The Canadian musician Leslie Feist is among the headliners at this weekend’s Sounds From A Safe Harbour festival in Cork, just as the first series of her podcast, Pleasure Studies, has finished its eight-episode run.
It’s a sort of response to her last album, Pleasure, as she explores love, loss, and everything in between, with each episode named after a song on the record.
As she explains at the start of each relatively short (the longest is 26 minutes) episode, it’s “a storytelling project about our interior lives. Each episode holds up multiple stories to one light, and we get a glimpse at the common ground that’s under our common struggles.”
Feist conducts the interviews and acts as producer, but she’s absent throughout as her guests and their stories take centre stage. The first episode is perhaps the best, a shock to the system as a hurdler’s Olympic dream converges with a physicist’s utopian ideas and a mother’s experience of her baby’s death after three days. “That moment for me will always be the one that got away,” cries the athlete. “But that’s OK.”
‘I’m Not Running Away: Giving Pain A Job’ features three similarly disparate tales that make sense when told together, including that of Irish thespian Lisa Dwan, who struggled to overcome panic attacks and drinking to begin to command the stage. Abuse, self-identity, monogamy, and the wind are among the other themes featured across the series, while in another episode, Feist asks what it means to be young.
Featuring a 70-year-old champion BMX rider and a grindcore-singing grandmother, it suggests there should be an alternative to the numerical ageing process, that as long as you wake up with a purpose, with a passion, it will keep you young at heart.
Feist runs the gamut of emotions on Pleasure Studies, which all plays out over subtle backing music. It’s uplifting and offers a new look on life, for the storyteller as well as the listener.
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