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The Skull Sessions: Hi Nay



William

Good evening. This is your loyal host William A. Wellman. In addition to creating Hello From The Hallowoods every week, I write novels, read horror stories and tune in to the work of other podcasters in the horror fiction space today. Sometimes I invite them into my dimly lit parlor for an armchair conversation about horror. In this bonus episode, I sat down with Motzie Dapul to talk about standing at the intersection of Philippines folk horror and Toronto city life. This is the Skull Sessions: Hi Nay.


*theme music plays*


William

We are here with Motzie Dapul today. Motzie, when did you first know that you wanted to be a storyteller?


Motzie

Ooh, a storyteller. I thought you were going to say podcaster. No, a storyteller, I was very very young. I was definitely making art and writing, books with art in them, when I was like six to eight years old. Old papers that were like, scratch papers, and then I would bind them with a stapler. So very early on, very very early on I knew.


I loved eating - I said eating? - I loved reading stories. I eat them. I love eating stories and I love making stories. So, very very early on in my life.


William

I feel like the great storytellers of our time also eat a lot of stories.


Motzie

Mhm. Yeah. They’re delicious.


William

There’s a constant process of taking in stories that you enjoy, and picking them apart and finding things that you like about them, and then turning it into your own thing and sending it back out into the world. It’s also interesting that you mention podcasters as well, because in a way, many of the great people that would have been horror writers sending little issues out to magazines, like back in the 1800’s or the 1900’s, now are getting to broadcast it vocally to a tiny online audience instead.


So I’m always curious, how did you find your way into podcasting in particular? Because I think for many of us, we started out doodling childhood stories, wanting to make something even though we didn’t quite know what it was, but. How has that kind of carried through your life? And how did you end up wanting to make a podcast of all things?


Motzie

Ooh. So, I’m an animator, and this will relate very heavily because what people don’t know is that animators do a lot of work where they want to listen to something while they’re doing their work. It’s all a lot of visual work so they can free their mind to listen to things. And podcasts are a big favorite.


Now, many people who like podcasts assume that podcasters listen to a lot of podcasts. Not so for me. I’ve listened to maybe like five all the way through. But the ones I have, I love them dearly. And what got us into podcasting was actually a specific show, which we’ve talked about before, we were very inspired by the Magnus Archives.


I think that was the one that made us realize that we could make a podcast, particularly because it is so brilliantly… I won’t say low-quality, in sound, but like. It plays with something where it broke down the barrier of ‘you need really really really high quality, high budget sound to make a show’. It kind of like, took that idea and was like. No, you could put a telephone filter and record under a duvet and it’ll be fine.


And also I just love horror. So during the pandemic especially, because it was a really tough time for everybody, for me in particular it was very tough because I was supposed to go see family after two years in immigration and then another three years I couldn’t see them. So five whole years away from family. So the Magnus Archives was just a really big way for me to kind of have something that got me through the day. All two hundred episodes, so.


And I wanted to make something similar, like I wanted to take the very simple, yet brilliant storytelling device, and kind of have a story that related more to what I knew, how I felt as a person of color, as an immigrant, as a Filipina, and kind of put that into a story. So I will always bang the drum of you know, The Magnus Archives was our inspiration, and now we’re part of the Rusty Quill Network and it’s kind of a big deal and it’s crazy. But that’s kind of how we got into it.


So for a lot of people who love podcasting in general, I don’t know, I didn’t know anything about podcasting when I started, and look at me now.


William

Now you’d mentioned that you work in animation. So, there’s at least a part of you that is engaged in telling a story through the visuals. Has it been difficult in any way to go to telling a story with no visuals at all?


Motzie

It’s not difficult for the podcast itself. It’s difficult for me to… um. ‘Cause I think a lot of what’s fun about being in, enjoying a podcast, is you know, your own interpretations of characters. I have made… For at least the first one and a half years of Hi Nay, we were very much like, oh we’re not going to have any visuals of the characters, we’ll just let people interpret them.


And then halfway through I gave up and I was like, actually I have drawings. I wanna show them my little, beautiful babies. And I wanted to like show them off. And I am friends with a lot of artists, so whenever they have their commissions open, I would commission them art of Hi Nay characters, and then I would be like, yeah I’ll use this as sort of just to on social media get people’s attention. And that’s kind of how Hi Nay has been. So not difficult for the podcast, difficult for me as a person to stop just drawing and doing art and paying people to do art and just showing off, look at my beautiful people.


