Ben Meet On SoundCloud Premier Partner Star Talk Radio’s Jeff Simons

On SoundCloud premier partner Star Talk Radio is a podcast and radio show hosted by the brilliant Neil deGrasse Tyson, the American astrophysicist, cosmologist and author. Star Talk is a radio show where science meets comedy and pop. Neil and his guests talk astronomy, physics and anything else related to the universe! Today we have an interview with their Social Media Director, who runs the SoundCloud account – Jeff Simons.

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Introduce yourself to the SoundCloud community.

I’m the Social Media Director for StarTalk Radio, a podcast, radio show and, starting on April 20, 2015 a weekly late night talk show hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s the best job in the world – and that’s coming from someone who worked at Marvel Entertainment back in the days when that was saying something! One reason working with StarTalk is so great is because our community – wherever it lives, on SoundCloud, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – is really interested in science. They are not only intelligent, respectful of our brand and each other, but they also let us know what they like and don’t like. It’s a social media director’s dream. Plus I get to work with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and our great guests and comic co-hosts like Eugene Mirman, Chuck Nice and Leighann Lord.

How do you use SoundCloud?

We use SoundCloud as our main podcast hosting platform. We have SoundCloud players on all of our episode pages, plus the home page of our website, www.startalkradio.net. When we post our new episodes or our shorter, appetite-whetting teasers, we use the native SoundCloud link to let mobile users enjoy the benefit of listening to us while still cruising around SoundCloud. SoundCloud is our RSS feed, so everything we post on all of our partners like iTunes and our website starts with SoundCloud. We’re really just starting to increase our engagement with other SoundCloud users and properties, partially because we’re a small organization with manpower challenges. But our volunteers Sam and Rob who work with our SoundCloud account have made more sharing and more engaging a priority, so expect to see more of that in the future. We use playlists, of course, and intend to add more moving forward. We use our stats to improve content offerings and monitor our channel performance… and can’t wait for the statistics functionality to continue to improve. Finally, SoundCloud musicians frequently offer their music to us to be used on the show, and we are working towards opening this opportunity up to more of the SoundCloud creative community.

Describe your creative process. What is your set up like?

When I joined the StarTalk team a few years ago, we weren’t really engaging with our community. Neil was a great tweeter, of course, but the show itself wasn’t communicating with our fans. So we took a cue from Neil, who, if you’ve ever seen some of the videos on YouTube or seen him in person, treats everyone he meets with respect and consideration. So we do the same with our community. And we’ve been repaid by the community with respect and consideration in return. Another lesson of Neil’s we’ve tried to stick to is to make sure that what we’re putting out on social media delivers real value to our fans and isn’t merely self-serving. We may not succeed at that 100% of the time, but it is our #1 goal.

What does it feel like to become a Premier Partner? Where do you want to take your career next?

We’ve been a SoundCloud partner for a while now. It’s been a great experience being able to provide feedback that matters to a great group of people who are building something valuable and unique. Like any technology project, there are going to be glitches and growing pains. But our contacts at SoundCloud listen, and they care, and that is the core of any meaningful and successful partnership. We look forward to being an important part of SoundCloud’s promising future.

Who or what is inspiring you creatively? Are there people that you’d like to collaborate or work with?

The universe, and everything in it, is our inspiration. These are exciting times for science, from the exploration of space to the discovery of the Higgs boson. They are challenging times too, with plenty of resistance by science deniers towards everything from climate change to evolution to the value of vaccines. So there’s never a lack of material to be explored. Our unique formula of blending science with comedy and celebrities has allowed us to have guests from outside the world of science, like Joe Rogan, Jon Stewart, Seth MacFarlane, Bill Maher and Nichelle Nichols. But we’ve also gotten to interview science and technology leaders like Dr. Carolyn Porco, Elon Musk, Richard Dawkins, Peter Diamandis and more. Are there people we haven’t worked with yet that we’d like to? How much time do you have for me to list them?

Feel free to talk about anything else (seriously, we’re all ears)

We can’t wait until SoundCloud takes podcasts out of the corner, lifts them proudly over their head, and… oh, wait, am I confusing this with Dirty Dancing? Seriously, though, SoundCloud originally came to us because they were interested in bringing more science and more podcasts into the spotlight – and they’ve helped us grow into a leading podcast. Whatever we can do to help grow the category, and bring more and more people into the growing conversation about science and science literacy, the better the future will be for all of us.

