"Is It Live Or Is It Memorex?"

Not familiar with this line?  It comes from an old commercial for Memorex cassette tape.  A musical note is heard that shatters a glass and the viewer is asked whether it was a live singer or a voice recorded on their product.  The ad was so effective, it became a campaign with many versions. Several are still available for viewing on You Tube if you want to check them out. 

This commercial came to mind as I was driving home from an interview yesterday.  A little over a year ago I had an urgent request from Raine Magazine for a last minute article.  From the list of possibilities they selected Gina Hole, owner of THEY Representation and Sugar Studios.  I was only given five days to pull it together and was distressed learn she was on holiday.  Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we were able to connect via her cell phone.  You should have seen me trying to scribble facts and quotes in a notebook while using my shoulder to hold the phone to my ear with a cassette recorder perched at the mouthpiece.  Thank goodness I took notes as the tape was a mess. I am now scheduled to write an article on her for an upcoming issue of Vancouver Fashion eZine and this time had the privilege of interviewing her in face-to-face.  Feeling that energy, focus and passion in person adds depth to the experience.  That's not to say it didn't come across in the phone interview, but it's more physical when a person is sitting across from you. As I'm not struggling to take notes, it's easier to be drawn in, let my mind really absorb what is being shared and have questions bubble up to the surface that wouldn't have come to mind in a less personal setting.

It is probably becoming clear now that, although I do love writing, it isn't my number one passion.  What turns my clock the most is interviewing people - especially artists - and the most fulfilling way for me to do this is face-to-face.  Until last year, I had never agreed to an interview unless the individual could make time to sit down with me.  Once I have that first interview in person, I am more than willing to do phone/email updates for future articles if I have to, but live is always my preference.  Sometimes this requires serious pressure on my side and once or twice I almost lost an interview.

An example would be Rafael and Lisa Marie Mazzucco.  They were in town for a Lancome launch during the Olympics.  I had the pleasure of meeting them at an event, gave them a copy of the first Vancouver Fashion eZine print collectible and let them know I would love to interview them the next time they were  in town.  They loved the magazine and were all for interviewing right away, but Lancome had a serious schedule for them to follow.  I kept saying no until it was the right set-up for all of us.  What followed was nothing less than incredible.  You couldn't find two more warm, wonderful and open people - both talented artists in their own right.  I am glad I held out for the kind of interview that would let me write the article they deserved (http://vancouverfashionezine.com/magazineissue28/fashionhistory.html).  It was hands down one of my top ten interviews. The side benefit - Lancome was also very happy with the final result.  There is a synergy when you sit with artists face-to-face that does not happen through email or phone, and if you can find an intimate setting without a lot of bustle and background noise, that connection will be even stronger.  If the interview's not great interview, it's very hard to write a great article.

In our incredibly busy and global connected times, it is important to adapt and interviewing is no exception.  This year I have completed two long distance interviews via Skype.  It's a bit more stilted as you can't insert a question without interrupting the audio feed; but you do interact with the artist live and have more ability to approach the unexpected.  There were also three phone interviews with my tape recorder pressed ineffectively at the mouth piece. As phone and Skype interviews will probably continue to increase, I am looking into a recording device to attach to my phone that will leave me free to listen without having to scribble notes.  I also hope to find a digital recorder that will hook up to my computer, giving me a clearer recording of the interview than my cassette player perched atop the speaker.  Email interviews - what can I say?  As it was the only option a couple of times, I did conduct two. I was fortunate in those instances that those being interviewed were very comfortable writing out their thoughts.  This is the least effective way to interview. I avoid it at all costs, but am sure it will continue to be a necessary evil at times.

Although this article is about interviewing, it's also a comment on life in general.  So many today seem to keep in touch with friends mostly through text, twitter and Facebook.  Those social medias have really assisted me personally in making new business contacts, meeting new friends and keeping up with others whose schedule is busy as mine.  But, and this is a big BUT, it's no substitute for sitting down a couple times a year over lunch, coffee or a glass of wine and really being present with each other.  So make a date this week to see someone you haven't connected with in a while and enjoy.