William

I’m always intrigued as well. Because some shows do choose to put out like, hey, this is our ‘canon’ more or less appearance for this character, and this is their character model. And then other shows are like, ‘well it exists only in the mind, you see, and it could be anything that you want it to be, as long as you can imagine it, so you know we wouldn’t put labels on such things’.


Have you found it’s changed the reaction of your audience at all, or changed the way they engage with the story at all, to have put out some beautiful art of how you picture these characters to look?


Motzie

Um, a little bit? I do think that we got… and I think it’s just a matter of how we presented it, I think in the first week or month of Hi Nay, we got a lot of like, fan art of the main character. Which is really lovely. And ever since we revealed the appearances of the characters, there’s less, but I don’t know if that’s just because, you know, there’s a big spike of people interested at the beginning. You know, there’s always that sort of… you have to ride that, but you have to just keep being consistent.


Also because, I just want to add, one of the things that I wanted to emphasize for Hi Nay that is kind of different for other shows, is that each character has a distinct background, if that makes sense. I’ve seen this thing where characters who are quote unquote ‘racially ambiguous’, and I say racially ambiguous because they’re always just voiced by a white person, and that’s the only time they are racially ambiguous. And then interpretations of them happen that can be anything. But it’s like, I feel that not as much love is given to characters who are just straight up BIPOC from the get-go.


That’s just me. I’m like, I don’t know. It’s interesting to see that kind of, in different stories. But I did want to just emphasize, the reason we were comfortable with making specific visuals for these characters outside of just the podcast, is that they do have an identity, you can’t like. There’s no racial ambiguity. They are all a specific background.


There are many ways to interpret them as characters, but they’re kind of set in stone in this way. And it’s not to belittle the creativity or the wonderful interpretations of the fanbase, but for me it’s kind of like, this is how I see representation in the audio space. But that’s a whole other thing! Anyway. I think you get what I’m putting down, but yeah.


William

It is a curious trend when it comes to representation in audio but especially in this sort of ecosystem of like, horror fiction that we’ve got. It is still rare to find a show that is run by someone who is not white within like, the horror sphere. Was there anyone else that you could - you mentioned the Magnus Archives as being kind of an introduction or an inspiration - were there any other shows at the time that were doing what you wanted to do with Hi Nay?


Motzie

Um, not necessarily what I wanted to do. But you’d mentioned Welcome to Night Vale, that was my first introduction to audio drama. And that was like way back at its peak. And it didn’t like, jettison me into other audio dramas, but it did make me aware that it was a thing that people cared about a lot. And I did get through like 160 episodes of Welcome to Night Vale before I realized there wasn’t going to be an overarching story, and I was like, that was my jam, so I kind of fell off of it.


William

Mhm.


Motzie

Still wonderful, it’s just, you know. Wolf 359, I haven’t been able to finish it, but I got through a solid two and a half seasons, love that, quite a lot. And this one’s going to be completely different from the other ones, because one of the podcast’s that’s on Season 2 now, I think it just finished and I haven’t finished Season 2 yet but I will, is a…


*chuckles*


So all of those, you know, the horror podcast space. The one that I’m listening to that I love deeply, and I love the person who made it, is a romcom about a lawyer and an android. And it’s called Life with Leo(h), by Atypical Artists, and it is just this wonderfully… I would say twee, very sweet, shenanigans type story between a high powered black lady lawyer, because the scenario is also black, she’s Octavia Bray, who is wonderful. And an android who I will describe as literally just Connor from Detroit: Become Human. But if he was a household android rather than a policeman. And just like, that’s my thing that I’m like, oh look at all these audio dramas that are horror, and then this robot, this android romance.


William

Life with Leo(h) first came to my attention when they were running the crowdfund to start Season 2, and one of the perks I believe was that you could go down to like, California and go hang out with the crew at the recording studio.


Motzie

Oh my god yeah.


William

I definitely considered it for a bit, before I was like, ooh you know what, I’m not sure the horror writer income is going to justify a trip to California to go meet Octavia, Lauren Shippen, and all the voice actors there.


Motzie

Very much so.


