“Literature is not the same thing as publishing. We’re in the literature business and publishing is one thing that we do.”
Chris Fischbach talks about taking over leadership of an organization, the health of print and the challenge of getting someone to actually purchase a specific book. He also excitedly talks about the work of Kao Kalia Yang and the latest work from Valeria Luiselli.
Twenty-two years ago, Chris Fischbach got an internship at Coffee House Press in Minneapolis. In 2011 he became publisher. Chris has served as co-chair of the Minneapolis Arts Commission and as assistant director of the Twin Cities Book Festival and currently sits on the board of directors of the Friends of the Hennepin Country Library.
The mission of Coffee House Press is to publish exciting, vital, and enduring authors of our time; to delight and inspire readers; to contribute to the cultural life of our community; and to enrich our literary heritage. By building on the best traditions of publishing and the book arts, we produce books that celebrate the imagination; innovation in the craft of writing; and the many authentic voices of the American experience.
“My gauge of success is how do I feel on Sunday nights and Monday mornings.”
In this episode, Chief Experience Officer at Clockwork Chuck Hermes talks about how he got started doing graphic design as a night manager at Prince's legendary Paisley Park studios. He talks about building an art department and how he transitioned from visual design to digital architecture and the creation of Bit Stream Underground.
Chuck talks about building a culture at Clockwork and how the process of design, decision making and relationships are all iterative. And he shares the five values that lead everything at Clockwork.
Chuck is a 15-year veteran of the interactive industry. Trained in traditional graphic design, Chuck's interest in early online bulletin boards led to experimentation in the development of the first Graphical User Interfaces for FirstClass software back in the early 1990s. From that point on, UI development became his passion, and usable design became his mission. Chuck was a co-founder of Bitstream Underground, one of the region's first ISP/Web Development companies.
Aside from his obsession with User Experience, Chuck is a husband, dad to three young girls, an avid bicyclist, reader, and general outdoorsy type. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Music Coalition, a nonprofit committed to connecting and supporting Minnesota’s community of independent musicians.
"You can make better art when you listen to community voices."
Leah Cooper is Co-Artistic Director of Wonderlust Productions. She has been directing, producing, and performing in theater for thirty years. She was the director for the Veterans Play Project, a collaboration between Footprints Collective, Mixed Blood Theatre and Bedlam Theatre. Locally, she has also directed productions for Commonweal Theatre, Park Square Theatre, History Theatre, Theatre in the Round, Gremlin Theater, 20% Theatre Company, Shakespearean Youth Theatre, Starting Gate Productions, Ministry of Cultural Warfare, Prufrock Theatre, Fortune’s Fool Productions, and the Fringe Festival as well as many workshops of new scripts. Leah was most recently the Executive Director of the Minnesota Theater Alliance, was partner and co-founder of MinnesotaPlaylist.com, serves as board chair for Live Action Set, a board member of the California Institute of Contemporary Arts, and she was the Executive Director of the Minnesota Fringe Festival from 2001 to 2006.
“Anytime I want to feel better I just need a stage.”
On this episode, singer/songwriter Katy Vernon talks about depression, her fairly new relationship with sobriety, how she went from writing songs in her head to process life to being an actual artist and what parenting is like for someone who lost both parents before adulthood.
Born and raised in London, UK, Katy now calls Minnesota home. She has written songs for as long as she can remember and is always happiest when she’s singing, even when dealing with some pretty tough challenges. Katy’s debut solo release was ‘Before I Forget’. This was both a tribute to her parents, whom she lost as a teen, but also an embrace of her new solo direction after discovering the ukulele and the songwriting it inspired.
In a deliberate effort to use her writing to move beyond the grief and sadness of her earlier work Katy wrote the song ‘Pearl’ which she released as a single prior to this full length release. Each song on ‘Present’ is an exploration of the effort to embrace the here and now. Exploring the realities of life, the good and the bad, without being numbed or sugar coated.
