Episode One: Julia & Jordan
Julia Schifini roasts Jordan Cobb.
Co-Producer, Editor, & Host: Tess Cocchio
Co-Producer, Editor, & Sound Designer: Julia Schifini
Theme Music Composer: Emily E. Meo
Graphic/Visual Art Designer: Mandy Corcoran
Creative Consultant: Wil Williams
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FULL TRANSCRIPT - EPISODE ONE: JULIA AND JORDAN
EPISODE ONE: JORDAN AND JULIA
TESS: Welcome to Honey Roast, a wholesome hopepunk podcast where every other week, guest stars “roast” a creator that they love and are inspired by. Together, we’re bringing a little more love and hope in the world and introducing listeners to new creators through sweetness and delight. Major thank you to our Indiegogo Producers who helped make this show a reality: Robert Anderson, Robert Van de Motter, Alex Hensley, Kyle Decker, Richard Kreutz-Landry, Ryan Boelter, Tau Zaman, and Bradley Duesler.
JULIA: So I had a lot of conflicted feelings about who I was going to honey roast and it… I probably narrowed it down to about five people.
[THEME MUSIC FADES IN]
TESS (as narrator): This is Honey Roast.
JULIA: She's like really good at telling stories that are going to matter to people.
It just feels like we've been friends forever.
I thank the stars every day that she let me be a part of that.
TESS (as narrator): I'm Tess and I'm your host.
[THEME MUSIC FADES OUT]
JULIA: Today I'm going to honey roast Jordan Cobb.
TESS: I'm very excited to hear you gush about her.
JULIA: I am also very excited to gush about her. I do it enough to her face. I might as well do it into a recording perfect.
[MUSIC FADES IN]
TESS (as narrator): Jordan Cobb is probably best known in the Audio Drama scene as the creator of both Janus Descending and Here Be Dragons. She’s also known for her role as the lead characters in Mythos, 1994, and the upcoming Among the Stars and Bones. She’s also featured in shows such as Marsfall, Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services, Limbo, Hit the Bricks, and more.
TESS: I want you to tell me a story.
TESS: I want you to tell me the story of the first time you encountered Jordan Cobb’s work.
JULIA: So this one is interesting because, if I remember correctly, I subscribed to Here Be Dragons long before I ever listened to it. But I, I remember like pretty vividly the beginning of summer of 2018 actually like, settling down to listen to everything? And like I had been familiar with and I probably listened to the prologue and the pilot episode before I actually like really dug into the series? And for some reason I just didn't pick it up again. But when I started like actually listening to it, it was probably, um, May of 2018. And I was getting my parents settled. My parents are snowbirds so they live half their time in New York and half of their time in Florida. And so they had just come back up to New York and I was getting them settled in their house and stuff like that. And they live kind of on the water. They're fairly close to the water, so there's a really nice dock out there with a bunch of like lounge chairs that you can go and sit on and just kind of enjoy the day. And I had just like spent a bunch of time unpacking all of my parents stuff and so I decided, okay, what I'm going to do, I'm going to grab my phone, listen to some podcasts while I sit by the beach and just kind of enjoy things.
And I was kind of scrolling through to decide what I was going to listen to and I remembered “Oh, Here Be Dragons! That's like, water related right? Let me listen to that” and I instantly fell back in love with it. I absolutely... absolutely loved everything about it. And it's just like the epitome of everything that I love. It's like an all-woman cast basically. Like all the leads are women. It has fantasy mythology creatures and it also like takes place on a submarine. It could not have my type better. Yeah. It just, it genuinely could not have been more of my thing, you know what I mean?
And so I think I reached out to Jordan on Twitter or I just commented on something that I saw she posted and I was just like “One: your writing’s incredible. Two: you’re playing TWO characters in this and that is wild to me. And three: this is one of the best things I've ever listened to in my entire life.”
TESS: So you're sitting in a lounge chair, May, so it's pretty warm. Not necessarily like very hot...
JULIA: Yeah, like a little chilly. You're getting that like cold air off of the water. So it's like, I'm in a sweatshirt probably if I remember correctly? And like I just have that like smell of the sea breeze and the seaweed and all of that and it was just like, such a synchronous, perfect moment.
