The Track.wist Project | Intro
For someone his ears found intense whenever he played Kier and Present Grainger relationship advice podcast, Tobe Oliver found Kierce Monroe to be a little more aloof than he expected in person.
“Never really heard your podcast,” she started, eyes closed, trying to zen herself out. “What’s it about?”
“It’s a music podcast. Music, and uh, storytelling.”
“Yeah, ‘storyline/soundscape’. You haven’t heard of it?”
“Maybe in passing, there’s just so many damn pods these days and not real way to have them in one good place.” She pulled out a compact from her purse, and checked her face for blemishes. “I know, we’re not live or on video, but I just want to make sure the mics get my best self.”
“Makes sense.” It didn’t. “We interview musical artists on songs. And then we get writers to narrate short stories they wrote based on them.”
“Sounds way too meta.”
“Like this project they got us on isn’t?”
“This? This is just weird.” She took a moment to check for stains in her teeth. “Whatever.”
The PA came in with the scripts for both of them. “This won’t take too long, guys. Tobe, ready for tonight’s episode?”
“Yeah, Kenji. You’re handling duties tonight?”
He flashed a smile. “Yeah man.” Then to Kierce, “Need another sparkling water?”
“Room temperature this time. And you have any Starburst?”
“Strawberry and cherry?”
“Damn, you’re good.”
“I’ll be right back, but we have to get this script out of the way before the next show.”
“Understood.” Tobe eyed the script Kenji passed to us, a promo for their series, a limited run of 12 episodes, called The track/wist Project.
“Track/wist?” Kierce looked peeved, reaching for candies that hadn’t quite arrived at her desk yet. “What the fuck is wist? Do you know?”
“I think the producers told me it was a play on wistful? So a tracklist for the wistful. It’s a little odd.”
She ignored him, her eyes staring at the door as if it was keeping Kenji from coming back. Tobe took a couple of sips and got his headphones on. The PA returned, slightly out of breath but with a couple of bottles and a plate of red and pink candies. He figured Kenji had to make a quick run for Kierce’s request, and when he turned to ask if Tobe need anything more, he shook his head calmly. Kenji’s shoulders straightened up and the rest of his body relaxed.
“Alright, let’s get this script out of the way.”
He got to the soundboard and set levels. Tobe took another sip, then looked over at my future podcast partner. Her eyes were closed as she popped a cherry square into her mouth.
“Tobe, lemme get your levels man.”
“Alright. You know, it’s always weird trying to figure out what to say.”
“I know, but absolutely anything works.”
“True. Well, this is Tobe Oliver and you are listening to The track/wist Project,—is that how you’re supposed to say it?”
“Smooth, man. I may actually use that as a bumper. And yeah Track/wist.”
“Cool, we got you. Kierce, your turn.” She recited lines from The Feminine Mystique, causing Tobe to lean sideways so that he could get full eye contact with her. She tugged at the collar of her black bomber, and once she saw Tobe’s eyes on hers, shrugged.
“I just had a narration session for this book. You’ve read Betty Friedan?”
“Heard of her more than I’ve actually read her.”
“More than most in the circles of bros that I’ve come across.”
“Did I just get a Kierce Monroe first impression?”
Finally, a laugh—a genuine one at that, one that brought out the softness in Kierce’s smooth, sharp tone: “You do listen to my show.”
“Just a little more than those circles of bros you come across.”
She gave a respectful nod. “I’ll take that.” Then to Kenji, her voice dropping back to its natural coldness, “Ready, Kenji?”
“Yup, I’m…,” the faint tap of the record button could be heard over the headphones, “ready when you are. Rolling.”
KIERCE: Hey, my lovelies. It’s Kierce Monroe from your fave Tuesday sesh, Kier and Present Grainger.
TOBE: And this is Tobe Oliver. You may have heard my voice overseeing tomes and tunes on the storyline/soundscape podcast. (to Kierce) Or not.
KIERCE: (slight laugh) If you haven’t, you should. Anyway, we’re here to talk a little bit about this new podcast that you should definitely get your ears on.
TOBE: We’ll be your hosts for The track/wist Project, a series where we’ll be talking music—
KIERCE: —and letting go. Or holding on. And everything other feeling that comes with the end of love.
TOBE: Just like on storyline/soundscape, your submissions are crucial.
KIERCE: And like on K and PG, we’ll make sure to give the advice your broken heart needs to feel whole again.
TOBE: It’s simple. Submit a list of ten songs to trackwistproject.com, along with a memory that accompanies your playlist.
KIERCE: If we like yours, we’ll play the songs and narrate your story for you.
TOBE: Told ya, it’s fairly simple. I’m looking forward to all the bottles of wine we’ll collect together.
KIERCE: Red or white?
TOBE: I fancy a good port now and then.
