Content Warnings: -Discussion of Indigenous child death from 1:56 to 3:19.
Press Release from the Office of the Chief of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc: https://tkemlups.ca/remains-of-children-of-kamloops-residential-school-discovered/
Link to our thread of additional resources, including news articles and threads from Indigenous people: https://twitter.com/radiodrama/status/1400203500672491525?s=20
Learn more about how to support Radio Drama Revival on our website.
This episode of Radio Drama Revival was recorded in the unceded territory of the Kalapuya people, the Clatskanie Indian Tribe, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Atfalati tribe. Colonizers named this place Beaverton, Oregon.
If you are looking for ways to support or donate to Native communities, the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society are seeking donations to build a new center. KAFS offers many services and programs for urban-located Indigenous people, such as healthcare initiatives, outreach programs for children and youths, childcare, food hamper and nutrition programs. You can support them at https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/newfriendshipcentre, which is linked in the episode description.
INTRO (ELENA): Selkirk, and Kamloops. Kate, and Ella.
To woo, or not to woo? Fandom and romance and werewolves and Canada can all go together, as you’ll learn from Andrea Klassen right here on Radio Drama Revival.
[theme music – smooth, jazzy horns playing a mellow, sultry tune that fades out gradually as Elena speaks]
ELENA: Hello, and welcome to Radio Drama Revival, the podcast that showcases the diversity and vitality of modern audio fiction. I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. Today, we’re interviewing Andrea Klassen, creator of the romance podcast Me & AU which we featured last week.
Fandom has brought a lot of powerful movement in our communities. We have found life-long friendships, romantic partners, communities you can truly be yourself in, artistic drive, and new ideas. We’ve also found bitter rivalries, parasocial relationships tipping into bad decisions and toxicity, racism, queerphobia, and other dangerous rhetoric and behavior.
Andrea has been in fandom for a long time, and this conversation is about all the facets within the topics of Me & AU, the good and the bad. We are gleeful about headcanons, and the city of Kamloops, and long-distance romance. We’re also honest about parasocial relationships, fandom’s far reaching influence, and the Americanization of media. Me & AU is a cute, light, warm story, one that focuses on the positive outcomes of fandom, but no one here is ignoring reality.
I am about to discuss Indigenous child death for a moment. Please take care of yourself. The time code for where to skip can be found in the episode description.
[Transcriptionist note: The point to which you can skip will be indicated in the text with two asterisks, like so – **]
This interview was recorded prior to the public announcement of the discovery of a mass grave at the Kamloops Residential School, with the remains of 215 Indigenous children. Preliminary findings are expected in mid-June as the ground survey continues. This is not ancient history; Canadian government and churches operated residential schools, and committed innumerable atrocities within them, until 1996.
Our hearts are with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, the home community of the school who will caretake for these children, and all the First Nations families and communities who continue to suffer the long-lasting effects from this genocide on mental and physical health, language, cultural knowledge, and heritage. You can read the press release from the Office of the Chief at the link in the episode description. On Radio Drama Revival’s Twitter, you can also find links to news articles and threads from Indigenous people for more information and guidance. Please stay tuned after the interview for how you can help the local Kamloops Indigenous community.
Thank you for your attention. Now, let’s welcome Andrea Klassen.
[begin interview audio]
ELENA: Thank you for coming on to Radio Drama Revival, Andrea! We’re really excited to talk about Me & AU with you.
ANDREA: Thanks, I’m really excited to be here. It’s been a hot minute since the last time.
ELENA: It has been a hot minute. Yeah, the last time was when David was still the host and you were on with Alex for Station to Station.
ANDREA: It was!
ELENA: Yes, I relistened to that interview and I had to ground David, for the final pun he made. For audience members who haven’t heard it or don’t remember using the term, the fact that Andrea and Alex talked about being relationship stans, decided to come up with a stan for relationships, do you defend it to the death or go down with the ship. Yeah, yep. David, you’re still grounded.
ELENA: So, Andrea, let’s talk a little bit about your background here. You’re a former newspaper reporter in British Columbia and specifically, you did local journalism for the city of Kamloops. Am I pronouncing-
ANDREA: Yeah, CAM-loops.
ELENA: Dope. I had a moment of like, oh, no!
Tell me a little bit about how you see your experiences in journalism reflected in the podcasting space since you have been involved — fiction or otherwise.
ANDREA: It’s interesting. The thing that I actually found was true when I got into writing audio while I was still doing journalism is that the thing that I think has always been most helpful for it is that I have spent a really, really long time listening to other people talk and then transcribing other people talking because I’m a garbage note taker. And so, idiolect, and people’s different vocal tics have always been really, really interesting to me. So that’s actually the place where I think the two things tend to kind of collide for me. I am only kind of just now coming around to being really interested in more, kind of, nonfiction podcasting. It really started as a fiction space for me partially just because I used to keep my journalism life and my fiction life really, really, really separate.
ELENA: Yeah, that’s valid. [laugh]
ANDREA: Yeah. Yeah, I have this like — we’ll probably get into this more but I used to have this really weird hang up about they can’t — they can’t know I’m a person.