Katy Vernon has also used her enthusiasm and knowledge of the local ukulele scene to organize and perform at her successful Annual Uke Fest Concert, now expanded to a two night celebration and fundraiser benefitting Arc GTC. Katy has been featured on TPT’s Almanac, WCCO’s Women Who Rock, The Current, KFAI, and more. In addition to clubs and festivals she has performed at venues including The Guthrie, The Cowles Center with the James Sewell Ballet, and even the Fitzgerald Theater with Garrison Keillor!
“By having a plan B, it weakens your plan A.”
Kory LaQuess Pullam was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. He earned his BFA at Stephen F. Austin State University in 2013. Leaving the collegiate nest, Kory moved to Chicago and worked with Raven Theatre, Light Opera Works, The Gift Theatre, and Porchlight Music Theatre in their Jeff-nominated production of Pal Joey.
Since moving to the Twin Cities, he's worked with Guthrie Theater, Children's Theatre Company, Pillsbury House + Theatre, Park Square Theatre, History Theatre, Brave New Workshop, Walking Shadow Theatre Company, Theatre Pro Rata, HUGE Improv Theater, Minneapolis Musical Theatre, and Paul Bunyan Playhouse.
Kory is a founding member of Blackout Improv, the premier Black comedy troupe in the Twin Cities. Also, Kory is founding artisric director of Underdog Theatre. He makes his Ten Thousand Thing's Theatre debut as Perkich in Fiddler On The Roof this winter. Keep up with Kory on social media platforms: @laquess
"If you have an idea for a podcast, please make it."
On this episode of the podcast, Hans Buetow talks a lot about podcasting. He talks about the specifics of working in that medium and how it's different from radio work. Hans talks about the iterative nature of relationships and creative work, the messes and mistakes that are always in the wake of creative successes and shares some of his favorite shows.
Hans Buetow is a producer for American Public Media. He's the producer and editor of the Terrible, Thanks for Asking podcast. Hans has also worked on In the Dark, Reasonably Sound, Life of the Law, Live Law, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, The Soundtrack Series, Secret Skin and numerous other podcasts. He also helps develop new shows.
“In India I think everyone is pretty much always dancing.”
Divya Maiya and Madhu Bangalore talk about their marriage, their work with Bollywood Dance Scene and how the two intersect.
Bollywood Dance Scene was formed in 2012 by Divya Maiya, Rashi Mangalick and Jinal Vakil, three dynamic Indian dancers who wanted to share their love of movement and Indian culture with their neighbors and friends.The trio took on dance choreography projects with growing scale, complexity, and team size. Their dancers have performed at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Festival of Nations and other venues that define the cultural scene in Minnesota.
In 2014, the dance community they inspire was strong enough to create the first live Bollywood dance drama to be performed at the Minnesota Fringe Festival - the largest unjuried theater festival in the country. With 50+ cast members, Hi! Hello! Namaste? Was the highest ticket selling show of the 2014 festival. Armed with theatrical experience, Bollywood Dance Scene presented Spicy Masala Chai at the 2015 MN Fringe Festival, and it became the highest selling show in MN Fringe history!
“This has been a year of understanding resilience and how humor is part of processing something as dark and deep as suicide.”
Shannon Forney is working at the intersection of creativity, creative placemaking, entrepreneurialism, small business, nonprofit management, and clown. On this episode of the podcast, Shannon talks about the work clown training does to separate the person from the ego and to see the foley of attempting that separation. She also shares very openly about running her own business with her partner and her past year of resilience after her sister's suicide.
Originally from Maine, Shannon Forney has performed in the Twin Cities with Jon Ferguson Theater (Animal Farm 2008), TigerLion Arts (MN State Fair 2013), and at the Walker Art Center in a steam punk-musical by the LISPS (FUTURITY 2012). She studied Red Nose with master clown, Giovanni Fusetti and contemplative performance with Naropa University faculty, Nina Rolle. Puppetry credits include Odessa's Animal Adventure (2012) at the MN Zoo, Instruments of Tortuga (2007) at Heart of the Beast, and Dreamland Fire Waltz in Boulder Colorado (2003).
