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Phil Collins, finding joy, fake supermarkets

Dallas Taylor (Twenty Thousand Hertz)

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Once upon a time, Dallas Taylor remembers, it was a compliment to call someone an "audiophile."

"Traditionally, audiophiles have been people who are super into Hi-Fi and putting together great systems. But over time, it turned into, at least the way that I hear it ... It's kind of a snobbish thing."

But he says his "mission," as professional sound designer and the host of a podcast that celebrates sound design, Twenty Thousand Hertz, is to remind people that we are all audiophiles, even if we wouldn't call ourselves that.

"You don't need extra permission to think and curate sound around you, just like you don't have to with all of your other human experiences and core senses."

And on today's Follow Friday, Dallas has curated four people he follows who represent his diverse tastes: A famous design enthusiast who privately helped him realize the purpose of his show; a beloved ex-podcaster who solved mundane mysteries in beautiful fashion; a filmmaker and composer who has taken his YouTube viewers to the end of time; and a group of off-the-wall artists who are redefining the idea of an art installation.

You can get bonus episodes of Follow Friday every week — including an extra follow recommendation from Dallas, coming early next week — when you back Follow Friday on Patreon, starting at just $1 a month.

Follow us:

- Follow Dallas on TikTok @twentythousandhertz and his studio on Instagram @defactosound
- Follow us @followfridaypod on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok and find clips from the show on our YouTube channel
- Follow Eric on Twitter @heyheyesj

Theme song written by Eric Johnson, and performed by Yona Marie. Show art by Dodi Hermawan.

Thank you to our amazing patrons: Jon, Justin, Amy, Yoichi, and Elizabeth
Full transcript of this episode
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ERIC JOHNSON: Today on Follow Friday, we're going to talk about secret ringtones, Phil Collins, finding joy, the overview effect, the end of time, Disney World, and fake supermarkets. That's in a minute with Dallas Taylor from Twenty Thousand Hertz.

But first, if you're listening to this on Friday, September 24, the day it comes out, then you still have time to get a ticket to Follow Friday LIVE with Kara Swisher, which is tonight at 6:30pm Pacific Time. Tickets are available if you want to watch virtually on Zoom, and I think there are also a few in-person tickets left. I look forward to seeing many of you tonight in San Francisco. If you don't have a ticket yet, either in-person or virtual, the place to go is followfriday.net/swishertickets

[theme song]

ERIC: I'm Eric Johnson. Welcome to Follow Friday, a podcast about who you should follow online. Every week, I talk to creative people about who they follow, and why. This is a guided tour to the best people on the internet, led by your favorite writers, podcasters, comedians, and more.

You can support the show and get bonus episodes for as little as a dollar a month at patreon.com/followfriday.

Today on the show is Dallas Taylor, the host and creator of the podcast, Twenty Thousand Hertz. The show tells stories about the world's most recognizable and interesting sounds. He's also the creative director of the sound design studio Defacto Sound. You can find Dallas on Twitter @d_llas and you can find his podcast, Twenty Thousand Hertz, at 20k.org.

Dallas, welcome to Follow Friday!

DALLAS: Hey, thanks for having me.

ERIC: I absolutely love your podcast. It's one of my favorites. I'm so glad you could be here. You have done episodes about everything from computer startup noises to slot machines, to the Netflix sound, also known as the ta-dum. How do you decide what will make for a good episode of Twenty Thousand Hertz? How much work goes into these episodes?

DALLAS: To answer the second question, we did calculate that and it turns out to be roughly 200 to 300 hours per episode.

ERIC: Oh, my gosh.

DALLAS: That goes through the pre-production, the outline, and then getting the interviews and so on and so forth, all the way until the very end.

But to answer your first question, how do we come up with things? It's interesting because it's very different from the public radio model. It's something we tried to fit ourselves into for a long time until we realized that some of our mission clashes a little bit with trying to put it in the public radio model.

For example, sometimes we will simply go, "What is one of, or what is the most recognizable sound in the world?" We start there and then we figure it out along the way. Most of the time, it's like, "You know what would be a really cool show? The ta-dum on Netflix. I bet there's something behind that. Let's do it."

We green-light things based on the subject alone. Oftentimes we find a really compelling story along the way. It's a little nerve-wracking, but we find it.

