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Interviewing 1 on 1 STILL works!

Putting in the yards and being face-to-face for interviews remains the best way

Interview
image courtesy of author

It’s convenient…but…

Interviewing is something I have really grown to love over the years.

I cut my teeth on the technique on radio, actually. For a touch under ten years, I hosted three, live radio shows, a week. One of those, was a straight ahead jazz show. Early on, I occasionally had guests on, but COVID changed all that.

Due to the lockdowns, the jazzers trade had been ripped from under them. They had no stage, and no livelihood. So, it was then I decided to up my game and give them a platform, to help keep their profile up, by having a guest on every week. One thing that helped was, they were available!

I started off, with the ones I knew, and could reach out to quickly, knowing they’d come on. I thought I’d do it for a month or so, until things got back to normal! Well, it ended up, that I had a guest on every week for 18 months straight. The interviews were popular, and I loved them. If you fancy listening to the one with Kyle Eastwood (yes – from that family of Eastwood’s!), here is the link.

So worth it

Having guests on makes for a lot of extra work. If someone, is gracious enough to give me their time, I felt, I should do my part, in researching them, and reading about them.

Not only does it create a far better view, or listen for the audience, but the guest quickly feels at ease, and the whole session just ‘flows’ better and easier. I’d often spend hours trying to find out as much as I could about a guest – so yes, it added to my production time, but, the payback was worth it.

About a year ago, to use Serena’s term, I transitioned away from radio. I have written about the reasons behind that many times before, but in short, I fancied a new challenge.

And a challenge it has been

That challenge was to be YouTube. I figured, with my radio chops down, it would be a breeze…how would I not be the next Peter McKinnon overnight?

Hmmm – turns out, it is not quite as easy as that. I, like many before me, have made plenty of mistakes over my journey so far on the platform. One of those has been finding my niche, or slot on YouTube.

Podcasts are becoming ever more popular, and YouTube is investing millions of dollars in to making their podcast presence even greater. It struck me, early this year, that I could possibly bring my skill-sets together, and start to interview guests again.

It was a little easier in the world of jazz, as I at least had my foot in the door. Here, in the tech space, I was a newbie, though. A tiny channel, with next to no subscribers, not much history, and knew no one.

I decided to give the interview idea a bash, and see how it fared.

Shoot big

It’s odd, but I have no fear in asking anyone to come on. What’s the worst that can happen? I have this rule of thirds approach when asking someone to come on. You’ll either get a straight no, be totally ignored, or, of course, be greeted with a yes.

Generally, I will approach creators that I watch and enjoy. It’s not unusual for me to grab my phone to DM someone on Twitter, whilst watching their content. If I like the look of them, and think they may have an interesting story, then I’ll reach out.

Until a few months ago, the interviews were only uploaded as an audio podcast. If you are interested in checking them out, you’ll find them here. Then, I found out the way to record interviews along with video, and now, the interviews are also available on my channel as well.

Different, but better

Audio, had always been my thing.

Radio and audio is a complete ‘theatre of the mind’. The voice and atmosphere you create will transport listeners to wherever their imagination wants to take them. Clearly, when you bring video to the table, that changes, but not necessarily for the worst – it’s just different.

Many who consume their podcasts on YouTube, will actually be busy with their day, and only listen to them, anyway. During the recent lockdowns, though, seeing someone became more important to us. Video has its place.

Back to basics

In the early day of my interviews with musicians, I would generally take a mobile rig with me, and record backstage, in dressing rooms or at the gig venue.

Of course, with what we have just been through, that all changed, and I had to find alternative ways to get the interviews down. Recording remotely has its benefits, for sure. It’s quicker, convenient, and for an audio snob, I can control the session better. Reflective, hard, bright changing rooms, full of mirrors, don’t make for a very good studio! But, there is a big loss as well, and that is the personal touch.

Hello Mark!

I have been busy recently, lining up interviews with creators. It’s a peace of mind knowing that I have a few in the pipelines. One of those that I’d wanted to catch up with was the amazing Mark Ellis, from Mark Ellis Reviews.

Mark and I go back a bit. I’d been watching him for a good few months, before I decided I wanted to dip my toes in the YouTube water. Checking on his website, I spotted he mentors, and offered coaching sessions. Long story short, we hooked up last summer, and the advice you get from Mark is invaluable. If you are thinking of taking a bash at YouTube, get in touch with Mark – you won’t regret it.

Anyhoos… Mark, was precisely the kind of creator I wanted to interview. As we had some ‘previous’, it made the approach that much easier. I first ran the idea past him in June. We agreed to sort it out at the back end of summer, and, finally, a date was in the diary.

Then it struck me, we only work about 100 miles apart, a short 90-minute drive, so I sounded out the idea of doing the interview in person with Mark, at his familiar studio space. Mark was up for the idea, and yesterday, as of writing, we sat down together.

The buzz

My normal prep of research, and copious notes, kind of flew out the window. When the interview goes out, you’ll notice I had my MacBook Air to one side, but you’ll equally notice, I never checked it.

Mark was a fantastic interview. Clearly comfortable, and with a great story telling presence to him. We chatted without a break, for over an hour, with no breaks, edits, or cuts. If only everyone was a ‘Mark’, geez, my life would be easy!

Driving back, I realised the lesson I had learned, though. It is not only that I feel the interview was one of the best – insightful, honest, and revealing, but I was buzzing! The vibe you pick up from mixing with another creator cannot be described. We chatted both before and after the camera was recording, just shooting the breeze, and talking shop.

But, I left there bristling with ideas, wired and ready to do better. And all this energy, came from me taking myself out of my comfort zone, and just making the effort.

There is a lyric in a song, along the lines of ‘people need people’. That is as true today as ever. COVID has bred an air of insular complacency. Because we have become accustomed to working alone and remotely, it has become our go to…the first solution, the easiest fix.

Lessons learned

Yesterday has taught me a massive lesson, about myself, and life, to some extent.

The life of a creator, is, by necessity, insular. Mark and I discussed on camera, just how prepared you need to be, to spend hours alone in this job. It goes with the territory.

My chat (I refuse to call it an interview!) with Mark, was one of the best for a host of reasons. Mark’s character and persona were a large part of it, but the fact we were together, in his studio, side-by-side, meant we could feed from one another’s reactions and energy.

If I had my way, I’d be more than happy for my channel to be an interview channel, but there is a weakness to that business model, and that is, I am reliant on guests saying “yes”.

But from now on, whenever I can make it happen in person, I will. Yesterday turned out to be a very good day.

Minus Sixteen with Mark will be available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube, Saturday 15th October

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Get in the vibe and listen along to today’s chosen soundtrack. I wrote this whilst listening to get in the vibe and listen along to today’s chosen soundtrack. I wrote this whilst listening tohttps://music.apple.com/gb/album/delegation-ii/581005956

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