Monday, June 14, 2010

Nilpod Interview

Here's an interview that Nicky and I did for the Colaiste Dhulaigh magazine.
Ciaran Rigney was the very gracious interviewer.

  1. Where did the idea for Nilpod come from?
W: Nicky and I are huge fans of the Adam & Joe podcasts as well as several others and we had talked about doing one ourselves for a few months but never got around to it.
Eventually we decided to record one and see if it was worth putting out. We had a good time doing it and we recorded two more before we put them out for anyone else to hear.
We figured that if we liked it, then there was a good chance that there might be others who would like it too, but mainly we persisted with it because we both enjoyed it so much
and the idea that we'd find anyone to listen to us was pretty far from our mind.

N: I was about to launch a podcasting project with my students so it felt a bit hypocritical to make them do something we hadn't done ourselves. Initially I suggested something ridiculous which was "not such intelligent design" where each week we would "improve" on mother nature's creatures to really maximise their potential. The idea itself had no legs but the intention to do a podcast did. The first few were really a podcast in gestation. I think we've found a structure that works for us now.

  1. It has moved fairly quick through word of mouth are you surprised by it’s popularity?
W: A little surprised that people seem to like it so much. Also, on the few occasions that we've had to delay the recording of an episode, it's been very surprising to find that people were missing it
and had gotten used to it coming out on Wednesdays.
What's also been really weird is that when someone tells us that they discovered it and listened to 30 episodes over 3 or 4 days. That seems dangerous to us and a spectacularly poor use of peoples time but we
are very flattered that someone would do that!

N: It worries me that there are people out there who have listened to more of our nonsense than we have. I usually glaze over during the recording. I had some special glasses made. Wil can't tell. It is hard to publicise your podcast though. I think we'll orchestrate some huge scandal that generates more interest in the near future. Maybe some kind of Ponzi scheme.

  1. Who’s idea was it to make it a pre-recorded podcast?
W: There was never any thought of doing it any other way. Podcasts give you a huge amount of control over what you do but if they are to be in any way successful then you have to put them out regularly. If you put 4 out and then you can't be bothered to do one for another month then you'll lose any momentum and/or audience you've built up.
We just celebrated Nilpods first birthday and that represents almost 2 and a half days of our lives that we'll never get back. I don't whether to laugh or cry about that!

N: We had a nice long hug that day. In terms of it being pre-recorded it was the only route technology would allow us. We'd need more expensive doodads to stream it live. And Nilpod's not likely to be our goldmine.

  1. Where do you get your ideas for topics from?
W: We get them from all over the place. One night, I sat in front of the tv and wrote down about 15 ideas for shows. Other times we're struggling to think of one but never for too long. We text each other ideas all the time too. Nicky thinks we can do a show on anything but I tend to be a bit more reluctant to discuss things that I can't bring personal experience to. I'm coming around to his way of thinking over time, though.

N: Often, while going about my daily business an idea will just pop into my head. Then I'll text Wil to see if it meets his approval. He veto's less and less as time goes on. He does the same for me. I think we've had some of our best shows on abstract topics. It's almost as if the further outside our areas of study they are, the greater the flights of fancy we go on to make them relevant to ourselves. I'd hate to think we ever came across as smug on any subject though. We preface all topics with well what do we know about this and proceed to prove how little that may be, hopefully in an amusing fashion.

  1. What kind of topics have you got coming up?
W: We'd rather not say. We have a lot of ideas but we have no idea as to the order we'll do them. We'll revisit various topics as time goes on too but I don't think we'd do more than 3 shows on any topic and it would have to bea big topic like Religion to sustain 3 shows.

N: We're open to suggestions for topics people would like us to discuss. . Don't be offended if we don't use your topic either. Some things are just too far outside our remit. Or possibly inappropriate. We're a clean show people.

  1. Any more special guests planned?
W: We've decided that Dave Curran will appear on every 10th show from now on. He would prefer every 5th show and we rename it 'Danilpod' but that's not going to happen! We'd love to have Adam back in and we certainly will. Dallas lives in New Zealand so it's a heck of a commute for her but it was great to have her on the show, even though I only met her 10 minutes before we did the show.
I'd love to have my best friend and Nicky's best friend on so they could tell what they know about us. We'll see!

N: I have my best friend on ever week. * sniff. It's odd having guests but I like how it changes the dynamic. It seems to be easiest when we both know the person well. God knows what would happen if we had a stranger in the little room with us.

  1. You have very good on air chemistry… What’s the secret?
W: It's going to sound soppy but Nicky is my brother from another mother! He's one of my best friends. We've known each other for about 8 years now and a cross word has never passed between us. We're VERY similar and we both have brains that are filled to bursting with pop-culture nonsense and Nilpod is the home we've found for our useless knowledge!

N: I wholeheartedly concur with Wil. We're both genuinely interested in each other, and the world around us. Most of the time we're just waiting to see the direction the other is going to take the conversation and we're always happy to go along with any deviation from the subject.

  1. Are the shows scripted?
W: I find it hilarious that anyone would think our nonsense is scripted! The way Nilpod works is as follows; on Sunday, I record my jingle and send it to Nicky and he sends me his within a day if he hasn't already. Then we'll send each other a list of about 10 questions each. We never discuss the answers before the show so we don't know what each other has got to say before we record. That's all the prep we really do. The questions are scripted but the answers are not.

N: Nilpod is tightly scripted. We record several takes of each line. Although we put it out on Wednesday we record several days in advance just to get the right level of pace and pathos into the edit. The guys who write for "two and a half men" do all of Wil's anecdotes. Salman Rushdie does my jokes. Humour has never been his strongpoint.

  1. So how does a person go about setting up their own podcast?
W: There are tons of online resources about the technical side of setting one up. Although, if someone wanted advice on how to create a podcast, I would say that you need to figure out a format that is flexible. It's better to have a format that is broad and allows you to cover a wide range of material. The second thing I would say is that you should talk in your own voice. By that I mean that if you adopt a persona or try and talk in 'radio mode' then you'll probably find that hard to sustain and it won't really feel natural. With Nicky and I in Nilpod, the conversations we put out there are exactly like the kind of conversations we'd be having any way and that is the key to any success we've had.

N: The technical stuff you learn along the way. Content is the most important element. If you're interested in your subject and able to talk about it in a way that's engaging people may well listen.

  1. Finally, what’s the ultimate aim of Nilpod?
W: The aim of Nilpod is to ultimately entertain Nicky and I. I find that if I start thinking about who is listening then I get a little nervous and I start to censor myself a little. I tend not to think about the audience so much during the show.
We're going to do other creative projects together too but they're still in the early stages. We'll hopefully do something else under the Nilpod banner before the end of the year. We are very much in sync about what we both like and we have interests in making films together at some point. I'd like more people to hear the podcast so Nicky and I could become podcast millionaires! Having said that, I think Ricky Gervais is the only one who has made money from podcasts and that does not bode well for mine and Nicky's future plans to buy Colaiste Dhulaigh and turn it into a roller disco but we're not ready to give up on the dream just yet!

N: You should see the uniforms. Wil did some sketches. We may wear them in the films Wil mentioned. But I'm unsure the world is ready for that. Nilpod keeps us off the streets even if it means we're now online. At least once a week.

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