Shade is an award-winning arts and culture podcast created to hold conversations with other artists about representation and diversity in the creative community. With her background as a Black female photographer and interest in people from varying artistic backgrounds, host and producer Lou Mensah created the podcast as a space in which she could engage in conversation with diverse people about their experiences in the arts.
Since launching in 2019, she has spoken to a range of guests about representation in the industry including Black Lives Matter UK founding member Joshua Virasami and Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy. In this week’s episode of PodPod, Mensah spoke with Rhianna Dhillon and Matt Hill about the newest season of her podcast created in collaboration with sound designer Axel Kacoutié, how she portrays powerful images through an audio medium, why independent podcasters need more support and funding, and the importance of having disability awareness in podcasting.
Cater to all levels of knowledge in your audience
“Whenever I publish a podcast, I make sure I put links to the images that we may be discussing,” said Mensah. “For example, the last season I produced was called Black Images Matter and it was a season that focused on the media’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests that happened in the summer of 2020 and I made sure I chose images (for) people who didn’t work within the arts or were not familiar with visual culture.”
“I made sure I chose images that were on every cover of every magazine, on every news channel, on every magazine stand and front covers,” she added. “I made sure for that season that I chose images that people were very familiar with, that were talked about, and that sparked discussion. The images were also linked in the podcast description.”
Work with brands that align with your image
(On whether she would compromise her values to gain sponsorship)
“You can't do that and be authentic in the work that you are creating,” Mensah said. “I just think you're not gonna create the best work that you can and I think your audience is going to know it.”
“I’ve learned early on that you can kind of move and manoeuvre yourself and shape shift in order to fit other people's requests but it's not gonna do you any favours in the long run,” she added. “So it's just best to say no at the very beginning of a request if it doesn't suit the work that you do.”
Experiment with new formats of the show
“All of our seasons previously have been conversation based and interview based,” said Mensah. “For season five, I'm doing something very different. I realised that perhaps I wanted a break from conversations and interviewing, and I wanted to give the audience a bit of a rest and a space for regeneration… and so [season five] is…offering a space for when the audience plug in and put their earphones on, they will be healed by what we will be offering them.”