TESS: I can just picture it so perfectly like the water lapping up against the dock edges against the beach.
JULIA: Yeah. It was just all of a sudden I was like, “Oh, OH. This is what it feels like when you just like really associate a podcast with a place and a time.” It just like, in my mind I was like: This. This is the perfect moment. I don't know how else to describe it, other than the perfect moment.
TESS (as narrator): I asked Julia how much of Here Be Dragons she listened to that day on the dock, with the smell of the sea and the sounds of the waterfowl and waves immersing her into the story.
JULIA: I think I binged most of it. I'm actually I'm going to pull up the website real quick and remember where I left off before my mother came to get me. I think I got through like all the way to Keira’s Dance, Part One and Two, which are episodes seven and eight. So I was there for a while just kind of listening and it just like… it, it enraptured me. I don't really know a better word for it. It just kind of sucked me into the world and it felt legitimate. And the way that your mind kind of wanders when you're listening to something that you love, all you can think about is “Oh, yeah, okay. Like, yes. But what if there was a Bakekujira, like hanging out in the water like, just out of my line of sight, you know what I mean? It's just that moment where you feel like you might as well be there.
TESS: Apart from from the moment and the like, the feeling of being there and being in that experience of listening... Was there anything in particular that stood out to you as like “This is a creator whose work I'm going to follow.” Like this, this is just the beginning of your like introduction to this creator. Was there any point in time that that kind of clicked to you or was it later?
JULIA: You know what, I think I was just... I was enthralled with the story and I think that if I hadn't gotten to know Jordan better I still would have been following her work. But the fact that I got to know her as a person and I got to work with her later really just... I was like, “Oh. This solidifies it for me. You're a wonderful person and I'm never going to let you go.”
TESS: So at what point did you shift from exploring her other work to working with her?
JULIA: So I auditioned... I can't even remember which month it was, but I auditioned for 1994 which is Thoreau Smiley’s show, takes place in the 90s. It's very like 90s coming of age story. And I actually, I don't know if I've ever told Jordan this: I auditioned for the part that she ended up getting. Which is fine. I auditioned for, like, two roles and I was like, “You know, let me try for like the kind of girl next door thing. I've never really done a character like that before.” And Jordan ended up getting it and would have crushed my performance, like completely, now that I look back at it.
But we like... and we had like, kind of spoken a little bit because like, we knew we'd gotten cast in this thing together. But I didn't like really get to work with her until the like, second read through, because my character doesn't come in until Episode Two. And so we're on this Skype call. And there's approximately like eight to ten people on the Skype call, because there's a lot of characters in the show. And I'm just like, staring at Jordan as she starts acting. I'm just like, “Oh, no, you're wonderful. Oh, no, you're very, very good.” And we're just like, we ended up like kind of like going back and forth and of course James Oliva is also on the call and is, we’re like... the three of us are just like cracking jokes the entire time.
Any pause in the read-through was because one of the three of us kind of was messing with the other, which is wonderful. And like, that's kind of the like atmosphere that you want to have when you're working on a project like that? You want to like working with these people and not just be like, “Okay, we read through it and we're done. And now we don't have to talk to each other until the next read-through”, which I've been on productions where that is the case.
But like, the jovial nature of everything, and like the way that Jordan and I just, like clicked instantly, especially because our characters did a lot of interacting, I was just like, “Oh... yeah, I want to work with you more, I absolutely want to work with you more.”
TESS (as narrator): As Julia tells me this story of them acting together for the first time, I can almost picture the scene. I can hear the two of them, laughter ringing out, and knowing that this is a friendship meant to be. So I ask her, what about Jordan’s work is so important to her?
JULIA: I mean, it's all of it. It's the fact that she can do all of those things. You know what I mean? Like you like you know, when people talk about like the triple threat in theatre, it's someone who can like do everything, basically. You sing, you dance, you act. Jordan is the triple threat of audio fiction… she just is. She can write, she can direct, she can act and she has proven that with Janus Descending.