ELENA: I want to talk about Kamloops for a little bit. And so you’ve set the show in the town that you used to work in. You’ve hired mostly Canadian voice actors, which you have called out as wanting to get away from the dominance of American and British voices in fiction podcasting, which, Yes, 100%. Tell me about Kamloops. What’s it like to live there? And specifically, how did you bring the sound of Kamloops to Me & AU?
ANDREA: Oh, this is a good question. So Kamloops itself is a town of about 90,000 people in the interior of British Columbia. For Canada, that’s a reasonably big city. It’s a caveat I have to make here. It’s only like the fifth biggest city in British Columbia but it has a weird, outsized importance in the province because it has the weird — it had, when I worked there, the most buckwild, over-active media market of any city of its size that I’ve ever seen. But also, is a bellwether riding for provincial politics, is where a bunch of different national, international, and provincial highways hub up for like goods and transportation, and is just kind of an . . . interesting sort of microcosm of a lot of stuff that’s not what people who live in urban BC think of as BC being like. It’s a province that has — I’m living on Vancouver Island now and Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland are very much like your West Coast kind of stereotypes. Everybody bicycles. You can get really good vegan food anywhere.
ELENA: Yeah, I’m in Portland, Oregon. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I feel you.
ANDREA: Yeah. And then as you go over the mountains, and up into the rest of BC, it has a lot more in common with the western Canadian kind of personality overall, which is that people tend to be — they work in — tend to be more likely to work in like resource industries, they tend to vote more conservatively. We think of ourselves as Tim Hortons people, which is [laugh] which is too much Canadian culture to unpack, honestly, on this show. Canadians will know what I mean!
ELENA: For Americans who don’t know, Tim Hortons is a very popular Canadian coffee chain. Coffee cafe, many other things chain, but that’s the basics.
ANDREA: Yeah, it’s also occasionally the site of weird culture wars, but we really won’t get into that! [laugh]
ELENA: Yeah, that’s fair. [laugh]
ANDREA: But yeah, so Kamloops is sort of medium sized, like a little bit — a little bit more conservative and it’s also high desert which is sort of weird. It’s surrounded by these beautiful mountainous areas but it itself is rattlesnakes and cacti. And I think the interesting thing about bringing the sound of Kamloops in is that, in some ways, we don’t spend a lot of time in Kamloops. But both of the places we really are in Kamloops, which is Kate’s job — she works at an unnamed coffee shop that’s very obviously a Starbucks. And at one point we go-
ELENA: I had a moment at the beginning where I was like, is this a Tim Hortons? And then I kept listening and I was like, no. This is a Starbucks.
ANDREA: This is the Starbucks by where I used to work.
ANDREA: It’s the Starbucks across the street from the Save-On-Foods in the Columbia Valley shopping plaza in Lower Sahali.
And the other place is a pizza place downtown that has changed owners but used to be called Mile High. And both of those places have very distinct soundscapes in my head, in that both of them have the radio on pretty regularly and otherwise are kind of sparse. But it’s interesting — a lot of ways because we don’t sonically spend a whole lot of time in Kamloops. So the place that I actually think I ended up thinking about a lot more is West Kootenay, which is the part of BC that I filed the serial numbers off of for the show that’s within the show of the podcast. [laugh] Yeah, no, I may as well just get into that.
ELENA: No, yeah, get into it. Yeah. Do it!
ANDREA: So Selkirk is based on the very, very start of my reporting career. When I was 22, 23, I moved to Nelson, BC, which is maybe a couple hours north of the American border, by Eastern Washington State. It’s in this little mountain bowl. So the only way you can get into it is either by taking a ferry and then the most harrowing pin turn drive in the world, or by going over literally the highest year round open mountain pass in Canada.
ELENA: Wow. Alrighty!
ANDREA: Yeah. Everybody who came to visit me got crazily claustrophobic.
ELENA: And I don’t blame ‘em! Yeah, that’s what happens. But I — when I lived in Puerto Rico, I had some people drop me off at my house when I was younger. We had some kind of after-school thing and they drove me home. And they had never been there before. And as we were going up this mountain, they were like, you live in the jungle! Are there monkeys here? [laugh] I feel so isolated. I’m just like, have you met my parents?
So yeah, I feel that in a slightly different way. But yeah, like this, like venturing out into this completely unknown, very different territory.
ANDREA: Yeah, it’s a cool little town — Nelson is still my favorite place that I’ve ever worked because it is exactly like I described it in the show. It is a place that was settled by a lot of Vietnam draft dodgers. The Doukhobors settled in the region, which are a religious sect, who are Eastern European, I think — I can’t remember the exact specs right now. But are known for having staged a lot of public nude protests in the 20s. Due to some very gross stuff that I would urge people to Google if they’re curious. But the protest itself is kind of fascinating. It’s before pot became legal in Canada, it was the most common place that weed came from — really kind of in Western Canada. The mayor of a small town near where I lived, her husband and children got busted for growing pot while I was working there. And the entire small town went “So??” and re-elected her.
ELENA: Yeah, that sounds about right. So at first I actually thought you said pop and not pot and I was like, soda?
ANDREA: Oh, yeah. The illegal Canadian soda mills. [laugh] And also a lot of people own biodiesel buses.
ELENA: A lot of people on biodiesel buses. Yeah, that sounds right.
