Fans and musicians have been finding new ways to recreate communities that have been lost during the pandemic.
Matty Morand, who performs as Pretty Matty and Sam Bielanski, who leads the band PONY, have been finding their own sense of community and creativity with their podcast 2 Much TV.
“We both had records finished,” Morand said. “So, the idea of writing music in the way that we had before seemed kind of daunting.”
Morand and Bielanski decided to combine their love of music as well as the amount of television they watched during the pandemic. Bielanski was first approached in March last year with the concept of writing songs about television episodes on the Super Cast podcast.
“It was a podcast where music supervisors would interview musicians and talk about music and TV placement,” Bielanski said. “The man who was interviewing me asked me if I ever wrote songs about television episodes or TV in general.”
When Bielanski writes songs, they watch a TV episode more than once and take notes. They take a different approach with every episode depending on the show.
“One of the first episodes we did, I just wrote down a character’s whole monologue,” Bielanski said. “Then I just turn those into the lyrics of the song.”
Bielanski said writing a song about a TV show like The Office is difficult because of the show itself.
“The episodes are so short and there are so many characters,” Bielanski said. “They all have little one-liners, so you just have to run with it and write about what I imagine this person’s journey would be.”
Morand tackles writing songs leaning towards a genre approach. They want to explore something different than the music they normally perform.
“I’ll often be doing a genre study type thing,” Morand said. “Like, I want to write a song that sounds like The Cure this week or I want to try to write a hardcore song.”
Morand also looks at an episode as a source to connect with personally and can turn it into a narrative that doesn’t have anything to do with the episode but comes from an idea in it.
The popularity of their podcast has been refreshing for both Morand and Bielanski. Listeners of the podcast enjoy the music they come up with and have been inspired themselves.
“It’s been nice to hear people just talk about the podcast,” Bielanski said. “It seems like it’s something that we’re doing that is helping people get by.”
Sanchit Sethi, a first-year Paralegal student at Humber, said the podcast has allowed him to feel less alone during the pandemic.
“It’s a really inspiring podcast,” Sethi said. “Hearing the music they make and knowing it came from scratch just makes me enjoy it more.”
Sam Sutherland, an executive producer at Universal Music Canada, and Josiah Hughes, a senior online editor at Exclaim! magazine, started the 155 podcast to dissect Blink-182’s entire music catalogue.
“It was Sam’s idea,” Hughes said. “He asked me if I wanted to do it because we didn’t really know each other, but we had always bonded over our love of Blink-182.”
The duo ran through 155 Blink-182 songs and as the band released more music, they followed along with each song. Along with discussing the band’s music, they also shared covers from listeners of the podcast.
“From time to time, we would find covers created by people that we knew were a part of the audience of the podcast,” Sutherland said. “It has sort of taken a life of its own.”
They switched to cover punk in general after reaching the end of Blink-182’s discography. They don’t have a specific way to find songs to discuss, but it reflects their musical interests.
“We’ve just been alternating picking songs,” Sutherland said. “So, it’s been a reflection of each of our tastes and what we’re just interested in talking about.”
The community of the podcast has been engaging by not only listening to the podcast but also by submitting covers of the songs being discussed each week. They also teach each other how to record and mix music and help with learning instruments.
“It’s kind of surreal how this enormous community has emerged because Sam and I blab away into our microphones once a week,” Hughes said.
Geetpal Singh, a first-year User Experience Design student at Humber College, said the community that the podcast built is his favourite thing about it.
“It’s great to know that a lot of people love music as much as I do,” Singh said. “The creativity of the community is bewildering. They come up with amazing covers.”
Moving forward, Sutherland and Hughes plan to keep the 155 podcast going and explore more songs to discuss while also releasing compilation cover albums.
Morand just finished recording their second full-length project and move to the mixing stage and Bielanski has their debut album coming out in April.
In the meantime, they’ll continue to watch TV and write songs about it.