This week, we caught up with Jack Conlon, founder of TELT: Scottish Music Podcast to discuss how TELT started, what it’s liking regularly featuring in Apple Music’s top music podcasts and what interviews have stood out for him the most…
- What make you decide to start up TELT podcast in the first place?
It was a bit of a eureka moment one night. It was just a realisation that the conversations I’d had with people in the music industry were too good not be sharing with a wider audience. I wanted to give anyone looking to get involved in the industry, whether that be aspiring artists or promoters, an insight on how to get involved and some of the best stories from respected people within the industry. After a few months of messing about, I got my act together and got stuck into it.
- What’s been an interview that has stood out for you the most and why?
They’ve all been amazing thus far and every guest that’s been on has been really interesting and up for a chat. If I had to pick one it would probably be one of my most recent ones with Matt Hickman from Brownbear. It’s a strange one as the episode has done really well, although not as well as some of the others recently such as Gordon Smart or Spyres, but we just had an amazing chat about so many interesting topics. It became less about Brownbear and more of a general discussion on the direction we seen the music industry going in and the problems of discrimination within it, and it was totally unexpected. I absolutely loved it and came away feeling inspired after it. It’s really cool when you’re on the same wavelength with someone on an episode and can get really deep into important issues, and that was certainly the case with me and Matt.
- What advice would you give to anyone looking to start up there own podcast?
The best advice I would give is probably a bit cliché, but just go for it. Don’t hold back, but make sure you’re covering a niche topic or at least have a unique take on a topic if it’s been covered to death ie football. Once you’ve got something unique that you can bring to the debate, don’t be afraid to reach out to people. ‘If you don’t ask you don’t get’ is a saying that’s banded around a lot but it’s so true. Reach out to your ideal guest and the chances are they’ll want to help you out and that’s certainly been the case for me.
- In January this year, TELT reached number 5 on Apple Music for music interviews, how does it feel to have one of the biggest music interview podcasts out there at the moment?
It’s a bit surreal to be perfectly honest. I knew that the podcast would appeal to people who are into indie music in Scotland so I knew at least a few people would listen to it, but never did I think we’d be in touching distance of the charts and never mind the Top 5. It’s consistently in the Top 10 which is amazing as it shows people are connecting with Scottish artists and industry leaders and that can only be a good thing for Scottish music going forward.
- Do you feel that through being a musician yourself it’s easier to find the right questions to ask when interviewing through experience?
I like to think so. One of the reasons I’ve been able to get some great artists involved is because I’ve known them through gigging together, so that definitely helps. For me though, I think the main thing with being a musician myself is that people who come on trust me. They know that I have a genuine interest in so many different aspects of music and the industry and that I’m doing this for good reasons, and not to get a scoop to further my own career at a newspaper for example. I’ve been in the same position as a lot of the artists who come on so I can definitely relate to how they feel a lot of the time so that does make it easier to get the right questions. People naturally open up more to others who do the same thing so that’s been really important for me in enabling other people to share their stories.
- Vic Galloway was recently a guest on your show, best known for supporting the local music scene on BBC Radio Scotland, who are your favourite local bands at the moment?
There’s far too many to mention so I’ll narrow it down to 5, in no particular order. I’m a massive fan of Two Tone Television who have really taken it up another level over the last year with their releases and live performances. One of their latest tunes ‘Cab Driver’ is sensational, so they’re a must see. Slouch are incredible as well and they’re my favourite guys on the planet. They’re doing something really different to anyone else in Glasgow and are writing the most catchy tunes I’ve heard in ages. We’ve played with them a few times and they’ve always blown us out the water. Gallus are the best live band in the UK and I genuinely get a buzz seeing them play live. Barry and Eamon are a big part of what’s happening with the podcast but I promise there’s no nepotism here. Their song writing is next level and I’ve not been as excited for a band in a long time. Dead Pony have been killing it recently and their new tunes are honestly game changing. ‘Everything is Easy’ has been the release of the year so far and the next ones due out are set to top that. Another band I’ve been really impressed with is Weekend Debt. We’ve played with them a few times over the last year or so and they get better every time I see them. They’re another one with a totally unique sound and their latest tune ‘Legato’ is phenomenal. They done some really cool live sessions recently that sound fantastic and I can see them charging on once gigs are back up and running.
- Your most recent podcast featured, Matt Hickman from Brownbear where you discussed the inequality issues in the music industry regarding gender and race – what do you think could be done to combat those issues?
I think its got to the stage now that opportunities are so limited for women and people from minority backgrounds it’s going to take drastic action to make a difference. I’ve heard people say before that there simply isn’t enough artists from said backgrounds and I disagree. Decades of promotion of white male indie guitar bands and male solo artists in the charts and festival line ups have probably discouraged participation in music for lots of people, and the main way of changing that, in my opinion, would be to commit a booking split of some sort, where we can guarantee a high percentage of festival slots for women and other minority groups. I think that would address so many issues and encourage more people to pick up a guitar and start a band.
- Last month you introduced your first panel discussion podcast ‘The artist and Their Art’ – a great way to dig deep into important issues within the industry, do you have plans to do more of these type of features?
Yeah absolutely! They’re great fun to do and I think it’s really important to discuss these issues with the platform that TELT has. They can be tricky subjects to get into with guests and we don’t really have a lot of time to talk about them and they are deserving of more time to dissect and offer opinion on. I’ve got a few plans in the works so it’s exciting times ahead.
- Do you have a certain process you follow when preparing for the show?
It’s usually always the same process. Once the guest is booked in and we’ve got a time/date sorted, I’ll do a two to three hours of prep before the episode. That will involve searching back through social media to get a whole picture of the artists’ progression, listening to the tunes and reading any interviews they’ve done previously so I can get an idea of what sort of stuff they’ve never been asked about before. That’ll give me a general guideline for the interview so we’ve got something we can follow. It’s always a loose guideline though as I’m keen for the chat to be as organic and natural as possible, and we’ll often miss out big chunks of the guideline depending on how the chat goes.
- What are your aims and ambitions for TELT in the future?
I just recently became self-employed so that I have more time to focus on TELT, and I’ve recently increased the output from 2 episodes per month to 8 per month, which has been amazing. I had a few exciting festivals lined up for TELT to be there as part of the press, but that’s been put on hold at the minute until we’re through this horrible pandemic. The ultimate ambition is to be the biggest new music/music interview podcast in the UK. It’ll take a lot of hard work and dedication to get there, but I don’t see any reason why it can’t get there.
At the end of the day, I’m really enjoying it and it’s amazing to speak to so many talented and inspiring people every week. I’m loving doing it and that is the main thing for me.
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