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Just the Beginning on Smash Notes

Just the Beginning podcast.

January 06, 2020

This is Just the Beginning, a new podcast from Kickstarter featuring stories about how independent creators bring their ideas to life.

Meet an engineer turning air pollution into ink, a married couple who invented a device that lets you sing like a robot, an artist touring the US in a mobile tattoo shop for women, and other creative people of all kinds. You’ll hear what inspires them, scares them, and keeps them going—and how they’ve remained true to their visions, even if mainstream culture didn't buy in.

Episodes with Smash Notes

If there’s anything you know about journalists, it’s probably that they’re supposed to be objective: relating just the facts, with no personal bias. But is that really possible—or a good thing to strive for—in the “post-truth” world we’re currently living in?

For this bonus episode of Just the Beginning, we’re sharing the first episode of The View from Somewhere, a podcast about journalism with a purpose, produced by Lewis Raven Wallace and Ramona Martinez. In it, Lewis shares the story of losing his job after raising questions about the value of journalistic objectivity.

If you like what you hear, head to to listen to more episodes of_The View from Somewhere ._

And help them make more episodes by backing their Kickstarter campaign, which is live until February 6th.

Featuring music by:
ensemble, et al.
Podington Bear

If you had to make a playlist that represented life on Earth, what would you include?

That’s challenge a team of artists, scientists and musicologists led by astronomer Carl Sagan set for themselves in 1977. They compiled a gold-plated record of greetings, sounds, and music representing life on this planet, and sent it into space on NASA’s Voyager probes. The intended audience was extraterrestrials who might discover these spacecraft and wonder who sent them. That’s right, it was a mix tape for aliens.

This bonus episode of Just the Beginning features a story from our friends at the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz, breaking down the Voyager Golden Record track by track. You’ll hear music from around the work as well as interviews with Tim Ferris and Linda Salzman Sagan, two of the folks who produced the record.

This story was produced by Leigh McDonald and Dallas Taylor with help from Sam Schneble and was sound designed and mixed by Nick Spradlin.

Twenty Thousand Hertz is produced out of the studios of Defacto Sound, and hosted by Dallas Taylor.

Music in this  story:
David A Molina
Dario Lupo
Chad Lawson

Additional music in this episode:
Frank LoCrasto


Why are wild animals the key to making fighter jets more exciting on-screen? Who bailed out Stanley Kubrick when his epic battle sequence sounded like pots and pans? And what did Jacques Cousteau have in common with Darth Vader?

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound, a groundbreaking new documentary, covers all this and more as it introduces us to the often unsung heroes of Hollywood sound design.

Liz Cook Mowe, Kickstarter’s Director of Documentary Film, presents this preview of Making Waves along with filmmakers Midge Costin, Bobette Buster, and Karen Johnson. They explain how sound is as powerful a cinematic storytelling tool as images and share some of their favorite stories about creative uses of sound in film—from King Kong to Barbra Streisand.

Learn more about Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound  and find a screening near you.

In this episode, we explore creative projects that attempt to reconstruct the past—at least a version of it. Plus, we take a look back at some personal moments from the first 10 years of Kickstarter, as told by creators and backers.

Say Something Bunny

Interdisciplinary artist Alison S.M. Kobayashi came across a seemingly mundane audio recording of a family gathering in 1950s Long Island. It was garbled, filled with obscure references, and she set out to unlock its mysteries. Her unique one-woman show, based on six years of research on this recording, has garnered rave reviews and played to sold-out audiences since 2017.

Roger Peltzman

Norbert Stern’s career as one of the most promising concert pianists in 1930s Europe was cut short when he and his family were captured by the Nazis, along with other Jews, and sent to Auschwitz, where they ultimately perished. His nephew Roger Peltzman, an acclaimed pianist himself, decided to travel to Brussels to record a program of the Chopin pieces that were Norbert’s speciality in the concert hall where he regularly performed.

10 Years of Kickstarter

To help us celebrate our 10th birthday, we asked some other creators who have brought ideas to life with Kickstarter to share some memories—snapshots from different points in their Journeys. Here’s who we heard from:

Gifts From the Grave

Peter Hicks tells the story of what happened when he introduced Kickstarter to his father, Ray Hicks.

Goodbye, Zakiya—we love you!

Sadly, this is the last episode of Just the Beginning featuring producer and cohost Zakiya Gibbons. She’s off to work with WNYC’s wonderful podcast Nancy. She'll also continue her work building a directory of people of color working in the audio industry(site coming soon!).

Find a full transcript with photos here.

Oriana Leckert, Kickstarter’s Journalism Outreach Lead, joins us to explore creative new approaches to reporting the news.


Founded by industry veterans who have previously helped run The Wall Street Journal and the BBC, Tortoise aims to create a new kind of newsroom—one that takes a slower, deeper approach to covering stories. With an eye toward staying financially independent, they’ve pursued a participatory, membership-based model. And they invite members to directly contribute to their coverage through in-person events called ThinkIns.

Cabina en Malos Pasos

Alejandra Sánchez Inzunza and José Luis Pardo Veiras have been reporting on corruption and violence throughout Latin America since 2012, working with traditional news outlets like The New York Times and Univision. With Cabina en Malos Pasos, an interactive video booth that features firsthand accounts of survivors, activists, and perpetrators, they aim to inspire empathy and make the often amorphous issue of violence in Latin America feel more personal.

Music in this episode

Find a full transcript with photos here.

