There was a spirit of joy and defiance among the 200-strong audience at the launch party for Season 3 of the ‘Mosaic of China' podcast. After significant productions delays caused by... well, you know... life these days... the one-on-one chat show has returned for a third season, with host Oscar Fuchs back meeting and getting to know interesting people, from all walks of life, living in and negotiating these interesting times.
If you haven't come across it before, the ‘Mosaic of China' podcast interview series is an exercise in the interconnected-ness of all things. A weekly interview subject discusses their life and work and then suggests the subject for the next season. Thus we are all connected. We are all joined together... into something of a ‘mosaic', see? These days, when many of our personal connections might have undergone some significant strain, it's nice to see that this is still the case.
Thirty episodes of Season 1 and Season 2, along with highlight reels, can be listened to right here. Season 3 is now already two episodes in. It comes out every Tuesday. Check it out right here.
We spoke to the Shanghai-based podcast producer and host Oscar Fuchs, just after the launch event.
Hi Oscar. So how have you been?
Oscar: To be honest... I've been feeling solidly pissed off for the last few months! So in deciding to throw a party to celebrate the new season of the podcast, part of it was to give myself, and everyone else, a much-needed boost. We all just needed a reminder that there are amazing people under our noses in Shanghai — and of course across the rest of China — representing all walks of life. A true Mosaic.
Yeah, The Mosaic of China...
Oscar: Exactly. That's still the philosophy of the podcast project...
SmSh: Can you introduce the series for people who might not have come across it yet?
Oscar: It's a series of thought-provoking yet fun interviews with a really diverse group of people: women and men; Chinese and non-Chinese; representing business, sports, science, the arts, you name it. And increasingly representing all corners of China, not just Shanghai. The idea is to discuss life in China from as many different angles, through as many different lenses as possible. There have been 60 guests so far, and I can't wait for everyone to hear the 30 new episodes coming up. It's finally happening.
Right, it's been a while. Have you been on a hiatus?
Oscar: You said it. I'm about five months behind schedule. Actually, I was almost at this stage back in February. I had finished recording almost all of the episodes, I even had a launch venue in mind. But then everything went on pause. And guess what, that venue has now closed and the owner isn't even living in China any more. So, yes, it feels like the launch of Season 3 is like coming out of hibernation. Or like coming out of a mourning period. And now it's time to start living again. That's how it felt to me at the party, and I want to continue transmitting that same energy from now on.
SmSh: So what can listeners expect on Season 3? Any surprises?
Oscar: Always surprises! That's actually the hard part when talking about the new season. I desperately want to tell you what's coming up. But at the same time I want each episode to come ‘out of the blue' as a refreshing contrast to the previous episode. That's one of the reasons why I record all 30 interviews before releasing even the first episode of the season. It allows me to design the order in an attempt to achieve these contrasts.
SmSh: What's the other reason?
Oscar: Ha! The other reason is more practical. I realized that I can't juggle too much at once, so I needed to divide the process into two parts. The launch of the Season marks the end of the first phase: the pre-production and the recording. From now on, I will work on editing and releasing each recording on a weekly basis. The edit is a time-intensive process because I want each episode to be short, so that busy people will still find time to listen. Then I need to create transcripts for each episode, so that people who aren't totally fluent in English can still enjoy the show. And finally I need to gather lots of extra photos and graphics, because each episode comes with visual accompaniments, which I share in WeChat groups and on other social media platforms. All of this makes the job of releasing episodes very busy, so there's no way I could juggle recording new episodes at the same time. At least without giving myself an aneurism.
SmSh: Er, that seems like a lot of work you've made for yourself.
Oscar: Yes. I'm an idiot with this kind of thing, I seem to keep finding new ways to complicate my life with this project. But I love it. Each part of the process calls for a different set of skills, so I'm a long way from becoming bored with making this podcast. I have a short attention span, so switching between these different roles seems to fit my personality, and my particular basket of neuroses.
SmSh: You haven't said anything about Season 3 yet. Isn't there anything you want people to know?
Oscar: Well, I will say that I'm so happy that SmartShanghai is one of the official supporters of the show this Season. So when I ask each of the 30 guest about their favourite hang-out in Shanghai (or elsewhere in China), I give a little shout-out to you. It has been great to partner with you this season.
SmSh: But of course... likewise!
Oscar: As for the 30 guest episodes themselves, I will say that there are 8 Chinese Mainlanders, 9 European, 5 North Americans, 1 Latin American, 1 African, and 6 people from Asia Pacific. They represent people from business, technology, the arts, hospitality, entertainment, sports, you name it! This season has a really nice mix of people from mainstream pursuits, as well as those who represent very specific sub-cultures. With any luck it'll be the best season yet, so I'm hoping that the podcast will help us all to remember the best parts about living here, and about feeling part of a China-wide community of like-minded people.