ERIC: I tweeted at you recently because Hulu has its own version of the ta-dum now, which to me is like a jump scare. It's a very sudden, startling noise. I can't articulate why it's so unsettling to me, but maybe one day you'll do an episode about that. Who knows?

DALLAS: I've wanted to do Hulu. I think Hulu has some of the coolest UI sounds and they've changed it two or three times. Every time they change it, I'm bummed out, because it sounded so cool, to begin with. I don't know. I want to tell that story and my first question will be, "Why do you change all these amazing sounds every two years?"

ERIC: Your podcast name is one of those "you either know or you don't" things. Explain why Twenty Thousand Hertz is such an important number.

DALLAS: A hertz is, if you think of a speaker going out and then sucking back and then going back to where it started, that's a cycle. That's how sound moves through the air. It's like pressure and then a vacuum, but very quickly. So one hertz would be very, very low, to the point where you could even shake your hand and make a speaker out of it. You're not going to hear anything.

You don't even start to hear a sound until I hit about 20 hertz and it takes a lot of energy to push something until you're starting to hear that real low thing. The range of human hearing goes from 20 Hertz, real low, up to really high, to 20,000 Hertz, which really only children can hear.

Once you hit about 20-ish, you're probably going down to 19,000 or 18,500. Then once you hit 30, you're hitting 18,000. Then at 40, you may be at 16,500 or so, a very normal part of growing up. That's the upper limit of human hearing.

ERIC: I remember hearing in high school about, there was a thing for a while of special ringtones that only teenagers could hear, that if you were an adult, say a teacher or a staff member of the school, that it'd be so high-pitched that you couldn't hear it. I'm not sure how many people actually did that, but it's brilliant.

DALLAS: I want to be friends with them. They need some apprenticeship at Twenty Thousand Hertz if they're doing that. There are documented cases of this in convenience stores in Japan, and I believe it's happened in the US too, where they'll have this ear-piercingly high tone that people under a certain age can hear and people over can't. Very age-discriminatory, but in a very geeky-sound way. It's like, "That's neat but wrong!"

ERIC: "Sure it's discriminatory and probably illegal, but look, it's cool science!"

DALLAS: It's so neat. It's science. Don't do that, but it's a good story.

ERIC: Well, let's find out who Dallas Taylor follows. You can follow along with us today. Every person he recommends will be linked in the show notes and in the transcript at followfridaypodcast.com.

Dallas, before the show, I gave you a list of categories and I asked you to tell me four people you follow who fit in those categories. Your first pick is in the category, "Someone who inspires you", and you said Roman Mars, the host of the podcast, 99 Percent Invisible. He's on Twitter @romanmars.

I'm a huge fan of 99 PI so I already have a sense of why you'd call Roman an inspiration, but lay it out for me. What does his work mean to you?

DALLAS: There's a lot to it. I started my business well before I started the podcast. It was roughly about the same time that Roman came out with 99 PI. The thing that was so profound, and this was 5, 6, 7 years prior to me starting my show, but it was right around the time I started my business, Roman was able to communicate design in this very romantic way. It influenced how I was going to market my own company early on.

It also made me realize the way that I could communicate sound and sound design, if I can do it in a much more emotionally resonant way for clients and things, they get it a lot more, rather than talking about the details of tech and how many bitrate and stuff like that, or deliverables.

That's pretty boring to creatives, but Roman had this beautiful way of marrying design and humanity together. That was very much the starting point of why I wanted to do a show about sound, because Roman did a lot of shows about sound until I asked Roman, "Can I take this ball and run with it?" I don't know if he ever really gave the blessing.

I think the reason that he's inspiring goes well beyond what he shows publicly. I think you get an idea of this publicly, but the thing that inspires me the most are all the private conversations that we've had.

Early on, he played our second episode on 99 PI when we launched our third. Back then, I didn't understand what his motivation was for that. Then, over time, I started to realize how much of a heart he has for transforming audio-only production or boosting the quality and whatnot.

I know he's one of the busiest people out there, but he's also very kind, very in it for the craft. And if something really wild happens behind the scenes — either some big opportunity comes for Twenty Thousand Hertz, or for me, or something like that and I'm not exactly sure how to navigate it, he's been there five years ago and can piece some things together.

Behind the scenes, he has such a heart for making this craft so good. He cares so much, not just about blowing up audience numbers but making really good radio.