ANDREA: Yeah. So it’s just like– it’s a small town. That’s just — it’s got just an insane amount of character, and is in the middle of nowhere, and it’s really just very, very dedicated to making its own fun because of both of those facts. And I only worked there for 14 months because they were only paying me 28k a year and my rent was taking up all of it. Yay journalism! Yeah. But it’s lived rent free in my head ever since because it is just, it’s just such a fascinating place.
ELENA: Sounds like a good place to transform into an urban fantasy setting.
ANDREA: Right? I lived out of town, kind of, on the other side of — there’s a big lake that the town’s built around. And I lived on the other side of that. And so I would just leave my house and essentially, pretty much be in the woods already. Anytime! And you could, you could buy that, you know, Bigfoot might be out here. There are — the 12 tribes have a farm. Why would werewolves not also have a farm?
ELENA: Yeah, that seems fine! [laugh] Um, so you’ve talked about before, in an interview with Howl Round about how Me & AU was an experiment for you to learn how to juggle the different roles that solo podcasters have. And you kind of just took on everything. And this is why no one in the show has footsteps because fuck that! [laugh] Sound designing the first time is hard enough. I’m sure that everybody will be really curious about all the constraints that you were working with, and what you discovered because of it.
ANDREA: One thing is that that didn’t turn out to be totally true. In the end, Erin Baumann agreed to sound design the show and totally saved my bacon. So I only ended up sound designing the preview trailer.
ELENA: Oh, ok!
ANDREA: Yeah! Which was awesome. Because it meant that it sounds better [silly grumbly mumbling] than it would have otherwise. [laugh] But the show was written with the assumption that I was going to have to sound design it. So there are some specific constraints that I did build into the show. The main kind of construction thing for the show, is that the show was kind of built to have modular soundscapes, is how I always thought about it.
So if you’ve listened to the show, you’ll notice that like, the internet has a very specific sound that we hear over and over again. Kate’s monologue space has a very specific sound that we hear over and over again, the coffee shop has a very specific sound that we hear over and over again. And the idea was that we were mostly just going to kind of return to the sound stages over — I should have called them sound stages in my head until now, that’s a much better term.
ELENA: Yeah, it’s a very good term. Well done!
ANDREA: Yeah. So we returned to these specific kind of soundscapes over and over again, with the idea that I could theoretically kind of do them once and then not have to worry so much about having to fully design these things. If I ended up having to do all the sound design myself. I’m really very grateful to Erin that I didn’t because what she did with my idea of “the internet should have sound! That should be large, I think?” It’s probably much better than I would have come up with.
ELENA: Well, thank god for Erin!
ANDREA: Her sound design is great! But yeah, that was a lot of what it was. That’s a lot of the way — reason the show was structured the way it is why it has kind of limited sets. Fairly limited cast — and also because I was, you know, writing, directing, producing, scheduling, and doing everything but the sound design myself, I kind of wanted to make it easy.
ELENA: Mm hmm. Procyon has a mentorship program called Rocket Booster where you give feedback and consulting on a podcaster’s first few episodes. I think it’s really cool. I saw that you did it recently. What advice have you learned to give now based on your experience with Me & AU?
ANDREA: I think, yeah, the advice that I have given the last couple of times we’ve done it, and that I’d probably give going forward is just more around . . . don’t feel like you have to make things that are complicated. And make — do some things to help yourself out where you can. Especially because, you know, a lot of my favorite shows are honestly not very complicated in terms of sort of the general setup. I like a lot of single narrator shows that do most of their work just with one really good — one or two really good voices, and ambient music. I think you can find — I know, there’s always discourse about, oh, that’s so played out, but it’s still a really powerful way to make a show.
ELENA: Of course! I think that a lot of people will misunderstand the power of narrators. I mean, narrators are just a tool like any other thing that you use in creative writing to deliver an effect. They are tools that can be used well, that can be used properly. Just like everything else that you use in fiction writing.
ANDREA: Yeah, like you do not have to, like, if you really want to write a genre show your first time out. That’s fine. I also did that. But yeah, there are ways to make that easier on yourself. Like if Alex and I hadn’t set our show in a closed environment where there were a limited number of characters and a limited number of soundscapes, and also you could do a lot by just having the engine always be going? We would have had a harder time.
ELENA: That’s true. That’s true. [laugh] Yep. So I think that’s really wonderful advice. I think this — it ties back to some advice that we’ve heard before, from Erin Kyan, who’s one of the creators of Love and Luck, from Australia, who talks about how, when you’re making your first podcast, or even, you know, a future podcast, one of the things that can help you instead of hinder you are the constraints that you have just because of things like finances, or how many people you have, who will work with you, or things like that, and working with those constraints and thinking about them and how to adapt your fiction to them can make for some really impressive intimate — you know, just your voice, like having just one person speaking to one person kind of intimacy. Sounds. Yeah, yeah. Fully agree.
ANDREA: And I feel like audio intimacy is — it’s good. It’s a big thing. I really [laugh] if audio intimacy didn’t exist, I don’t think that Me & AU would work!
ELENA: No, it wouldn’t. I don’t — I think you’re right. And I think also, you know, people, people like to throw around, you know, the word intimacy, like “Audio is intimate. That’s why it works!” Without really defining it so much that at some point, depending on who’s writing the article, it loses its meaning. Yeah, it was intimate! Just kind of . . . great. What does that mean?