William

But aw man, what a cool journey that would have been. Excellent.


Motzie

Would have been nice. And I did get the thing that I did want, which was a nice little message from Leo, who said nice things, and I was like, oh my heart. It’s very cozy, it’s a very nice podcast that I highly recommend for all the people that’s not in the audience of our podcast. Well, maybe. Maybe some people come here for romance.


William

I think this is one of the things that I’m happy to see in podcasting as well? And it’s not that it hasn’t existed before, but I feel like for a lot of new listeners, maybe it’s just the sphere I work in, but I feel like a lot of new listeners, when they enter audio drama, they enter horror audio drama. And the Welcome to Night Vale, people can say it’s the New Surreal, the New Weird, they can see it’s Surrealist, they can say it’s Horror, I’ve heard it described many ways. But that’s often an onboarding branch. The Magnus Archives is I think more frequently for, possibly a slightly younger generation, the big entry point that they had into audio fiction as well.


And so I always enjoy when people start to branch out and find out, oh wait, this isn’t just audio horror, although horror writers seem to love this medium. But there are also romcoms out there, Cry Havoc (Ask Questions Later) which is a roman sitcom just finished. There are sci-fi shows, there’s you know, a diversity within audio drama. And to some extent I feel like people are still feeling out just what kind of stories you can do well in this space.


Did you know that, ‘I’m gonna make a horror podcast, now I need to figure out what it’s going to be about’? Or did you start with the story, and then find podcasting as the best home for it? How did you know this was the right medium for this story?


Motzie

I think from the go I knew I wanted to do something like The Magnus Archives but also not like it at all. It was kind of like, I want to do a podcast that is like, lo-fi, monologue narrated, although I have also moved away from that as well. Well, not moved away, like. Diverted a little bit in some episodes.


And of course the style of just, having not necessarily monster of the week, but having more contained stories that contributed to the overarching plot. I knew I wanted all of those things. And I’ve had, you always as a creator have, a bunch of different ideas in your head at any given point. And sometimes you’ll pluck an idea from that little bag and you’re like, oh this will fit this medium.


And for me Hi Nay was like, a small idea that grew into something a lot bigger. But it was the idea of a person who was very nonchalant by way of just, ‘I’ve been through this song and dance before’. With horror, because I always find those the funniest, like it’s kind of funny in a meta way, having a character who just reacts to the most horrific supernatural craziness with ehhhh. Like yeah, I know about this, as though you have done it like as a job, and it takes away the sheen.


I know a lot of people love the bureaucracy aspect of the Magnus Archives, and I do know that I’ve kind of lost that in Hi Nay, because it’s more of a friend group rather than a whole operation. But I do find that I’ve replaced the bureaucracy aspect with an expertise of a character who is not necessarily like, shocked by all the horrible things she’s seeing.


And I find that personally very funny, it’s like… and I put a little bit of my own culture into that. Which is that a lot of Filipinos kind of, I don’t know if it’s just a running gag between all of us or if we all actually believe it, it’s never clear. It’s never been clear, and whenever we talk to each other, we kind of just like. Yeah. We understand that we just agree, to the conceit, which is that every Filipino has a ghost story. And we kind of live with this supernatural realism, where yeah, this bathroom’s haunted, yes this school is haunted, yes we know there’s a White Lady who… not a white lady, a White Lady, you know what I mean, who haunts this like, intersection.


Or we know that this film center’s haunted because of all the people who died there. So it’s like, we believe it, or maybe we do, or maybe we don’t. But either way, everyone agrees, everyone kind of nods their head at like, yeah, we know how to do this, we’ve been given instruction how to avoid horrible supernatural things from happening. ‘Cause that’s kind of just the culture. And so, take that character, put it in a situation where you have a very North American kind of, ‘oh what’s going on, what is this horrible thing’, and then you have a main character who’s kind of just like ‘oh yeah, no, it’s a ghost, we’ve gotta get the ghost’.


But in a way that’s not, Supernatural The TV Show. In a way where it’s not the reading off of a book or whatever, it’s just a lived experience. And I just thought that was funny and I’ve forgotten the question so I hope that answers it somehow.


