Under the Current

hosted by Howard Gray

Under the Current is a long-form podcast that tells the real stories of creative entrepreneurs, and how they deal with the highs, lows, and messy middles that are part of the journey.

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Under the Current is a podcast by Wavetable

Episodes

#6 - Andrew Hutton

the co-founder of Day One on what emerges in early stage companies, discovering founder identities, and launching and relaunching

#5 - Zoe Scaman

the founder of strategy studio Bodacious on non-linear careers, sharing work in public, and dealing with self doubt

Zoe Scaman

#4 - Taneshia Nash-Laird

the CEO of Newark Symphony Hall on how cultural institutions help shape cities, creating platforms for others, and rediscovering deferred dreams

#3 - Dave Clarke

the DJ, producer, and radio show host on engineering as procrastination, what it means to be punk, and the future of the electronic music scene

Dave Clarke

#2 - Luciana Rozenberg

the founder of fashion brand Naissant on going from prototype to products, form and function, and why big cities matter

#1 - Joey Cofone

the co-founder of Baronfig on the mirage of failure, recognising the spectrum of what’s difficult, and alternative approaches to rebranding

Joey Cofone

#0 - Trailer

A quick bit from Howard on why we started 'Under the Current', and what to expect in future episodes.

Howard Gray

About

To be human in the information age is to experience deep-seated tension. We exist in a constant overdose of information. And yet, we’re starving for meaningful engagement. We experience constant pressure to iterate, ideate and innovate.

Lifting the curtain on other people’s ideas, successes and ideals is one of the most compelling ways to get inspiration, reassurance and momentum for our own creative journeys.

Several podcasts seek to do this, but too often they’re straight lines on the surface.

We need something more to help us move through the waves.

Under the Current seeks to tell the stories behind the life and work of creative people who come at things in unconventional ways. They’re globetrotting DJs and design studio owners; restauranteurs and writers; magazine publishers and makeup artists.

Each episode goes beyond a regular interview. It’s a slice of life; something real, past the PR pitch and the box ticks.


Under the Current is produced by Howard Gray and the team at Wavetable, a new wave media & education studio creating a more visceral and engaging future of learning.

Our crew of DJs, producers, educators and idealists help companies, creatives and entrepreneurs uniquely leverage their connection to their fans and followers by developing community-driven learning programs and products.

Over the past 12 months we've worked with the likes of SXSW, Vice, and the NYC Mayor's Office.

Our previous podcast ‘Tickets’ featured guests from Sonar Festival, Airbnb, Duolingo, The New York Times, and The Royal Albert Hall.


Contact

got a question? want to appear as a guest on the show? get in touch here.

Under the Current: #6

Andrew Hutton

what emerges in early stage companies, discovering founder identities, and launching and relaunching

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Starting a new company? Let's be honest - it's hard.

In the midst of a global pandemic? Yep, definitely hard.

Compared to a decade ago there are now far more places to get support in those early days, but Andrew Hutton and the team at Day One feel there are still some gaps that urgently need to be filled.

With the belief that entrepreneurship is going to be the most important skill of the 21st century, Day One are seeking to rethink the way early stage companies get built, going beyond the narrative of venture capital as the be-all and end-all, and to support all kinds of founders who are focused on outcomes, not just achievements.

In this conversation we get into challenging the conventions around building early stage companies, the identity shift when becoming a founder, how to focus on outputs first, and understanding which game you're really playing.


Show notes

06:30: The conventions around ‘early-stage’ startups

14:00: Conforming to typical milestones and points, and what’s shifting

20:30: What emerges during the early stages, and the questions of identity around being a founder

32:30: Chasing dreams with rigor, and the shift from inputs to outputs

40:00: What Andrew rewired in himself as he became a company founder

47:00: The meta game of running a business that helps other businesses

52:00: Building a community and education business that isn’t built around a guru

55:00: Launching, relaunching, and what happens when the energy starts to dissipate

61:00: Pockets of influence and figuring out the game you’re playing

64:00: Underestimating time

Under the Current: #5

Zoe Scaman

non-linear careers, sharing work in public, and dealing with self doubt

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Back in 2008, Kevin Kelly wrote a now legendary article on the long tail, and the concept of 1000 true fans. It's a concept that's gained ground in the 12 years since it was first posted, and in 2020, those trends around fandoms and the wide creator economy are - like a lot else in the world - accelerating.

Today here are many new voices and platforms. 1000 true fans becomes 100. There are Macro trends in micro communities and micro payments. The way we create and consume content of all kinds is changing at an extraordinary rate.