TESS (as narrator): Janus Descending is a limited series, science fiction/horror audio drama told through single perspective narration. The story follows the arrival of two xenoarcheologists, Peter and Chel, on a small world orbiting a binary star. But what starts off as an expedition to survey the planet and remains of a lost alien civilization, turns into a monstrous game of cat and mouse, as the two scientists are left to face the creatures that killed the planet in the first place. Told from alternating perspectives, Janus Descending is an experience of crossing timelines, as Peter describes the nightmare from end to beginning, and Chel, from beginning to the end.
JULIA: It is an incredible show. I like thank the stars every day that she let me be a part of that. Because the way that that works out, the way that we ended up working on that together, was I was following it because, obviously I love Jordan. And I saw that she had put out a tweet like probably 10 minutes before I saw it where it was like, “Hey, if anyone is, if anyone is a sound designer, we're looking for a sound designer for this project.” And I was like, “Okay, I've been kind of teaching myself how to sound design. I want to, like expand my repertoire. I don't really, like know too much about the show other than it's a space horror.” I messaged her, I’m like “Hey, so like, you've never heard me sound design anything before. And I understand that. Here's like a little thing I've kind of been playing with. It's something I wrote myself, got someone else to act and was teaching myself how to sound design on. Um, if you're looking for a sound designer, you know, I'm interested, you don't have to, it's cool. You don't have to pick me if you don't want to.” And she got back to me almost immediately after listening to the clip that I sent her. And she's like, “Yes, oh, my God, come and do this with us.” And I was on board immediately.
And she sent me the scripts and I was just blown away by them. I had never really read something that felt so... that understood where it was going from so early on in the script. So if anyone hasn't heard the show before, or heard of the show before, it is a space horror that is told with counter narratives that are counter linear. And so one character starts at the beginning of the story. One starts at the end and their paths cross in the middle and then intersect back to the end one finishing at the beginning and the beginning one finishing at the end. And so you know how the story ends but you don't know how you get there. And it's just... it's beautifully written and she she got inspiration from Alien, because obviously; Alien is fantastic. And Sigourney Weaver is 100% my favorite person.
And also the musical Last Five Years, which like, I, I'm a theatre buff, I, I was one of those nerds in high school that absolutely adored theatre and all things theatre. And the more sad and ridiculous it was, the more I loved it. So of course I loved the Last Five Years. But it's also told in that perspective where one character starts the play at the beginning of a relationship, one character starts at the end of their relationship and then they kind of work backwards and forwards. And like, it's just, it's such a fabulous idea that no one in audio drama had done yet. And when I read those scripts, I was just blown away by like the concept of it. It was incredible.
TESS (as narrator): I hadn’t listened to Janus Descending prior to Julia and my conversation, so was excited, though a bit nervous to be honest, to listen to the show. I’m not always the best with horror, but Julia’s adulations and almost reverence for Jordan’s work on the show meant that I couldn’t not listen.
JULIA: Any writer I think could have wrote that show from start to finish and then just organized it in a way where the characters have those storylines that intersect rather than go chronologically, but that's not what Jordan did. Because you can tell from the way that the scripts are kind of formatted, that it's pulling from stuff that is both in the future and in the past in every episode, and it's just... it's incredible.
And I don't think that it's like, oh, no one ever thought of this before. I think it's more that it challenges the medium almost in a way that I don't think a lot of other shows do? And it challenges structure and it challenges formatting. And it's, it's something like I said, that hasn't really been done before. And it's not that it's impossible to do because obviously Jordan did it. But rather I think like a lot of writers don't trust their audiences a lot? And I think you need to be able to trust your audience to like, understand where you're coming from and understand where you're going with the story? And I think that Jordan understands that very, very well.
TESS (as narrator): I had had already experienced Jordan’s work on Here Be Dragons before Julia and I had talked, but I hadn’t listened to Janus Descending. So a few weeks after we recorded, I finally sat down to listen. My notes from a two-day binge of the show expand across five pages. Yup. Five pages. For me, the experience was sitting comfortably in the armchair in my bedroom wrapped up in a blanket. It was about minus forty degrees celsius, one of the coldest winters we’ve had. So, sitting huddled up in blankets with a warm drink, very late at night, two nights in a row, binging this show. I didn’t know whether to feel apprehensive or excited or nervous or hopeful, and Janus Descending made me feel all of those things. And it made me feel heartbreak even more. Just, constant heartbreak. Jordan knows exactly how to lift you up so high and get you so invested in these characters and then just make you want to hug them and tell them that everything’s going to be okay. Just, her writing and storytelling is brilliant.
