks questions
‘See You In your Nightmares’ can be found on Apple Podcasts & Spotify or from wherever you grab your podcasts.
And that about does it folks for this weeks Q&A. Once again a massive thank you to Heather & Sarah for getting on board with my questions.
As 2022 looms and most folks reflect on their year’s triumph’s I will let you into a little secret. You see I started 2021 without a clue about blogging, or even where to begin with reviewing podcasts. Fast forward to now and I’ve massively developed, and like to think I end 2021 with an assemblage of talented new pals passionate about the podcasting industry.
Looking forward to 2022 my personal MO is to continue to become the podcast critic writer of choice. The chap you turn to for an alternative, niche style of writing for your very own unique review. Well if you don’t believe your own hype no one will!
On a serious note if you are a podcast writer/creator looking to engage with a podcast critic writer please do check out my previous reviews, and consider me as a writer for your next project.
If you enjoyed this Q&A format, and are looking to give your future fans more insight about your own podcast then maybe (just maybe) I am the indie podcast critic writer that you have been looking for? Please get in touch via the bio below or email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
As this might be my last blog before the festive period, and the subsequent silly season begins I will wish you all a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! See you all on the flip side in 2022 cheers Kev.