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Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Jan 09, 2012

The Moth Profiles: Paul Ruest

by Laura Hadden, Media & Communications Manager

When The Moth began its journey into the wide world of audio production, we were lucky enough to find Paul Ruest of Argot Studios. Those of you who listen to our podcast or The Moth Radio Hour have undoubtedly heard his name and those who have attended Moth events have probably even seen him for yourself – the man wearing headphones and twisting knobs at the side of the stage and occasionally adjusting the microphone. Paul’s ears also work magic behind the scenes on many other Moth projects.

In this blog, we’re putting on our own headphones and giving Paul the mic for a change.

MOTH: When and how did you decide to become a sound engineer?

PAUL: I matriculated at Berklee College of Music in Boston, as a vocalist and trumpet player. I was getting quite a few requests at Berklee to sing on projects in the Music Production & Engineering Dept. The recording technology was intriguing, and analog tape was soooo sexy! Soon, I was on the other side of the glass, twiddling knobs. I moved to NYC with the hope of working in a studio and making records.

MOTH: Describe your role with The Moth. What other work do you do?

PAUL: Recording shows and post-producing the podcast is my primary roll with the The Moth. Mastering the ‘Best of The Moth’ CD’s and supervising other engineers is the other part of my job. You would be very surprised at the number of details that are related to recording one microphone.

In addition to my work with The Moth, I run a broadcast production studio. Kind of like an audio-bistro for radio geeks. Here I provide services to Public Broadcasters and Podcasters here in the US and Internationally. Additionally, I have a vast tool collection. So I can build things, and perform simple dental procedures on my friends. Wanna be my friend?

MOTH: How did you find The Moth (or, how did The Moth find you)?

PAUL: I received a call about seven years go as The Moth staff was contemplating the idea of producing a radio program of recorded stories. We worked on a couple of experiments over the next few years, but it wasn’t until the Fall of 2007 that we worked out a plan to record all the New York shows. The rest as they say, is history, except that it’s really just the beginning! New things are happening every day at the Moth. The future is vast for all who are interested.

MOTH: What was your first show? What were your first impressions of The Moth?

PAUL: My first show was around seven years ago at The Bitter End. I went to the show to see what the buzz was all about. I can’t remember too much about it except that there was enough room in the venue so that I could put my bag on the chair next to mine, and stretch my legs out. A short time later I went to another StorySLAM, this time at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. That’s where I became hooked. I knew then that I wanted to work with The Moth.

MOTH: In your best estimate, how many Moth shows have you personally recorded?

PAUL: I think I’ve recorded 6 million shows, no wait, that should be 7 million, or something like that. They were all awesome!

MOTH: Why do you think The Moth works in audio?

PAUL: This is an interesting question. We work hard to capture the story in an intimate manner. I think a good story well told, with a good recording, listened to uninterrupted, (with ear-buds, or alone in a room, or while speeding down a dark highway) puts you right in the action. You will cry, you will laugh, you may suddenly realize that you’ve been holding your breath for a minute in suspense. With social media and virtual life styles on the rise, it seems to me, that so much of the world is seeing who can fake it the best, and are proud of it at that. When someone listens to the Moth, I think they are reminded that the best part of being alive is your pulse, not your mouse.

MOTH: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work with The Moth?

PAUL: The people, The Moth community. I have met so many amazing people over the last four years, and I’m not just talking about storytellers. Staff, hosts, board members, audience members, interns, venue personnel and, of course, podcast enthusiasts. This community cares like a family, and is full of positive potential. If my apartment was just a little bigger, I’d invite everyone single person who even spoke the words ‘The Moth’ over for a party!

MOTH: If you could see (or hear) anyone tell a story at The Moth, who would it be and why?

PAUL: Hands down: Reverend Desmond Tutu (of course, he would take the stage right after Jane Goodall). You see, to me this world seems fucked in so many ways. Perhaps I’m frustrated after 10 years of watching a ‘Just War’ that’s unjustified, and the social and environmental consequences of these years. I wonder if more people could understand the world as Reverend Tutu does and acquire the skill he has for resolving conflict peacefully, maybe this planet might have a chance of experiencing a harmonic era. But in the mean time, I’m happy we can all cozy up around that single microphone every once and a while, with our hearts and ears

Paulruest Embed

Photo credit: Sarah Stacke

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