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Talking in Your Sleep

16 October 2018

SleepTalker joins the Triple R grid this Wednesday night from midnight to 2am! Host Bec Fary tells us what to expect – plus, a little about her own lucid dreaming experiences, and her favourite midnight snacks.

SleepTalker animated program image

Tell us a bit about SleepTalker. It’s a show about sleep, dreams, nightmares and (to quote my own tagline, if I may) ‘what happens in your head after dark’. I’ll be recording interviews and playing sounds about nighttime, sleeping patterns, the subconscious, circadian rhythms, what keeps us awake and helps us drift.

What originally sparked the idea for the show? A few years ago, I was having trouble sleeping at night and in these short shifts of interrupted sleep I’d have really intense and vivid dreams and nightmares. It was the first time in my life that I could remember my dreams in such great detail. Around the same time, I threw a party and asked all my friends to dress as something they’d dreamt about. I had a bunch of paper and pens and notebooks around, and we spent the night writing about our dreams. I ended up amassing a collection of dream journals, which inspired this blog (which I kinda cringe to read now). Then, in 2014, I’d been doing some community radio stuff and dabbling in podcasts, and then I was like, ‘OH, I could talk to people about their dreams AND make a podcast about it.’ My ever-patient friends humoured more requests for interviews and the podcast was born. It was originally just about dreams and nightmares, but it’s grown to be about anything sleep-related.

You’ve been making SleepTalker as a podcast since 2014. How will doing it as a live show on RRR be different? On the podcast, I usually talk to one or two people for an extended interview and edit it down to 20(ish) minutes for a creative audio feature story. I use creative commons or license-free music (or, music made by my talented and generous friends). With a live broadcast version, I can stretch out a little more. There’s the obvious licensing difference that means I can play whatever music I want, but there are some really exciting differences in form, too. Time and sleep have a funny relationship; we can sometimes sleep for these long stretches without being aware of the time passing, or we might only be asleep for a few minutes but have a dream that feels like it lasts years. With a longer, live broadcast format, I love the idea of stretching out into the night to explore these shifts in time and awareness. I’ve made a couple of live versions of the show before; in 2015 I hosted a seasonal show on SYN 90.7, and this past summer I filled in for Hugo Spiceland in the Frank timeslot. With this new show I’ll be expanding on those broadcast versions and what I do with the podcast – similar interview style, but expect extended, remixed versions and some meandering detours into the subconscious. ‘Meandering’ might sound like a terrible descriptor for a radio show but, hey, I’ll be asleep for most of it so I might not always be in control.

Music-wise, what can folks expect to hear on the show? I’m not tied to any particular genre – instead I’ll be aiming to evoke the moods and tones we experience in sleep or staring at the night sky. I’d love it if this show is something you cue up and listen to a few episodes while you sleep (or it might keep you company when you can’t), so I’ll default to the softer side of the electronic ambient music spectrum. I’ll be mixing that in with some other genres, along with soundscapes, field recordings, sound art and creative audio. A night of sleep doesn’t always go as planned, so expect some nightmare jolts and wake-ups, too.

Do you have any issues with sleep yourself? I’m lucky enough to get to sleep pretty much every night, and I’ve never had chronic sleep troubles or disordered sleep. I definitely go through phases, though, of interrupted sleep (see above dream sequence). If I haven’t been looking after myself, or if there’s something on my mind, I tend to wake up throughout the night with the jitters. And, funnily enough, I’ve been waking up thinking about SleepTalker lately. My subconscious really wants me to do a good job on the show.

Any especially beautiful sleep-related experiences? This is such a cliched sleep story, but when I first found out about lucid dreaming I must have been thinking about it a lot because I had my first experience of dream-awareness (or, mid-dream, realising that I was dreaming). I think about sleep and dreams all the time, but it’s really hard to capture any of these experiences because by the time we wake up and can grasp our awareness or memories, the sleep-memory has usually faded. So, to fully experience something that’s usually so intangible was really special.

What are some of the coolest things you’ve learned about sleep, dreams and nightmares since you started working on SleepTalker? This might seem super-basic, but it blows my mind every time I think about it: to fall asleep, you need to forget that you need to fall asleep. Sleep is this thing that we need to think about (to take care of our sleep hygiene, reduce our screen time before bed, don’t drink too much coffee, all that stuff), but then to actually get to sleep we need to stop thinking about it. If we think too hard about the fact that we need to go to sleep, it’ll keep us awake. Such a precarious balance between taking care of our sleep, and just letting ourselves drift into that rest. I mean!! How do we even manage to get any sleep at all?!

Favourite midnight snack? There are so many variables to this question! Am I up late working? Then obviously I need to alternate between crunchy-salty-chips and peeled oranges. Did I just get home from a gig? I’m making quesadillas. Did I accidentally stay up super-late binge-watching Brooklyn 99? Chocolate ice-cream.

Other favourite podcasts right now? Whenever a new episode of Nancy drops I listen to it pretty much straight away, and I think Call Your Girlfriend makes me smarter every time I listen. And I recently binged the new show The Shadows from CBC. Closer to home, I love All The Best, Silent Waves and Love and Luck. And for creative inspiration, I love Constellations, Here Be Monsters, Long Live the New Sound and dipping into The Heart’s archives.

What’s your fave RRR show to listen to when you can’t sleep? So many great late-night shows! I love the Friday night back-to-back of How High the Moon and Tabula Rasa. And there’s something super special about catching part of a Graveyard – I cannot wait to do the weekly Graveyard handover and then listen to the early-morning weirdness while I wind down after SleepTalker.

How did you first get into audio storytelling? All The Best! It’s a community radio storytelling podcast/radio show/generous collective of supportive babes who teach you how to make audio stories. They’re based at FBi Radio in Sydney with partnerships around Australia including SYN and Triple R. All The Best really is the best, check them out.

What do you get up to when you’re not making podcasts or radio shows? Eat and sleep.

Tune in from midnight to 2am Wednesday nights (or Thursday mornings, depending how you think of it) to catch SleepTalker. Remember: you can also listen back to episodes at a time that best suits you via On Demand.