William

I thought this was something that really set the show apart in its first episodes, is that often the formula for, not just audio horror, but many horror stories in general, is that. Character is going about their normal life, something spooky or evil happens, and then they embark on a journey of learning that conveniently gets to the chapter about exorcisms right about the third act when it’s time to send the monster back to where it came from. They’re frightened and shaking and trying their best to grapple with the magnitude of what this means for their life the whole time. And if they don’t, then it’s met with a certain amount of criticism or disbelief, where it’s like, well, if I was being haunted by a ghost I would leave. I wouldn’t stay in this haunted apartment, if I was being shadowed by the Shadow Demon.


So I found it really kind of something different to have a character who reacts fairly calmly I think in these first episodes, not out of the convenience of the plot, but because this is something this character has experience with already. And it’s like, this is a world that we’re actually not witnessing her first steps into it. This is her fourth or fifth step into it. In Episode 2.5, I think, Mari starts to discuss a little bit about her past, and how she came into some of, really like, where the moment happened where she began to get introduced to the supernatural element.


For your own self, did you also get shadowed by a ghost at some point, and then require familial intervention? How did you get your introduction into this folklore?


Motzie

*laughs*


Oh the answer is yes actually. So this is gonna be fun. Oh but before I do, I just wanna very quickly, I’ve said this in other interviews or at least like, discussions of Hi Nay. One of the things I wanted to do with Hi Nay is have that. In a lot of horror movies a character is introduced who is the One Who Knows Things. And for some reason, the One Who Knows Things gets a very short scene and then leaves. And it’s like, why? Why did you send the firefighter away before the fire got put out? Like what are you talking about? And it’s like, why did you give the amateurs the job that this person… and I know it’s because it makes a more interesting story, it lets people fail, and I get that, but it’s also like, why did you send the expert away, why do they only get a bit piece, what’s going on? So I made her the protagonist.


But in my own life, something that a lot of people probably have not experienced, I don’t know. I was four years old, the earliest time I ever have any memories, but I was four years old and I got cursed by a dwarf.


A magical dwarf, not like, a person. It’s a Dwende, which is a Filipino folklore, it’s actually, sorry. Nuno, Nuno Sa Punso, is a creature that literally just means, it’s like, ‘ancestor who lives in a mound’, I guess. Or an old person who lives in a mound. And it’s like a dwarf-type thing, like from folklore. And the Nuno Sa Punso lives in mounds, and you are told to be respectful, otherwise you will get cursed in that way. So it’s like, they’re not evil, they’re just, but they aren’t going to be good to you if you’re not good to them. And it seems that we angered a Nuno somehow? I don’t know why, I was four. We were children. Sometimes it just happens.


And we, my brother got severely ill, and they got the doctors in to help him. But, and then after they got the doctors in, they got the priest in. And then they got an Albularyo, who is a medicine man, in. I still have a very distinct memory of how this man looked like, I remember he looked like Santa Clause if he was skin and bones. A man with a very big white beard - this is all real by the way, I’m not making any of this up, this is my life. Very very like, wispy long beard, but he wore like a loose shirt and basketball shorts and slippers. Very simple man.


And he was the one who said that there was a Nuno that was haunting us, and making my brother sick. And he, I remember he had like a little tool, a little metal tool. Looked like a spoon without a handle. He put it on my tongue, and I thought he was cutting my tongue, it hurt so much. But it was just like, a spoon thing. It doesn’t hurt anything, it’s not even hot. But that’s how he knew that we were cursed. And so he started putting up these talismans all over the house, like paper things that you just stuck to the high part of the wall, and then my brother got better after a while.


And I remember this because those paper things stayed up until I was sixteen years old, that’s how they’ve just. They were in our house all our lives, until it got renovated. And so these are things that like, actually happened. I have more than one story like this, where horrible, like weird supernatural things happened. And I’m of the mindset that yeah, it’s real - I mean, I don’t know how much of it is like exactly as we say it is. But these sorts of things, this sort of again, magical realism, quote unquote, but just. Living with this superstition, slash folklore, it’s a very concrete thing in our lives.


And I treat Hi Nay in the same way, where you have a character who perhaps way more explicitly than my own life, but like way more fantastically than my own life, but. She has the same situation, where she very nonchalantly is like, yeah, I’ve met a horrible monster when I was a kid, or yeah, I experienced a haunting, and yeah, this is how we dealt with it. It’s a whole thing.


