Hello friends! I’m so very excited to bring to you my interview with the hosts of Unpopular Culture, a podcast that opens your mind to the world around you. Michael Drane and Corey Stewart are two very profound people and I cannot thank them enough for agreeing to be interviewed.
I’ll tell you, I’m a HUGE fangirl of both of them. I’ve listened to every show and have the honor of interacting with them on Facebook, as well. In fact, I love their show and their message so much that I became a cult-follower and donate money to the show each month in the hopes that it helps them reach a broader audience. They don’t preach or insist; they present you with information – which may be new to you – then discuss it.
The subject matter varies from show to show, but you always learn something new. I personally think that’s one of the most important things in life, learning.
I planned to make this a two part post, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to combine it and to let you all embrace all that is Unpopular Culture. These two people, along with Justin and Ryan (special co-hosts) have created a space in the podcasting world that is unlike anything I have listened to thus far.
Without any more babble from me…I’m excited to introduce you to Michael Drane and Corey Stewart!!!!
- LJ: Tell us a little about yourself.
Corey Stewart: Hi! I’m Corey and I’m a fangirl of sorts, like you Liz. I develop eccentric obsessions over weird things like grape juice, bottles, crystals, soap-operas like “Harper’s Island” and elimination-style reality TV (like Big Brother & Survivor, but also InkMaster & Cupcake Wars). I podcast because I am a loudmouth who feels passionately about life, and also I have friends with microphones. I went to school for advertising, studied writing and fine art and ended up in marketing because my parents told me to try to find a job that will actually make me money. I am the most curious person I’ve ever met and am happiest while creating, reinventing or analyzing life with other people who have brains. I like to fantasize and recount my dreams to myself and also can do most things on a computer using key commands, rather than the mouse. I’m 25 and currently have teal fingernails and would rather have fame than money before I die. When I get drunk I like to have heated arguments with people about social media. These days I swing wildly between extreme isolation and a completely vulnerable public lifestyle.
LizaJane: Corey! It’s so nice to meet someone who seems to share the obsessive behavior for the odd stuff. I can’t go to an office supply store, alone, at all! The pens with their different points and colors, the paper in so many textures…and don’t get me started on the organizational supplies. I’m smiling just picturing it. Marketing seems like a perfect match for you. You get to create and design for multiple clients and never repeat yourself. (Oh and I’m envious of your key command talent. It’s one I must learn.)
Michael Drane: I was born and raised in a conservative desert. It is from that perspective that I have spent a lot of my time traveling to other cities and cultures, attempting to purge my fascination with what makes humans tick while expanding my own view of things. I love writing music, performing a set at a local dive bar, watching historical documentaries, listening to mindfulness audio books while working out in the park, boxing, wandering the city looking for undiscovered stories, spending time with close friends, conducting research & social experiments on unwitting members of the public, and traveling to new regions of the country. I’ve been described as a complicated person, someone who can be very personable but hard to get to know, someone who loves the energy of being around a ton of people, but also shies away from them. My mind always seems to be racing, perpetually searching for new projects. I am easily my own worst critic, always pushing myself beyond what I think I’m capable of. I’ve discovered this is a much a gift as it is a curse.
LizaJane: I was also raised in the desert, though not as conservative, politically, as yours. My hometown is so transient that it’s hard to know from one year to the next what people are thinking. I think your complex nature is what makes you so fascinating. You seem to embrace the concept of really being open to life and people without letting it over-write you as a person.
- LJ: What inspired Unpopular Culture?
CS: I met a really progressive, curious and bright friend last year in a not-so-progressive time and place. Phoenix, Arizona was struggling to stay afloat in a political crisis as a red state conquered by ignorance and (what I think was a purposeful)ly crooked and therefore oppressive voting system. I don’t know if Michael would say the same, but I know I felt as though the world was silent and passive and I couldn’t be one of them! I was drowning in the conservatism down there, I really was. Our show is not political, but we are still people with strong opinions and our curious questioning and open-minded #NotaBystander mentality gave us wings with this podcast. A place to start discussion that we couldn’t find anywhere around us. We suddenly started making friends across the globe that showed us that we weren’t alone.
