Why conversation is the future
This week, the Brighton Journal got talking with Jez Kay, who was fresh from interviewing our editor for The Projects Podcast. Jez believes that conversation is the key to a better future.
“For me the spirit of life, the elixir of life, is conversation. It’s a way of connecting with the world, with individuals, with groups. You can go places, you can do incredible things by having conversations. You can change the world even, by having conversations.”
As well as hosting his own podcast, Jez utilizes the value of conversation in his video interviews for The Chair. He believes that it is essential for these interviews to be ‘raw’ or ‘stripped back’, to allow for a natural conversation and therefore a discovery.
“I became suddenly fascinated with interviews about eight or nine years ago. I’d been interested in a TV show called “Face to Face”, which started a long time ago, it was basically about the rawest interviews you could imagine. It was all set in a dark room, with your obligatory glass of whiskey and loads of smoke, very atmospheric.”
“The point about those interviews, the thing that I really loved about them, was that they had huge personality all over them. I decided to do interviews just like that. It’s a really sparse environment, as pure as you can make it. I like the thought that you can really hone in something that could be compelling, that appeals to a lot of people and revitalizes the idea of people as real people, not just celebrities”
“I interview as if I’m someone out of the audience saying, well I have no idea what you’re saying – educate me. The idea is that I have a little voyage of discovery”
“The subject matter is essential, it’s the people. Who they are. What they’re about and how confident they are in their destiny. How much have they bought into themselves. Every single one of them had a purpose. They had all done something almost spectacularly brilliant.”
“There has previously been an obsession with throwaway, reality TV, but I think now that we are moving through that stage. These days media is more and more about our emotional life, not just what we’re going to do, or what we’ve done. When you look at the outside world, people are looking to focus on the things that really matter. Our own spiritual enlightenment, what’s going on inside us, how our minds work. How much we respect ourselves, its all wrapped up in those sort of conversations”
The importance of conversation that he describes here is also reflected in the rise of podcasts. In the UK, podcasts seem to be becoming more popular than mainstream media, with 6 million adults tuning in on a weekly basis.
As Jez explains, podcasts offer a range of benefits for personal and social formation and allow us to listen to the views of academics, politicians, celebrities, influencers, and researchers in an accessible way.
“Things that would have been academic can spring from conversation, sharing on a platform that’s accessible for everyone.”
The enjoyment of listening to a podcast is very much about our ability to connect with the hosts, the guests and other listeners, and the fact that they are not scripted creates a spontaneous flow that mirrors organic conversation.
“The fact that people are just listening to conversations is entertainment stripped right back. It’s a cultural phenomenon.”
Jez believes that utilising the power of conversation in media, as is already reflected in the rise of podcasts, could take us into a more moral and inclusive future. He explained that the accessibility and truthfulness of conversation allows people to educate themselves and to learn from each other.
Jez has plans to do a ‘Power Couch’ which would involve people who are well known in the area, whose job it would be to come up for a solution for a problem within the community.
“It could be homelessness, traffic, social-cultural issues, creating something of social good. The idea is that the sponsor then gets involved, they can work on this idea and then something can happen.“
“We are curious beings, id like to do something different that exists and has always existed. Not despite, but because of this technology, we can embrace it and make the most of it. “
“I’m into this idea of spreading the love, spreading ideas, getting people to converse. To take action, to do things”
Jez has released an audiobook, called Peter True The Early Years. It is a historical novel as well as a social commentary on gender, about what happens when a little boy goes to an all-girls school in the 1970’s.