William

I think one of the things that’s really interesting about Hi Nay is that it juxtaposes the folklore that you’re familiar with, and then sets that in kind of the sterile, or maybe gritty, urban jungle of Toronto. Does that juxtaposition in the show mirror your own experiences, like kind of living in two worlds more or less? Or, what made you decide that you wanted to set the show in this place, and kind of play with those two elements at the same time?


Motzie

It has kind of reflected my experience. Because when I started it, Toronto was not scary to me at all. At all. Not in any way, shape or form. As time has gone on, I can see the potential of what can be scary in Toronto, but like having come from a… the most densely populated city in the entire world, Toronto is a walk in the park. Toronto is a very peaceful and quiet city for me, which I’m sure many Canadians will be like, what, what are you talking about.


I wanted to experience Toronto as I told the story. I didn’t properly experience it until like 2022, because Pandemic, and now I see why it’s a city city. But back then it was a lot quieter, but there’s a lot of parts of Toronto that are so interesting, like historically.


And they keep a lot of very good historical documents. And that’s why the story has kind of delved deeper into Toronto history. Because I feel as though, of the many cities of Canada, other than Montreal with the mafia that it had, Toronto is probably the most interesting city in terms of just, a dark history, I guess you could say. Or at least parts of a dark history, you know, here and there.


And I think it also reflects in Hi Nay, where the character is very much very confident in her ability, and just doing whatever, and not very scared at all, to getting a bit more scared as time goes on because she’s starting to see what horror actually can lie in parts of, in the city, and as she learns more. So that’s kind of how the trajectory of the story has gone, and also just learning about really fun horror stories Toronto has.


They have ghost walks, they have fun stuff like that, and sometimes I… one time there was a post somebody tagged Hi Nay in, which I loved so much. And it was literally just, an elevator was found covered in blood in Toronto. It was a real thing, it was a real news report, in a condo building, and we’re just like, yeah no, that sounds about right. I was like, yeah, that’s a great, a wonderful just like. Environmental storytelling. But it’s also a real article.


*laughs*


About a condo in Toronto. So. Yeah. It’s like, Toronto’s actually getting scarier as time goes on, but in a way where I kind of love it. I love seeing the deeper parts of the city and it doesn’t scare me the way it scares other, let’s say Canadians who come from I guess quieter, much more peaceful areas. It’s just scary in a way that makes a story more fun, I would say.


William

In addition to writing about Filipino folklore through Hi Nay, you’ve mentioned that it’s been an avenue to write about queerness as well, and have queer characters as a part of the narrative. Has the story allowed you to talk about or say anything that you kind of wanted to explore?


Motzie

Ooh yes. I just went in… with a lot of my stories nowadays, I just go in like assume they’re all queer, unless stated otherwise. All these characters are queer. We will probably tell you if somebody’s cishet, but just assume they’re all queer, and different flavors, different like. There’s no need for not having queer characters. It sounds so mean, but it’s whatever. If that’s how mainstream’s going to be, I will absolutely at some point work on a thing where there have to be cishet characters, so I don’t need to have that happen in the things that I’m working on personally. Like, I have no responsibility to do that. And I certainly do not care to.


So, it’s like, for mainstream stuff that I get to work on, I will be like, yeah, there’s these cishet characters there. But for everything else, especially these sorts of passion projects where I get to have almost full creative freedom. ‘Almost’ because I have a wonderful co-creator who, despite having a much more muted presence, she is so wonderful because sometimes she will ask me a question that will make me stop from barrelling into a wall. But yeah. For the most part, just having queer characters, all over, good, bad, everything in between. It’s been fun.


And we had a discussion about this with some of our listeners, who were like, oh no, the nonbinary character that you have is kind of a bad guy. And I was like, but we also, look we have other nonbinary characters too. That’s not how we think of nonbinary characters. That’s another benefit to it, where it’s like, you don’t tokenize because if every character is queer, then you don’t just have bad queer representation. You have, it’s all, we are all queer, good and bad and… middle.


William

I think this is something that’s really brought a queer demographic into audio fiction, is that like, ‘oh, I’m not necessarily seeing the representation that I want in my favorite TV shows right now, or in Hollywood, but I can find it through this niche online medium where writers are telling a story and putting it out to the world’. And they’re very from-the-heart and very authentic in that way, where we didn’t have to go through a huge board of directors, we didn’t have to get something approved by management in order to put these stories out there.