I mean, so Me & AU is a genuinely hopeful, cute, lighthearted romance. And Kate’s narration is specifically addressed to Ella, which is almost like this whole show is a personal pod-fic for Ella about their relationship.
ANDREA: [fondly] Aw, I really love that way of explaining it!
ELENA: [laugh] What made you decide to, to structure the story like this, and to write the narrator portions like that.
ANDREA: I think I’m gonna — this might be giving myself too much credit — but the thing that I think is true about Me & AU, is that I was trying to kind of mirror the feeling of having — sort of building one of those relationships in fandom. And a lot of that is, in my experience, a thing that sort of happens in . . . to use Tumblr for an example, but this can happen over any social media platform, is that a lot of that intimacy can kind of happen in your ask box or your DM space. That feeling of — sort of like going from being a person that you casually send messages to, to the point where you are telling this person your life story in however many characters you get in the ask box until you remember that emails are a thing is, I think, a really kind of pivotal part of how these relationships actually work and what makes them work and makes them feel so important when you’re having one. And that’s really kind of what the narrator portion is, in a lot of ways. Like, despite the fact we also literally see them in each other’s ask boxes. I think the narrator portion is the part where that gets really real. And kind of also, to the point of the stuff that Kate can’t actually type yet, in a lot of ways.
ELENA: Mmhm! Absolutely. Yeah. So long distance romance and friendships that lead to these kinds of relationships is one of the cores of this story, and you’ve been in a lengthy long distance relationship. What do you think people misunderstand about long distance romantic relationships? Especially, I might note, in the queer community.
ANDREA: Like, my big number one is that people think trust is more of an issue than it is. I don’t think — I mean, I’m sure people do, but my experience of queer long distance is, it has — I have never been concerned that, oh, the person that I am with is like, hanging up from their video chat with me and then absolutely slipping into somebody else’s DMs to be like, hey, you up? You live three blocks from me. Let’s . . . bang??
ELENA: Yeah. Yes, we witness here the suave DM knowledge that is definitely found in Kate
ANDREA: Hey, I got my fiance to date me by writing her 2000 words of smut — I don’t know how to flirt with people normally.
ELENA: [gasping laugh] You were not kidding when you said Me & AU was based on your personal experiences.
ANDREA: Oh, yeah, my — I am — Alanna and I are — Alanna is my partner — are the boring version of Kate and Ella, where we — you know each other for four years first, you meet in person, you go, Oh shit, and then you spend six months going, Yeah, I really like this girl. I’m gonna proceed to do nothing about this for another day. Until you send her a mixtape of love songs, just because you know she is interested in hearing what kind of love songs you like! And she goes, Hey, why are we not dating?
ELENA: [laugh] Could you be any more queer if you tried?
ANDREA: Just Kate is smarter than me, is the thing.
ELENA: Same!! Disaster queers strike again. Very funny.
ANDREA: But yeah, other than trust let’s see what else is there? I think just — it’s again kind of about what can be an intimate partnered experience? Which is a wild way to put “watching the Great British Baking Show together”. But you just — you really — in some ways it’s like emotional U-Hauling, but also you live in different countries. [laugh]
ELENA: Yeah, probably doesn’t help. [laugh] With the U-Haul, I mean.
ANDREA: I had a really good thought of — I had a really good thought for what’s the thing people don’t understand about long distance relationships. And then I lost it again. Oh, that there — here’s actually one that’s very podcast relevant.
The thing that people do not understand about long distance relationships probably is how weird it is when they stop being long distance. The first time — even if you met somebody in person and then started dating them, which is my experience, when you have to meet each other again, as people who are now officially in a long distance relationship, it is the weirdest thing despite the fact that also you have like soul-bared to this person for however long.
ELENA: Yeah, the physicality of it.
ANDREA: Yeah, it’s — no matter how intimate you are with somebody in a screen space, it is not the same as being in meatspace with them, and suddenly their face moves a lot more.
ELENA: I’m very curious as to if more people understand this now, after the pandemic.
ANDREA: Probably. Yeah, I suspect that a lot of people are going to really feel that during the next kind of, however many months.
ELENA: Yeah, however long it takes for people to start being able to see each other again. A couple of months ago, I saw — I was going past the park in a car and I saw two teenage — two teenagers run at each other from opposite ends of a park. And one of them picked up the other one and swung her around. And they were — and I was just like, ah, someone’s been vaccinated. Like there’s just no way, right? So let’s talk about fandom for a little bit here.
ELENA: Fun stuff! I have many, many varied questions about fandom because this is a very pertinent topic online right now. And most recently, in the fiction podcast community, we had a 45-tweet-long thread from Wil Williams, the audio producer for this show, about parasocial relationships.
ANDREA: I saw that!
ELENA: Yes, very good thread. We’ve also had an article in Teen Vogue from media critic and analyst, Stitch, about celebrity parasocial relationships. That’s very good. I recommend people read it. First, let’s define this for our audience together. So I’m going to start.
So parasocial relationships are completely normal. They happen to everybody, one-sided relationships that people develop with artists and creators and stars and other types of people that they might see or hear in their media and the media that people consume. What else would you want to tell people about parasocial relationships? Who didn’t know about them?
ANDREA: Oh, yeah, good question. Um, yeah, nobody is immune, I feel like, is a big part!
