Interview: Daniel Bloom and David Ross, Creators, maDCap

madcap dc creators

MaDCap creators David Ross (left) and Daniel Bloom (right) during their interview with Chromeo backstage at the Sweetlife Festival, May 2014. Photo credit: Davon Bryant.

As its name might suggest, maDCap is an eclectic, experimental, and entertaining series of podcasts developed and produced by DC natives Daniel Bloom and David Ross.

The premise is simple enough:  Bloom, Ross, and their team interview individuals they find compelling.  The subjects are as wide-ranging as the interviews themselves:  they include the local (Washington Post music critic Chris Richards and PoPville creator Dan Silverman) but often go beyond DC (Aisha Tyler, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, and, most recently, Afrika Bambaataa).

We spoke to Bloom and Ross on how it all began, where it’s going, and what has inspired them along the way.

Q:  What inspired you to start maDCap? 

Daniel Bloom: David and I know each other through a mutual friend. The show started as a vehicle for David’s commentaries, with me producing.  I knew he was a great writer, so I would bring him into the studio then edit the pieces for clarity and post them on my website.

When David branched out to writing sketch comedy, I started voicing some roles. Then, when David booked our first-ever guest, he asked me to be a full-time voice on the show. We’ve been working this way for almost two years now and we were blessed to add a stellar third producer, Efim Shapiro, over a year ago.

Q:  What’s the biggest challenge you faced starting out? 

David Ross: The biggest challenge for me was staying motivated and quieting voices on the sidelines.  Way too often I allow some miscellaneous voice in my ear to misroute my confidence in something.  We both believe in the show…Early on I’d lose sight of this and my brain would belittle what we were up to.

Daniel Bloom: …At the start of 2014, I focused on standardizing our running time to a full hour and setting a release schedule of one show per week. Although this is a very demanding pace for a staff of just three people, it’s been so satisfying to let our unheard interviews finally see the light of day and turn new interviews around quickly. One of the interviews that sat on our shelf the longest was an hour with the UK dubstep producer Skism, which shot into our top ten listened-to interviews in a week.

Q: What inspires you about DC?

David Ross:  Everything…All cultures can thrive in this area.  Is it perfect?  Nah.  But I’ve wandered around a bit, and I choose this place for its intelligent and progressive individuals.

Daniel Bloom: …David and I are both natives to the area, so DC has always been an inspiring place for us. My parents are artists who founded Dance Place, where I saw an immense amount of music and dance growing up. My mom, Carla Perlo, still runs the place and brought me up within the local arts community. Because of my background, DC has never felt like a stuffy place to me…but I also love politics, global culture and intellectual discourse, which runs through this city like lifeblood.

Q:  What are your thoughts about the current state of talk radio in DC?

Daniel Bloom: DC has some excellent talk radio. Kojo Nnamdi of WAMU is one of my favorites. I particularly love The Politics Hour on Fridays with Tom Sherwood. I’ve also loved WPFW Jazz & Justice radio for many years, and Dave Zirin just launched an exciting new show there.  I also listen to The Tony Kornheiser show every single day even though I barely care about sports, because hearing Tony complain in my ear is strangely comforting. We would love to get more involved in traditional radio in the area.

Q:  What do you think is the future of radio?

David Ross:  As for the future of radio, I think the best programs are headed the Snap Judgement (and maDCap of course!) route.  Audio art is what the suits call it.  In terms of how people hear it, it’ll be with their phones and other mobile devices.

Daniel Bloom: Radio is a fascinating medium because it has survived and thrived amid so many advancements in media technology…That gives me great hope for radio, the most intimate medium, as we move forward. The future of radio isn’t really on the radio though; it’s in podcasting and internet sources, and we are happy to be a player in that movement.

Q:  What are some of your favorite podcasts?

David Ross:  I’m liking “How to Do Everything” by NPR.  They explore everything.  Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast is definitely great.

Daniel Bloom: I am obsessed with podcasts. You have to start with “This American Life,” because Ira Glass and his staff deliver such consistently engaging stories in innovative ways. Some of their shows are silly, some serious, but always expertly done. “Snap Judgment!” is another fantastic show, which has a little more edge to it. The way they weave stories together using music and sound effects is incredibly compelling. “99 Percent Invisible” is about design, which I know almost nothing about, and “Freakonomics Radio” is about economics, which I know even less about, but these shows interpret otherwise obtuse subjects deftly for a general audience. “Radio Lab” is jaw-droppingly good, Marc Maron’s “WTF” is emotionally accessible, raw, and hilarious, and my latest obsession is “The New Yorker” podcasts. It’s such a joy to listen to intelligent people talk to each other. Sometimes it’s really that simple.

Q:  Music and film influence many of your podcasts.  What are your thoughts about the current state of the music and film industries (both locally and globally)?  

Daniel Bloom: Music is a huge part of my life. My father, Steve Bloom, is a drummer and I DJ as a side job. I’ve gone through many phases of musical obsession: from oldies to classic rock to hip hop to electronica, which is where my tastes dwell now. DC has become a really important place for music because of a burgeoning youth population with disposable income, the fantastic venues here, and the wealth of local talent we’re producing. I greatly respect NADASTROM, Tittsworth, Thievery Corporation, and Will Eastman, whom I see leading the way. But there’s younger cats like The Beautiful Swimmers, Steve Starks, Gavin Holland, Nacey, Alex Young, Des McMahon, Chooky, DJ Trayze, the guys from Panacea (K-Murdock & Raw Poetic), Ardamus, Logic, Phil Adé, and so many others that all make the DC area very proud (even though some of them don’t reside here anymore.)

Our podcast lives on Soundcloud, and I’m blown away by all the new music on that platform every minute of every day…As for film & TV, David is the expert here, and he spearheads the majority of our bookings in those areas.

David Ross:  …I think the city now has way more places to listen to music and music-themed events so that will allow the underground music scene to prosper more.  I’ve often referred to DC as creative quicksand.  I’m tired of seeing talented musicians feel like they have to move west to get serious about their music.  This isn’t their fault.  Whatever we’re missing that makes artists feel like they need to abandon ship, I hope we get it soon.

As for film, don’t even get me started.  I wish the local film community got more respect than it does.

Q:  What’s next for maDCap?  

Daniel Bloom: …I see nowhere to go but up.  Our biggest challenge now is to let people know that we’re here. Part of that goal is connecting with important voices in DC’s creative community. We’re always open to suggestions and ideas from the public, so people should feel encouraged to email us or find us on Twitter and Facebook. If you’ve never heard us before, give us a try, and if you’ve been with us for a while, stay tuned because the best is yet to come.

 

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