Vish Khanna (Kreative Kontrol, Long Winter, and former CBC Radio 3 host) surprised music fans when it was announced last month that he would be hosting a live TV Show entitled Long Night, named partially after the Long Winter series he has hosted for the last few years. The shows were taped January 30 to February 1, 2017 at The Great Hall in Toronto. OurBasement asked Vish some questions about his current activities…
OurBasement[OB]: How was Long Night conceived?
Vish Khanna[VK]: I was invited to work with the crew putting on the Long Winter multidisciplinary arts festival, which began at the Great Hall in Toronto in 2012. Mike Haliechuk from Fucked Up is the visionary behind the thing and maybe him or someone else asked me to MC the first show and then I got involved in some booking and planning.
At a staff meeting in year two, Colin Medley, who knew how much I loved David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and late night TV generally, suggested I should put together a live TV talk show for Long Winter and he came up with the name Long Night. So we started staging it in November, 2013. Our first guest was Lou Barlow somehow.
In a way, it began as a slight satire of the form–it had all the chaos, interpersonal tension, awkwardness, and weird elements of The Larry Sanders Show, which was the greatest television show ever made and remains a huge influence on me and the way in which I process human behaviour. At the same time, it was always a real show with earnest discussions about issues impacting people and artists in Toronto. As we’ve gone on, the live version of Long Night has gotten better and better and I hired Dave McKinnon to record each episode for my podcast, Kreative Kontrol.
My colleague and past Long Night guest Jesse Brown introduced me to a fellow named Ian Daffern over at Bell Media’s Fibe TV 1 in 2016. Ian was interested in having me film a version of Long Night for that channel and so that’s what we did recently: over three nights, we recorded six episodes, each with a thematic focus. They felt good and my guests were amazing. It had both an interview and a panel discussion component. We’ll begin packaging the shows throughout February and then hopefully we’ll have some good news about where they can be seen. If all goes well, we’ll make more of them but I dunno.
OB: If you could have any guest and/or musical guest on the show, who would it be?
VK: I don’t really have any grand wishlists. I just take all of this as it comes. Over the past 15 years, I’ve had really great conversations with virtually everyone I admire most. If I could push a button and speak with Bob Dylan or Willie Nelson or Neil Young or Gloria Steinem or Noam Chomsky or Dave Chappelle or Larry David or Jerry Seinfeld or Kim Gordon, I’d likely press it. But the big get never really excites me as much as the end of a really good talk does. Luckily, I generally have good talks with people. I’ve worked very hard to be a better conversationalist and, when my subjects express appreciation for how I took us somewhere unique or a listener sends me a nice note, I can feel it paying off.
OB: You also have a podcast, Kreative Kontrol that has been around for a few years now. What gave you the idea to start a crowd funded podcast?
VK: I was just making this show geared towards a modest audience and it was doing ok. People who care about niche culture appreciate the content.
Again, Colin Medley, my unofficial “producer” and life coach, suggested I start a Patreon page. I didn’t think it would get much traction and, while I’m tremendously, endlessly grateful for everyone who pledges, I was proven right.
It’s very helpful to cover costs but, looking at the landscape and the huge amounts of dough other creators receive for their podcasts, to say I’ve had modest success in crowd funding is an understatement. I couldn’t even threaten-to-leave my way to $500 a month. Again, it helps! But it’s not enough to sustain me and my family; I have to work elsewhere to keep the lights and microphones on.
And I understand this completely. The primary focus of the show isn’t even music, it’s underground music. So, not even the hugest version of an undervalued cultural form. I’m mostly talking to people who make an underrepresented version of an undervalued form of expression. Just like them, I didn’t expect to be making a ton of money doing this. But I will continue to make things until I simply can’t.
OB: Do you see the TV/Stage show as a natural progression of the podcast or do you see them as 2 different things?
VK: They’re different for sure. Long Night consists of short interview segments and, when there’s time to conceive of them, comedic bits and extra elements. It has commercial breaks and comedians, poets, musicians, and others perform during the show. Kreative Kontrol is an interview show and rarely strays from that format.