Shannon is the co-owner of WORKHORSE COFFEE BAR in St Paul is the lead curator for the Smallest Museum in St Paul, a 2015-2016 Knight Foundation St Paul Arts Challenge project. Shannon served as inaugural board chair for 20% Theater from 2009-2012. Her last performance with the company was as ensemble lead for the MN Fringe Festival creation Elephant Shoes and Olive Juice (2008), about miscommunication, inspired by typewriters, tin-can phones, and text messaging. Scooper, her dubious under-dog clown character has made appearances at the Walker Art Center's Open Field (2014), LRT Green Line Launch, and various Twin Cities events. She considers clowning as artistic social practice, engaging audiences in small acts of curiosity.
“I don’t have to be only about this rigid, tough-guy masculinity that was passed down in my neighborhood, I’m into poetry.”
Jake Virden learned anti-racism and a love for hip-hop music and culture at a very young age. On this episode of the podcast, Jake talks about growing up in Northeast Minneapolis amidst a huge cultural shift in that area and it's relationship to North Minneapolis. He talks about how rap music is black music but it's also working class music, struggle music, the people's music.
Jake shares stories from over a decade of activism and community organizing. He talks about the importance of being willing to be corrected, checked or redirected when doing organizing and justice work. And Jake thoughtfully unpacks a nuanced understanding of white-skin privilege and how it has been used as part of the narrative to strengthen and continue systemic oppression.
Jake Virden is a writer, performance artist and popular educator focused on the intersections of race, class, culture and ecology. Jake has worked as a facilitator with S.P.E.A.C.(Sustainable Progress Engaging Active Citizens), an organizer with Hope Community’s Parks and Power Campaign, and facilitates trainings on Racial Justice and European American resistance to white supremacy.
Nina Simon is inspiring speaker, writer and thinker who started changing the way museums and cultural institutions do and think about their work when she started her Museum 2.0 blog over a decade ago.
In this episode of the podcast, Nina talks about writing and sharing her latest book "The Art of Relevance" and how she came to her working definition of the word Relevance. She shares stories of truly living off the grid, getting her homes electricity from solar power and having to haul bathroom waste in a bucket every day and why that lifestyle makes her judge others less.
Nina also talks about the importance of athletics and playing sports in her life and how much play factors into all parts of her work and life. Plus Nina talks about growing up with a rockstar father, how writing books let her actually focus more on doing the work she wants to do and what community and partnership really means to her.
Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History Nina Simon is an internationally-recognized expert on active community participation in cultural institutions and has been named a “museum visionary” by Smithsonian Magazine for her innovative approach to design. Nina received the American Alliance for Museums’ Nancy Hanks Memorial Award in 2012 and was named one of the 50 most “powerful and influential people in nonprofit arts” by the Western States Arts Federation in 2012 and 2013. Nina is the author of The Participatory Museum (2010) and the popular Museum 2.0 blog.
“If your son says you’re a bear, you’re a bear.”
Jon Ferguson talks about how his desire to move and imagine and create caused expulsion from school but its what propels his work as an artist in adulthood. He shares how his early creative experiences as an adolescent listening to a walkman on road trips and imagining scenarios, chases, rescues, romantic stories – all to a soundtrack informs how his work interacts with set and sound as well as words. Also, Jon talks about how his negative experiences as a young student make him nervous about sending his son to school. And how becoming a parent raises money concerns that sometimes push a focus on making art to the side.
Tina North talks about being the mother of a young graphic artist and how her work has influenced his connection to the arts, “when he was in utero, I was in a show.” What it’s like to grow up with a father who is a working musician and a mother who is a makeup artist and how that made her less likely to wear makeup day to day. Also, the creativity of owning and operating her own business, Moss Envy.
Raised by a professional dancer and a rock drummer, Rick Ausland has been performing percussion and tap dancing since he was a child. Rick is a tap dancer, teacher, choreographer, bucket drummer, audio and video editor, magician and theater and event producer. Rick got his start performing live as a street performer alongside his brother Andy. In 2004 Rick and Andy created Buckets and Tap Shoes, a high-energy blend of music, dance and percussion that has performed all over the world.