At least for the good first portion of Hello From The Hallowoods, I was creating the show on the weekly basis, but also juggling a full-time marketing job at the same time. How have you found it to try and do all of the writing, the majority of the voice acting, and at the same time juggle your obligations in life outside of the show?


Motzie

Ooh. It taught me a very good lesson that did not fit into what I was doing, which is, you should end your workday at five. And then as soon as the workday was ended, I continued working, but for a different thing. That’s I think the best way I was able to do it while I was actively working - I’m unemployed right now, but. While I was actively working is, at the end of the day, I made a habit of going out so I could go out, because I worked from home and it was horrible to just stay inside for the whole time. When I would go out my favorite thing to do is just go to a cafe. And that works out, because as soon as I sit in the cafe, have my funny little drink, and start typing.


And I would do that for a couple of hours, then come back home, and that’s my whole day every day during my workweek. And I like it, I think a lot of it is because I enjoyed doing the work for Hi Nay even if it is literally work. And the recording stuff happened on the weekends, or the nights where I could get people to record on Zoom call. So just, I guess, I focused on Hi Nay more than anything else is how I got to do it. I’m not very good at time management, I will say that.


William

It’s very funny when people, like you mentioned in your own experience, reach out and they’re like “hey, thank you so much to the whole Hallowoods team, and I love the stories so much, and could I be an intern, or learn how it all works?” and it’s like, thank you! Yes. It is actually just me, wearing many different hats. It’s been me the whole time.


Motzie

*laughs*


It’s that guy who is like, oh tell the manager that I disapprove of your… yes, I have spoken to the manager, me, and I have decided that I am not getting fired… It’s, yeah, I am amazed by people who do it on their own, but at the same time I do think that is. It’s almost like, you kind of have to do it on your own for a lot of it. Unless you’re very lucky like me.


Because if you get people who aren’t just buddies who are helping you out, you are getting people, professionals, who you have to pay for and make sure that it’s worth their time, and if they’re volunteering their time then you just have somebody who is not being paid. And you don’t have the money unless you’ve already started. And so it’s a difficult thing to get a team together, unless people are very much backing you like a venture capitalist who is very interested in your story.


I also got very lucky; I think one of the things that we kind of advertise, but overall, and one of the things that we get highlighted for, is that we have a very diverse cast. And yeah, our main cast is very diverse. And a lot of people kind of want to get a diverse cast, you know, as kind of a conscious thing? Our diverse cast is just because they’re all my friends. It just so happened that we are all of different cultural backgrounds, because those are the kind of circles that I run in. And so now we have a, not by design, completely by accident, very diverse podcast.


And a lot of people like, kind of want to replicate that, but it’s like, you don’t replicate it. It just… you know. You can do your due diligence, and you know, kind of work with, collaborate with, and highlight people who are of many diverse backgrounds, but ultimately you can’t just make that happen. It’s a lot of luck, you meet people, you make friends. That’s the biggest thing. You wanna do this, make friends. Because the cool people will work with you if you are cool to them. Otherwise you need money.


William

And I think this is something that new podcasts are kind of anxious about, sometimes. Is like, oh, I wanna do a show, but I don’t want to just be one more white creator whose white buddies are also doing all the other parts. Like, saturating a space. How can I bridge the gap there while still telling these stories. And so I do see, at least, a lot of intention behind casting calls lately for various shows and projects.


Motzie

I think the best thing you can do is again, make connections. Make connections in your field, outside your field, try to widen, try to make friends. You don’t have to talk to them every single day or whatever, but you gotta reach out and be kind and connect to them on some level. Like, maybe a year ago or two years ago, I was looking for indigenous actors for Hi Nay, because the one thing is that I don’t know very many indigenous Canadians, because I literally just moved here in 2018. So it’s like, I don’t know that many.


And I was looking, and I got nothing. And I was like. Then I just let it sit. And now, I talk to people, I’ve just naturally in my own life I’ve met people who are indigenous, in semi-creative spaces, and asked them, do you wanna be in a podcast? And they’re like, yeah! And it sometimes, you know, you can… I won’t say you can’t force it, but you’ve gotta talk to people if you want people to work on the thing that you’re working on, you know?


