An Outrageous Interview!

As always, our focus here hasn’t always been on recording artists or specific album reviews (although we love to do those too). Sometimes, it is just nice to chat with fellow music-lovers and individuals who commit large portions of their precious spare time to promoting the works of others, curating music collections for public enjoyment, and giving people new and interesting art to listen to.

One of the friends we’ve made over the last few years, is Gavin from Melbourne Australia, who runs a SoundCloud podcast called Outrageous, Adventures in Music. For many years now (we’ll get onto that later), he has been amassing lengthy, detailed, and wonderfully diverse listening experiences. For me personally, these have been great for those times when you just want to kick back and see what unexpected mysteries await. Due to the length of the playlists (we’re talking an hour up to several hours each), they have also been great for playing in the car during commutes. Definitely a fun way to discover new music, and quite a different experience to the usual defaulting that so many do, to services like Spotify.

Hi Gavin! Thanks so much for giving us some time to have a chat about yourself and the podcast! To start, I’m curious as to how this whole project began for you, and how your residence in Melbourne might have contributed to the establishment of Outrageous? Have you always been a collector of music, and what inspired you to start curating in this way, and choosing SoundCloud as your “delivery mechanism”? 

Originally I worked on Outfm in Sydney from 1998 – 2001. Outfm was one of 18 community stations vying for 3 community licenses. They broadcast a month at a time twice a year – 4 weeks at Mardi Gras, and 4 weeks at Sleaze (the alternative mardi gras ball usually in late September). Each time we broadcast, I was offered a spot, and over the four years I developed a reasonably good standing at the station. I was part of the Music Committee, and the playlist was democratically chosen by a group of 5 or 6 DJs/presenters (all from different backgrounds). The experience from Outfm has given me that push to want to try and do something a little different. And yes, my show was called Outrageous on Outfm.

When I moved to Melbourne 14 years ago, I didn’t really have any urge to go on radio, as I didn’t enjoy (and still don’t) radio in general. I did have idea of joining Joy fm, but wasn’t very impressed with the playlist and style of presenters (very limited scope of how the LGBTQ+ community is really represented). I also felt that being on a gay station limited my range ( I didn’t want to be defined by my sexuality as far as presenting anything)

It was watching the biopic for Molly Meldrum that sparked me wanting to do something… I felt that there was very little being done compared to what Molly had achieved for the music industry in general (not that I claim to be as big as Molly, but certainly was inspired by his legend). It was suggested that I should do a podcast, and the rest is history. I did originally have my podcast both on Soundcloud and Mixcloud (or something similar – I can’t recall), and eventually preferred Soundcloud’s platform, a lot more user friendly, and certainly less clunky.
That was May 2015, and as time has gone on. I have constantly tried to keep things interesting for me (and the listener). I have always been a collector of music and I felt what better way to share my collection than through Outrageous!! I have allowed the episodes to be much longer (the first couple of years, the longest episode was about 90 minutes), and having that flexibility of time frame allows me to give the mixes room to breathe, and develop a flow. I have interviewed some artists along the way, although that is much less of late, I think mostly due to covid mucking schedules up (I do intend to bring some more interviews back into the mix – it’s a case of finding the right time for myself and the artist).

My concept for the interviews is a mix of the guest programmer on Rage, and a kind of “what if” — what if my favorite bands had to pick 5 songs from my collection, what would be the picks? The conversation stems from the music picked, and most times can go any direction, so it is a less structured kind of interview and more of a friendly chat about music. I now also get the artist to grab 15 random CDs, from which I have to make a playlist!! (a challenge for sure) – and while they are here, record a handful of “station Id’s” – all in the name of fun. 🙂

My monthly music mix has become the flagship of Outrageous – a chance to share whatever new music is coming out that month. I usually keep a list of what artists I want included in the mix, so that I don’t forget to add them in when I’m making up the files (usually its made the Friday beforehand – as most times, there are some songs being released on the Friday!). If the list is large (and it has been of late), I will split the episode over two days, with the Saturday usually being the really eclectic mix – rock, ambient, pop, rnb, folk, and the kitchen sink – and the Sunday mix usually being the full electronic mix.

