Welcome

Hi. My name is Martin Zaltz Austwick. I’m a musician, podcaster, performer, Honorary Senior Lecturer at CASA (UCL); I’ve written, produced, composed and performed for award-winning podcasts including Answer Me This!, The Allusionist, ZigZag, 99% Invisible (live), Song by Song and 20,000Hz. I write music as Pale Bird.

You can contact me on twitter @martinaustwick or email DrAustwick at gmail dot com.

What I’ve been up to lately:

  • Maddie’s Sound Explorers (August 2020) – a science podcast for 7-10 year olds, featuring a song built from the sounds of science and nature every episode. I developed the 15-episode series with host Maddie Moate and exec. producer Matt Hill. I booked and interviewed guests, scripted episodes with Maddie, and edited, produced, mixed and mastered the show, writing and a recording a new piece of music for each episode, based around the sounds and ideas we discover along the way.
  • Wrote scores for episodes of The Tranquillusionist, episodes of the show designed to be particularly soothing and calming (March-August 2020)
  • Judge and mentor on the 2019 Pulse Awards – a £50,000 fund led by the Wellcome Trust and the British Podcast Awards. Eleven podcasts were funded, and I supported two makers – Dave Pickering for Down to A Sunless Sea: Memories of My Dad  and Sarah Golding’s “Anyone F’Coffee”, a mixed fiction/nonfiction narrative podcast exploring women’s health (January-May 2020).

Quick links to:

I’m a podcaster – I’m one third of Answer Me This!, one of the UK’s most successful independent podcasts (Sony/Aria Silver, 2010 and a Sony/Aria Gold 2011). I also co-created Song by Song (British Podcast Gold Award: Review, 2017), Brain Train, Global Lab, and The Year of The Bird podcasts, and I’ve written for 20,000Hz.

I’ve written and performed music for the above podcasts, and for Zig ZagThe Allusionist, The Beef and Dairy Network, Mortified, the Glamour UK podcast, and many, many others. I’ve written music and performed live with The Allusionist, Radio Diaries, 99% Invisible, The Bugle, Radiotopia Live, and the 3rd Coast International Audio Festival awards ceremony.

I’ve spoken at Audiocraft, Hearsay, Vancouver Podcast Festival, Boring Conference, Geek Showoff, SciBar, Pint of Science and TEDx LSE, in additional to a range of academic conferences from the AAG to SPIE – about everything from Music for Podcasting, to Eggs, to Cycling, to GPS Data, to Medical Laser Physics.

I founded the Podcast Maker Weekend (as part of the London Podcast Festival) in 2017 to create high-quality, affordable sessions for UK podcasters, and currently act as a curator/director. In 2020 I organised a series of livestreams with international audio makers under the auspices of the Maker events.

In my academic life, I was a Senior Lecturer at CASA, at UCL’s Bartlett Faculty (2011-2017). I have a Physics degree and a PhD in Quantum Computing.  My recent research covered data visualisation, urban systems, and digital humanities. I have created modules and taught data visualisation, coding, podcasting, and physics, and was Course Director on a Spatial Data Science and Visualisation masters (2013-2017).

I was in public engagement through talks, videos, visualisations, events and podcasts. I won a UCL award for Public Engagement in 2016 and an ESPRC-funded Public Engagement Fellowship in 2015.

Podcasting

Recent work:

  • Maddie’s Sound Explorers (August 2020) – a science podcast for 7-10 year olds, featuring a song built from the sounds of science and nature every episode. I developed the 15-episode series with host Maddie Moate based on an original idea by exec producer Matt Hill. I booked and interviewed guests, scripted episodes with Maddie, and edited, produced, mixed and mastered the show, writing and a recording a new piece of music based around the sounds and ideas in each episode.
  • Judge and mentor on the 2019 Pulse Awards – a £50,000 fund led by the Wellcome Trust and the British Podcast Awards. Eleven podcasts were funded, and I supported two makers – Dave Pickering for Down to A Sunless Sea: Memories of My Dad – a series combining memoir, biography, and interviews with scientists and activists to address issues around ageing, dementia, assisted dying, and health; and Sarah Golding’s “Anyone F’Coffee”, a mixed fiction/nonfiction narrative podcast exploring women’s health (October 2019-May 2020).