LJ: As a neighboring state, we hear a lot of what happens in Arizona, and it never fails to make me sad. In a place as culturally diverse as my own state, I feel we are at an advantage to strike down the stereotypes and to help others feel less fearful about people who are different from them. In reality we’re all very much the same; we want our families to be safe and content. I think people have forgotten that politics shouldn’t be personal. It should be about the common good.
MD: I had always wanted to do a podcast. I loved the idea of having a creative outlet for writing music, production, performance, psychological curiosity, and everything else that goes into Unpopular Culture. But as my involvement in the project deepened, I quickly realized the true potential behind the show. We live be in a time of “Alternate-Facts”, Bias media, Political polarization. Technology has made it so that we have never been more connected to each other. And yet, that connectivity has come at the cost of our empathy & communication with each other. As a professional, creator, and human being, I have a responsibility to do whatever I can to shine light on who we are, and try to find answers.
LJ: You make a great point; technology has brought the world together, but also torn us apart. It’s easy to say hurtful and degrading things to a screen. People no longer stop and think about whether or not they would talk to someone like this in person. It’s all about being right. We should all share the same responsibility and help humanity learn to shine.
- LJ: Where do you get your show ideas?
CS: Maybe it’s just me, but I actually like to use the internet to both learn AND project. I think that’s what makes the UPC community unique. There is a growing divide between people that use the internet passively and people that use it actively. It’s easy to scroll through a news feed and consume, consume, consume. But what I do, what Michael does, and what the Stalkers do, is we THEN go look into it. We do research on it. We ask questions about it. We share it with people. It’s this mentality that is the foundation for all of our topic ideas and actual content. It fosters new ideas, just talking to other people about these issues and events and stories. De-briefing together and learning from each other—this always sparks new conversations.
LJ: I have no words, I’m simply nodding along with everything you’ve said. My mom was and is a huge advocate of critical thinking. Look beyond the words on the page, screen, etc. Find the real story, learn what’s really going on!
MD: Many of the early season 1 episodes were inspired by strange case studies that I had learned throughout my time in college. David Reimer, for example, was a story I had originally learned about in a Human Sexuality class at ASU. On the other hand, Patty Get your Gun was inspired by a documentary on the 1970’s that I had watched some listless, sleepless night. I became fascinated by the idea of the power of mind control & what it actually takes to breakdown someone at a fundamental level. Since the show has become more popular, we’ve been lucky to have some great listener inspired topics to help fuel us. Aside from this, the topics basically come from hours of walking through the city, watching society move all around me, and drawing inspiration from that.
LJ: Walking seems to really be a mode of creativity for you. It reminds me of my husband. He is his most creative when he is in motion. I like that you garner ideas from fans; as a fan, myself, I appreciate your willingness to include us in your process.
- LJ: Any plans or goals moving forward?
CS: LOL Girl, too many to count. Like always, some of them will happen, some of them won’t. But only because there aren’t enough hours in the day. Since being with UPC, ideas have flowed like a giant snowball rolling down a hill. Somedays I feel like I can’t keep up, but that’s the fun of it too. Specifically, we are going to do more “The Psychology of __________” movies, television and books. We’ve just gotten into this with the new “Psychology of Black Mirror” feed. And we also just finished “The Psychology of American Beauty (1999)” And I absolutely loved those ones, and we have so much fun with them. We’re going to do one on the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind too 😉 Also, we’re researching the Seven Deadly Sins right now
LJ: The SINS! YES! I’m not at all religious by nature but I am fascinated by religion as a whole. I love learning how religions began, why they believe what they do, and how willing they are to embrace others. I can’t wait to hear the show when it comes out!