In the middle of all this, both as a guide for brands and creators, and as a creator building a brand of their own, is Zoe Scaman.

Zoe's spent time at some of the world's leading brands and agencies - from Naked Communications and Droga5; to Adidas and Ridley Scott's Creative Group.

Today she runs the strategy studio Bodacious, helping develop and define compelling brands of all flavors.

Unafraid to share what she's learnt, and shout out the successes in public, she's built a significant following over the past 12 months in particular. But it's not all been an upward curve.

We talk about the ill-fitting nature of the word 'fit' when organizations are looking for talent; rejecting linear progression and social conventions; the deep fear held by many people in the advertising industry; and the value - and challenges - of putting yourself out there in the world.


Show notes

04:00: Why ‘fit’ is dangerous for many businesses

08:30: The vindication of having ‘Range’, and rejecting the linear path

16:30: Who was missing for Zoe when she was at school

20:00: What it means to ‘bang down the door’

22:30: Persistence vs. Confidence

28:00: The Phoenix and The Magpie

32:30: What 22 year old Zoe would make of Zoe today

34:00: The shift from employee to owner

40:00: The bit before Bodacious, and dealing with the self doubt

45:00: What happens when a full-time gig comes along… and making a vote of confidence in yourself

50:30: Putting yourself out in the world, and managing energy

57:00: The anger and fear held by others

64:00: Homesteading, and staying curious

69:00: Culivating fandoms - for others, and for yourself

Links:
Zoe on Twitter
Zoe's Substack newsletter


Under the Current: #4

Taneshia Nash-Laird

how cultural institutions help shape cities, creating platforms for others, and rediscovering deferred dreams

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For the Englishman in New York, JFK airport is the well-known touchdown point, sitting at the intersection of Brooklyn and Queens.

But I often found myself west of Manhattan - at airport code EWR. Newark, New Jersey. A little lagged from the flight, I'd soon be on the train or in a cab, seeing little of the place I'd just landed in.

But there's much more to Newark than a non-obvious airport code. The largest city in New Jersey has been a center of the shipping industry for centuries, and is home to a diverse population of over 300,000.

Perhaps one of its most notable residents is Taneshia Nash Laird, a social change agent and community developer with a pretty incredible resume.

She's served as the Executive Director of the Arts Council of Princeton, notably as the first person of color in that role. She's been the Director of Economic Development for the city of Trenton New Jersey; and co-founded Legendary Eats in LA's Staples Center alongside NBA legend James Worthy. With her late husband Roland, Taneshia she also co-founded MIST Harlem, a popular entertainment center in New York City.

She was also a special government employee during the Obama Administration, and her nonprofit board service has included the the Advocates for New Jersey History, Artpride, and the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

Today, Taneshia is the President and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall, a historic performing arts center, currently undergoing a $40 million renovation, including a huge neighborhood revitalization project called Symphony Works.

Widowed in 2013 and a pink lady warrior since an early stage breast cancer diagnosis in 2019, above all these achievements Taneshia is most proud of being a mother to two young daughters.

In this conversation we talk about lessons from The Great Depression that can help move today's world forward; how to stay resilient when selling; the misconceptions around arts organizations; her hopes for the next generation; and how to come back towards a dream that's been deferred.


Show notes

02:30: The city of Newark, its history, and its cultural institutions

07:00: What it’s like to take over running a 90+ year old arts organization

13:00: Taking ideas from recovery after The Great Depression and mapping them to 2020

21:00: Misconceptions of the operation of a nonprofit arts organization

24:00: Life’s a Pitch - how to sell, and stay positive and resilient

31:00: Seeing, touching, and deferring dreams

37:00: 4 parts of a daily practice, and coming back to the work each day

47:00: The meaning of purpose, impact, and legacy

55:00: Lessons from 2020

61:00: Taneshia’s peak moments to date

69:00: The importance of bringing others into the room


Under the Current: #3

Dave Clarke

engineering as procrastination, what it means to be punk, and the future of the electronic music scene

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From his first release on XL Recordings in 1990, through to being called 'The Baron of Techno' by legendary BBC Radio 1 presenter John Peel; to his most recent project with classical musician Mathilde Marsal, and continuing to eschew trends in an industry that has a new flavor of the month almost every week - you can't pin down Dave Clarke as just another dance music producer and DJ.

Shaped by punk, rap and acid house in a youth where he ran away from home, sleeping in car parks and on beaches, today he plays techno with the flair and ferocity of a hip-hop turntablist, hosts his own stage at the enormous Tomorrowland festival, and is close to publishing the 800th episode of his White Noise radio show that has dozens of FM partners around the world.