I’m a podcast maker from end to end – I create shows, research, interview, host, record, edit, mix, master, and score (see Podcast Music below). I have particular experience in running, hosting, producing/mastering, interviewing, writing, and creating music for podcasts.

For example, I make music for The Allusionist, and have also provided editorial input for a number of episodes and touring shows. In 2018, I re-edited over 100 episodes to be suitable for ad injection, and remastered them for LUFS standardisation. I worked with their technical team to create an automated solution for gapless mp3s to reduce the intrusiveness of injected ads – a solution which the show currently uses. I’ve also researched stories and guests for the show.

I produce and co-host Song by Song (2015-, co-founded with Sam Pay), Winner of a 2017 British Podcast Award, which discusses every Tom Waits song in chronological order. Our guests have included Jon Ronson, Phoebe Judge, Jon Hodgman, Jeffrey Cranor, Simon Stephens and David Shrubsole.

Big In Japan, Mule Variations, Tom Waits [255] Song by Song

We return and begin again, this time with Chad Clark of Beauty Pill joining Martin and Sam for the first track of 1999’s Mule Variations. We discuss Chad’s perspective on music label relationships, the production choices and where the album sits at the end of the 20th century, plus how Waits relates to the energy of punk music. website: songbysongpodcast.com twitter: @songbysongpod e-mail: songbysongpodcast@gmail.com Music extracts used for illustrative/review purposes include: Big In Japan, Mule Variations, Tom Waits (1999) Making Plans For Bison, Pretty Little Baka Guy, Shonen Knife (1986) Do You Like Me, Red Medicine, Fugazi (1995) We think your Song by Song experience will be enhanced by hearing, in full, the songs featured in the show, which you can get hold of from your favourite record shop or online platform. Please support artists by buying their music, or using services which guarantee artists a revenue – listen responsibly.
  1. Big In Japan, Mule Variations, Tom Waits [255]
  2. Mule Variations teaser [254a]
  3. Old Shoes, The Early Years vol 2, Tom Waits [254]
  4. So It Goes, The Early Years vol 2, Tom Waits [253]
  5. Please Call Me, Baby, The Early Years vol 2, Tom Waits [252]

I’m music director, live engineer, and comedy sidekick/science nerd on question-answering podcast Answer me This!:

Just so you know, it has rude words and racy content. We’ve been running since 2007 and have won two UK Radio Academy/Sony/Aria Awards.

  • Co-creator, producer and alt. host of Brain Train (2012-2016, with Alice Bell).
  • Co-creator, alt. host, and senior/exec producer of Global Lab (2011-2017, co-founded with Steven Gray).
  • Year of the Bird (2019, formerly The Sound of The Ladies 2007-2017) podcast, composer, creator, host, everything else.
  • Engineer and composer on the Bright Club Podcast (2010-2011).

I’ve also guested on The 90 Minutes or Less Film Festival (with Colin Trevorrow), The Wire Stripped, Scientists Not the Science, Twenty Thousand HertzFlixwatcher, Getting Better Acquainted, Bright ClubThe Bugle [briefly], and Jordan, Jesse Go! [VERY briefly].

Podcast Music

I have been composing and recording music and song for podcasts since 2007, here is a sample:

You can listen to some samples of my podcast music organised into Themes, Bed Tracks, Full Songs and Live Scores – or it’s all together in the above soundcloud playlist.

