Today, I recorded my first podcast. It wasn't the first time I recorded an interview—I've done several practice runs—but this was the first that would eventually be shared. With the world.
And we are re-recording it next weekend.
I have been doing a lot of prep since I first decided to do a podcast back in June. I started researching the hows and the whats of it, got very lucky and found podcasting equipment on an estate sale (a social media office was going out of business), got professional microphones and a great Zoom recorder from it and then, on the drive home from picking it all up, realized it would be a loooooooong time before in-person interviews would be a thing again (even though we could totally social distance with the mic cables). This show would have to be done online.
The irony is I'll be recording interviews on a Zoom...video call.
A couple of friends were gracious enough to be my rehearsal guests so I could get acquainted with the process: how the audio would come over, the process of editing, etc. Everything seemed to be working fine during the Zooms, except I couldn't hear myself on my headphones. That's sort of important.
Wanting to be sure the sound was as clear and professional as possible (and to help boost my soft voice), I bought a pre-amp. It seemed to work quite well during a test interview. The audio was clear, but my signal was still weak. Last night, I set out to find the best ways to edit my sound doing a tests in Garage Band. (Hey, if it's good enough for Fiona Apple...) But, on test five, the pre-amp just crapped out. It's always fun and not at all stressful when, at 10:30 the night before your first interview, a major piece of equipment fails. It gives you all sorts of confidence, let me tell you.
I rebooted my laptop (because, when in doubt...), and the pre-am started working again. Whew. I figured it was gremlins, the universe testing me, and my stupid luck. But, at least it was working. I got a good night's sleep, did yoga first thing, had my brekky, downed some tea with honey...I was all set and ready to interview my friend, author Amy Dresner. I got on the Zoom ten minutes before schedule, just in case she was early. While I was doing the mic and headset check, the pre-amp crapped out again.
I'm usually a belt-and-suspenders kind of gal, and typically have a Plan B and C to fall back on, but I'm also on a budget. I had returned the XLR-to-USB cable just yesterday, feeling confident that the pre-amp would be all I'd need. That cable would have allowed me to run my mic directly to my laptop, no pre-amp needed. I should have listened to the little voice that kept saying, "Are you sure you want to send that back? Really? Are you sure sure?" (Pro-Tip: Always listen to that little voice.)
The headset to my 2015 iPhone 6+ saved the day. After my audio issues were resolved and Amy's video finally cooperated, we got the ball rolling on the interview (only 20 minutes behind schedule). Amy is a great person to talk with. We had a good conversation and some serious laughs, but I was off my game. Part of it was being overly self-aware and feeling awkward playing podcast host to someone I know. Part of it was wondering, "How is this going to sound?", since I wasn't able to test that mic (shockingly good, by the way). I wasn't completely present. Thankfully, Amy was onboard to do it again.
For a little backstory: Amy and I met at a cemetery. It was Hollywood Forever for a mutual friend's birthday. We were going to see a Cinespia screening of To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, a favorite film of our friend. Amy and I bonded right away, talking about writing (her book was newly out as was my second novel) and sharing a warped sense of humor. She is loud and unfiltered, and I'm just as unfiltered and would be loud if I wasn't stuck with that soft voice. We both enjoy toeing that line of appropriate.
I went home from the film and purchased the ebook of MY FAIR JUNKIE. I immediately started texting Amy every line that made me laugh out loud and realized I was basically plagiarizing the first chapter her memoir. I'm telling you, I will never get over "jail socks".
Be sure to read her book. It is staggeringly good. Even if you think a memoir about drug addiction and sobriety isn't for you, skim a sample of it. I think she might win you over, too. (Bonus if you're in to audiobooks: she's the narrator.)
After the interview, the pre-amp was returned, the XLR-to-USB was repurchased, and the re-recording scheduled. When you do anything new, there are going to be a few false-starts. Those are easier to take with good friends giving you support.
Amy's interview will be the premiere episode of SLP. Be ready for it on October 7th.