Sean Gotkin remembers the last time the DC music scene was as vibrant, connected and supportive as it is now.
He grew up listening to bands like Fugazi and seeing Rollins Band play at the 9:30 Club downtown. He remembers when musicians and fans alike felt the electricity in the air when the lights went down and the sound came up.
Now he’s running the board at the Black Cat, a gig he’s had since Iota, a club in nearby Arlington, Virginia, closed a few years ago.
But like most musicians, that’s not the only trick in his gig bag.
Gotkin recently launched his second podcast, “Sounds Like DC.” The first podcast, Audiobar, had a 12-episode run where bands would play a few songs in his home studio then chat with him for about 45 minutes.
“Sounds Like DC” is a similar-but-related concept: “I was thinking about the fact that I work with musicians who are all my friends, but I never get the chance to talk with them. How cool would it be, with the equipment I have and the friends I have to sit down and have philosophical conversations about life?” Gotkin says.
He tries not to prepare too much for each conversation, preferring instead to let the conversation flow. He wants the listener to feel like they’re sitting in on a chat between two friends.
“We go from anything about upbringing, early influences in art or music, to what’s the meaning of life, what would you do if you were president for a day,” he says. “I always get the impression that we don’t talk on a deeper level like we used to. But that’s how you get to know about another person.”
Now his podcast bridges the gap he felt in some of the few music podcasts he’s listened to: He brings musicians on to talk about their lives and also the DC music scene.
“For the first time in almost 20-odd years, there’s a collective of musicians that are all wonderfully diverse in what they play,” he says. “Everyone knows each other and they all try to help each other. It hasn’t been like that since the early ‘90s. I was lucky enough to grow up in a time when DC was blowing up. I was working at the Bayou (in Georgetown) at 19 and it was great.”
He’s also been able to fulfill an early goal for his podcast, creating episodes in batches and then bringing all six of his first guests together for a live podcast taping.
“If I can have the six people on the same stage, with the audience talking to them, then we can talk about the stuff that matters,” he says. “We can try to make a change for the better.”
Sean Gotkin, the sound department manager at the Black Cat and host of the biweekly podcast Sounds Like DC, joins producer Michael O’Connell to discuss the importance of real conversations between friends and how DC’s music scene is as rich and diverse as it’s ever been.