Mads Engel ’18 has an affinity for audio. As radio editor for The Catalyst, Llamapalooza committee co-chair, and a writer for Sounds of Colorado College, she immerses herself in all things music and sound. The Catalyst sat down with Engel to discuss the prevalence of podcasts, the Llama lineup, and most importantly, how to finesse the subtle art of bumming Rastall swipes.
The Catalyst: Why does it seem like nobody ever knows that you’re a history major?
Mads Engel: Because nobody ever reads history papers, so all of the work I do in history classes isn’t put on display, whereas people seem to think I’m a film major because I take a lot of film classes, and they see the stuff that I make in those, and they draw conclusions. But yeah, nobody knows. Nobody reads the history papers.
TC: What draws you to working with audio more so than with writing or with film?
ME: Well, the things that draw me to audio are the same things that draw me to film, and it’s really just that I have more fun. Audio work is more like collaging than writing; writing is sort of like generating all of the sentences and thoughts that you have, but audio work is a little bit more fun for me because it’s about taking the words that other people have and putting them together in a way that conveys what they’re trying to say better than they could have said it themselves—even though it is them saying it. It’s a challenge because it’s a fine line between, like, Frankensteining what people say into something that they didn’t mean and adjusting the things that they said so that what they mean comes across more clearly.
TC: What is the strangest audio project you have ever worked on?
ME: The strangest one I’ve ever worked on was definitely this piece in my radio journalism class. We had an assignment to cover any news event in the Springs over the weekend, so we went to this screening of a documentary about porn addiction. Yeah. It was at UCCS, and it was really interesting because we were just interviewing people who were standing around, and half of them were recovering porn addicts, who just spoke so frankly about it. It was just the most unexpected thing. It wasn’t super raunchy content, but we were kind of just in awe.
TC: It seems like everyone has a podcast these days. Do you think they should?
ME: I don’t think everyone has a podcast, and the people that do have them should. I’m actually struggling with getting more people to have podcasts, so . . . But, yeah, in general though it does seem like everyone these days has a podcast, and it’s a really cool medium, but it is something that I think people should be wary about, like diluting it. If there’s just an overwhelming amount of audio content online of unedited interviews and 20-minute long conversations where not much gets said— I think for people who make podcasts, it takes just a little bit more work and a little bit more time—like learning the techniques and how to edit—to take something that’s a pretty mediocre audio recording and turn it into something that’s really cool. So people who are doing anything, I feel like they should do that extra 10 percent to make their stuff really, really cool.
The Catalyst Radio Department was thrust into my hands by a weary Zach Zuckerman on his last legs at Colorado College. It’s been a cool experience running it. It’s been awesome to have the support of whatever that money comes from [Cutler Publications] and funding people to be able to have access to the audio software and recording equipment. And it’s been cool to teach people and give them the tools and then let them do whatever they want on their own because the type of work that comes out of it is such a mixed bag. Everybody has their own style and their own soundtracks that they want to put in. And it’s been fun working on it, but we’re still growing.
TC: Do you think you will ever continue your radio work post-graduation?
ME: I think so. I’ve been having fun doing interviews with bands. I probably won’t do a whole lot of investigative journalism, but interviewing musicians has been something I’ve enjoyed. It’s a skill that’s becoming more and more valuable, and more and more entities are going to need people to do audio work. But yeah, I hope to do more later on. I’ve been having a lot of fun lately. I haven’t been really doing many podcasts, but what I’ve been doing is just messing around with ASMR stuff with the recorders and walking around my house and listening to really funny noises up close. So, you know, maybe I’ll have a mid-life crisis then become really eccentric and then just make sound collages all the time. Yeah, that could happen.
TC: How did you get involved with the SOCC and the Llamapalooza committee?
ME: Well, I first got involved with the SoCC as a freshman by getting a radio show. Then my sophomore year, I applied for the Llama committee because I thought that was cool, and because I really love live music, and concerts, and festivals, and everything. And since then I’ve only been writing for the SoCC online. And then the last couple years I worked my way up in the ranks of Llama, and now I’m a co-head. I first got involved because I wanted to be a part of planning something. It’s like the biggest event at school all year. It’s something you hear about before you come to CC. And I wanted to make sure it didn’t suck.
TC: What was the best part of Battle of the Bands for you last week?
ME: The best part of Battle of the Bands was definitely Bawarao: it’s black, and white, and read all over. It was a post-music band where they just made a bunch of weird sounds and read the newspaper. A lot of my close friends are in it. I’m kind of disappointed they didn’t move on, but also I don’t think CC’s quite ready for that. But definitely a highlight.
TC: What are you most excited about for Llamapalooza this year?
ME: I’m excited for literally everything. I can’t say anything about the lineup because we’re finishing our contracts, but the lineup is sick. I don’t know what else to say. You can look for clues; I mean it’s kind of hard to say to look at other major festivals that are getting announced and find the artists in there, but you can find some of the artists that are coming in those major, major festivals. We feel like we did a good job with that; we’ll see what you guys think. And also this year we’re probably going to have food trucks. We’re still in the process of planning it, but we’re trying to set up on Cascade like a little block of food trucks that can be paid for with tickets that are bought with meal swipes or money. So hopefully the food will be really good this year. Also, we’re doing a lot more work and bringing student art into it and making it more immersive and more of a festival experience. Not so it’s just like, “Here’s the quad and the stage is over there,” but like, “Here is this big thing you can walk into and be amazed.”
TC: What will you miss most about CC when you graduate?
ME: Oh, Rastall. I’ve thought about this a lot. I’ve probably bummed like a couple of hundred dollars-worth of swipes this semester just because I’ve eaten at Rastall almost every day, and I’ve never felt better. I eat so many vegetables; I get so many vitamins naturally, and I just don’t know what I’m going to do next year.
TC: Do you have any special tips for bumming Rastall swipes?
ME: OK, you got to kinda look like you’re lost, just enough so people think you may or may not be an underclassman. But also like, kinda gotta look like you know what you’re doing. It’s a fine line. And then when you go up to people, you can’t just bullshit them. You can’t be like, “Hey, what’s your name? Nice to meet you.” You just go say, “Hey, do you have an extra swipe?” And if they do they’ll give you a swipe, if they don’t they’ll say no and it’s fine, and you thank them and find the next person. There’s no need to pretend like you’re befriending someone just for swipe because you’re only going to be standing in line with them for 30 seconds and then never see them again. Just go for it.