Known for their no-holds barred banter, the foursome behind the hugely successful The Receipts Podcast meet us ahead of their sellout live show
From Serial to S Town, podcasts are capturing the attention the of just about everyone. Hailed as an audio renaissance, they’ve been applauded for their ‘real talk’ appeal and a way to pull our gaze from social media. For us, there is one podcast that’s doing this and more. In fact, it’s gone stellar and storming the iTunes charts. The Receipts is a collective of four women hailing from London: Tolani (Tolly), Shoneye, Phoebe Parke (both of whom are journalists), Milena Sanchez, a singer/songwriter and Audrey Indome, a PA. Brutally honest and side-splittingly funny, each episode covers anything and everything, from hilarious tales of petty crimes on holiday to the more thought-provoking subjects of interracial dating and absent fathers. So far, it’s hit 250,000 downloads and iTunes has listed them as a comedy favourite – all this is still only on the first series.
How did The Receipts come about?
Tolly: From Twitter. There is another podcast called 3 Shots of Tequila which he is led by three guys. One tweeted, saying a girl version of his podcast would never be able to work and we were like ‘well actually’! A bunch of girls were tagged in that tweet and it went from there.
How did you decide upon the name?
Tolly: We had a few names before, ‘Pre-drinks’ was one and ‘So Filtered’ was another. We sat down in a restaurant and were busy throwing around ideas and ‘show me the receipt’ was something constantly being said (it’s from a famous Whitney Houston /Diane Sawyer interview). We thought, actually receipts are proof and here is the proof of what we’ve been through.
Phoebe: Yeah. it just worked as name.
Audrey: Plus, we knew the artwork would look really good!
You must be very pleased with its success?
Tolly: We didn’t think it was going to pick up at all! The night before we put out the first episode we were dying in the group chat, saying, we’ll be lucky to get 200 plays, no one is going to know who we are, we’re going to get cussed on Twitter and then afterwards we were like wow!
Milena: Even up to this day we still can’t believe people listen to it. I guess it’s because we didn’t announce it or do any promo, we just put it out there.
How you decide the topics for each episode?
Tolly: It’s about what we see around us, or what we’re going through. So, we’ll go, ‘oh I had this massive conversation the other day’, or ‘I saw this and now I’m going thorough this’ so let’s talk about it but also act like it’s not by problem!
Phoebe: Yeah, it’s the old adage of ‘I’ve got this friend…’
Why do you think podcasts, including yours, have become so popular?
Tolly: I think there’s so much to be said about having conversations, as much as the media is evolving, people will also want to listen to people’s voices. People can form a connection with them. When it’s just text, it can be harder to detect the emotions. Things can get lost in translation
Audrey: Also, when we started a lot of people weren’t doing podcasts at the time, certainly not for our demographic or by UK women of colour that were our age group.
Milena: We’re totally unfiltered, we say the craziest things and nothing is off limits.
Phoebe: We do edit though! Otherwise we’d be in big trouble. But to be fair it’s not a lot that gets cut. Sometimes we forget and say names so it’s really important to edit because there are things we say and hear it back on the second play and then go oh I didn’t mean it like that or actually that sounded different to the way I meant it
Tolly: Phoebe does all the editing and she hates that each of us will ask at some point to cut or change a part!
Phoebe: It’s takes about two hours as we have to put in the receipt sound and do the opening and closing etc.
What’s the dynamic between the group?
Milena: I bring out the wildness, I forget the mic is there! I’m so unfiltered! But these guys bring me back down which is what I need!
Tolly: (Pauses) I don’t know what I bring?! (The girls jump in) It’s your one liners! And your wit!
Phoebe: I bring the random opinion that no one else brings, I tend to play devil’s advocate. I guess I try and bring the logic to the conversation.
Audrey: I’m the mother hen! I love to remind everyone that I’m 30 and engaged. And if I think one of the girls is being rounded on I try and bring the group back together.
Would you ever let anyone else join the podcast?
Melina: We’d never let anyone else into the crew. That’s a solid no!
Phoebe: We have guests. Which we think is important as it switches up the dynamic. Plus, we all know and get each other so well, so if anyone did join it may disrupt the relationship.
Tolly: We’ve got to a level now where we’re so comfy with each other. When you listen back to our first episode we’re so polite!
Audrey: We let each other talk and don’t interrupt. Now we call each other out all the time!
What’s been the most popular episode so far?
Tolly: I think Daddy Issues (episode five) because it got so much traction. It’s a funny episode but it really brought out emotions.
Audrey: We cried, we laughed. I think people could really relate to it.
What’s the best feedback you’ve been given?
Tolly: It’s so good when men haven’t listened yet and then have these preconceived ideas about what we talk about. On first inspection, they think it’s about men hating which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Audrey: Definitely from our Daddy Issues episode. People responded with thank yous and told us their own experiences.
Phoebe: We got a lovely email from a lady in America who told us that while she was probably old enough to be our mum but she still loved us all the same.
Are there ever any topics that are off limits?
Phoebe: Nothing is off limits but there will be subjects where we want an expert opinion. Especially if it’s something none of us have been through.
Audrey: Yes, if it’s on domestic violence we would get an expert on, we don’t just want to throw wayward feels out there to our listeners, it wouldn’t be right.
What’s been the funniest episode so recorded so far?
Audrey: The petty crimes on holidays! It’s very funny.
Tolly: No! It’s the wasteman boxers one! For anyone that doesn’t know, they’re the baggy chequered boxers than come in a three-pack. We named them wasteman boxers because, they’re just not the type of underwear you should wear in front of girls!
Melina: I’d say episode 10 about drunken stories that people can relate to – we’ve all got lots of those!
Do you think podcasts provide safe media space for women of colour?
Phoebe: Absolutely, no one can edit you, like in traditional media. Women of colour are underrepresented in the media and often silenced, so it’s nice to have something that is ours and untouchable.
Audrey: I think as women of colour we have to filter ourselves constantly. That’s why it’s great people don’t see us, we’re free to say what we what. We also haven’t offended anyone and that surprises me.
Milena: The format of podcasts is great for women. Generally, woman are judged by how they look, whereas with this you can only judge us on our opinions. That way if we do go on to videos we’ve already established an audience. Which is a great feeling.
Tolly: If you compare the way people talk on podcasts to vlogging, it’s so different. You can see the awareness people have on vlogs. We other hand, eat food and drink, and are probably way more comfortable because we know no one can look at us and judge. I think if we had a done a vlog, our audience may have been different because we would be so visible. We’re not even on the artwork for our podcast.
Do you avoid listening to other podcasts or do you find it helps structure yours?
Tolly: Before all of this I was obsessed with Serial, so I find the podcasts I listen to are not what we do. I also listen to Blacklisted too but nothing is the same as what we do, or if they are similar they are American. We’re really trying to establish ourselves at British, it’s what we are, it’s where we’re from.
Audrey: I don’t listen to any others, only Lipservice.
Phoebe: I’ll listen to Friendzone, it’s good to listen and see what they’re doing and to get inspiration, such as progressing onto live talks etc.
What do you think the future hold for your podcast?
Tolly: It’s so crazy, it still feels so new and we never imagined it would do this well. It would be great to do a live show so that people can see us, which will then bring more opportunities our way. I hope it becomes a path that opens up conversations that are not held everywhere. I want girls to be able to think they can speak more freely about whatever they want.
Download the first series of The Receipts Podcast from iTunes now