Most recently:

  • Wrote the music for all 15 Episodes of Maddie’s Sound Explorers [season 1], a science podcast for young people. Each episode features a piece of music made from the sounds of science, engineering and nature we’ve discovered during the episode, and weaves in ideas that Maddie and our experts provided during the episode (August-November 2020).
  • Contributed music to the 20,000Hz episodes about Audio Deepfakes (September 2020) and John Cage’s 4’33” (January 2020), where the music was used in the subsequent mainstage TED talk – both of which I wrote and produced on.
  • Audiocraft Podcast Festival – created a mashup of (mostly Australian) podcast themes for their opening night event (July 2020).
  • I write theme music for the Zoom podcast (March 2019-June 2020 and onwards) – a movie podcast which focuses on a different genre each episode, so the theme song is different each time: spaghetti western, 50s scifi, zombie movie, classical, funk, Motown, Hot Club jazz…
  • Wrote scores for episodes of The Tranquillusionist, episodes of the show designed to be particularly soothing and calming (March 2020)
  • Created an original soundtrack for The Holiday Season, a podcast about the Nancy Meyers film The Holiday, inspired by Hans Zimmer’s score (December 2019).
  • Wrote the song “Apple Tree” for the end of The Family Tree – a magic realist drama.
  • In June 2017 I composed and recorded the score for The Allusionist’s Eclipse, inspired by Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart:
  • and in May 2016 created the score for Continental using items in a Moab Bed and Breakfast:

You can hear instrumental versions of my music on recent episodes of The Allusionist – as well as the theme tune I created.

Live Podcast Music and Performance

  • The Allusionist Live (US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand, 2017-2019) ; composer, musician, performer, tour manager and writer on show.
  • Radio Diaries – Dropped Wrench with Joe Richman (Hearsay Audio Festival, 2019; NYC and Washington DC, 2019); composer and musician.
  • The Bugle (US, 2018); arranger and musician.
  • Radiotopia Live (US, 2018); musician in house band.
  • Third Coast International Audio Awards (Chicago, USA, 2017); composer, MD and musician.
  • 99% Allusional (with 99% Invisible and The Allusionist, USA, 2017); composer and musician.

Songwriting and recording

I write songs and sing them on recordings and in public (if only there were a hypenate for that!). You can find it all here: http://palebirdmusic.com

In July 2020, I released I Told You How Important You Would Be, a mini album created in (remote) collaboration with San Fransiscan songwriter Lily Sloane:

In January 2020, I released Apple Tree, written for The Family Tree podcast, based on the Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal, written in 3400BC in northern Syria.

I currently record as Pale Bird – in 2019 I released 40 songs written in 2018 while I travelled around the world. It’s called Year of The Bird:

Ten Things Which Aren’t Love was released in late 2017:

In 2014, I released Through Intermittent Rain, a collection of songs mostly written especially for specific gigs and events:

In 2013, I did one half of a concept album, which you can listen to here:

I sometimes make videos of my music, like this one for “10,000 Letters of Love”:

This is the album it was taken from, 2012’s The City of Gold and Lead:

This is my 2011 collection of songs about science:


I also produce other people’s music sometimes –  including Spirit of Play’s 2017 Apocalypse EP:

as well as their previous EP, Take Shelter: https://spiritofplay.bandcamp.com/

Training, talks, and videos

Podcast teaching and training

  • Founder and lead of Podcast Maker Weekend at the annual London Podcast Festival: September 2017, 2018, 2019 (with a team of volunteers), 2020 (with Sarah Myles of Rise and Shine).
  • Curated a series of weekly Podcast Maker Livestreams (April-July 2020) to give international podcasters (in the UK, Italy, France, Australia, USA, and Canada) a platform for sharing ideas.
  • Music and Podcasting at the Vancouver Podcast Festival (November 2019)
  • Taught two workshops on podcasting for BIMM London’s Music Journalism BA (March 2019).
  • Down With Marimba at Hearsay audio festival, Kilfinane, Ireland, April 2019
  • Under the Hood with the Allusionist, Audiocraft 2019, Sydney, Australia
  • 10 Years of Podbiz with Helen Zaltzman and Martin Zaltz Austwick, PRX Podcast Garage, Boston, USA, 2017
  • Podcasting for scientists, lecture class, University College London (2015-2017).

University Teaching

I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher and Professional Education from the University of London’s Institute of Education, and worked as Senior Lecturer in Spatial Data Science and Visualisation in the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL (June 2011 – September 2017) teaching and designing and running modules and a masters degrees I have teaching experience going back to running Physics tutorials during my doctorate (2002), and have been regularly teaching lecture courses to undergraduates and graduates since 2008.