MD: For Unpopular Culture, we have been focusing on giving back to our Stalkers (aka Patrons). I’m working on a few different Stalker-Only projects, many based in questions written into the show. I absolutely cannot wait to get them out! I’m also settling into my beautiful new home in Seattle, building a private practice, and starting a doctorate program.
LJ: WOW! You’ve got a lot going on! Thank you for finding time to continue to podcast…I’m learning how much time it can take to research, record and edit.
You are both so inspiring, and you give so much of your time. The more I learn about you both, the more impressed I become.
- LJ: Any advice for those looking to get into podcasting?
CS: Sure. If you’re thinking about getting into podcasting, have a reason. I find it so confusing that so many podcast descriptions say: “Welcome to the Two Dudes Podcast! Where two dudes talk about everything! From sports to news to culture to society to our kids to hiking and boats and traveling to washing dishes to doing taxes…” Like come on. Your inside jokes and banter with your bro are likely not relatable off the bat to a listening stranger. Unless you’re a comedian or a celebrity, don’t do that. Find out what makes you different than everyone else and highlight that! Remember that you have less than two minutes to catch people’s attention (and that’s a pretty generous person).
MD: Podcasting is super hard and you need to really love it. You will get out of it what you put into it. If you truly want something great, be prepared for countless hours of trial & error, curve balls, and sleepless nights. Follow your instincts and take time to think about what you want to say.
LJ: Well stated you guys! I’ve also noticed that the podcasting community is so strong that finding one topic and putting yourself out there is guaranteed to please at least one person.
- LJ: What is your favorite song?
CS: This is going to sound crazy but Michael wrote the music in the background of the Patty Hearst and Fatal Insomnia episodes. It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard, so, I play those episodes like songs over and over. But, I have a favorite Spotify playlist called “Chill Vibes”— right now I’m keeping “Outside” by Tender on repeat 🙂
MD: I have a secret Spotify playlist called “Mikey Primo”, a playlist I’ve been building for years. This playlist is currently home to an…let’s just say eclectic and diverse list of songs. (My friends love to playfully jab me for the bizarre songs you will find on there. Last 3 added were: 1: “Words” by Mike Doughty, 2: “New York I Love You” by LCD Sound System, 3: “Gold” by Kiiara (a song I got from Corey Stewart)
LJ: I asked this strictly because I need new music! This last new band I was introduced to was 21 Pilots (Thanks Jill!) I was watching Corey do some live streaming; she was creating some beautiful letters, and the music in the background was so my style. Then she mentioned that you, Michael, produce your own music. Ever think of producing an album? Hint, hint J
- LJ: What is your favorite book?
CS: Lolita. I have a copy that’s covered (and I mean covered) in post-it notes and underlines. It’s poetic and sharp and complex and sexy. I know it’s fucked up but it’s beautifully written and the first book I’d read that made the protagonist a villain. “The Shining” was the first real novel I remember reading, I didn’t love the movie but feel nostalgic for the concept. I also love “The Eternal Ones”- a love story about this girl who’s destined to be with a soulmate over the course of several different lives. She ends each life locked in his library because he’s a villian of sorts. But because of the world they live in, she’s trapped, and to me that’s hot. Also I love Bentley Little, a horror-fiction writer with super odd plots. “The Academy” is my favorite of his.
LJ: WOW, WOW, WOW! You blow me away! Corey, we seriously need to be book best friends! I’ll read whatever you write and shout about it from the rooftops. I’ve seen the movie for Lolita when I was much younger and never realized there was a book, I should have known! The Eternal Ones is now on my TBR list.