ELENA: Yeah. This happens with everyone, right? And one of the things that was mentioned in — either in the thread or in the article, I’ve forgotten. Or someone commented it — but that the relationship is — the relationship, when it is neutral and you’re deriving positive things from it, is a lot more kind of like a mentorship, right? Even if it’s one sided, but it is related tangentially to mentor/mentee relationships in the way that they develop. And the things that they provide. So what is it about parasocial relationships in fandom that has helped you? And in the case of Me & AU, helps Kate.
ANDREA: It’s an interesting question because it kind of is and isn’t the way I sometimes think about fandom when it’s about a fictional thing? But I think it does still apply here. Because I think it is — I think anyone who’s been in sort of transformative works fandom, which is what people who write fanfiction call it because we want to sound cool — is the experience of like working out your shit with a character who in some way reminds you of yourself is a pretty common experience, I would say. And I think that sort of is in a way where you see fascinating, sort of quasi-parasocial fictional stuff happen. And I think what we ultimately sort of see be healthy and helpful for Kate is being able to kind of see this person who has similar worries, and wildly different circumstances, figure their stuff out and move forward in a healthy way and kind of just prove that that’s possible to do even though the circumstances don’t align and the solutions are not relevant to her because she’s not dealing with a monster that kills people. Per se.
ELENA: [laugh] Per se, you know, just ish.
ANDREA: You know, a lot of things — capitalism is a lot of things, but the monster’s a lot less tangible. That makes the show smarter than it is. It’s not that smart. Selkirk’s not that smart.
ELENA: Selkirk, alright. That’s fair.
ANDREA: And yeah, and I think that’s one way to kind of come at it.
ELENA: Yeah, absolutely. I, yeah.
ANDREA: Yeah, I think that’s — I think that’s generally true for me, too. That I have definitely, like, worked out some shit on some characters, via either fanfic or analysis over the years, for sure! Definitely, also, not in this podcast or anything.
ELENA: For or — and definitely not, no.
ANDREA: No, no! But also, like, I think there is definitely — I get parasocial with other podcasters all of the time, I have to. I’ve never met most of them. I only know them as people on Twitter or occasionally in Patreon Discords. And I think there is — the “good parts” version of that is like where you can kind of take inspiration from other people and see that other people are doing things that are cool, or that you’d like to do, and kind of try to use that as inspiration and inspire yourself, and then the “bad parts” version of that can go a lot of different ways, because I was gonna say what mine is, but mine is probably mild because it doesn’t involve death threats. [unamused laugh] Sometimes the internet’s a mistake.
ELENA: Sometimes the internet is a terrible place. I think that everybody here agrees.
ANDREA: Yeah. Yeah, it’s like the mild bad version is just, you feel like you have ownership over this person’s life. Or you start to really, really care about what this person thinks of you, a person that they maybe kind of know exists.
ELENA: Maybe. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, some of these other, really positive things that occur from parasocial relationships are, and their inherent nature and how they function in fandom is things like meeting other people, right? Like, yeah, literally the meaning to Me & AU is about having met — Kate meeting the love of her life, right. And that’s something that wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t gotten attached to these fictional characters from Selkirk and started talking about them online.
ANDREA: Yeah, and the community aspect is hugely, hugely important to the point where I’m kind of amused that I forgot about it for a second because yeah, that is the other “good parts” version of this, is that you find people who have this interest with you, but then also who have other commonalities with. And the “bad parts” version of that is again . . .
ELENA: One of the things that I talk about whenever I get asked to talk about the differences between fiction podcasts and radio dramas is that I bring up intimacy in a different definition, right, because radio dramas were a family event, right? It’s the radio. There was a time and a place and you had to all be around, sitting around the radio listening to the next installment. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do it. Cinemas literally did not run movies during a certain time slot for one of these things. For one radio drama.
ELENA: Yeah, like they — because it was literally one 15 minute radio drama, and they would not run movies through the slot because they wouldn’t get anyone.
ANDREA: That’s amazing.
ELENA: Yeah. Alas, that radio drama is extremely racist. Don’t listen to it.
ANDREA: Oh, man!
ELENA: But you know, that’s something that happens, and it means that when you listen to those radio dramas in a group, you are not really getting the opportunity to consume the media by yourself. First, you are immediately in the process of doing it in a group. Right? Like a community, even if it’s a little one, it’s a family community. But in podcasting, and lots of others of our digital media, right? We — it has the single focus point first before entering these bigger communities and fandoms. And I think that that’s really prevalent to you know, one of the reasons why it gets so difficult in the bigger fandoms is because, you know, people spend a lot of time by themselves first in comparison.
ANDREA: No, I think that makes a lot of sense. And then suddenly, it is sometimes kind of impossible to be alone with your thoughts about a piece of media.
ELENA: Totally true. Alas. One of the things that Kate comments on is the reason — at the beginning here, is that the reason that the Selkirk fandom is so small is because it’s a Canadian show that hasn’t started airing in the US yet. Tell me a little more about your thoughts here on the Americanization of media and the internet?