You surely have a great passion for music my friend, to commit so many years to presenting and broadcasting music of so many styles and flavors! I’ve always been a strong believer that it is individuals such as yourself, who really keep music alive. People so committed to curating, assembling and exposing music of so many forms. Would I be correct in assuming that the move away from tradition radio, to your own podcast, really opened up the opportunities to feature music of a more unusual / less typical / lesser-known nature? I’m always really impressed by your mixes, in that there are often tracks that are familiar, which bring a nostalgic feel, and also unexpected surprises of a more underground origin. This sense of the unexpected and being able to listen without preconceptions, always ready for a surprise, is a highly attractive feature! I have to ask at this point, how you find or make the time to complete all this work? I can appreciate that there must be many many hours of hunting, research and planning going on in the background. If someone were to film an episode of “Outrageous – behind the scenes”, what would it look like?

As I touched on in my last answer, I honestly cannot stomach radio (commercial radio the worst offender of course), and another reason for getting Outrageous started was to provide something of an alternative to radio, and in a way challenging how people listen to music.

Commercial radio has zero engagement with its audience, it’s all about stroking the egos of the announcers, and no true satisfying what we, the audience would like to hear. You know the drill, let’s play the same 15 songs over and over and over and over and over and over. As a rule on Outrageous, I make a point of never repeating any song at least more than twice (artists may choose certain songs that may have already been played, but you can’t avoid that). Playing a different version is not considered repeating in my books 😉. I always like to give the music a kind of “storyboard” with the highs and lows, and some kind of direction with the placement of different genres (that is mostly with the monthly mix).

Generally it will take me up to an hour to put together a mix (sometimes longer, when I might get stuck as to what direction to take things). A lot of the mixes have already been done, it’s just a case of me selecting which one takes my fancy at a particular time. I make the mixes initially for myself to listen to, and of course it will eventually become an episode (win win situation). I may not make mixes for a while, it just depends on when my creative juices come to life. I have hundreds of mixes ready to go…. so there will always be material for Outrageous. The most planning for a mix is for the monthly mix, as I have touched on before – I always make a (continually growing) list of what is to go in the mix… it’s also a reminder to make sure I purchase the tracks before the broadcast date. As the list grows, that will usually define whether or not to split the episode over two days (which has been the case mostly of late – god damn artists – stop releasing such good stuff 😋 😋 😋).

Most cases, the monthly mix is made on the Friday before, to allow for any new tracks which are sometimes released on the day. If I have made the mix already, and know that a track is due, I will leave a space in the mix, and edit it in when I receive it. I also have fun choosing which “tags” to insert between songs, depending on what kind of mood I want to generate going into the next vignette ( I consider each section a segment of a larger story, and like to try evoke an atmosphere/feeling to move the “story” along).

As for a possible “behind the scenes” scenario – it would be quite boring… just me sitting on the computer editing together the mix. I sometimes have the stereo blasting in the background, but not too loud, as I do have to concentrate on the music, and make sure the segues and transitions all sound top notch. There are times I have to play with them to make it sound good… the joys of editing haha.

I contact artists to ask if they would like to contribute tags or maybe intros for their tracks. It certainly adds to the soundscape of Outrageous, and the variety of emotions and atmospheres also helping to promote that particular artist. As you may have noticed with the LEMOM releases, Simon and myself always get the contributing artists to record a short intro to the song they have recorded, a little bit of info about the song. I think it’s good to actually hear from the artists themselves about how the song eventuated – adding engagement to the mix.

I’d like to ask about promotion next, and how you go about spreading the word and getting your fine mixes into people’s ears and minds. Please drop any links that you’d like to share at this point too. It seems that you invest a lot of time in searching for new music, researching artists, and also purchasing their creations. I could be completely wrong here, but it also appears that you love music of a massive spectrum in terms of genre, theme and style. How do you usually go about finding artists and new compositions to include in the Podcast? Can they approach you directly? Or do you prefer to discover things of your own accord? The internet is a wonderful thing for finding new audio experiences, so I’m interested in how you narrow down and hone in on the works that touch you, match show themes, and ultimately make it into your mixes.