ERIC: I had the privilege to meet Roman once at a podcasting event, in the hallway. He listened very politely when I geeked out about how much I love the show. It was one of those things where you meet someone you really admire and you can't stop yourself from saying something embarrassing.

I blabbed out the fact that when he, at the end of his show, goes, "Beautiful downtown Oakland, California," I always say it along with him. Now the whole world knows that, not just him.

You said a mixture of his work and then private conversations. Can you give an example of something that he has either done or said that challenged you to think differently or to improve your own work?

DALLAS: In conversations behind the scene, he's very pragmatic about how the industry works itself and having ownership of your content. I never really thought about that until much later, when I started to get into negotiations with networks and all kinds of stuff. I've talked to almost every network out there about potentially joining up.

I think a lot of podcasters dive into that as being the goal, and he was able to clearly set out what these entities want from you. That may not be what you think they want from you. That's been the clarity. He's been able to describe: Do you want to make something that you own that's incredibly special to a very niche group of people? If so, revel in that and enjoy it and make the best piece of content for them. Versus mass growth, following trends, trying to chase news stories, negativity.

For me, our show is very much about joy and escapism. He does a really good job of boiling it down to, why are you doing this? In the most basic of points and understanding that success in this podcast world might look completely different for every single person who enters it. It can't just be, you want 10 million listeners and you want to be world-renowned.

That's what I really enjoy. He frames it so beautifully to where I can take a lot of joy with where we're at and the audience that resonates with it.

ERIC: What's the best place to start for someone who wants to get into Roman's work, with 99 PI, or anything else? What's your recommendation?

DALLAS: I was a first-few-episode listener because the very first episode of 99 PI was about sound so it exploded in my pocket. I knew it from super early on. Like with my show too, I make everything super evergreen and that was probably off of Roman's style, to where any show that we do, you should, in theory, be able to consume at any point in time.

That's the thing with 99 PI. The thing that I enjoy the most is that I can play the latest episode and have no idea based on the intro, and then let it take me on a journey. And when I recommend something that, or even our show, I'm like, "Just go with it for a few episodes. Don't try to maximize your moment or find the right episode. Just grab the first one and press play."

Or if someone strongly recommended it, start at the first episode and get through a couple of episodes until you can get yourself in sync and you start to resonate with the host and you start to feel the vibe and all that.

ERIC: You start saying the lines along with them.

DALLAS: I think that's the thing with 99 PI and my show. I want it to be kind of a slow burn.

I don't want it to be, the second you hit play, I'm maximizing every split second of wording and entertainment and trying to be as Buzzfeed-y as possible. I don't want that style. I want it to be something that grows on you over time, and then you get long-term hooked.

ERIC: Well, that was Roman Mars, who's on Twitter @romanmars. You can listen to 99 Percent Invisible at 99percentinvisible.org.

Dallas, let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for someone who has stopped posting, but needs to come back. You said Starlee Kine, who is on Twitter and Instagram @StarleeKine.

She's been a frequent contributor to This American Life, but I think she's probably best known for a short-lived podcast she did called Mystery Show. Is this what you're thinking of when you say she needs to come back? Were you a big fan of Mystery Show?

DALLAS: Yeah, Mystery Show and especially the Phil Collins episode of This American Life, that we still talk about to this day in our show meetings. We're kind of seeking out the Phil Collins moment.
And if no one's heard that…

ERIC: Yeah, I haven't heard this one.

DALLAS: If you search for "Phil Collins + Starlee Kine + This American Life", it's one of the greatest pieces of radio ever that I don't want to spoil because it's so good. This was years ago.

ERIC: Looks like this was an episode called Break-Up Song. Or, the episode was called Break-Up, I think, and then the specific section was called Dr. Phil.

DALLAS: Then Starlee went on to make Mystery Show. The thing that's so magical about Starlee's work is it's the opposite of all these other things. I want to make a story about the Windows 95 sound, and then we can make a story out of it and it's interesting because there are all these little tidbits.

What Starlee is doing is the opposite, and crafting incredibly well … beautifully crafted stories from point A to point B, that keep you in the driveway and not wanting to get out. That's Starlee's work at This American Life and then Mystery Show.

I know a bunch of negative stuff happened with that show and Gimlet, and I try to stay out of all of that. That's probably why, as far as I'm aware, she's not writing for podcasts anymore. I think she's a television writer. I think that's the one creator, and Mystery Show being the one show that was painful to not continue. I want to hear her voice and her performance, and just crafting a story.