Now after listening to both Here Be Dragons and Janus Descending, I just want to keep listening to Jordan’s work. I, I just want to experience more of it and I know that Descendants is coming and I’m so impatient for it because I can’t wait to see what she does with it. It’s going to be phenomenal. There just aren’t the right words to describe how excited I am for her next project. And let's not say nothing about Julia’s work on this. Julia did the sound design and it's incredible that this is Julia's first foray into that aspect of the podcasting industry. She has done just an amazing job that helps brings the story to life. The the combination of these two: Jordan and Julia were meant to be more than just friends.
TESS: Having known Jordan personally, does that affect, do you think, the way that you enjoy her work?
JULIA: I think the thing is, when I was working on the sound design for Janus Descending, it made it very hard to edit some scenes. I don't want to give any spoilers away or anything like that. But there, there are scenes where her acting literally gave me anxiety because my brain was just like “No, friend is screaming! Friend is hurt! Must help friend!” I’m like “No, you can’t do that. It's just acting I promise.” But, like, her acting is so good and the writing is so good that my brain... it was able to trick my brain into saying “Oh, your friend is being hurt or your friend is in danger, we must save her!”
TESS: That's actually really cute.
JULIA: I would text her that to be like “Yo, I'm just finishing up on on episode eight and I hate you because my brain is like having a meltdown hearing you scream.”
JULIA: Like she would just be like, “I'm so sorry” and she's like “I was upset with myself when I recorded it” and I'm like, “Okay buddy, but whose fault is that really?” This is this is a call out, but lovingly.
TESS (as narrator): Them working together is an a gift to the podcasting industry. I can’t wait to see what these two phenomenal women do together in the future. It can only be amazing.
TESS: Why do you think Jordan’s work is important for everyone or anyone to... to sink their teeth into. Like to really embrace it and get to know?
JULIA: I think that Jordan knows how to tell human stories and knows how to tell them well, and knows how to like, pull at your heartstrings in a way that will make you like, kinda hate her? But in the best way possible. It's like, “Oh, you're just gonna emotionally break me. Okay. And like, I'm going to see you do it from a mile away. But it's still going to hurt my soul in a way I can't really comprehend or really blame you for because you did tell me it was coming.”
But like, I also think that she's like really good at telling stories that are going to matter to people. I recently saw her in an Off-Broadway show, where it was like a black box theatre three-person play that was absolutely wonderful. And she got to play a villain that was killed by a superhero but then was brought back to life by unknown means. And she’s trying to like remake her life but is found by one of her like followers, and who wants to bring her back to the world of like, super villainy. Just the way that she performed it and the way that it like felt sitting in that theatre... Everything Jordan does feels important. Like whether or not like it's meant for you or it's meant for someone else. And you're not the primary audience. Everything she does, from acting to directing to writing it feels important to me.
TESS: That's beautiful.
JULIA: But it's true. Like her, her work genuinely feels like something that I could, if I was like a professor in college, I could show people that to like, prove points about theatre. I don't know what specific points I would make. But I feel like that is like a piece of work that I could write papers on.
TESS: Was seeing her at the theatre, was that the last time, like the most recent time that you've been really engaged in her work?
JULIA: Yeah, I mean, that was the last time I saw her in person. This was like, also a week ago.
TESS: I want you to think back to the moment that you were first introduced to her work on that beach with, with, you know, the smells and the sounds, the smell of the sea, and the sound of the water and the chill coming off the water. How does that compare to seeing her a week ago in theatre in a different environment, but still her work?