William

What have been some of the reactions that you’ve enjoyed from listeners of Hi Nay? Has this show surprised you with like, what kind of people it resonated with?


Motzie

Absolutely it has. Some of our fans have been around for a little while already, and like are very vocal, because we have a Discord server. Some of my favorite people have stuck around, have really stuck around and kind of just been chatting and enjoying things. And I think my favorite person is actually our co… we call them our co-producer, our co-producer Jesse Goodsell, who is wonderful and we call them our co-producer because they took our highest tier in our last fundraiser, and part of that is becoming our co-producer. So our co-producer Jesse Goodsell, we met them, they were already one of our favorite people long before they gave us money.


*laughs*


But, long before they gave us money, we already loved them. They did not have to do it but they did. They made a murder board for Hi Nay, and that was my happiest, one of the happiest days of my life. Like, finding out that somebody had made a full on like, conspiracy theory, murder board to be like, I can see the connections! I have theories! And they would talk about their theories to us, because we have an overarching mystery for Hi Nay. And I love them so much. Like, obviously I’ve gotta shout out to the people who actually financially support us, because oh my god, that’s crazy, it’s beyond what I expect.


But like, even those small things, like, and I won’t say small… those non-financial things, that are very very very big in our hearts. We got one fanfiction on A03 and that was also one of the best days of my life. Like, oh my god. An A03 fanfiction for Hi Nay. It exists now, and I’m very happy. So, I would say, all of them. All of them, William, all of them are my favorite. But any like, anything where somebody felt compelled to make something because of Hi Nay, amazing. Love it. Love it so much. I cry. Yeah.


William

And people ask frequently, when you’re in audio fiction in this sphere, oh, I can’t afford to join the Patreon right now, but I wish I could, I would love to support you, you know, I love the show. And it’s like, there are many ways to support a show. Obviously, there was a Tumblr post floating around where it was like, ‘I wish the days were still there when an artist could live on the lawn of a patron in a little hut and get sponsored to create art all day’. And to some extent we’ve kind of crowdfunded it through Patreon and other, like.


Motzie

*laughs*

We’ve gotten there.


William

It’s the collective lawn of a number of people on the internet that we live on instead, and very gratefully make our writing and our shows. But on top of that, if you can’t afford to, for whatever reason, live in the mansion and have us in your lawn hut, then you can talk about the show online. You can share it with friends. You can make art or make fanfiction or see if there’s a fan wiki that’s out there, and edit if there is and make one if there isn’t. You can do, literally any little thing at this level gets noticed by the creators, it gets appreciated so much.


But it also does the most important thing, which is sharing with other people.


Motzie

It’s very true. And also like, I contend to this day, like. I remember when the fundraiser for the Magnus Protocol came out. And within six hours, they got 3000% of their budget, of their fundraising goal. I contend that never would have happened if not for the fan base that was not paying for anything, simply listening, talking about it, making fan fiction, making fanart, none of that would have happened without that fan base.


So it’s not like, if you cannot support somebody financially, that’s literally like. Not even a thing. Some people have the money, some people don’t, it’s fine. If you talk about it, if you keep hyping it up, it’s the biggest thing. Two of our, because I know our Discord people, I know our fans by name because we’re still at that point where we’re able to have these discussions. Two of my favorite people don’t have the ability to support us financially.


But I still love them, they still get to name characters in the show, they still get to give ideas that I sometimes will use in the show, because they’re just always chatting. They’re always there, they’re always talking to us and about the show and just, I’ve named characters after them because that’s, they are so important. You can be so important. I one hundred percent appreciate all the financial support, but you can be so important without giving a cent. And that’s fine. You know?


William

I think love for a show is a really contagious thing. And when you put it out there that like, oh this show has me by the throat right now, I really enjoy these characters, and here’s these characters from an audio-only medium that I and about ten other people listen to, but I’m obsessed with this. I think that is what, that spreads. That shows other people that hey, this is something you should go listen to and enjoy with me.


Motzie

Yeah. That’s how I discovered the Magnus Archives, literally just ship art going on my feed, and being like, oh look. This is very cute. It’s one angry guy and one sunshiney guy. And then, tale as old as time. Oh, and oh, they’re canon? Canon queer characters? It’s as simple as that, as simple as like, just the love of another creator.