ERIC: Talk a bit more about what a Mystery Show episode would sound like. This is one of the shows that there's a legion of fans who are obsessed with how good the show was and I missed the boat on this one. So fill me in, what was so special about it?

DALLAS: It's like taking really mundane mysteries that you can't just Google. It just shows how an amazing writer can craft that journey. I think what's so beautiful about it is a very mundane, quirky mystery, that then Starlee took on as an opportunity to find along the way.

Layman podcast listeners may not understand how hard that is in scripting, to tell that linear story and hold all the spoilers in certain places. That's something we talk a lot about. Don't give away the punchline in the first sentence. Let things eventually evolve and come out there.

Starlee's work is a master of that. Her work is, every beat adds to it and there's a question. And if Starlee hasn't asked the question, you have the question. It's just beautiful. I recommend any of them.

ERIC: It sounds the podcast equivalent of a song in some ways, verse/chorus, there's a specific meaning or structure. There's a reason why everything is in there, which is not always a given in most podcasts.

DALLAS: It's also like if you took some of the best This American Life stories, which may be 10 minutes long or 15 minutes long, and you made a long-form, six-part theme on that with someone who has an amazing talent for writing and performing. For me, it's top-notch as far as crafting a story about a mundane thing, which is always our goal.

ERIC: Do you have a mystery in your life that you wish Starlee would swoop in and solve?

DALLAS: I wish I was clever enough to come up with a mystery for Starlee. I'd love to hear a Starlee Kine version of where COVID-19 came from. I would love to hear that intertwining, "Maybe it came from here," and then, "Maybe it came from there." Even if we get nowhere, I want to hear Starlee tell that story. I think that'd be fun. But I don't know if I want to hear anything about COVID.

ERIC: I know. It's like you want to hear it, but would you really listen to it? There's a difference there.

DALLAS: I'd love to hear the conspiracy theory, the science, all that stuff. But maybe that would destroy the entire Mystery Show concept.

ERIC: Maybe too heavy for people. Well, that was Starlee Kine, who's on Twitter and Instagram @StarleeKine. We're going to take a quick break now, but we'll be back in a minute with Dallas Taylor.

Today's show is brought to you by Follow Friday on Patreon. Week by week, being one of our Patreon backers gets more valuable, because I keep on adding minisodes that only the backers can hear.

We're up to about an hour and half of bonus follow recommendations that are exclusive to Patreon, so even if you've heard every episode of Follow Friday, you still have a lot more to listen to. And the best part is that you can get access to all those bonus minisodes for just a dollar a month.

You choose how much you want to pledge every month — obviously, I appreciate it if you can kick in more than a dollar, but that's up to you. Go to patreon.com/followfriday to check it out, and thank you so much for your support. That's patreon.com/followfriday.

Welcome back to Follow Friday. Dallas, let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for someone who makes you think, and you said John Boswell, also known as "melodysheep." He's on Twitter @musicalscience, on YouTube @melodysheep, and on Instagram @melodysheep_.

I watched a bit of John's work and let me just say, holy s**t, I had never heard of this guy before. I think I've been missing out. Explain what he does.

DALLAS: Years ago, about a decade ago, he would take Bob Ross and he would do an autotune version that was so joyous and it was so happy. It really, in musical form, gave you the feelings of Bob Ross concentrated, or Fred Rogers, or any of these things.

[clip from autotuned Bob Ross music video]

That's where I first heard about "melodysheep". And it wasn't ironic. It was joy-filled to the max. I feel like so much content is trying to be overly ironic or overly negative. His work was always like, "Look at how amazing this is; this person, this concept, this idea."

He ended up moving on to doing space videos, where he would start to really frame our existence from a universal level. There's a series called Life Beyond where it's like, life might be out there, and if we find it, here's how it might be.

He also does a beautiful job of visualizing it in a way that I've never seen. I think your reaction is pretty much the reaction that everyone has when they finally stumble on this. It's like, "Whoa, this is so mind-blowing." It's one of those things you see comments and they're like, "How is this free?" I've asked him that too because we recently collaborated. It was a little bit like a cycle.

