Just over a year after finishing up CBC Radio 2’s “The Signal” in St. John’s, former radio host turned podcast host Laurie Brown is returning to the capital city with her new audio project, “Pondercast.”
Before landing in St. John’s for “Darwin Was Wrong: We Come from the Sea,” a live recording at Rocket Bakery on Oct. 14, Brown and her “Pondercast” partner musician/producer Joshua Van Tassel will stop in Toronto, Halifax, Wolfville, N.S., and Lunenburg, N.S.
“The chance to come back a year later with a ‘Pondercast’ built just for St. John’s makes me so happy,” Brown told The Telegram via email, before hitting the road.
The new project started in September 2017, with Brown and Van Tassel hosting their first live “Pondercast” in February 2018 from an ice castle on Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. The duo toured in August 2018, and are now on their second tour, and a second season of the show.
Departing from radio and heading into the realm of podcasting was a “really steep learning curve,” Brown said.
“While I knew the recording end of things, everything else is brand new — creating a website, building spaces for a ‘Pondercast’ community online, solidifying a partnership model with musician Joshua Van Tassel and designer Ty Johnson. Actually, that’s the best decision I made, to bring Ty and Joshua in as partners. But the ability to choose any topic, create podcasts of any length and collaborate with Joshua composing original music … it’s a creative dream. … That’s what I wanted ‘Pondercast’ to be … and it is.”
Brown and Van Tassel’s partnership started through Brown’s interest in Van Tassel’s electro-acoustic music, which she played on “The Signal.”
Describing his music as having “more rhythm and melody than most ambient music,” Brown said his art put her in “a really thoughtful headspace.”
“It leaves room for you to daydream, think, imagine and feel. That’s the playground I want to be writing in,” she said.
Within this new playground, Brown is also exploring a newfound freedom with “Pondercast.”
“Imagine how much more creative we would all be if we didn’t have to ask permission first,” she said.
“The biggest stumbling block so far, I would say, is my own confidence. I’ve had to learn not to second guess myself and go with my instincts and throw myself into my ideas with everything I’ve got. People seem to be coming along for the ride — so I’m encouraged.”
Brown is also encouraged and inspired by scientific theory and discussion. With theories about evolution constantly evolving, Brown was intrigued by the suggestion that we “have a much closer relationship with the water than previously thought.”
The St. John’s show is titled “Darwin is Wrong: We Come From The Sea,” the episode focusing on “the pull of the ocean,” and “how living next to the ocean shapes the way we are.”
With its subject matter appealing to people who live near water, this particular show is only being toured through Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I’m not sure anyone who doesn’t live by the sea would get it. I think the sea grows on you. It’s not something you might get just visiting a beach for a day or two and heading back to a landlocked place,” Brown said.
“Newfoundland and Labrador seems like a very apt place to host a show about humankind's relationship with the sea.”