Take a listen to their latest episodes here:

For more information on our creator partner program On SoundCloud, head over to on.soundcloud.com. To read more interviews from On SoundCloud Premier Partners, click here.

Ben Meet On SoundCloud Premier Partner Jonathan Fatigate from Stand Up NY Labs

Jon Fatigate is one of the founders of Stand Up NY labs, a comedy post network out of New York which includes the likes of podcasts such as Tuesdays With Stories, The TFM Podcast and Rantin’ and Ravin’ to name a few.

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I created a startup called Stand Up NY Labs two and a half years ago. We’re a media company with a studio above Stand UP NY Comedy Club. The idea is that comedians can come to us with their ideas and we can produce them. Its a great way to circumvent the traditional industry. The first thing that hit was our podcast network and SoundCloud played a big part in that.

How do you use SoundCloud?

We use SoundCloud to host each of our more than 10 podcasts. We’ve found that the SoundCloud player is the best one available. Sharing and organic discoverability are also huge assets with hosting here. One of the real benefits that we’ve found is that we can help our fans discover more of our content with the reposting button and communicating through the comments page.

Describe your creative process. What is your set up like?

We’re lucky enough to have a great studio. We had an old black box theater above the comedy club that I converted into a recording studio. We are big fans of the Shure SM7B and love Adobe Creative Suite to take us from there. Not to get geeky, but I would recommend the Saffire Pro 40 to get you from mics into the computer if multi tracking is important to you. But we’ve done live shows from bars or the home of a celebrity. In those cases we just pack the stuff up or even grab a Zoom H4N and run a couple of SM58s into it (I guess this got geeky).

Describe how you reached certain goals or steps in your career.

I’ve found that being decisive and learning how to sell your vision is the best way to move forward. When I was starting, I had to convince my partner to believe in me and now I have a team of people who need to believe in my vision too. It all really comes down to doing your research, thinking things through clearly, making a decision and seeing it through. Failures are only set backs.

What does it feel like to become a Premier Partner? Where do you want to take your career next?

Its been great being a Premium Partner. I did a lot of research when I was looking for a home for our content. SoundCloud didn’t just offer the best interface and service with tons of users, they also wanted us to be a part of their growth. That felt pretty special.

Who or what is inspiring you creatively? Are there people that you’d like to collaborate or work with?

Being on top of a comedy club makes being creative pretty easy. I get to be around some awesome and hilarious people everyday. They kind of just stop into the office with ideas. Sometimes we’ll workshop it and sometimes we’ll just jump into the studio and try it out. I just love comedy, so being around stand ups is inspiring in itself.

Feel free to talk about anything else (seriously, we’re all ears).

We’re really excited to be with SoundCloud for the long haul. I think its a great way for content creators to share their art with the world.

Take a listen to the latest episodes of Tuesdays With Stories to get you started.

For more information on our creator partner program On SoundCloud, head over to on.soundcloud.com. To read more interviews from On SoundCloud Premier Partners, click here.

Jane Meet On SoundCloud Premier Partner Hefna Gwap

On SoundCloud Premier Partner Hefna Gwap is a rapper originally from East Palo Alto in the Bay Area. He’s a multi-talented rapper who dabbled in film and co-founded a creative collective called Elegant Caviar while in NYC, where he met his main producer, Lord Plawz. This up-and-coming rapper is now based in Atlanta, pushing his music and the Elegant Caviar sound which he describes as “avant-garde hip-hop.”

He is launching a new content series called WestBlockWednesdays on SoundCloudEvery Wednesday at 12:53pm, Hefna Gwap will post a new track to SoundCloud. A special smokers edition song for 4/20 will kick off the WestBlockWednesdays series, starting next week on April 22.

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Please introduce yourself to the SoundCloud community.