I was super inspired by his work. We ended up making a show years ago about space and very much in that lens of melodysheep. Looking at sound from a cosmic perspective, and when we look at sound from a cosmic perspective, we realize that we're an anomaly with our atmosphere, our pressure. Light can go from one place in the universe all the way to the other side of the universe, but sound is on little islands.

Even if we went to Neptune and got into its atmosphere, sound is going to behave totally differently. Then with our ears being shaped and in tune with this Earth, I wanted to make a show about looking at sound from a very rare standpoint.

We made that show, and then years went by. We ended up redoing it because a lot of people would ask, "What's your favorite show?" It's always a space show. We did a space remix show where once we got better, 30 or 40 episodes later, we re-narrated it and we re-edited it with some better practices.

Then a year went by after that, and I randomly wrote him through YouTube and said, "Hey, this was massively inspired by what you do. If there's ever an opportunity to collaborate, great." I can't remember exactly how he responded, but the way I remember it was, "I already know about this show and I would love to do something on it, right now."

So, we immediately jumped right into it. He took the mix and splits from our space episode and started to build out rough sketches. Then we wrote it all out and then recrafted it. One of his more recent episodes on YouTube is actually me narrating a version of our space episode with his visuals.

For me, it was a huge bucket list item to work with him. It's one of the best things I've ever been a part of in my life. I highly recommend checking that out.

ERIC: The name of the video, for anyone looking for it, is The Sounds of Space. The first video of his that I watched a bit of, I think it's probably his most popular one, is called Time-lapse of the Future: A Journey to the End of Time.

DALLAS: Oh, yeah. That's the one.

ERIC: Yeah, you know that one? In this one, he's advancing through time, starting in like 2021 and he's doubling the speed that he's advancing every five seconds. It's a half-hour video, but by the two-minute mark, we're at the year 141,000. A super volcano is exploding and creating a new Hawaiian island and it goes on from there.

So, you were already a fan of his channel and of the space videos he was doing. It may be hard to articulate this, but what does watching something that, where it's envisioning a world and envisioning a planet without humans, like post-Anthropocene, what does that do for you? Why do you think that's so interesting?

DALLAS: I think that I'm addicted to perspective shifts. The thing that I enjoy the most is being able to put my mind in the shoes of someone else. That's one of the reasons I love making the show. Even from a humanity and cosmic level, I think that our decisions, the way we live our lives when we not only realize that we're on this ball in this seemingly infinite universe, but then there's also this fourth dimension that we don't have control over, called time.

Being able to understand what time was before us and what time is going to be after us makes me understand where we are in this moment. At least in my personal life, it tries to keep me out of the weeds of the hot button issue of the moment, or at least put some more fresh perspective on that and understanding, it's going to be okay.

Like when we're talking about the pandemic right now, we have had pandemics. I think it's easy to get locked into our world out the way we see it as being the universe. It is our universe to us, but it is to be able to understand perspective and time, and time will continue well beyond us.

It puts a nice perspective on me as a human. His work was such a huge inspiration for Twenty Thousand Hertz because, with Twenty Thousand Hertz, I'm trying to get, culturally, people to active-listen more. I'm trying to build some legacy on that particular front. I think that the framing that he did helps me to understand the framing that I want to use in the podcast. It is mission-based and not to glorify me or my team. It's very much to change hearts and minds for sound.

ERIC: This is one of the areas of overlap that Roman Mars does with 99 PI. All design, the idea is that it's 99% invisible. We mostly tune it out unless it's bad, right? Unless it draws attention to itself in some way, by default, I think most people ignore design in our world.

Especially if you've been watching some of John's videos recently, do you find yourself thinking about the world differently? Do you have a mini … I'm going to use the phrase "overview effect", which is the wrong term to use. Overview effect is when astronauts are looking down at Earth from space and they feel differently about, like, world peace. Do you find yourself going out in nature or out into the world and having a different thought process when you've just watched something that John has made?

DALLAS: For sure. I think more than anything, it frames my own work and it helps me to have an overview effect of our other core senses. We have our sense of sight. As humans, we curate everything. You can look in any direction and that has been curated by you or another human.

We don't need permission to curate our sense of sight. Sense of touch: like, I like a super soft t-shirt and I like very comfy seats and HVAC and all of that. I curate that to make my life better. Sense of smell: you have candles and deodorants and sewage treatment and all that stuff. Then our sense of taste: I curate that a lot because I am a foodie to the max. You don't have to be a chef to curate that.

