“In my opinion, human beings are all about communication and they’re about connecting, and music is another form of that,” says Justin Richmond, host of the Broken Record podcast.
Music is a medium available to all individuals. It is an art that transcends emotions and what is conventional within the dotted lines.
An artist offers themselves up when they release music. Through the music, they express their inspirations, their insecurities, their muses, and their inner demons.
Still, what the audience might miss is the extra layer behind the music, and only through speaking with the artist can this layer be unraveled. And Broken Record, a podcast for music lovers, offers up the perfect solution.
The origin of the Broken Record podcast
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Co-hosted by Justin Richmond, the Broken Record Podcast follows interviews conducted by producer Rick Rubin, writer Malcolm Gladwell, and former New York Times editor Bruce Headlam.
The podcast focuses on finding narratives behind the music, and in turn, gives listeners more insight into their favorite artists and their processes, or puts them on to new ones.
Malcolm Gladwell is a published author and staff writer for the New Yorker. He also has a podcast called Revisionist History, in which he “reinterprets something from the past.”
Gladwell has written a couple of pieces on music history.
Throughout his career, he’s managed to dedicate an entire chapter of his book, Outliers, to The Beatles. Not to mention, the in-depth piece he did on The Beastie Boys for the New Yorker, just to name a few.
As Justin Richmond told me, for Gladwell these writings and episodes he did for Revisionist History “stoked the fire,” and completely captured his interest in audio storytelling about music.
Simultaneously, Rick Rubin became interested in podcasting, and the two friends realized that a podcast centered around music would be really interesting.
Richmond and Headlam, also two big music fans, joined the project with their connection to Gladwell, and from there Broken Record was born.
Behind the music
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The Broken Record podcast has since taken the music scene by storm, featuring iconic artists like The Black Keys, Jack White, Tyler The Creator, and more recently, Andre 3000.
The team brainstorms artists they would like to speak with, artists they think would make a great interview or have projects that are coming up. We had the chance to ask Richmond, among other things, why the Broken Record team works so well together.
Richmond passionately professed:
“It’s just organic, you know?”
Rick, who has been in the industry for some time now, has always been a fan of music. Plus, with his crazy music knowledge, he can take conversations to outer space.
When you put Malcolm and Rick together you have this combo of knowledge and know-how that “brings things back to earth.”
“When those two are together, you have Rick who can musically take it to the stratosphere, and you have Malcolm who is journalistically sound enough to bring things back to earth and ground things.”
The dichotomy of personalities and professional expertise works wonders for Broken Record’s content production. Richmond stressed how whether you are a “music head,” or just a more casual listener of music, the podcast offers up something for everyone.
While audio storytelling is not new, podcasting is a branch of media where an up-and-coming broadcaster can practice their craft. We asked Richmond what advice he would give to an aspiring podcaster.
“Don’t be afraid to professionally take on things that you are maybe not so interested in, if it gets you necessary experience.”
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Richmond emphasized how important it is to do what you love. Doing what he loves allows him to hone in on his passion, daily, and helps with his work and projects down the line.
“So when it came then to do things that I loved, especially as it concerns music, it was second nature.”
Richmond continued, “You’ve got to immerse yourself in the world of audio if you want to do a podcast; know what you can contribute to the space, and what you can’t. What you want to and what you don’t want to.”
Richmond stated how by listening to an artist’s life, their craft, their struggles, and their labor, you gain a better understanding of the person, and in turn, a better understanding of the art.
“From my opinion, human beings are all about communication and they’re about connecting, and music is another form of that.
That moment when you hear an artist communicate their emotions, create a project, or the man-hours they’ve put-in to curate a sound it “endears us to the work even more.”
“So when you hear how [artists] created it, how they labored over it, all the amount of work and pain it took to feel the feelings to make it, and then to go through the creative process to get it out, I think that endears us to the work even more.”
Richmond added, “I think it also just kind of helps people become a little more fluent in music and music culture. That, I think, is a win for everyone.”
Takeaways from the Broken Record podcast
We asked Richmond what were some of the greatest messages/takeaways he has gotten from Broken Record.
“I get the most probably out of Rick, and Malcolm… Both of them are brilliant. I get a lot from just listening to them. I incorporate a lot from the things that they talk about to my processes and my life. They’re incredible people.”
Closing out the interview, we asked, what keeps you creating? Richmond answered,
“I love it. I love creating, I love music, I love storytelling, I love people. It’s just fun, and that’s what keeps me going.”