In this conversation, Rick talks about how he got into dancing and percussion. He also talks about how he makes money, why comedy matters to him and how he discovered a passion for creating experiences for audiences. Check out Rick’s big event coming up on October 31 by going to spiritforward.info
“I think people connected with me better… because I was honest.”
In this episode, Saymoukda Vongsay aka Mooks talks about being a refugee, nicknames, transitioning from being a poet to a playwright and why she's totally fine with always being labeled a Lao artist.
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is an award-winning Lao American poet, playwright, and cultural producer. She was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand and currently lives in Minnesota. She created the REFUGENIUS brand and identity in 1993 when she decided to pursue ART as a career. REFUGENIUS is a portmanteau of REFUGEE and GENIUS.
Vongsay's work has been highlighted by The New York Times, American Theatre Magazine, City Pages, Vita.MN, Pioneer Press, Star Tribune, WCCO, Minnesota Public Radio, KFAI, Candy Fresh, TPT's TV Takeover and Giving Thanks programs, the U of Minnesota's Immigration History Research Center's Immigrant Stories project, and more.
“I’m really writing about my experience of watching the thing.”
David Roth is a writer and editor living in New York City. He has written for many different things for many different outlets, from sports trading cards to print advertising material to magazine features. David has written and edited for a host of different online and print venues, including SBnation.com, Slate, the New Republic and Vice Sports. David co-created The Classical, a sports website funded through Kickstarter and which he started with some other writer/editors in late 2011.
In this conversation, David talks about why he loves watching and covering sports, what the Olympics mean to him, what’s profound about the show American Ninja Warrior and what it’s like to be a journalist who didn’t go to journalism school. He also talks about setting goals and finding fulfillment while trying to keep the lights on.
“The thing that scares me, that’s actually the direction that I need to pursue.”
Paul Riedner was a deep-sea diver in the U.S. Army who served in the Middle East. He's currently the Executive Director of Veteran Resilience Project, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Minnesota veterans get free access to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Paul also makes the Resilience Project podcast that helps veterans share their stories.
On the podcast, Paul talks about growing up in Red Wing Minnesota and then going to teach in China. He talks about his constant search for knowledge and discovery and the role that played in his deciding to enroll in the U.S. Army during the Iraq war.
Paul talks about what he's learned as a deep-sea diver, what serving in Iraq taught him about the financial and emotional costs of war and about why there is a such a disconnect in the United States between veterans and a public that has largely not served. And Paul talks openly about the work of moving a veteran from PTSD down a path towards healing trauma and getting back to being of service.
Here is the Hector Matascastillo episode of the Resilience podcast Paul mentioned - http://www.resiliencemn.org/hector-matascastillo-on-the-crucible-courage-and-community/
“If someone is going to think less of you for not knowing something, they can suck it.”
On this podcast Molly Mogren Katt talks about anxiety, getting out of one’s comfort zone. She talks about how facing your fears regularly alters how you think about fear and think about doing things that scare you. Molly shares how committing to a year of doing one thing every day that scared her meant a few big obvious things and then a lot of discovery about the small fears we all are guided by every day.
Just weeks away from giving birth to her first child, Molly talks about trying not to think too much about how her life will change and whether she’ll be prepared or not. Molly also talks about the one time she did something that scared her and it didn’t turn into a beautiful experience.
The daughter of a flight attendant and a hippy-turned-real estate developer who toured Europe in a Volkswagen bus, Molly arrived on earth with an undeniable sense of adventure. From hiking the Antarctic Peninsula, to outrunning a hyena in South Africa and even driving a street-legal monster truck through Des Moines, Iowa—Molly never turns down an opportunity to do something crazy. She worked as Andrew Zimmern's right-hand (for nearly eight years!); they've co-written three books together and she co-hosted a weekly podcast called “Go Fork Yourself.” These days, Molly is a freelance writer and blogger, full-time. You can see her work in Delta Sky Magazine, Food & Wine, Eater.com,Minneapolis | Saint Paul Magazine, to name a few. Her latest project, Hey Eleanor!, chronicles Molly's experiences living outside her comfort zone and making every day an adventure.