Culturally, at least here in the United States, sound has been one of those things that either you categorize as music and you're done, but the reality is that the vast majority of the sonic world is not music. Then on the flip side of that, sound has been very gate-kept from people with the term "audiophile", which for me, audiophile was a very positive term for a while, but now the definition is starting to change.

Traditionally, audiophiles have been people who are super into Hi-Fi and putting together great systems. But over time, it turned into, at least the way that I hear it, it's like, "Oh, you're an audiophile," which comes across to me like I have something that other people don't have. Or someone says, "I'm an audiophile." To me, it's an exclusive term.

ERIC: A snobbish term, yeah.

DALLAS: It's kind of a snobbish thing, and for me, my mission is to let people realize that everyone is an audiophile. And these little factoids, as they build up, everyone starts to realize that you don't need extra permission to think and curate sound around you, just like you don't have to with all of your other human experiences and core senses.

I think that my mission is to shift the way people think about sound. I don't want to do it from a lecture-y way or an overly academic way. I want to do it from a very simple human way and tell very simple, approachable stories that my grandmother could love, and enter into this world that all these sound designers love so much.

ERIC: Well, that was John Boswell, who's on YouTube @melodysheep.

We have time for one more follow today. Dallas, I asked you for someone super talented, who is still under the radar. You said, "Whoever is behind Meow Wolf." They're on Twitter and YouTube @MeowWolf, and Instagram @meow__wolf.

I sometimes hang out in the corners of the internet that love theme parks and escape rooms and other real-world amusements.

DALLAS: Me, too.

ERIC: I have heard the words "Meow Wolf" a lot, but I have not experienced this in person. Explain what this is and why you love it.

DALLAS: I love theming so much. A little hidden thing about me is I love things like Disney World or theme parks. I love design or even when someone makes their apartment look super unique. I just love theming. Great restaurants that take their food, but then put it into the walls and put it into the smells and all that stuff. For me, I love it so much.

I had gone to Las Vegas and I heard about this thing called Omega Mart, which is a full-sized grocery store with all fake products and actors acting out the shopkeepers and the people on the checkout line. They're all in on it. And as somebody who's been to Disney at least 20 times, it's the most themed thing I've ever seen, all the way down to the tiniest possible detail. You can buy these products.

It's an art installation, but that's not a good way to explain it. To me, it's a narrative first-person sci-fi video game, but in real life. It's this really mind-bending grocery store with fake products. Even the copy, all the way down to the ingredients, are all written very thoughtfully.

Come to find out that the more you experience it, you start to get clues. You open up a back, like the milk cabinet, and then it's a portal into this gigantic area that's like the upside-down or something. I didn't spend nearly enough time there to actually get what the story was. They had made video games that were completely exclusive to this. I saw a bunch of patrons in a back room with all these computers, literally typing things out and everyone trying to figure out a story.

It's the weirdest experience in the most positive way possible. The people behind this is this group called Meow Wolf that I don't know a lot about, but I want to leave the mystery box shut. Now they just made one in Denver. I think it started in Santa Fe.

I don't know how they get their money for this. I'm sure that, eventually, it's ticket sales, but I don't know who got this kicked off because I walked in there and I was like, "This must have cost a billion dollars." I know it didn't, but I went in there and I was like, "I know designers, I know all this stuff. The level of detail on this thing is unbelievable."

I think that on the one hand, I would love to know who's behind Meow Wolf and who's running that ship. On the other hand, I'd be perfectly content if the mystery always stays shut because it's such a joy to dive in and try to figure out the story. I can't wait to go back and I can't wait to go to the new Denver thing that they opened.

If I could pick their brain, it would be like, "How did...?" Theoretically, I know how they did it because they've done videos on it, but at the same time, I'm like, "This is an anomaly and I hope that this inspires other people to do very weird things with art."

ERIC: As I understand it, as well, it's different experiences in each city where they are. Santa Fe is different from Las Vegas, which is different from Denver. It's not like Disney World where the Haunted Mansion in Florida is basically the same as the one in California. There are some elements of starting from a blank canvas.

It seems whatever weird story they're telling, it seems it's an original. It's not adapted from a video game or from a book or from a movie or anything like that. It's a wholly original thing you have to experience. You have to go there in person. There's no analog to it in other places.