ANDREA: Um, yeah. Oh boy. I feel like I sure have them. I think that’s just kind of interesting to me. And one of the reasons that Me & AU is consciously Canadian in just very, very casual ways. Not to say anything about Canadian culture so much as just to be in a Canadian setting, is that I don’t — I have to make myself make things that are Canadian. And I don’t think I am alone in that. In that I — it was — so The Big Loop is a podcast that exists [laugh] is how we’re gonna start this.
ELENA: I love The Big Loop.
ANDREA: And so the first — right around the time I think I was actually kind of getting myself psyched up for the idea that I was going to write this podcast, I listened to one of the first episodes of The Big Loop that is set in, I want to say it’s Canmore? Which is — I want to say it’s in Alberta. Yes. Canmore in Alberta, Kamloops in BC. I gotcha.
ELENA: Geography. Nailed it.
ANDREA: Yeah. Gave myself a high five. Yeah, so it was — it’s set in Canmore, which is a town that I have been to in Alberta. And it’s just kind of set there. It’s not incidental to the story, really, I wouldn’t say in any way that they are in Canada, particularly. And it was just sort of like, Paul Bae can do that? Paul Bae who is a successful podcaster who makes a lot of stories that incidentally have Canadians in them.
But just — it was so weird to me that you would do that just because I think it’s so easy to kind of Americanize — Alex and I, neither of us are American. She lives in Hong Kong. I live in Canada. But Station to Station is pretty American and British. Just because — I don’t even know what our thought process was anymore. She might still remember, but it just kind of — you just — it’s so easy to just tilt yourself towards the people you know are going to listen to the show and make it frictionless for them. And I think there are lots of artists in Canada who are not doing this, in the literature scene, in TV.
There are definitely examples of really, really great stuff that is consciously really Canadian. Slings and Arrows is kind of the obvious old favorite. Schitt’s Creek is one of the reasons, I think. And I hope this means Dan Levy has worked forever. I literally can’t think of a third TV show though. So that’s not great! [laugh] No, oh, Letterkenny. Yeah, Letterkenny is another kind of like a thing that Americans watch now that is really, really unapologetically Canadian.
But it’s like, they’re rare enough that I can pull them out as specific kind of little gems of, this is a thing that is Canadian, is obviously Canadian and fundamentally, culturally Canadian and yet Americans still liked it. And we — you’re kind of weirdly excited about it when it happens. And yeah, it’s just — and I think in podcasting in particular, it’s very easy, if your story doesn’t have to be Canadian, not to make it Canadian and, and I’m trying to push that back on that, at least for myself, because I don’t know shit about America.
ELENA: You’re fine.
ANDREA: It’s a different culture. My partner is Californian and I spent a lot of time in California over the last five years. We are not culturally that similar. Despite both being in Cascadia. It’s fine. But like, there’s, there’s no reason I can’t just write stuff where people hang out in Kamloops instead of hanging out in Spokane.
ELENA: Seems correct to me. No, I have a lot of these feelings as well, right? Because I’m, I’m from Puerto Rico. I’m from a colonized place. And so the Americanization of everything? Always just kind of makes me go. Absolutely not.
ANDREA: Yeah, and I mean, you come to it from like — that’s such a — the Canadian version of that is just like, we have an inferiority complex while also being a white settler state. So I can’t claim quite that level of it. But-
ELENA: Right. I think it might be — it’s very salient in podcasting at this point, however, right? Because I mean, there’s so . . . people associate podcasts very heavily with the US. Very heavily. And so I mean, that we even have the — the UK that has the problem, right, where the BBC is like, you know, this giant institutionalized entity for radio and podcasting and audio, and getting funding for podcasts in the UK is basically almost impossible unless you cozy up to the BBC. And so yeah, it’s like this — this happens elsewhere with institutionalized radio places, right? Institutionalized audio places. And it’s just this — you know, because podcasts live on the internet suffering from the Americanization as a side effect of also — when it happens on the internet, which is always — it’s just very frustrating for everybody involved.
ANDREA: Oh, yeah. And I mean, that’s also a fandom conversation too. The number of days I have gone without seeing a Tumblr post go by that’s like, it’s — really would be cool if people on Tumblr could remember that people live in countries other than America? It’s probably always a zero.
ELENA: Yeah, that happens on Twitter a lot too. I don’t exist in any fandom spaces, really. It’s not really my thing, especially as a media critic. It just feels weird to me.
ANDREA: That’s fair!
ELENA: [laugh] But you know, it still comes across my space, because one of the things is like, you know, I do fandom analysis and I read people who do this stuff, right. And so it comes across my feed, and yeah, it’s not — it’s not never, you know?
ANDREA: No, and I’m not — I consume a lot of fandom analysis stuff partially because while I was writing Me & AU, I realized I kind of needed to, because part of — one of the things about being in small fandoms is you are checked out of a lot of that conversation, or you have the luxury of being checked out of that conversation, is how I would actually put that. And fascinating stuff that the podcast I listen to about fandom or discoursing on is the habit of people taking popular fandoms that are, you know, Chinese and Korean, and then writing American Teenager modern AUs about them, is like kind of a Primo example of that and also some other wild bullshit.
ELENA: Oh yes, much of it. I would definitely recommend people follow Stitch’s Media Mix on Twitter if you want to learn more about fandom stuff.
ANDREA: Her Patreon also slaps.
ELENA: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. I would love to talk here about headcanons.