Hmm promotion… marketing.. something I’ve never been a whizz at. I used to use Facebook advertising, but that became very much the opposite of its term. I’d spend money to get absolutely little to no movement whatsoever. I do post in groups as much as I can, without flooding every site (too much energy girlfriend haha). Having groups like LEMOM is good, as I can promote and also find new acts at the same time. Especially with the monthly mixes, I do try and send the mix to as many of the appearing artists as I can. ( I may miss one or two, but hey I’m not a machine hehe). For a couple of years Ive been using Repost Exchange on Soundcloud, that has been most helpful in getting my mixes heard/more plays. I have also found many new artists from this – as I am sent “repost requests” by artists, I find I am liking at least a good 40% of what I am sent (I am very picky as you might be aware). A lot of those I am good friends with, and have started good correspondence relationships with them. As far as whether I approach the artists, or them me/looking for them – it really is a mix of all 3. I have had artists approach me (ones that already know me), and offer me the first exclusive play (which is always a friggen big joyful thrill!!) or I may nudge them for that… it really depends on the situation and whether I feel they are comfy with that.

When I am flicking through the playlists for potential shows for the year, it really is a case of seeing one that jumps out at me, and evokes something in me that says “this has to be heard”. It’s something that really can’t be explained that easily… it may be a case of feeling it’s time for this particular mix to be put up, or simply I want to play “x” next, so I’ll find the list and put it in the “possibles” pile (yes I have two piles – the main pile, and the “possible” or “pending” pile), lists that I have deemed to go into this year’s episodes. That of course does change over time, but generally if a list in the pile, it is more likely to be heard within the next 12 months. Of course when choosing the Feature Artist – I pick the ones that have four or more episodes (usually four or five) – and I like to alternate between male and female each year… to give a little bit of variety. Usually I pick the feature artist late in the year from September onwards – no set date, but enough time to do all the “promo” for it (choosing appropriate images for each episode for use on SoundCloud included).

I guess this sounds convoluted and messy, but it just happens like second nature – a process I go through each time, I suppose much like when you compose/record music. We all have our own special processes we use to get to the end result. As long as the end result is sufficient to our standards of course. 🙂

You certainly are one of those endlessly busy people! I’d like to ask what your plans are for the rest of 2022 and beyond? What have you got in the pipeline for the next few imminent episodes? I’m also curious if Melbourne’s slather of lockdowns of late has impacted the amount of music (especially local stuff) that you sift through when organising your show? It seems (I could be wrong here), that although live performance opportunities were pretty much obliterated for most, for a rather extended period, there seems to have been more music released recently by many of the lesser-known local musicians. Isolation can be a positive perhaps, for solo producers and bands who are able to collaborate digitally, as a lot of folks seemed to shift into “accelerated creative” mode when so many of life’s other pleasures were put under restrictions.

I haven’t fully worked out April as yet, but this weekend, as you may have seen – I will be posting LEMOM’s Colab compilation. I’m just waiting for the material and intros from Simon. These tend to be pretty easy to put together, as all I have to do is really edit in sequence, and just record a very short intro, and let the contributing artists to do all the talking 🙂. I will also put out the other LEMOM compilation when that is released (I think Simon mentioned it will be released in April. I will of course set aside a week for that, once Simon informs me).

I do have a couple of interviews in the pipeline – the first possibly in May – a garage rock/punk band from Melbourne – I’ve become good mates with the band. Once The Safety Word release their full album, I’ll have them in for the interview (it may happen December/ January).
I have a couple of other artists lined up for interviews, but it all depends on when they have new releases, so it’s a case of keeping me in the loop at this stage.

I take 2 weeks off in June (first two weeks) and four weeks around Christmas (though that extended for a couple of weeks this year because of the computer hassles). I have factored these in to give me a good break, and keep my mental health in good stead. Doing something like this every week ends up taking its toll stress wise, so I have allowed myself time away from it.

As far as the issue with lockdown – if anything, it has insured more material from artists. I found I was having much longer episodes, and moreso during lockdown periods. That has settled somewhat thankfully, and I’m making an effort not to make episodes overlong.. there has to be a balance of course. I try and keep the average time around 2 and a half hours. The lockdowns have certainly given a lot of musicians more time to create, and that can’t be a bad thing, possibly one of the few good things to come out of lockdowns. Also I found that doing the podcast over the whole lockdown period really helped my sanity, I tell ya 🙂.

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