Have You Heard? is a series in which the team from Pod Bible meet the people behind the podcasts you may not have heard of yet. While the Oh. My. Pod. section in the magazine gives a quick shout out to shows of that ilk, Have You Heard aims to go deeper in an effort to spread awareness for shows that deserve more exposure! We recently spoke to Sope, Eden and Nicolas, the three hosts of the music and pop culture podcast, Don’t Alert The Stans.
First up, for those that don’t know, what is stan culture?!
Sope: I don’t think there’s a formalised and finite definition as such but essentially ‘stan culture’ is when a collective group of like-minded individuals are joined together by their love of the same artist. They form a community which at its most innocent can be about sharing thoughts, discussions and opinions about what this particular artist is doing. At its worst and its most alarming, ‘stan culture’ can evolve into bullying, stalking, death threats and online abuse if someone has an opinion that they don’t like about said artist.
Eden: A “stan” or “stalker fan” was a concept portrayed in Eminem’s video for ‘Stan’ in which an obsessed fan writes, follows and kills the rapper after trying to reach him. Stans are fans of artists who adore their idols, and often attack those who challenge them. You can identify them on social media via their names. E.g. “Barbz” references Nicki Minaj stans and “Beyhive” for Beyonce stans. Their profile pictures are usually of their idol rather than themselves. We’re waiting for the opportunity to explore this deeper, but stan culture can be the culture of stanning an artist to the point of hearing no critiques. Sometimes it results in the critic being attacked or doxxed.
Nicolas: Stan culture to me is a more serious and more invested fan — for better or worse. At its worst, stan culture can involve physically stalking artists to the point of trying to enter their houses. Recently, R&B singer Kehlani had her address leaked online because of it. Online, stans can bully and hand out death threats if someone has a negative opinion on an artist. It’s scary and is only getting worse as the years go on.
So how do you incorporate the culture into your podcast?
Sope: I think the very essence of our show incorporates it. We’re direct, very honest and unfiltered – it doesn’t matter who the artist is. All three of us have people we individually “stan” for yet we all have the ability to be objective about their shortcomings.
Eden: In our podcast we search for authentic voices, which is why we interview guests who are well versed in the areas we are investigating. Whether it’s Drill artist and London Mayor candidate Drillminister discussing Drill culture, Nigerian music journalist and media consultant Joey Akan discussing the politics of Afrobeats and the tricks of the west, or Grammy Award Winning writers Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly) discussing their work with Whitney Houston, Akon, Ne-Yo or Ledisi. These experiences inform culture in a way that research alone cannot do. We have a massive drive for experienced voices from the cultures we’re exploring. Whilst also admitting ignorance too.
Nicolas: Culture is constantly shifting and rooted in people and industries. We try to speak on these elements in a nuanced and multi-faceted way. From inside the industry (some of us writers, journalists and speakers) and with some outside of the bubble of the music business. Wider culture is reflected in our intersections with politics, race, identity and society. Elsewhere, we invite people within the industries discussed to offer up validity and perspective for both ourselves and our audiences.
Why did you decide to start podcasting in the first place?
Sope: I had no intentions to begin podcasting. I was approached by Eden who I had previously met at a book club for Black Men. I remember we had an intense debate about Anderson Paak and Kanye West. And then about a year later he asked if we should start a podcast. I was initially hesitant but he twisted my arm (and hoodwinked me).
Eden: For me, I had a recording studio marketplace business (AirBNB for recording studios), inspired by podcasting. So it was only right I started the podcast to market the idea to new audiences; but after the business failed and people took more to the podcast, it became my focus and I found it was a new way to discuss topics important to my heart, whilst amplifying the voices of my community.
Nicolas: I’m super passionate about speaking. As a part of my academic career, I’ve been a part of Model UN, even travelling for it. I also have experience as a global youth leader, speaking with people from all over the world. That paired with my passion for music slowly built a goal of wanting to speak on music and its wider influence worldwide. When the opportunity to co-host ‘Don’t Alert The Stans’ came about, I had to take it. I’m grateful for my experience here so far.
Are there any podcasts that you take inspiration from?
Sope: When we record the show, I don’t think I intentionally take inspiration from other podcasts. But as you start recording, conceptualising and doing the admin work associated with it, I definitely reference other shows. I guess one of my strongest podcast influences is ‘The Read’; they were the first podcast I ever listened. I love how they’re hilarious and light-hearted, but they have a duality where they can be very informative and socially responsible especially in regard to uplifting black and queer issues. ‘MostlyLit’ was also foundational for me as they were able to discuss literature in a way that was entertaining and youthful while still being educational. In recent years – ‘Still Processing’ hosted by two of my favourite writers from The New York Times has had a massive impact on me. I think that is one of the best podcasts out right now.
Eden: I take inspiration from all podcasts. I admire the ‘Halfcast Podcast’ for Chuckie’s interviewing technique and charisma, I love ‘The Receipts’ approach to gossip and listener questions and ‘Time To Talk With Alex Holmes’ empathetic approach to conversation. If I had to say one podcast though, I would say ‘MostlyLit’. ‘MostlyLit’ was the original Black British podcast, filled with passion, information and laughs. The podcast is no longer around, but you cannot talk about British Podcasting without mentioning ‘MostlyLit’.
Nicolas: I don’t necessarily try to emulate anyone as I think it’s important to be your authentic self. But I do love watching Brandon Jinx, Ivie Ani, Angie Martinez, Zane Lowe and Rob Markman speak. All are highly intelligent people, aware of their voice and know tone well. Rob and Zane in particular have a great conviction when speaking to their subjects.
What can listeners expect from a typical episode of your show?
Sope: Listeners can expect to hear in-depth and deep-rooted analysis of whatever is happening in the world of music. We aren’t surface and don’t approach things the same way as most. We come at things from a well-researched and professional standpoint. But it’s still humorous and accessible. Meanwhile getting across how invested we are about particular artists, sounds and stories. Listeners can also be expected to be introduced to quality music and quality artists; old and new, mainstream and underground.
Eden: Authenticity. We don’t put on smiles or fake laughs because we know shows will be more enjoyable that way. We don’t re-record when we stumble, and episodes aren’t fluffily edited. We are raw, we are honest, and we speak from our hearts about music and culture. Because that’s who we are and what we embody.
Nicolas: Tangents. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a recording and things have ended up exactly how I had them mapped in my head. It’s always really interesting to see how the conversations evolve over the two or so hours each week. Just expect spontaneity throughout.
Is there anyone you stan right now that you’d love to get on the podcast?
Sope: Too many to name. Especially off the top of my head. I have a long list of dream interviews. It’s pretty extensive. I’d love to interview Trevor Nelson, Questlove, Estelle, Durand Bernarr, Rodney Jerkins, Jamila Woods, Terrell Grice, Steve Lacy, JoJo, Noname or Ari Lennox. As you can see, I could name 100s of people!
Eden: One day we will have a conversation with The Dream about songwriting. His pen has singlehandedly shaped eras. He is usually the first port of call for some of our favourite artists. Other than that, from the UK, I am a massive fan of Coldplay.
Nicolas: That’s so hard, I’d love to get so many people on the podcast. Probably Solange and Noname. Solange to talk about Southern chopped and screw culture and blackness as reflected in ‘A Seat At The Table’ and ‘When I Get Home’ — especially as it pertains to Black womanhood. Noname to talk about the political era we’re in as a people and being a woman in rap.
Where can the Pod Bible readers find out more about you?