ANDREA: [delighted gasp]
ELENA: Since, you know, it’s AU — it’s all literally about alternate universe, writing this you know, giant fanfiction of “the dude is a werewolf” kind of thing. I will absolutely be upfront about this just to, you know, help you along. I do headcanon Kate as low vision. Because the computer voice that’s used in the first episode is the same voice that my first screen reader used.
ANDREA: Oh, that’s so cool.
ELENA: Yes! [laugh] And then the fact that the transcripts, you know, if you if anyone reads the transcripts, you know, you’ll see that it says podfic and that’s the description of the soundscape that you’re entering. And that really triggers this like, Oh yeah, I do like listening to fanfictionthat’s podfic when my eyes are tired, and I don’t want to look at anything anymore.
ANDREA: That’s so rad! That’s really cool.
ELENA: So in your experience, right, what is the value of headcanon in fandom?
ANDREA: Um, I think a couple of things. I think sometimes they’re just a fun way to play with the universe when you do not have the bandwidth to write fic or create fan art. They’re like a pretty low barrier-to-entry way to do creative work. Because you can — some of the best conversations I’ve had, and some of the best friends I’ve met, I have met by saying silly stuff like “I think Jack Holden is a ginger”.
ELENA: [giggle] Extremely good.
ANDREA: And just the conversations that you can have off of that are fun because it’s a way that — it’s also a way that multiple people can kind of contribute to building out an idea to an extent that fanfic very rarely is. You can have kind of that collaborative, creative conversation in whatever kind of real time your social media platform operates in. And then the other, I think, big obvious one is that it’s kind of a fun way to take the things about yourself that you see in this character, and then tangibly connect them up to stuff that you experience yourself that the character does not canonically experience, which is like you talking about Kate being low vision, or me talking about how every single character and every piece of media is bisexual?
ELENA: Yeah, exactly. Yeah! [laugh]
ANDREA: I just — JPEG of Marge Simpson holding a potato, I just think they’re bi!
ELENA: [very earnest] Honestly? That’s valid.
One of my — one of the things that I watch a lot of his I watch a lot of older murder mysteries and stuff, right? Miss Marple and Poirot and all these things. And for the ones that is — specifically for the ones for the shows that were made in the 70s, and the 80s, and in that time period, I love it when they are very clearly signaling, because that’s what the author intended, that they are — these people are a gay couple. But nothing actually happens with that. But it’s a very clear signal and the author, depending on the author, right? They usually meant to signal that. And so I’m just sitting there like, they’re gay. They live together, they knit together. They’re very happy.
Take that. [laugh]
ANDREA: Yes good!
ELENA: And it’s also just, it’s really fun, right. I mean, headcanons, you know, have helped people do a lot of things. I mean, I’ve heard people who use headcanons in order to work out things about themselves. People will use headcanons to figure out that they’re trans and things like this.
ANDREA: Yeah, and I think the only reason I stuttered over how to say that is because I don’t want to be like, that somehow replaces the work of like actual media representation. I think it’s like a cool, kind of powerful thing you can do for yourself.
ELENA: Absolutely. Yeah. We shouldn’t be relying on headcanons to be the way that we get this kind of work, right. That’s not — it doesn’t really do anything for the wider communities and societies at large. It’s a very personal thing. And you know, you can take it to your therapist, and maybe you find out that you know, you’re trans — it’s great.
This is not based on personal experience. [laugh] And I’ve met people who figured out they were autistic because of this.
Okay, last question that I have. All right. In that interview with Howl Round in 2019 You teased a mystery show called Deadbeat. Set in a farmers market. Coming 2022 — it’s 2021. Is this real?
ANDREA: Yes and no. So, the outline for Deadbeat exists in my notebook. It is planned. The problem is that I started writing Selkirk for real.
ELENA: You — oh my god [laugh] are we gonna get Selkirk: the podcast?
ANDREA: [bashful] Yeah, probably.
ELENA: Oh my god that’s amazing!! [laugh]
ANDREA: So I — one of my patreon goals was that I would make the pilot for Selkirk if we reached a certain threshold that I didn’t think we were going to reach and then we reached it really fast. [laugh] Because self confidence is a thing. [laugh] And, so then I made it. I wrote the script and I sent the script to everybody and my cast has been bullying me about making this show basically the entire time we were making Me & AU. And it turns out it’s really fun to write because it’s fun to write a thing that you’ve already told yourself is bad.
ELENA: Yeah, that’s fair! [laugh]
ANDREA: It really takes the pressure off in a fascinating way. Like, I’m sitting there writing. I was writing episode three a couple of weeks ago. And I was like, This is Bad! None of this makes sense. So I think I’m hitting the brief.
ELENA: Yeah, no, yeah, nailed it. Awesome. Oh, my God. That’s amazing. I love that.
ANDREA: Yeah, it only took like 10, 11 years for this to become a real project of its own. Huh.
ELENA: I’m sorry. 11 years?
ANDREA: Oh, yeah. So Selkirk is inspired by Nelson. I also tried to write it a couple times as a novel while I was still living there.
ELENA: Oh, wow.
ANDREA: Yeah, you can’t write a novel while you’re working a 70 hour week for 28k.
ELENA: NO! It turns out you can’t . . .