He's opinionated, erudite and - by his own account - has an anarchist streak a mile wide. All of which shine through in this wide-ranging conversation.

We get into what punk represents, building long-lasting relationships, what the future looks like for new artists in the electronic music scene, and why he's maybe a little misunderstood.

Two warnings about this one: first, my new audio gear hadn't arrived when we recorded the episode so my recording is a bit echoey (yes, ironic when interviewing someone who is constantly at the forefront of audio technology). More importantly, Dave is loud and clear.


Show notes

04:00: The current mood in Amsterdam, and the Dutch approach to tackling Covid-19

08:30: Dave’s shift in focus in 2020, and taking the time to recover

15:00: Engineering as procrastination

17:30: Working with classical musicians

23:45: Professional environments

27:00: Long-lasting relationships, and staying consistent over a long period of time

30:15: What does punk does - and doesn’t - mean

34:30: What happens next for electronic music

38:30: The path forward for the younger generation of artists

41:00: The draw of radio

45:45: Following technology, and improving the work

50:00: Managing the balance of introvert and extrovert

54:00: Untangling hard work, skill, talent, and luck

57:00: Hope for the future - politically-driven music, and shifts in social media

Under the Current: #2

Luciana Rozenberg

going from prototype to products, form and function, and why big cities matter

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Split between the western Andes Mountains and eastern Gran Chaco lowlands of Argentina is the province of Tucaman.

Just over 1200km north of Buenos Aires, it's the second-smallest provinces in Argentina, and its main city of San Miguel is widely considered to be the nation's birthplace.

Among its 1.5 million residents are the Rozenburg family.

With the parents running an architecture studio working on all kinds of projects, it was inevitable their children would be exposed to ideas in design, art, construction, and the importance of form and function.

However, one of the kids, Luciana, who went on site visits and absorbed the conversations happening around the dining table, took a slightly different career path - into the world of fashion.

Now she's the founder of New York-based brand Naissant, whose handbag line brings form and function together through a modular approach to women's accessories.

In this conversation we get into bridging the gap between products and prototypes, the impact of landing in a big city, hanging out with old school patternmakers, and the power of the artistic muse


Show notes

03:45: The first few weeks post-launch

06:00: Conversations around the family table

10:00: Growing up in a architects’ family in Argentina

18:15: Feeling different, and the impact of big cities

21:45: Understanding London’s fashion hub

38:30: Being underestimated by the institutions, and underestimating NYC

43:00: Dealing with uncertainty of being a founder

47:30: Balancing creativity and business

52:00: Aspects of architecture in fashion

57:15: How do you know when something is working, even in prototype phase?

64:00: The importance of the muse

69:00: The impact of women on the work

Under the Current: #1

Joey Cofone

the mirage of failure, recognising the spectrum of what’s difficult, and alternative approaches to rebranding

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Think of a Thinker. Who comes to mind? Maybe Seneca, Aristotle, Newton, de Beauvoir? Ayn Rand, Bill Gates?

Indeed, all great thinkers. But of course, everyone's a thinker.

It's one of the guiding principles behind Baronfig, a company that seeks to champion thinkers around the world.

From a speculative idea on Kickstarter, 7 years later their range of carefully designed notebooks, pens, and accessories to help cultivate better thinking are now sold around the globe.

As well as most definitely being a thinker, Baronfig's co-founder Joey Cofone is also a notable designer, and conveniently for a podcast host, a talker.

In this wide-ranging episode we get into why failure doesn’t exist, recognising the spectrum of what difficult, what people really use Baronfig products for, rebranding Prince through one of the simplest ways imaginable , the magic of video games, and so much more.

We also go into Joey's extraordinary back story and what he's learned from going through some very real adversity in his life.


Show notes

02:15: Learnings from two Luigis

10:00: Developing a love of books

13:00: Rebranding Prince - in an unexpected way

21:00: What design means, and the fracture between two types of design

28:30: Bringing literature into design school

36:00: The catalyst for Baronfig

39:30: Dealing with the unknown between Kickstarter and a ‘real’ business

42:30: What failure really means

48:30: The spectrum of difficult, and dealing with tragedy

52:00: Are things fated? Exploring fate vs. free will

56:30: Framing lack of fate in an empowering way

57:30: Going remote in 2020

65:00: What a notebook does for its owner

70:00: Why video games are the ultimate form of creative expression

73:00: How school needs to change post-pandemic