Join us to listen to some podcasts made by Kickstarter creators.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: Frida Kahlo read by Pamela Adlon

The bestselling Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls books tell stories of extraordinary women from the past and present in the form of lushly illustrated fairy tales. For their podcast, they invite notable contemporary women to read these stories. We’ll hear an excerpt from an episode featuring actress and comedian Pamela Adlon telling the story of painter Frida Kahlo.

Radio Diaries: The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs for his book Working. Working with Project& and the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, the Radio Diaries team took those source tapes and turned them into radio pieces, allowing us to hear the voices of many of Terkel’s interview subjects for the first time. We’ll hear stories from a private investigator, a police officer, and an advertising executive.

Racist Sandwich: Erasing Black Barbeque

Racist Sandwich explores food through the lenses of race, gender, and class. We’ll hear an excerpt from their James Beard Award-nominated episode Erasing Black Barbeque. Producer Stephanie Kuo takes listeners to Texas to explore barbeque’s Black roots — and how food journalists have largely ignored them.

Music in this episode

Find a full transcript with photos here.

Science Fiction Gets Real

Meet creators making work that explores the gap between science fiction and reality.

  • Inspired by science-fiction movies from the ʼ80s and ʼ90s, Shawn Frayne, the founder of Looking Glass Factory, dreams of making a holograms a part of everyday life.

  • In his comic BLACK, set in a world where only Black people have superpowers, Kwanza Osajyefo uses science fiction to highlight some important truths about race in America. His follow up, WHITE is currently live on Kickstarter.

Music in this episode

Find a full transcript with photos here.

Road Tripping

Join us for an audio road trip to two places that were created with the help of Kickstarter backers.

  • Tattoo artist Shanzey Afzal realized that the sexism she faced working in traditional tattoo parlors also affected women getting tattoos. So she turned a vintage travel trailer into a mobile tattoo shop for women called Ink Minx and hit the road.

  • Vince Kadlubek is CEO and cofounder of the Santa Fe artist collective Meow Wolf. With their wildly popular—and just plain wild—immersive installation, the House of Eternal Return, they’re creating new ways for artists to get paid, and shaking things up in the world of theme parks.

  • In our first Why Is This Cool? segment, Kickstarter product manager and tabletop games fan Karlee Esmailli tries to convince producer Michael Garofalo (whose games knowledge stops at Scrabble) that he’d enjoy Throw Throw Burrito, the new game from the team behind Exploding Kittens.

Music in this episode

Find a full transcript with photos and bonus content here.

"Pollution is nothing but resources we're not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value.

― Buckminster Fuller"

Meet two designers turning environmental pollution into useful products.

  • Anirudh Sharma and Graviky Labs collect carbon air pollution and turn it into ink for writing, drawing, and printing. They call it Air Ink and envision a future in which local newspapers are printed using a city’s own pollution.

  • Michigan native Ali Rose van Overbeke founded Genusee in response to the Flint water crisis. The company is turning the mountains of plastic water bottles that accumulated as a result into eyeglasses, creating local manufacturing jobs in the process.

  • In our first Solicited Advice segment, artist and author Adam J. Kurtz answers listeners’ questions about their creative lives.

Music in this episode

Find a full transcript with photos here.

What does it mean to sound more like yourself?

  • Voice teacher Daisy Press guides us through some pretty unusual vocal exercises.

  • Maya and Bosco Kante are the founders of ElectroSpit, a family business devoted to helping people sing like robots. They tell us how an ungainly vintage instrument and a disappointing performance with Kanye West inspired them to create it.

  • As a teenager, people told Ionnalee that she had a good voice… for singing backup. She started the mysterious Iamamiwhoami project to find her artistic edge and reconnect with the way she sang as child.

  • What would an AI want to sing about? Botnik Studios uses predictive text to create new creative works. Hear a preview of The Songularity, their forthcoming album of computer-aided pop songs.

  • Daisy Press does a voice lesson with our coworker Maura Lynch, who sings in the indie rock band Blush. Can Maura add some vocal pizzazz to her favorite Karaoke song?

Music in this episode

Find a full transcript with photos here.

Stories about what happens when bringing a creative project to life becomes your life.

  • Photojournalist Nancy Borowick used photography to cope with a family tragedy. She tells the story of what happened when both of her parents were diagnosed with stage-four cancer, and how she celebrates their lives in her book, The Family Imprint.

  • Kelly Rakowski, founder of the Herstory Instagram account, explains how how she's creating Personals, a new kind of dating app for the LBTQIA+ community, inspired by vintage, text-only personal ads. We also hear some of the wildly creative ads people have submitted, read by the authors themselves.

  • Artist , author, and Just the Beginning's advice columnist, Adam J. Kurtz explains how writing notes to himself turned into a series of funny-but-genuine books to help others face their own creative challenges. You can ask Adam a question about a creative quandary you're facing by calling 914-381-0233. You might hear your voice in a future episode.

Music in this episode:

Find a full transcript with photos and bonus content here.

This is Just the Beginning, a new podcast from Kickstarter featuring stories about how independent creators bring their ideas to life.

Join us for an honest conversation about the value of creative work. How it challenges us—and empowers us to challenge authority.

How it helps us face the hard truths of the world—and sometimes escape them. We’ll hear directly from creators about what inspires them, scares them, and keeps them going.

Subscribe now and catch our first episode on Thursday, January 24. You’ll hear a new one every two weeks.

This series preview features the voices of:

Our theme music is by Balún. Find their music here.