Previous research interests

Here are some useful links for finding out more about my research:

Hannah Fry and I voiced (and I scored) this video about CASA’s work in 2016:

Here I am in 2015 talking about data visualisation (with thanks to Kevin Biderman, full details in the vimeo page):

And here I am talking about cities and data for a UCL lunch hour lecture in December 2012:

Here is a talk I did on eggs at the Boring Conference in May 2014. I’m not an egg physicist, I just like egg cookery:

Prior to working in this field, I have been a medical laser physicist and worked in the field of Quantum Computing. I think interdisciplinary work is inevitable whenever we start to to think about interesting problems that we might want to work on:

(that’s me at TEDx LSE in March 2013).

If you’d like to hear about some of my medical physics work, here’s a brief summary from 2009:

Data Visualisation

I’ve taught and trained on Data Visualisation since 2011, including

  • Principles of data visualisation and design
  • Processing
  • Python (pandas)
  • Carto

delivering to UCL Masters and Undergraduate students and ARUP and UK Central Government (Civil Service).


Examples of my work

RadioNet

RadioNet is a collaboration with Nina Garthwaite of In The Dark, a curated listening event. RadioNet visualises a network of recommendation and creation, centred around audio producers – it’s a work in progress (at time of writing in November 2018), and we are hoping it can be used in education, navigation and discovery. Check it out here and give us your feedback!

Screenshot 2018-10-26 15.24.59.png

Screenshot 2018-10-26 15.24.50

Painting With Light

Since 2015, I’ve developed site-specific visualisation and walks using the Pixelstick:

Madrid Bike Share

Visualising Data Collected by the Madrid Cycle Track project (this one from February 2018):

 

 

Visualisation of Dijkstra’s Algorithm

 

You can find more examples of my work on my vimeo page.

Press

Coverage for The Tranquillusionist include the Financial Times, Observer, Niemann Lab and Another Man Mag, who said “…host Helen Zaltzman reads all of her listener’s favourite words, beautifully and simply scored by Martin Austwick. You might feel a little silly when you first start, but mid-way through the episode takes on a remarkably melodic, meditative quality. It’s surprisingly restorative.”

“They Left Public Radio to Try Their Fortunes on The Blockchain”, New York Times, 2019-09-16

Ms. Zomorodi got serious about explaining blockchain in the second episode of “ZigZag,” and she did it with the help of a “Schoolhouse Rock”-style jingle sung by the musician and podcaster Martin Zaltz Austwick.

…Between the host’s quick descriptions of the technology’s three basic principles, Mr. Austwick strummed a guitar and sang:

“Bitcoin is blockchain’s baby
Transactions, trading, taking care of business on the blockchain
All my friends are computers and we’re working together on the blockchain”

While the ditty made the digital ledger sound almost cute, Civil, with its reliance on cryptocurrency, is not without risks. And because their podcast documents the entry of Ms. Zomorodi and Ms. Poyant into the blockchain world, they often end up reporting on the company that is their main partner….

“Polymath podcaster Martin Zaltz Austwick thrives on DIY ethic at Vancouver Podcast Festival”, Mike Usinger, The Georgia Straight, 2019-11-06
…Austwick makes music under a number of banners—Pale Bird, Martin Austwick, Dr Martin Austwick, and The Sound of the Ladies—his output suggesting that he’s as fascinated with lo-fi folk and low-key postrock as he is with ambient noise and glitched-out electronica. But it’s arguably his podcasting—bringing him to the West Coast for the second Vancouver Podcast Festival—that he’s best known for…


Over the past decade or so, Austwick has had a hand in creating and/or hosting podcasts focused on everything from technology (Global Lab) to education (Brain Train) to horizon-expanding comedy (Answer Me This!). His Vancouver Podcast Fest appearance will see him teamed up with Helen Zaltzman for an episode of the series The Allusionist, which explores language and the way that humans use it….

