Welcome to Night Vale – the wildly popular serial podcast that brings its dedicated listeners stories from the strange desert town of Night Vale – has announced a return to the UK and Ireland this September. Tickets priced at €22.90 incl. booking and are on sale now from Ticketmaster.
Delivering rich and nuanced drama in the form of a community radio show hosted by Cecil Palmer (played by Cecil Baldwin), Welcome to Night Vale has grown to be one of the most popular podcasts in the world while remaining fiercely independent, entirely listener supported, and ad-free. Moving from podcasting to print, the highly anticipated Welcome to Night Vale novel expands the world of the podcast and will be released this October through Orbit.
Since 2013, Welcome to Night Vale has toured a fully-realized live show complete with guest stars, live musical guests, and Cecil himself, performing previously unheard scripts that complement and enhance the constantly evolving narrative of the podcast, while still remaining funny and compelling for brand new listeners. They have played sold out shows in over 11 countries (including 8 sold out UK shows in 2014) and recently completed an exhaustive 41 city United States tour.
Welcome to Night Vale is written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Narrated by Cecil Baldwin. Music by Disparition. Logo by Rob Wilson.
Check out our Q&A with Jeffrey below…
For people who don’t know about Welcome To Night Vale, could you tell me a little bit about it?
We’re primarily a podcast, we come out twice monthly. The structure of our podcasts and storytelling is done in the style of a small town radio broadcast from a weird American South West desert town where things like ghosts and angels and secret governments are just sort of common place things and everyone accepts it as normal and they move on with their everyday life.
I read that you consider Night Vale an interesting reflection of your worldview of America – could you elaborate on that?
In just writing any story in general, it’s probably going to pretty heavily affect how we grew up or where we live now and with Night Vale, because it is set up so similarly to a lot of American small towns, I think what happens is because Night Vale is so weird and so terrifying it allows us to be a little satirical about the U.S Government at times. It allows us to be satirical about the different cultures, strange little groups of people that exist. I think recently Joseph and I were talking about, in the first episode of the show, we take immediate shots right at the NRA here in America about their careless way of thinking everyone should have a gun. But I think Night Vale was in a lot of ways, we just replaced what we are scared of here in America, say a totalitarian government that monitors our every move and in Night Vale that’s not scary. But in Night Vale something like everyone owning a gun for no reason that is truly terrifying
You seem to have quite a direct relationship with your fans – what’s that like?
It’s great. When we first started it was just us doing a podcast and we would hear from fans every now and then on Twitter. We didn’t have that many fans at the start. It was a very strange thing to be like “well looks like people are downloading the show, I hope they like it”. Then we started doing our live shows and once we started doing our live shows that changed everything because we were able to be present with people who we’ve only ever had this distant relationship with. Joseph and I have a theatre background so it made a lot more sense to put the show out on the road and up on its feet and take it to people who want to experience it live – we all have the same energy together, we all have our own unique show, every live show is a different experience. The fans have been great. Our fans are very unlike Joseph and I, they are super delightful and it’s great. I’m actually in Florida this week at a fan convention so it’s just been really fun hanging out with them.
When you started this, did you ever expect to see fans dressing up as characters one day? When did you realise this was a big thing?
No I didn’t imagine it at all, especially since we don’t describe characters that much. I just remember one of the first events that I went to in October 2013, we went to Los Angeles for a podcast festival and we did a little show there and then after the show I had a gentleman come up to us to say hi and he was wearing a tan jacket and leather suit case and a hat on to be the man in the tanned jacket if you can remember. It was really stunning to me because the moment I saw him I knew who it was even though there was no way he had seen that character before. I only imagine the characters in my head.
Do you have a clear idea how Cecil and other characters will develop in the future? How far ahead do you plan your storylines?