DALLAS: The thing that's closest to it is nothing in real life or even a movie. To me, the closest thing to it is The Stanley Parable, which is a first-person video game, or Gone Home. Gone Home, especially, because you're basically this girl that in the '80s got home in this creepy old house and no one's there. You gotta figure out what happens. It's about a two-hour game.

Or it's like Firewatch. It's like this constant sense of I don't know what's happening and it slowly unfolds. For me, it's like a real-life video game and it's my two interests hitting. It's like real-life theming with a narrative experience, and you can dive into details and find a book and start reading it and go, "Oh, my goodness, I'm starting to understand the story." That is what's so magical about that.

ERIC: Well, as we were saying earlier, you're an audiophile, in a good way. You are paying attention to how sound works out in our world. Was there anything especially cool or surprising about how Meow Wolf uses sound in the experience?

DALLAS: Oh, yeah. First of all, on YouTube, they put out commercials weekly. You can go to the Omega Mart YouTube page and they are putting out fake product commercials constantly. You can see that they do it in this very 80s type of style. All the sound is very downgraded.

[clip of Omega Mart commercial]

DALLAS: I was in the grocery store when randomly, I may have been in there for an hour and 15 minutes, and then suddenly out of nowhere, all the lights shut off, one TV pops up and it's some really weird, cryptic message. I was in the story, but as I was putting my sound designer hat on, I was like, "This is incredibly effective." Everything is done to such an incredible degree.

I have clients in my studio, but I look at this and I'm like, "How did whatever client, or wherever this money came from, not shoot down every single good idea here?" It's so interesting. So weird things will happen and it's very dynamic. The workers are in on it and I just don't know what to think, but it's so fun!

ERIC: Well, that was Meow Wolf, which you can find on Twitter and YouTube @MeowWolf, and on Instagram @meow__wolf. And there are three locations as you said: Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Denver. I cannot wait until I have a chance to go there. I'm so intrigued by all this.

DALLAS: It's so good.

ERIC: Dallas, thank you for sharing these follows with us today. Before we go, let's make sure our listeners know how to find you online. Where do you want them to follow you?

DALLAS: Number one, I'd say the podcast. You are listening to a podcast right now, so the easiest way to the next logical step would be whatever app you're listening in right now, going to its search function and putting in "Twenty Thousand Hertz". It might even auto-populate very soon. Then go tap "Subscribe."

Even if you don't listen to it right now, go tap "Subscribe", and wait for something to drop. Then when you get a chance, take a listen to it. I hope that it'll resonate with you. Beyond that, I own a sound design studio, so probably our Instagram page, @DefactoSound.

We do a lot of behind the scenes of what we do over there, but then we'll drop some Twenty Thousand Hertz stuff. Oh! And, if you like audio stuff in general, I just started a TikTok channel myself, which is @twentythousandhertz. It's a way for me to give my random, one-minute thoughts on a particular topic.

If someone's like, "What's your studio like?" I go, "Here's a one-minute tour of my studio." Or, "How do you process the voices on your show?" "Here's how we do it." Or I might do a little factoid, like I did a little video about the 20th Century Fox theme song and lots of little Easter eggs in it.

I'd say TikTok's actually been a lot of fun. I finally did it. I've been sitting on it for a year and then I was, "Okay, I'm going to do it."

This is how nerdy this is. I literally had to take a Skillshare class on TikTok. That's how ancient I'm becoming, but once I got it, I was like, "Okay, I get it. I'm taking this way too seriously."

I just need to use it as an opportunity to be like, "Hey, here's this thought I think about it a lot." I even did that whole audiophile thing, "I don't love the word audiophile because of this, that, and the other." It's just a way to get feedback from people.

So I'm not taking it too seriously, but it's a way to communicate little thoughts and get quick feedback on it.

ERIC: That's Twenty Thousand Hertz all spelled out is the TikTok user name?

DALLAS: Or you can search for Dallas Taylor and it should come up.

ERIC: Perfect. Well, follow me on Twitter @HeyHeyESJ and this show on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok @FollowFridayPod. You can find clips from the show at followfriday.co/youtube.

Follow Friday's theme music was written by me and performed by Yona Marie. Our show art was illustrated by Dodi Hermawan. That's all for this week. This is Eric Johnson, reminding you to talk about people behind their backs, and when you do, say something nice.

See you next Friday!

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