MD: I actually prefer audio books. I find audio is a much more effective way (for me) to absorb information. It also has the added benefit of being hands-free & eyes-free, allowing me to do things like drive and exercise. My most 3 recent books are: “iMinds” by Mary K. Swingle, “Food Junkies” by Dr. Vera Tarman, and “Dangerous Personalities: And FBI Profiler Shows you how to Identity and protect yourself from Harmful People” by Joe Navarro. I can be very finicky with books. It’s hard to find one that will catch & sustain my attention. But when I DO find that book, I obsess until I finish it. I spend most of my time reading research material for Unpopular Culture.
LJ: I will be listening to Vera Tarman once I finish a series I’m reading. I was having a dry spell when it came to reading recently and this book series brought me my joy of reading again, so I need to finish them before moving on.
- LJ: Tell us your guilty pleasure.
CS: ^^^Writing/ coming up with my own sexy stories. Tbh I used to write for a role-playing website called Elliquy. I don’t have the time anymore, but I do have a pretty girthy *ahem* word doc of wild stories and abstract scenarios that could never happen (at least in my lifetime because… technology). Day-dreaming and fantasizing are too much fun to pass up, so I’ll just say that much. Lol.
LJ: You are now my girl crush. I’m in love, that’s it. ❤
MD: I am a ravenous news & history junkie. My inner social scientist is unable to resist the perpetual insight into humanities crazy & beautiful nature. I’m constantly consuming current & historical events..until I begin to feel like my head will explode and I need to step away and have a Diet Coke. I’m also currently obsessed with a new drink called a “London Fog” & drink maybe 3 a day. And pizza. Also I love pizza.
LJ: Looking up London Fog…did you know there’s a tea and also a cocktail? I’d be willing to try both, though not together…HA! The more I learn, the more I’d love to pick your brain Michael, your presence is vast.
- LJ: What is something you want your fans to know about you?
CS: I’m a typical Millenial in that I need to be a part of the big-picture conversation and have aspirations to change the world in one way or another, but also identify with a more Gen-X mentality and work-ethic. My personality is quite addictive, but mostly I’m just addicted to working and learning. I feel like you should never reach a point where you think you know everything. When you’ve gotten there, re-evaluate, because there’s always more to learn and it’s not good to assume.
LJ: You can’t see me, Corey, but I’m jumping up and down..clapping my hands! I also have an addictive personality. It sometimes works for me and other times against me but I always learn.
MD: I’m sorry I don’t respond to all of you emails! I read them all and they are a source of encouragement and creative inspiration for me. Even if I don’t always respond, I DO read them all & appreciate them beyond what words can express. PLEASE keep them coming!
LJ: Did you hear that stalkers?! Keep sending Michael your thoughts and words…he reads them all!
- LJ: What is your favorite quote? Why?
CS: In the age of consumption, especially with the quote and meme buffet that is social media, it’s hard to pick one. On my foot, I have tattooed a quote from my third-favorite movie of all-time: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It says “Meet me in Montauk” that fills me with much needed comfort and a “let it go” mentality— that even though I think I’m smart enough to figure life out, maybe part of it is truly out of my control.
LJ: I need to watch this movie. I remember it coming out but just never got around to seeing it. I very much enjoy your world view.
MD: I am a sucker for quotes and have somewhat of an amateur collection in a journal. My current favorite is:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt had his mother and wife die on the same day and then went on to be president of the United States, so this is a guy who knows how to persevere. This quote reminds me to take the chances life throws, rather than let fear paralyze me as those chances pass by.
LJ: I recently watched a documentary on Roosevelt and found a new respect for him. I had never known all the challenges that he faced. It was interesting to learn how he chose to embrace the good and bad because that is life. Great quote.
Thank you so very much for letting us into your world, Michael and Corey! I was a fan before and now I just want to be your friend! You’re both exceptional people, and I look forward to watching you grow with Unpopular Culture and beyond!
All of the graphics are the sole property of Corey Stewart. If you’re interested in seeing more of her work or having her work for you please visit her Corey Stewart Design on Facebook.
To hear some of Michael’s music visit his Facebook page Mike Drane, oh and of course subscribe to Unpopular Culture!