I’m Christopher Sigur Jr. PKA Hefna Gwap. I was born and raised in East Palo Alto, California in the Silicon Valley and I was interested in expressing my story through music at an early age. When my grandmother saw my passion growing, she bought me a karaoke machine and I used to record my earliest raps on Cash Money tape cassettes. Fast forward, my dad Big Chris bought me my first Pro-Tools (telling me he needed to recoup this expense of course haha). While I was teaching myself how to record my own music, I also started a record label with some high school classmates that was meant to keep teenagers off the streets after school and we won a $2,500 grant from BUILD Youth Entrepreneurship program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

But I realized in order to really share my voice with the world, I would need to present who I am visually too. I attended film school in Berkeley and shot a video with my classmates for a song called “Bobo” back in 2012 that I put up on YoutTbe and this video made it to the eyes of producer Lord Plawz–all the way over on the East Coast in Brooklyn, NYC. After Lord Plawz saw my video we began talking of a collaborative relationship that blossomed into me making the move to NYC and founding a creative collective with Plawz called Elegant Caviar. We built up our name in NYC and through our journey ended up working in Atlanta, Georgia. Elegant Caviar is 2053 music. It’s avant-garde hip-hop that owes much to many regions and cultures. We were inspired by groups that created a cult of personality around them like Wu-Tang Clan, Outkast, and No Limit among others. Elegant Caviar is all about tying a look to the music, and I take how our videos, design and merchandise are communicated very seriously. 

How do you use SoundCloud?

I think SoundCloud is a wonderful tool for building community and dialogue among my fans and potential fans. When I release music on SoundCloud, it’s amazing to see what songs get the best crowd response (i.e. comments and reposts) and of course the analytics tools are invaluable. Having instant access to graphics that show which songs are being played the most and where these streams are coming from is a dream come true.

Describe your creative process. What is your set up like?

My current set up is in the Purple Cabinet at Twelve Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a far cry from the humble beginnings in the kitchens and closets of California and New York. Of course the microphone and the Pro-Tools and my ever present iPad are what I’m on the most. I love working out of here. The vibe is very familial and there’s no telling who might walk through the door any given night of the week. Working at Twelve has already given rise to a lot of awesome collaborations and opportunities.

How have you reached certain goals or steps in your career?

When I moved to NYC, Lord Plawz was an intern at Jonny Shipes’ The Smokers Club. Plawz brought me to The Smokers Club office and I began interning for Creative Control which was a video production company working at the building. I was using my video editing skills I had learned in film school, while Lord Plawz was helping with Shipes’ operations for the record label. When Shipes’ heard our music, I began getting placements on Smokers Club’s SoundCloud and on Smokers Club music releases. We toured with The Smokers Club in 2013 and also attended the 2013 A3C in Atlanta.

At 2014’s SXSW in Austin, I got to perform on SoundCloud’s showcase and that was real honor, when I truly knew SoundCloud cared for their artists. We tirelessly recorded and filmed our own videos from 2012 on and through hard work and dedication, Elegant Caviar received the attention of many top music publications, blogs, clothing brands, and of course talented fellow musicians from NYC to ATL and to many other states and abroad.

When it comes to approaching editorial outlets and music professionals, my answer is simple and I promise you’ve heard it before because it’s the truth: stay humble! Also, I think it’s important to of course to make quality music, but also get those visuals going. And definitely get outside and show your face there’s no telling who you might bump into out there in the world.

What does it feel like to become a Premier Partner? Where do you want to take your career next?

I’m excited and I can’t wait to see the opportunities working with SoundCloud holds for me in the future. It’s a privilege to be included in the Premier Partner program and I hope to be included in SoundCloud’s plans for 2015 and beyond, especially performing on all SoundCloud stages/events!

Who or what is inspiring you creatively? Are there people that you’d like to collaborate or work with?

To be honest I’m inspired a lot by Jim Rohn audiobooks. Any time I listen to Jim Rohn and I think about where I wanted to go, where I have been, and most of all where I’m from, I get inspired to make new music. As far as dream collaborations, I would definitely say Kanye West, The Isley Brothers, George Clinton, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube. But you know for me, music and film go hand in hand so I’d have to say Terrence Howard too. I’d love to work with Snoop and Ice Cube on a movie as well. That would be dope.

Anything else?

I just want to thank the Lord first. My family, my children, my fans of course. And my management! I do this for all of you.

Hear Hefna Gwap’s new track “Pill Machine” which released today.

For more information on our creator partner program On SoundCloud, head over to on.soundcloud.com. To read more interviews from On SoundCloud Premier Partners, click here.