We don’t plan it super far in advance. Recently, Joseph and I were having a writers meeting and we were talking about the scripts that we were writing for this fall and towards the end of the year and we have some thoughts about things like “okay yeah let’s start this as a developing story line, let’s see how this looks etc.” So we’ll have stuff like that. Sometimes I’ll have an idea in my head of something that’s going to take months to build and sometimes I start to build it by myself. It’s good that we have this serial story that we can tell as we go along – the characters and how Cecil tells the story, how he indicates what will happen in the future. So I would say the short answer to your question is anywhere between two weeks and six months ahead. There is some bigger picture stuff we do six months ahead but for the most part we kind of let it play out as it needs to.
Who’s your favourite character?
It’s not so much a favourite character, it changes all the time but I will say my first favourite character that I had was Dana, it was just because it was early in our show and it was this moment where we started taking this character, this intern and saying oh she’s still alive, let’s figure out where she is or what she’s doing. There was just a lot of her story we didn’t answer. I had a very good friend who plays the character on the show and she was always someone I wanted to write for and doing a podcast made perfect sense because I finally got to write a part for her.
Recently Michelle Nguyen, who owns Dark Owl Records, has become one of those characters I’m really fascinated with her, she’s my current favourite.
Can you tell me about the Night Vale book that’s due out in October?
It’s coming out October 20 and I’m super excited because it’s the longest I’ve ever had to wait between writing and having something go out in to the world. Joseph and I sat down to do the novel and we decided that we wanted to tell the story not in people’s voices. The vast majority of people would read it from the page and hear Cecil’s voice. So we thought rather than telling it from Cecil’s point of view we’re going to write it from a third person point of view about a couple of other characters. So we took some characters that were briefly mentioned from time to time on the show. We said it would be completely fun to go away from the radio station, away from the familiarity from what we hear on the show, take Night Vale from there. Then what we’re allowed to do is have an entire story line, an adventure, a saga within the world of Night Vale. We can talk about the characters we usually talk about but from the point of view of someone else.
Are you looking forward to the UK and Ireland tour?
Oh my god yes. We had so much fun last year when we were there so we’re excited to come back. Dublin is one of my favourite places to be I love it so much. Getting to get back to The Olympia is really great and it’s really nice to have it on Saturday too. We have a brand new script that we wrote. Last year we toured a script called ‘The Librarian’ and this year we wrote a script called ‘The Investigators’ which we just toured here in the U.S and it’s a great new script. We wrote parts for guests so we’ll have a couple of guests in the show. Last year we weren’t able to bring Jon Bernstein who is Disparition. (Disparition is the solo project of Jon Bernstein, a musician and composer currently living in Brooklyn, New York). He’ll be on the tour this time. It makes the show different.
What kind of shows were you interested in growing up? Or what kind of books did you read? Do you feel the things you were interested in growing up reflect on Night Vale?
Probably the first for me growing up was the Alice in Wonderland books. I just read those over and over as a kid. I was so taken by them. I actually found them really scary and those probably had a huge influence on me. I read a lot of Stephen King so that’s hard to deny that that’s there. I think David Lynch as well. I haven’t seen all of his work. I’ve watched Fire Walk With Me, the Twin Peaks movie maybe more than any other movie I’ve ever watched and I don’t know why. I don’t know if I could tell you it’s a good movie but it’s one of my favourite movies.
It’s pretty cool that you’re an ad-free show and you don’t accept any sponsorship right now – do you plan on changing this?
I don’t we ever rule it out because it’s our livelihood and we want to make sure that we support the show. We’re at a point now where we don’t have to do that which is really nice, we haven’t really found a good way to fit ads in to it without interrupting the show and it doesn’t feel quite right to stop the show for an ad. So for now we’re not going to start taking sponsorship.
What do you enjoy the most about touring?
Touring is weird. My experience with touring is that you live simultaneously two different lives, you’re on the road with your friends and you’re going to towns you haven’t been to before and towns you have been to before. So going back to Dublin this year with close friends is going to be so much fun. We get to meet a lot of new people, we get to meet fans. The other side of touring is that you’re away from home for a long time so it can be hard to be out of town and away from your wife. Being on the road with friends really is a super magical experience.
Get caught up with the goings-on of Night Vale by subscribing to the Podcast on iTunes or your favourite podcast app, or streaming via Youtube, Stitcher, Libsyn, Podbay, or Soundcloud.