“I wish there was one thing I could say ‘this is what I want to do with my life.”
Nathan Tylutki's new business cards actually say "Renaissance Man." This is as close as he can come to describing his career. Nathan is an actor with a masters degree in sociology. He's fully trained in law enforcement and created a one man show called Nayrotica. Nathan's an activist with a history working in fundraising.
On this episode of the Pratfalls podcast, Nathan talks about wanting to do creative work while engaging in social justice work. He talks about deciding to quit his job while living in New York City because he wasn't feeling fulfilled and how that led to him returning to Minnesota. Nathan talks about sobriety and how it unlocked his ability to be present as an actor. He also talks about vulnerability, the feeling of not being good at your job, looking for fulfillment and his relationship to money.
“Although I fly the flag for ‘yes, and’ it’s okay to say no.”
Madde and Levi have known each other for a number of years. Which is part of why this episode is full of silly bits and goofy nonsense. But Madde also talks about relationships, making work, living in new cities and where she is in her life. Madde also talks improv theory, working in education and shares a bit about her new project “Down & Out.”
Madde Gibba is a New York-based actor and comedy writer who most recently could be found slinging funny haha's on the high seas with Second City Theatricals. She is a contributor to the online satirical magazinereductress.com and regularly writes and performs all over the country. Originally from Minnesota, she has performed at Tony Award-winning theaters such as The Guthrie and Children's Theater Company and is an alumni of the country's oldest satirical comedy theater Brave New Workshop. In addition to the stage, Madde co-hosted Mike and Madde, a weekend arts and entertainment radio program on MyTalk107.1, and was featured in a small role in the critically-acclaimed indie film Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (appearing at SxSW and Sundance Festivals in 2015). Madde has toured the US with her original sketch comedy shows, Comedy Sportz, and her improvised rock concert Madde Gibba: Does Not Play Well With Others--which has appeared at both the Chicago Improv Festival and New York Musical Improv Festival.
Katie Sisneros is a founding editor of The Tangential, a PhD student in English literature at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the voice of Totinos on the internet and a live event host. She is a Minneapolis transplant from Nebraska where she earned two English degrees at UNL before deciding to one-up herself at the U of M. She orders whiskey diets but won’t return it if she’s served a whiskey coke, and usually manages to get about 35% of the questions on Jeopardy right.
On this episode of the podcast, Katie talks about internet trolls, spending her entire life thus far as a student, why personal relationships are challenging for her, how she manages her time and what it means to have a powerful and inspiring mother.
On this episode of the podcast, environmental sound-artist Philip Blackburn talks about early exposure to an artist that inspired him to build his own instruments. He also talks about how getting to study under Kenneth Gaburo further opened up Philip’s ideas about what his art could be. Plus, Philip talks about the lovely unpredictable nature of work that changes based on human interaction.
Philip Blackburn was born in Cambridge, England, and studied music there as a Choral Scholar at Clare College (BA, MA). He earned his Ph.D. in Composition from the University of Iowa where he studied with Kenneth Gaburo and began work on publishing the Harry Partch archives. Blackburn's book, Enclosure Three: Harry Partch, won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. He has worked at the American Composers Forum since 1991, running the innova Recordings label (which has been called “the nation’s premiere label for American new music”) while developing re-granting programs (notably the Jerome commissioning program, McKnight Fellowships) and opportunities for composers (such as the Sonic Circuits International Electronic Music Festival, Continental Harmony, and Bamboofest).
He is also a public artist specializing in sound — a composer/environmental sound-artist — and has served as teaching artist for school residencies connected with the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival, creating multi-media performances using home-made instruments. He composed the soundtrack for the Wild Music: Sounds and Songs of Life exhibition initiated by the Science Museum of Minnesota now traveling the nation. His Car Horn Fanfare for 8 ArtCars opened the Northern Spark Festival, and his Duluth Harbor Serenade was heard by thousands of people during Duluth Superior Pride. His concert work, Sonata Homophobia, for Flute and Brainwave-Triggered Right Wing Hate Speech was also premiered in Duluth. Blackburn’s works have been heard in ships’ harbors, state fairs, forests, and coming out of storm sewers, as well as in galleries and on concert stages. He has incorporated brainwave sensors and dowsing rods in performance as well as balloon flutes, car horns, smart phones, and wind-powered harps. He created a multi-media hyperopera about Cragmor Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Colorado Springs. That work, The Sun Palace became a 60-minute indie film that premiered at the New York's Anthology Film Archives.