And you never know, if you cannot pay for things, which a lot of people cannot, and that is totally fair, you don’t know how powerful you are when you talk about something and then it gets to the ears of like five other people who CAN pay for things. You’re basically paying for things that way. So don’t worry, you know, your value is not like, monetary. And if we could all make our thing without having to get money, we would. We can’t. We live in society. We live in capitalism. But all that being said, like, it all comes to the same place, which is, appreciation, love, support for the podcast that you love. And it’s great.


William

When it comes to the storytelling for Hi Nay, what do you want your listeners to walk away from after listening, or kind of carry with them once their time with the show is over?


Motzie

Ooh. I, that’s a good one. I want people who listen to Hi Nay to kind of get what’s being said under the surface. One of the main things about Hi Nay is that I make a joke about it, but it’s true, which is that none of the horrors of Hi Nay match up to the horror of being Filipino.


*laughs*


It is that this character, who is facing down these awful supernatural horrors, quite nonchalantly, has experienced things that are far worse in her life, that are real to a lot of Filipinos. And so a lot of the horrors she faces down are almost like an escape for her. She’s like, wow, look at this horrible ghost, look at this horrible creature. It’s all, that’s kind of a thing that a lot of Filipinos do, we love horror stories. Because weirdly enough it is a comfort in comparison to what life is.


And it’s a weird way to look at it, but basically what it comes down to is that I hope people who listen to Hi Nay have a wider sense of empathy for what this means for a lot of other people, what this story is trying to communicate, and at the end of Hi Nay - we started this in May 2022 - we do a segment called the Crimes of the Marcoses, which has nothing to do with Hi Nay, it’s just literally us highlighting horrible things that the Marcos administration has done.


We do that and like, right before the credits roll. And we try to use that for other important issues as well when we can. Most recently to help talk about the ceasefire and everything. So we try to do that as well. And I love a nice good story, and I love a fun little romp, and I love creepy little stories, but we all live in the world. And I think that respecting the fact that a lot of people come here for escapism, I think with Hi Nay you also have to learn that just because we respect this escapism and the story, doesn’t mean you are suddenly given the, suddenly allowed to ignore what’s happening in the world.


So we want to give you a fun little story, but please be aware of real life, and the real world, and if you love what we’re doing, be kind, be compassionate, and we try to tell a compassionate story. But ultimately we tell it from our experiences.


*ominous music as the Skull Question arrives*


William

A late night passenger on a Toronto subway car finds that it suddenly screeches to a halt. The lights flicker and go out, leaving them alone with muttered whispers, in a dark tunnel deep beneath the city. The red emergency lights flicker on, and there outside the window, set into the grimy tiles that line the subway walls, is the skull of Motzie Dapul. What words of wisdom would you whisper in the darkness?


Motzie

My words of wisdom are, always do stretches if you have a sitting down job.


But also, I will say, if you want to play in the space of fiction, then understand that it is a very freeing space. You shouldn’t be afraid to tackle a story just because you don’t think it’s quote unquote morally right. Because fiction is where we’re able to explore and empathize with other people, and while you should absolutely be kind, be compassionate, be empathetic, don’t turn that into fear. Turn that into an openness to explore more stories and more ideas than you ever could have imagined.


Because all of those things are not meant to be limiting things. Do not turn your kindness into a need to police others; do not turn your compassion into just being angry all the time. Be creative by creating something, rather than destroying or limiting it. And that is my advice to people in the creative space.


William

That is utterly beautiful. Thank you so much for coming on today, it’s been so lovely to talk to you and get to know a little more about Hi Nay and also the wonderful creator behind the show.


Motzie

Thank you so much, it was so wonderful to meet you, this has been a... I would talk like this all day, I absolutely would.


*credit music plays*


Credits

Motzie Dapul is writer, voice, and co-creator of the fiction podcast Hi Nay, a supernatural horror story following Mari, whose childhood spent learning how to deal with spirits in the Phillipines enables her to fight a rising threat within the streets of Toronto. You can find the show at hinaypod.com, or on social media at @HiNayPod, or follow Motzie on social media at @motzieD.


Hello From The Hallowoods is produced by William A. Wellman. That’s me. For first access to new Skull Sessions with other voices in the horror podcasting space, look to the Hallowoods patreon at patreon.com/hallowoods.








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