Amanda McLoughlin is the creator and CEO of Multitude, an independent podcast collective and production studio based in New York City. Multitude produces original shows, publishes free resources for podcasters, and helps clients of all sizes create, market, and grow great shows. A YouTuber and small business advisor before starting Multitude, her career is dedicated to helping other creators make a living by making great stuff online.
Julia Schifini is a historian, voice actor, sound designer, and lover of all fancy foods. She is a co-host and producer of Spirits, a co-host of Join the Party, and the Community Manager of Multitude. She loves world-building, professional wrestling, fancy cheese, and all things creepy and cool. You can hear her sound design on podcasts like Janus Descending and Valence, and voice acting on Tides and What’s the Frequency.
I had the chance to talk with Amanda and Julia about Spirits, which you can read below.
First of all, how did you come to know each other and how did you come to decide to work on a podcast together?
JS: We jokingly refer to ourselves as “companions from the cradle”, but we met in elementary school. Our weirdness just jived since the beginning and we stayed friends all through school and past college. After we both entered the workforce, we would meet up at bars and lament how draining our jobs could be. We realized that we needed a way to make time to see each other and talk about things that we normally would talk about anyway. So naturally, having drinks and talking about death and mythology seemed like the perfect excuse.
Can you explain your thought process behind the title Spirits?
AM: Fittingly enough, it came to us in a bar! The double entendre of ghost spirits and alcohol spirits was too good to pass up. It’s easy to say, spell, and search for, and coupled with our cover art by Allyson Wakeman, tells people they can expect a lot of both on our show.
Where did your interest in folklore and mythology come from? What were some early stories you were drawn to growing up and why do you think it resonates with so many people?
JS: I picked up a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology arguably WAY too young, and it really struck a chord with me. The stories of Athena, Artemis, and Persephone felt empowering before I realized that was something that was missing from the books I was reading and the shows I was watching. But nowadays it is the universality of the stories of mythology from around the world that keep me interested – seeing how human beings explain the world around them, no matter where they are on the globe.
AM: I mainly learned my Greek myths from Julia reading library books on the playground, so not a lot has changed! Since starting the show, I’ve gotten even more interested in all things mythology. I try to read really widely about both historical and contemporary cosmologies and folkloric traditions from around the world.
A large component of your podcast includes discussing LGTBQIA+ topics in fiction and mythology, bringing a queer lens to otherwise straight narratives? Can you expand on this?
AM: It’s been a priority from the beginning to center the stories of queer people, women, survivors, and other people whose stories have been erased, minimized, or villainized in the retelling. But at the same time, as queer people we can’t help but bring a queer lens to the stories we share. Julia does a great job selecting stories that I’ll find a way to connect with, and we try to create an environment where both of us and our guests can bring our whole selves to that connection.
What are some topics you haven’t covered yet but that you would love to cover in the future?
JS: We are working on bringing on some more Indigenous and African guests to talk more about their respective traditions and folklore!
As someone who has just admittedly gotten into podcasts this year, what do you think draws you in about this medium? What are some of your favorite examples?
AM: People celebrating niche interests is my favorite genre of podcast—and the whole mission of Multitude, the podcast collective of which Spirits is a founding member. Podcasting really lends itself to unexpected intersections of people, topics, and styles, resulting in shows like Exolore (astrophysicist/folklorist Moiya McTier examines worldbuilding in all kinds of fictional universes), One to Grow On (agriculture is political and fascinating), and Advice for/from the Future (what to do if your partner wants to go to Mars, and other advice for futuristic problems).
What advice would you have to give for people who are interested in creating and promoting their own podcast?
JS: Find something that makes you unique, and something that you will be passionate about. There are a lot of podcasts out there (I think a recent study said that in 2020, there were 885,000 new podcasts, which is two new podcasts every minute), so you need to figure out what you are bringing to audiences that they haven’t heard before.
AM: Check out the dozens of free resources Multitude publishes! Everything you need to get started is at http://multitude.productions/resources
What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet or wish you were asked?
AM: I’m always really interested in how other creators make a living. I write and talk a lot about the business of podcasting, from how we depend on audience support via Patreon to the intricacies of sponsorship booking for podcasts. I wish money wasn’t such a fraught topic to discuss openly, but in the meantime, if anyone out there wants advice or support setting rates or negotiating with a company, hit me up.
Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ media (i.e books/ comics/ podcasts/etc.) you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?
JS: Here’s my top LGBTQ+ books from the past year: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis, Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, and Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey.
AM: I’ve gotten really into romance novels over the last year, and my favorite LGBTQ+ books in that genre so far include Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole, the Feminine Pursuits series by Olivia Waite, and Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall. I also love the podcasts Friendshipping, Queery, Gender Reveal, and Bad Queers! Finally, gotta plug the other fantastic members of the Multitude collective. Head over to multitude.productions to learn about them!