Rebeckah McCarthy speaks to the effervescent duo Kevin and PJ of the “I’m Grand Mam” podcast about living it large in London, gaining a cult following and how podcasters as influencers have a duty to use their platform to call for greater eco-consciousness.
I’m Grand Mam is a podcast that was created by two fabulous lads who originate from Cork but now reside in London. Each week, Kevin and PJ meet up for a cup of coffee to discuss the hot topics that are buzzing around us each day. Each episode by Kevin and PJ is full of laughs, and within one episode, you’re hooked. If you’re looking for an exceptional “woke” Irish podcast, then this one is for you. During their hiatus, I was lucky enough to get in contact with the pair for our climate emergency issue to ask them a few questions about climate change, COVID-19, and their upcoming shows.
To begin, I questioned the pair about their personal contributions to a more sustainable environment: “We’d both like to think that we’re quite climate-conscious. We both owned Keep Cups before they were cool and are all about that oat milk life. We’re both taking part in SecondHand September in an attempt to cut down on fast fashion, as we know that the industry is the second-highest consumer of water worldwide. We’re quite privileged in London though as we’ve unreal vintage and charity shops on our doorstep, and you’re almost guaranteed to find some stunning bits anytime you go for a peruse. But also like, we’re by no means perfect.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously the topic dominating every aspect of our lives at the moment, so I was curious to know if COVID-19 had impacted the pair’s future episodes, or if perhaps quarantine was a silver lining for them. “Initially when we first went into lockdown it was a massive ball-ache as we had our entire season planned out at a glance based around different events which were due to take place but were then canceled. For example, Kev was going to Rotterdam for Eurovision and we were doing an episode on that as it’s like, the gayest event of the year and we’d big plans for pride also. So we had to think on our feet. As things progress, I think it’s just a case of us having to learn to adapt. People want to forget about all that when they listen to us. Corona? Who is she? Never heard of her, love.” When asked if the pandemic would affect their ability to travel and put on shows, they quipped back cheekily: “Oh babe, we’re both versatile queens. We will definitely adapt.”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the livelihoods of many people who work within the entertainment and arts sectors: “It’s scary to think about as so many of our friends are employed in the arts, and seeing them suffer over the last few months has been heart-breaking. We’re quite positive people but we know that the government has to get its head out of its arse and sort their shit out to try and help get things back on track.”
Perhaps a positive of the COVID-19 crisis is that society will realise just how important the arts and entertainment industries actually are: “The arts are often a neglected industry and the last few months has reinforced just how important having art in our lives is. It’s a sector which is sometimes deemed nonessential, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. When museums, galleries, and theatres went dark, we looked to TV, music, film, and podcasts to feel connected. Watching shows like I May Destroy You, the BBC drama by Michaela Cole, and Normal People by Sally Rooney over lockdown was a highlight for both of us… So many people messaged us over the last few months telling us the podcast was the one thing they looked forward to in the week. Art is transformative – which sounds a bit dramatic but it’s true.”
Everyone is dealing with quarantine in their own way. I asked if Kevin and PJ used popular coping mechanisms, such as baking banana bread or learning how to make “Tik Tok Coffee,” or if they had their own routines they used to stay sane: “Though we’ve lived in East London for two years, we haven’t done that much exploring on foot, so the daily walks down by the canal and Hackney Wick were gorge. Also, we’ve a lovely roof area where we were able to lie out in the sun or do yoga bits. No baking was done really as every time we went to get the eggs there were none to be found- like what was that about? No Tik Tok coffees but Kevin did learn the Hollaback Girl routine but never posted it because we were up in a heap.”
I was curious where Kevin and PJ found their inspiration, especially considering their unwavering enthusiasm: “Our experience growing up in Ireland is at the heart of what we talk about. So it’s very nostalgic, very 90’s and very gay.” I also enquired about whether they had been struck by any brain waves regarding their next season: “For season four we’re looking to do an experience every month and are going to base each episode on that experience. So for example, we’d go to an orgy and say how we got on (we’re not going to an orgy it was just an example).”
When Kevin and PJ aren’t splitting our sides, what are they into? “So we’ve just bought our first T.V and are loving watching bits together – we just finished Selling Sunset and we’re obsessed, and now we’ve moved on to The Fall. PJ’s an unreal cook so we have lovely meals together or if we’re eating out we love a pad thai from Rosa’s. Also, we’ve a really solid friendship group here in London, so meeting them for a coffee or a gin & tonic is always on the cards. And obviously FaceTiming our mothers”.
To close the interview, I asked what the pair had in mind for the podcast in the immediate future: “To continue having a scream and making people laugh. We both still work full-time so ideally, we’d like to cut down hours to focus on putting out more content. We were toying with the idea of releasing an album filled with a load of gay bops. We started writing a song over lockdown called “Fast Lane,” which is inspired by homos being quicker at walking than their hetero counterparts. Also TV, films, music videos, book deals – the sky’s the limit girlie!”
Season four of I’m Grand Mam started on September 6th with “Mwah Mwah!” You can listen to I’m Grand Mam on Podtail, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. You can also give them a follow on Instagram and Twitter @Imgrandmam for more chaotic Cork content.