“Embrace it: There are too many podcasts out there, and that’s good for everyone”, CNET review of Podcast Maker Weekend 2019, Sarah McDermott, 2019-09-20

But everyone has to start somewhere. Coinciding with the second weekend of the event, the Podcast Makers’ Festival is a series of panels and workshops for would-be podcasters. They include guides to writing audio fiction, creating soundscapes for imaginary worlds, monetizing a new podcast and getting your voice heard.

…It’s hard to spend a few days surrounded by podcasters and fans without feeling the weight of all that work. But it’s also inspirational. It reminds me of the many things I’ve started to write and abandoned. If all these people can find the energy and courage to create something and send it out into the world, maybe I can too.


Review of The Allusionist 2019 Live Touring Show, “No Title”, Bello Collective 100 Outstanding Podcasts of 2019, 2019-12-03

What I really wanted to write about is something you can’t listen to on your podcast player. But I need to give some immense buckets of love to the best podcast live show I saw in 2019, The Allusionist’s “No Title.” In a world where a live show usually means “doing the podcast exactly how we do it in the studio, but with an audience,” The Allusionist made a true piece of stage-craft in the tradition of what you usually here in your podcatcher. It’s smart, funny, and extremely Helen-Zaltzmanian, with an extra shoutout to Martin Austwick for the accompaniment and dry commentary that makes the show really feel live. Follow The Allusionist on Twitter to catch the end of this amazing tour, but if there isn’t a live show near you, you can still subscribe to the podcast. Start with “Apples,” which how new varieties of apples get their names.

Bios

This is embarassing. But if you want a bio for an event I’m speaking at, singing at, dancing at or otherwise frequenting, there’s some useful text here, and some lovely photos below:

Music/podcasting

Martin Zaltz Austwick has composed for and produced podcasts since 2007, and has created music for many many shows including ZigZag, The Allusionist, Answer Me This, Mortified, and The Beef And Dairy Network, and created and performed live scores for The Allusionist, 99% Invisible, The Bugle, Radio Diaries, and the 3rd Coast International Audio Awards. He makes themes, full scores, bed tracks, songs, and whatever else you’d like. Once, he created a theme song for a podcast that only existed in the fictional world of an audio drama – that was very meta. Most recently, he’s created themes in several different styles (funk, harpsichord, spaghetti western, zombies, string quartet) for Focus Features’ Zoom podcast, and wrote and scored an episode about John Cage’s 4’33’’ for the 20,000Hz podcast. In 2019 he released 40 songs as Pale Bird, he has a doctorate in Quantum Physics, and he co-hosts Song by Song, a podcast about every Tom Waits song. He’s always up for creative and fun projects.

Music/Podcasting Short Bio

Martin Zaltz Austwick has been a podcast host, producer, creator, composer, and live performer since 2007, and is part of the Aria-winning Answer Me This and British Podcast Award-wining Song by Song. He’s worked with prestigious podcasts including 99% Invisible, 20,000Hz, Radio Diaries, The Allusionist, and Zig Zag. He’s the founder and lead curator of the Podcast Maker Weekend as part of the London Podcast Festival and the Podcast Maker Streams, and has delivered podcast talks at Hearsay, the Vancouver Podcast Festival, Audiocraft and for BIMM and HEFCW.

<150 words (podcasting and audio):

Martin Zaltz Austwick is an award-winning podcaster (Radio Academy/Sony/Aria Gold for Answer Me This! in 2011; British Podcast Award 2017 for Song by Song). He’s co-created, presented and produced podcasts since 2007 including Answer Me This!, Song by Song, Brain Train, Global Lab and The Sound of The Ladies, and created music for the above and The Allusionist, ZigZag, Zoom and many more. Martin is the founder and lead curator of the Podcast Maker Weekend (2017-) as part of the London Podcast Festival.  He’s recorded nine albums and several EPs of original songs as Pale Bird, and (Dr) Martin Austwick.

<100 words (academic/training):

Martin Zaltz Austwick is a specialist in podcasting, audio, data visualisation, mapping, and public engagement, and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Spatial Data Science and Visualisation at the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at UCL.

Photos:

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