JULIA: I feel like it's almost like it's the subject matter between those two things? Where, Here Be Dragons.... And like, and I think this is true whenever I listened to any work that I admire, but I don't really know the creator. It feels like mythological. I feel distance from the person that created it, like as much as I can, like, feel what they feel through the thing that they created it like, I don't, I don't know them, you know what I mean? I don't, I don't feel that connection entirely. I can, I can associate it with how I feel about it. But I don't associated with the creator as much? Which is also like super interesting and something that you could talk about a lot with audio fiction in general, because the community is very small, and because creators and actors tend to be more open to talking to fans. But like, knowing Jordan, and sitting in that play, and like seeing her act, it felt so much more personal, not just to me, but like, to our friendship, to our relationship and to like, who I know she is, as a person.
TESS: I love that. Again, thinking back to that person who, who you were, not that long ago, like, May 2018 wasn't that long ago, did you ever think that you would be in that theatre feeling that kind of connection? Do you ever think back to that moment of like, wow, like, I've, I've known this person, known their work for less than a year. And here I am sitting in this theatre, like, just so connected to her so deeply?
JULIA: You know, that's like, the wild thing about just like this past year, and also working with people in audio fiction and podcasting, is like, the world moves so quickly sometimes. And like, you know, if I look back at like, the first time I listened to Here Be Dragons. You know, it was just like, “Oh, this is a cool show. It's like one of, you know, eighty other shows in my queue”, but like, just like, the way that like, our relationship, and our friendship grew over the past, like eight months, I guess, or something like that.
[THEME MUSIC FADES IN]
JULIA: That's, it's just like, I can't, I can't remember a time where, or I can't like really picture a time where Jordan like wasn't my friend.
TESS: Yeah, I love that.
JULIA: It just feels like we've been friends forever.
TESS (as narrator): Jordan Cobb is an incredibly talented writer, director, and actor. You can find her at jordanvcobb.com. Links to her website, twitter, and other podcasts are in the show notes.
[MUSIC FADES OUT]
TESS: Wait. Did you think we were finished? Oh heck no, honeys. It’s my turn now. I’d crack my knuckles if I knew how, but buckle up. It’s time for a reverse-roast on our roaster. Julia Schifini. I first encountered Julia’s work on Tides, an award-winning science fiction audio drama about life in extreme circumstances. Julia plays Dr Winnifred Eurus, stranded on an Earth-like moon wracked by extreme tidal waves while she awaits rescue.
I fell in love with Julia’s voice on this show. She brought the character to life and I’ve only fallen more in love with her work as I’ve delved into it. She’s not only a voice actor, but a historian and co-host of Spirits, the kinda-creepy-kinda-cool drunken dive into mythology, which I have finished most of in several weeks. She also does a variety of consulting, and a lot of it for free. And she’s also been featured on multiple podcasting panels. Julia also clearly has the chops for sound design on top of acting, which you’ll discover when you listen to Janus Descending. Notice how I said when? She also works with two of my favourite podcast networks, The Whisperforge and Multitude Productions. Julia is an inspiring leader in our podcasting community and you really won’t regret getting to know her work.
Since this is a Mini-roast, I won't let it get away from me. But in just a few last words, Julia is amazing. She's just the best. And I hope you get to know her and get to know her work and experience her voice and her acting and her sound design as quickly as you can. She’s just so talented.You’ll discover that she’s also just incredibly kind and sweet, giving, but also has some serious levels of badass mixed right in. I adore Julia and her work. And I hope that you do as well. You can find Julia on her website at juliaschifini.com. That's Julia S-C-H-I-F-I-N-I. Links to her website and her podcasts will also be in the show notes.
So Julia... Jordan... I love you both. I love your work. I can't wait to see what the two of you put out together in the coming months and years. It can only be incredible and I so look forward to it.
Cheers and sweetness.
Honey Roast is co-produced by Tess Cocchio and Julia Schifini, edited by Tess Cocchio and Julia Schifini, with sound design by Julia Schifini. Special thanks to our creative consultant, Wil Williams. Our visual design and art assets are by Mandy Corcoran and our theme music is composed by Emily E. Meo.
All music from this episode, apart from the theme music, is by Komiku on the Free Music Archive and licensed under a Creative Commons license. Link in the shownotes.
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