This episode was originally released on the Pratfalls of Parenting podcast on June 12, 2016.
This episode features a conversation with theater director Kevin Houle. Kevin gets into how mentorship impacted him, how becoming a father a little later in life gives patience, and how similar directing actors can be to getting a 2 year old to do what you want.
“I want people to think, oh look at that thing someone made. I like that thing.”
Boxy Mouse was inspired by a bonafide mouse named Jasmine in the winter of 2007. Since then, the approach at Boxy Mouse Design Studio (and laundry room) has been to learn how to create all manner of art-like things based on Boxy Mouse and other various Boxy characters. Nearly every item, from the buttons and stickers to screen prints and paintings, are produced by hand in-house. Rampant speculation surrounds the studio -- there's even a rumor that a collective of mutated "painting monkeys" are on staff.
Boxy Mouse is street art, graphic design, entertainment, surprise and joy all contained in a small image. The creator and figurehead behind the Boxy Mouse empire sat down for a podcast conversation about how he came to be an artist and what Boxy Mouse means to him. Hear about confidence development, the question for perfection and why creating moments of unexpected joy are so valuable and important.
“I don’t feel I’m as much of a character onstage now, I feel it’s coming from an authentic place.”
Mary Jo Pehl is a writer, comedian, and she also wrote for and played Pearl Forrester on the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000. She’s been a part of both Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax, stared in the game Darkstar: The Interactive Movie, and is the star of the upcoming new television show RenFest. Mary Jo’s book “Emplyee of the Month can be found here: http://amazon.com/dp/1466378026/
On this episode of the podcast, Mary Jo talks about starting out as a stand up during the 80s comedy boom. She talks about growing up in Circle Pines Minnesota and how her upbringing shaped the way she thinks about herself and her work. Mary Jo talks about the various jobs she had over the years, both creative and less so. She shares stories of coming up in comedy with Joel Hodgson and Frank Conniff, with whom she would eventually collaborate on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Mary Jo talks about how her writing changed after her mom died. She talks about trying to write truthfully without causing pain for the people she loves. Mary Jo also talks about the challenges of making a living from purely creative work and about how much her audiences, fans and readers have come to mean to her over time.
“There’s more that we can do than we think we can.”
Malik Watkins, better known by his stage name MaLLy, is an independent hip-hop artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Active since 2007, MaLLy has cemented his place in the Twin Cities music scene with a strong discography boasting three critically acclaimed albums—The Passion, The Last Great..., and The Colors of Black—along with several well-received EPs including Free on the 15th and Strange Rhythm.
MaLLy has toured nationwide with Atmosphere on their “Welcome to Minnesota” tour in 2012, and with Brother Ali on his “Home Away From Home” tour in 2014. Other notable live performances include shows alongside underground hip-hop luminaries such as Souls of Mischief, Blue Scholars, Watsky, and Evidence, and two appearances—one as a performer (2011) and one as co-host with Brother Ali (2012)—at Soundset, the largest Hip-Hop festival in Minnesota. MaLLy continues to work on new music, as well as participate in community-oriented organizations dedicated to the arts, creativity, and entrepreneurship such as Giant Steps and Kulture Klub Collaborative.
On this episode of the podcast, MaLLy shares the story of where his name came from, talks about being comfortable using humor on stage and why many hip hop artists take themselves very seriously. He talks about the early music he was exposed to by his mother, the time he spent learning how to make music before he shared it with anyone and how his relationship to fear has drive his work and life. MaLLy also talks about the stereotypes and perceptions held about hip hop artists and opens up about his personal journey to make music as a way of making positive connection in the world rather than chase after fame or attention.