Memphian(s) to Meet: Andrew Lebowitz and Billy Nation

Posted on August 1, 2014

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IMG_3609By Kendra Lyons

Andrew Lebowitz and Billy Nation are best friends and the founders of Creative Memphis Podcast, which launched this year. So far, the podcast has featured six creative Memphians (including GRIND alum!) from rapper Marco Pavé, to “I Love Memphis” blogger, Holly Whitfield.The pair is determined to open up dialog among creative Memphians and share the conversations with everyone.

Lebowitz, an alumni from Memphis College of Art, started off with freelance work and was hired by Oden Marketing and Design, a brand management firm downtown. September of last year, Nation, also employed by Oden, shared his passion for podcasts with Lebowitz, and they quickly became determined to start one of their own.

“We were really just trying to express ourselves,” Lebowitz says.

“We did Episode 1 in the fall of 2013 and then we didn’t record another episode until, like, February,” Nation explains of their start. “February rolls around and we’re like…we want to do this idea, so we sat down, put our nose to the grindstone, and really got to work.”

Nation describes the two as a “creative partnership,” and explains, “we feed and bounce ideas off of each other, which is actually how the podcast got started.”

Interacting with the two for the duration of the interview made it clear that they have an excellent understanding of one another; they can joke around and then switch right into business mode when they need to. Creatively, they are in sync and have the same goals, which is why tuning in to the Creative Memphis Podcast seems like you are sitting right there in the room with them, and a part of the conversation.

Although the pair loves talking with creatives, the discussion topics are not limited to creativity by any means. Lebowitz and Nation explain that an interesting part of their work is that usually the conversations end up taking unexpected turns, covering topics of big issues within our city, from racial divides to socioeconomic inequalities, to crime. That being said, it is a priority of the Creative Memphis Podcast to be representative of the diverse and vibrant culture that Memphis embodies. While it is a challenge to do so, Lebowitz and Nation are determined to make it happen in order to deliver the most accurate and honest portrayal of the city on their show possible.

Lebowitz says, “We have to be conscious of the audience and the diversity that we represent. Memphis is not a bunch of white dudes. It’s not even a bunch of white women. It’s this amazingly awesome diverse crowd and we started to realize that we’re looking at the lens through our realities and we have to be, as a podcast, if we really want to start a serious conversation in Memphis. We have to broaden this lens of context and be able to talk about it openly.”

Lebowitz and Nation were specifically passionate about sharing their conversation with North Memphis native rapper, Marco Pave, which delved into the realities of “modern day segregation” in Memphis.

Lebowitz explains candidly, “It was a real opportunity to sit there and be like dude…racism in Memphis is weird and we can talk about it now.”

Lebowitz and Nation seemed to share a sigh of relief when it came to their segment with Pave. It was a groundbreaking moment where three men from different backgrounds and walks of life could speak about the realities of the divisions in our community, and help one another grasp why things are the way they are, and take that small but important step, of open communication.

“We are trying to let it be organic but at the same time…we don’t want the same type of creative back to back. We want equal shares, all types of people,” Nation adds.

Creative Memphis Podcast has big potential, and the founders recognize that and are working towards expanding the audience regionally and possibly even, nationally. There really seem to be no limits as to how far the two will take the podcast when it comes to expanding the amount of listeners and participation they can get.

“We want to be a voice for everybody that’s in the creative scene in Memphis and for everyone who’s not here. We want to tell people about the amazing things that are happening in our city…and that’s why you should come here. While we have Elvis and BBQ sauce, there’s more to Memphis than just that.”

“When I think of a creative Memphian that is a meeting of two distinct things; a creative person, and a Memphian. A creative person in my mind is someone who does not accept the status quo. They are searching for a better way of executing whatever the problem is. A Memphian is someone who does not just take up space, but wants to better the city. A creative Memphian to looking to do things differently and look at the future of Memphis instead of the past,” Lebowitz says.

“To me,” Nation explains, “A creative is somebody who is having an output and wants other people to see it. A Memphian is someone who is in the area and is invested in Memphis in some way. A creative Memphian is someone in Memphis who is making an output and they care about this place in some manner.”

You can download Creative Memphis Podcast on iTunes (for free!) or tune in via their website. Also make sure to follow the guys on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to stay in the loop.

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