Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Posts Tagged ‘country

Exactly Who Are They Talking To?

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When I hear a political speech in English from a foreign politician or diplomat, I always wonder what is the intention of the message?  Who are they really talking to and what do they really want?  I mean, if the President of the United States intentionally speaks directly to the citizens of a foreign country through an interpreter, he is talking to them, not Americans.  When this happens, it’s usually to rally the people by talking around an oppressive regime or somehow repair a damaged American image.

Likewise, when I hear a foreign leader or representative speaking English when English is not one of their official languages, I conclude they are are not talking to their own people, they’re talking to Americans.  And then I wonder why?  There are plenty of examples of press conferences where someone from country X is talking to the world media, but the language they use is that of their own people.  Their own media doesn’t have to interpret.

But when they speak in English, the message is very different.  It’s directed to American politicans who direct America’s money and military and influence.  Or it’s directed at the American people who can be a soft touch for broad themes they’ve mined from our history like liberty or here recently, collective fear.  “This is not just a threat to us”, they like to say as if to say, “Support us if you know what’s good for you.”

Listeners need to listen close to what foreign leaders are saying or warning when they choose to speak in English.  It’s going to be significant to US foreign policy eventually.  At the same time, the dynamics of political speech aren’t that deep.  It’s just human interaction.  The level may be different but content and context aren’t much different.  Think of office cubicles with nuclear weapons and you’ve pretty much summed up the mundaneness of how people try to coerce each other on the geopolitical stage.

Written by Interviewer

January 13, 2015 at 06:35

The Message is the Music is the Message …

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I’m about to upload an interview with country music star Don Williams. The cool thing about that is I post my interviews to my website, And, I also post some of my interviews to Soundcloud. My site is stuffed full of reggae and jazz and folk and rock and country interviews. The cool thing is I can see that hip hop artists are listening to the rock interviews and country lovers are listening to the reggae interviews and rock artists are listening to the electronica.

And when I talk to these women and men in my interviews, they start talking about the music like they’re all one family. Sune Rose Wagner of the Raveonettes is talking about Cool Hurc and the beats. Dwight Yoakam and Squarepusher are talking about the Mercy Beat and the Amen Beat. And Steep Canyon Rangers are giving shout outs to the Beatles. I love this because maybe, musicians like mathematicians, understand the music is a universal language that doesn’t have any room for prejudice and ignorance but has plenty of room under the tent for creativity and borrowing and learning and growing and delivering the same messages of love and cooperation, just with different accents.

I’m sure some hard core punk rockers or acoustic guitar folk musicians or hip hop artists will sneak a listen to Don Williams and listen to how he arranges his chords or plays with his lyrics or how he sets up his instrumentation or try to figure out the gear he’s using to get the sound they’re hearing. I am glad to help bring you all together. And the creativity that comes out it is terrific. Love it. Thank you.