ANDREA: I also just wasn’t. I wasn’t ready to write it. Original Selkirk’s pretty mean.
ELENA: Oh, that’s fair.
ANDREA: Yeah, I needed another decade to be more interested in things that are kind.
ELENA: Yeah, we all have those moments. Yeah, I think leaning in to compassion for those kinds of things is always very important.
ANDREA: And also to just chill out a little bit given that like, the big thematic thing of both of these is stop worrying about decisions you haven’t made.
ELENA: Wait, stop? My anxiety says says go, though!
ANDREA: Well, “stop worrying about the decisions and make decisions and then worry” is my inspiring message to the people.
ELENA: I mean, we do like to make decisions.
ANDREA: So you just got to do stuff.
ELENA: I actually missed one question that I meant to ask you. Um, so one of the things that’s very clear in Me & AU is that you have absolutely nailed the Tumblr vibes, from things like “since exactly one person asked for it. Here’s this essay” to quirky, lengthy, one-time tags. What do these various specific turns of phrase trigger for you in creating atmosphere and tone?
ANDREA: I wanted — so when I was trying to psych myself up to write the show — and the reason I keep saying it that way is because I have horrible writer’s anxiety-
ELENA: No, you’re valid. Same! Yeah, I have seven articles that I need to write — it’s fine — don’t worry about it.
ANDREA: I decided as a way that it was going to be really really easy for me to get through a first draft if I was just like, I’m gonna write this the way I would write an actual Tumblr post. And then I realized that is actually a pretty distinctive character voice. But yeah, I wanted — I go back and forth. Like literally every time I think about it, about where on the spectrum I fall, of a deep, sincere, genuine, no frills affection for Tumblr fandom, and gentle mockery of Tumblr fandom, and it’s all somewhere in there. All of that.
ELENA: Yeah, it’s all there.
ANDREA: Because it’s an absurd space and I love it. And it’s silly.
ELENA: Absolutely, absolutely. One of the things that was — that it did for me, hearing these turns of phrase just reminded me that when I started out on Tumblr, for the majority of time that I was on Tumblr, I was not in fandom spaces. I was in a completely different part of Tumblr. And — but I would still occasionally see these things come across my dashboard right and every time I would see one of these turns of phrase for the first time, I’d just be like, what? What does this mean?
Luckily, I’m a linguist [laugh] Helps. Tumblr is a weird place and then Yahoo bought it.
ANDREA: Yeah, there’s a reason this show was secretly a period.
ELENA: It so is secretly a period piece! Yes, there is just no way that it’s not, especially with that the tag that she mentioned in the second episode. Yeah.
ANDREA: Yeah, no, if you — the calendar that the show is based on is set in 2015.
ELENA: Oh, wow. Nice. Yeah. Specific year.
ANDREA: This is Oh, god, this is — sure. It’s my partner. It’s the year I met my partner.
ELENA: Oh, that’s so cute.
ANDREA: I will secretly encode my sappiness into my audio drama.
ELENA: Absolutely good. This explains why Me & AU just feel so — it just feels so real. I think that’s one of the things that I was talking about with people when it was coming out is that it feels very much like an online relationship. Right. And so, you know, all the best stories have grains of truth in them. Varying sizes of grains!
ANDREA: Yeah I don’t think I could write so — it’s hilarious that my close to the bone story is that but [laugh]
ELENA: If you liked what you heard, you can support Me & AU’s future work at https://www.patreon.com/MeandAU. You can find more ways to support other works by the Procyon Podcasts Network at https://www.procyonpodcastnetwork.com/.
Radio Drama Revival runs on adrenaline shots to the heart and delivery french fries. If you’d like to help keep us afloat and featuring new, diverse, unique fiction podcasts and their creators, you can support us on Patreon, at patreon.com/radiodramarevival.
And now we bring you our Moment of Anne.
ANNE: The month of June is upon us, my friends! And that means it’s time to be unapologetically gay. Unless you’re always shouting about being queer, like most of our team is. In which case, keep it up!
ELENA: That means it’s time for the credits.
This episode was recorded in the unceded territory of the Kalapuya people, the Clatskanie Indian Tribe, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Atfalati tribe. Colonizers named this place Beaverton, Oregon.
If you are looking for ways to support or donate to Native communities, Nicholas Galanin and First Light Alaska are running a fundraiser to benefit the LandBack movement. All funds raised go to Acquisition and Land Management Funds of the Native American Land Conservancy, to repatriate land back to Indigenous communities. This is not about removing people from the land; this is about recognition and respect for Indiegnous sovereignty and knowledge about ecosystems, climate, and caretaking of the land. You can donate to this initiative at https://www.gofundme.com/f/landback.
Our theme music is Reunion of the Spaceducks by the band KieLoKaz. You can find their music on Free Music Archive.
Our audio producer is Wil Williams.
Our marketing manager and line producer is Anne Baird.
Our researcher is Heather Cohen.
Our submissions editor is Rashika Rao.
Our associate marketing manager is Jillian Schraeger.
Our transcriptionist is Katie Youmans.
Our audio consultant is Eli Hamada McIlveen
Our associate producer is Sean Howard.
Our executive producers are Fred Greenhalgh and David Rheinstrom.
Our mascot is Tickertape, the goat.
I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. This has been Radio Drama Revival: all storytellers welcome.