KIERCE: Noted. Remember to submit your stories to trackwist.com—and you’ll hear from us?
TOBE: November 1st.
KIERCE: Just in time f0r cuffing season.
TOBE: Indeed. The track/wist Project, with Kierce Monroe and Tobe Oliver. Coming November 1st to all your favorite podcast sites.
“Your voice is soothing, Tobe.” Kierce stepped out of her chair and put her platforms back on. She was maybe 5-foot-3 with them off. “Ever do any of those meditation videos?”
He snorted. “Nope. Are you saying I should?”
“At least consider it, I for one could accidentally fall asleep to your voice all the time.”
“Wow.” He stood, shocked. “Asshole.”
She giggled, grabbing her bottle of water. “You should understand when I’m telling a joke, no? How many episodes have you listened to?”
Two and a half seasons. “A few. But none of those jokes were aimed at me.”
“I guess. You’ll get used to them.” She reached out for a fist bump. He obliged.
“No, I just like being one of the bros.”
“Cause you’re always in those circles.”
“Exactly.” She pulled out her hair tie, letting her bushy brown curls cover up her face. “This should be good though. Feels natural.”
Kenji hopped out of the booth to greet them. “Fucking naturals. I’m looking forward to hearing you guys over the next few months.”
“Mmhmm.” Kierce was checking the time, once again distant. “I have to run to another VO session. The money never waits. Tobe.”
“Kierce.” She threw up deuces and walked out to a red Honda on the far end of the parking lot. Tobe waited for the headlights to get bright, the engine to warm up, and for Kierce to pull out of the lot.
“She’s fucking sunshine, isn’t she?” Kenji was now at the fridges, sifting through the La Croix.
“Depends on who you ask, I guess.” Tobe shrugged. “Not much for me to go off in person.”
“She’s fucking terrible, man. Fucking diva.” Kenji pulled up a seat and started poring over the rest of the night’s schedule.
“Cause she’s a woman, gave you a hard time or…”
“Because she really shouldn’t have been your co-host. The EPs were set on you. You’re gold to them. She’s just a fan favorite. Really popular at events, but really unprofessional over here.”
“I can list our rivals that worked with her in the past that just had to let her go over the past couple of years. She lucked out when she met Mackenzie Grainger here and started K and PG. Amazing fucking chemistry on mic, and inseparable.” He showed me a familiar pic: Mackenzie Grainger (who Tobe had met before at ComicCon, really sweet) sitting next to her co-host Monroe on a park bench, pouring her a glass of wine as a war of men and women wages behind them. They were an award-winning duo with sold-out live tapings, a separate merch site and a tendency to spark Twitter debates at least once a month.
“If it wasn’t for them being lightning in a bottle,” Kenji tossed his now-empty can into the recycling bin, “she’d probably be gone.” It clanged off the rim before, tumbling in with a rough clang. “Again.”
“I guess, if anything, I get to learn from her?”
“Maybe. It helps that you’ve been a guest on music podcasts before.”
“Still not the same.” Tobe went to the fridge and pulled out a can of red wine. He offered Kenji a can, but he refused. “I don’t know. I look forward to this. Gives me something to do outside of making sure record execs don’t hunt me down.”
“Ha.” Kenji highlighted Tobe’s storyline session and checked the time. 6:38pm. He was up for 11, right after “Chicks Talk Dick,” the unofficial Kevin Bacon/I Love Dick pod. “It’s way early, man. Go grab dinner or something. I’ll see you back here later.”
“Cool. And thanks again, Kenj. You’ve been great.”
“As have you, brother man.”
Tobe stepped out into the crisp evening air and checked his phone. 1 Missed Call, from an unknown number.
“Hey,” he called back, to an immediate answer, “did someone call this number.”
“Yeah, To-be or Not To-be.” Kierce sounded lively, if not completely lit. “Don’t you have your show in a couple of hours?
“Yup, glad you remembered.”
“What the hell are you doing now? I wanna grab a drink with you, build a rapport, all that.”
She didn’t seem forceful about it, just more excited than Tobe was expecting. “Um, nothing really. Was grabbing dinner.”
“I’m not sure if the kitchen’s still—hold on—excuse me, is the bar still open? Duh, no shit, you know what I meant!”
Tobe got through the gate, peering across the East River just in time to catch lavender and amber ripples of sunset emanate from the streets of Manhattan to the top of the skyline.
“Hey, Tobe! You still there?”
“Kitchen’s still open, I’mma text you an address. Come through.”
Tobe dragged his feet a little, “It’s sweet of you, but I already had a place in mind.”
“To eat by yourself?”
She groaned. “It’s not like I’m with people. Just come through. I’ll have a bottle of port waiting for you.”
As if she said his safe word, he laughed and rolled his eyes.
“See you soon.”