As earlier stated, I’ve always wanted to write. When I was younger I used to read articles or interviews with my favourite celebrities or subjects and think about what I could/would do different. I used to write pointless stories using my favourite traits of people that I loved and condense them in to one catalyst that would invariably become the hero of each short piece.
I’m a curious person by nature and find that when someone has a completely different lifestyle to me, I am intrigued and want to know more. I think up heaps of different questions that I want to ask, but am sometimes afraid to for fear of being conceived as “nosey”. So basically, interviewing interesting people with interesting lifestyles as a job is something that I love to do.
I always dreamed of interviewing my idol, MJ (I’m sure you’ll figure out who that is, don’t want any googler to find my blog, lol). I always thought of questions that I’d ask, straying away from the usual stupid ones like, “how do you do the ‘spacewalk’?” or, “why have you had so many surgeries?” or the other trove of stupid questions that distract from the man and the talent. It was on a bucket list, but goodness knows at the time of his passing, I was no closer to the bucket than I was to the list.
I once told him that I was going to be a writer. I was 18, idealistic and thought that it might actually happen without a lot of work involved. His words were, ‘I believe in you, you can do anything, but be great at what you do.’ I felt like it was a strange thing to say, but it makes sense. It was his nice way of saying, “don’t do a half-arsed job, make sure you put in the work, 100%.” Goodness knows he dealt with a lot of half-arsed ‘journos’ in his time.
So, with great respect for his legacy, I came across his nephew, a budding, talented American artist who goes by his Dad’s family name. He carries that famous sound from his uncle, as well as fusing in his own style. I liked that this artist works hard and is humble and charitable without a sense of entitlement. Currently he is being written up in big U.S music magazines like Billboard, and Rolling Stone….
Naturally, I wanted to chase down an interview though I didn’t really think I had much of a chance, given the status of my publication in comparison to the status of his career. I emailed his management on a whim and got a very speedy response. This doesn’t mean much, often I get responses full of great promise and over-enthusiasm which basically dwindles away very quickly never to be emailed again, even if I harass with follow-ups.
I emailed my interest in writing a feature and chasing up an interview. I offered flexible methods of interview. I even offered to work around time zones and be at their whim. To my surprise, I got immediate responses with each email. The management were so kind in terms of letting me choose the time and the method and offering to work around me and my actual paid job.
So it was arranged. I was going to interview the artist at 8am on a wednesday morning, 4pm on a tuesday afternooon where he was. He was happy to work with me through Skype. Great, I thought, I have a wonderful program that hacks the audio from Skype conversations. I had been more than happy to do a phone interview. My method of interview is a bit neanderthalic. I usually use my mobile phone and put it on speaker and use my dictaphone to pick up the conversation. If I was intending on a phone interview international, I would have purchased an international call card to dial in to save myself a massive phone bill. But alas, I didn’t need to worry about that cos I was going to be using Skype.
Or so I thought.
I finished with work on tuesday night and went to Kmart to get some extra batteries for my dictaphone so I could record my interview via two sources in case something went wrong as I had a weird feeling that it would either be canceled or something would go awry. I was too buggered to properly prepare for it, so I went to bed early with the intention of waking up 2 hrs before the interview (6am) to write out all of my questions.
Lucky for me, I managed to get up early enough to receive an email from the management letting me know that the artist didn’t have access to a secure internet connection and if it was okay, could I dial-in after all. Sure, if I had an international calling card.
Which, of course, I didn’t.
I haven’t used a call card like that for about a year or so. But, I got in my car at around 6:30 ish in the morning and went to the supermarket where I used to buy them. In two years, mobile phones have obviously taken over more than I realised. The service check out girl had no idea what I was on about. I explained, a call card, for cheap international calls. She offered me a temporary SIM for a mobile phone. I resisted the urge to brain her. I asked for someone who might know what I mean.
Finally I realised the card I wanted was just in front of me on the counter. I spoke to a manager who was still quite vague and had no idea really how to go about business. She told me that the card wasn’t going to work and it was unavailable. I asked for a higher amount of credit, still unavailable. She couldn’t help me and suggested I try a petrol station.
Two stations weren’t yet open (oh, the joys of living regional). I got to the main petrol station that was actually open. Inside the door, I asked the cashier straight up if they sold international call cards. He said he was new as he was holding his hands up in an ‘I surrender’ way. I breathed in a deep breath and turned and walked out again.
I sat in the car for a good solid ten minutes trying to figure out a way to make it work. Dialling international on my mobile phone was not an option, it is around $2 p/m and I had 1 hr allotted to me for the interview. so I sat around casually freaking out about losing such a huge opportunity for an interview. I surmised that I might need to actually try to reschedule. I drove home, realising it was almost 7:30am and I still hadn’t written any questions nor had I been able to prep (poor planning on my behalf).
I quickly searched online to see if I could find a service that would allow a call card purchase with a pin that would be sent directly to my email. Finally as I was writing out questions, I found something. I had to put in my phone details and wait for a confirmation SMS before I could confirm my purchase.
I am still waiting for that confirmation SMS.
In the meantime as the clock was ticking very quickly toward 8am and I was debating a cancelation email, I realised something. Skype offers credit purchases so users can call internationally at a low cost. Phew. I quickly purchased an unlimited amount of minutes to the U.S. Set up my conversation recording tool plus my dictaphone, spent an extra five minutes writing out my final questions before dialling in.
He dialled in around 3 or 4 minutes later. The audio was so low that I felt immediately disheartened. I apologised and told him I couldn’t really hear. He was sweet, offered to fix something. Ah, much better. He began telling me about his day, he had been working on some stuff for the victims of the Philippines Typhoon and then the audio went low again. I let him talk for a few moments, hoping my dictaphone or audio program was picking it up, but it became so hard that I couldn’t even respond.
I painfully let him know once again that I couldn’t hear a thing.
With great patience, he offered to try a couple of different things and low and behold… the audio magically became loud and clear and my interview properly commenced despite the bumpy start.
So the moral to the story here is that even if it seems unattainable, you should reach for the stars anyway, you may not get MJ himself, but you might get a stressful yet satisfying interview with someone who should probably have way more credit than he actually does presently.
And you get to kind-of wipe off another thing from your bucket list.