Two years ago, Rowdie Walden, became a finalist in the 2018 Spotify Sound Up competition.
Fast forward to 2020, and the now 26-year-old has just launched Spotify Australia’s first original podcast Search Engine Sex.
The podcast idea was simple. Let’s talk about sex, baby! And was made for those who turn to the internet for sex and relationship advice — because as Walden says, “we all do it”.
No stranger to the production studio, Walden has worked at the ABC, Channel Ten and SBS over his media career, however, his experience with podcasting through the music streaming service has been his most rewarding yet.
“They were like, “here’s the opportunity, come to us with the idea. Any idea you’ve got and we’ll help you”,” he said during an interview with TheLatch—.
“And it wasn’t about getting a show commissioned on Spotify, it was really to come out of that opportunity with the ability to write an idea.
“They taught us how to record the audio, they told us how to edit the audio. In a way, Spotify was giving us more than they were taking from us,” he said.
Walden, an Indigenous Australian, grew up on a farm near Dubbo in NSW and says that having a voice particularly during the Black Lives Matter social movement, is incredibly important.
“No matter what I come to, as an Indigenous person, as an Aboriginal person, I bring my Aboriginality no matter what the topic is,” he said.
“It’s refreshing, especially in the 2020s, to have this platform and showcase Indigenous voices with the content of what we might not expect.”
Here, Walden talks to TheLatch— about the most ‘oh my god’ questions they cover in the podcast, how growing up in Dubbo made him the man he is today and what he wants Indigenous allies to know.
Anita Lyons: Hi Rowdie, it’s so great to chat. The concept for Search Engine Sex is brilliant. How did you come up with the concept?
Rowdie Walden: Well, I don’t know about you but anytime there is medically something wrong with me or personally something wrong with me, I’m straight online and I’m just having a little bit of a browse just to see if there’s anything that needed urgent attention and it sort of led me down this rabbit warren of, ‘I can’t be the only person that is doing this’ and apparently 80% of us have a quick browse to see what’s going on.
It led me down this path of finding the most searched sexual relationship questions and find out who was searching for them. From there, it kind of just turned into, these questions need answers and a really nice conversation and that’s how the podcast came about.
AL: Yes, I am 100% guilty of using Dr Google! (Laughs) What do you think sets you apart from other sex podcasts?
RW: I think Sex Engine Sex is tackling sex in a reversed engineered way. It’s defining the problem and then trying to reverse engineer what that solution to that issue is. These are questions that people are still asking because they are appearing in the top results and so, there’s clearly an information gap there.
The other thing that sets us apart is that we’re trying to be as diverse and inclusive as possible. A lot of information that I’ve come across is very gender focussed. We’re talking about text in relation to people’s gender but we’re trying to talk about it in more general. So it doesn’t matter what you are, what your genitals are or the way we have sex or our sexual orientation is, it’s pretty much the same.
There are a few exceptions, with results that are gendered but we try and break them down and break it into what the core of the question might be.
AL: What do you want your listeners to get out of the podcast?
RW: I want people to walk away from any episode with a feeling that they’ve learned something or if they knew all the information, maybe they were inspired and have a rejuvenated look at that topic.
We’re all doing it. We’re all constantly looking at these questions.
There’s an episode on “how to get a bigger penis” and even if you don’t have a penis, there’s something to take away from that episode.
We try to build in this sense of “sex for everyone” rather than “sex for genders”.
“We try to build in this sense of “sex for everyone” rather than “sex for genders”.”
AL: You’re getting a lot of these questions from Google. Are there any that have really surprised you?
RW: There’s no one particular question that stands out, it’s just the use of language which I found quite funny.
One of them was: “How to insert a male organ into a female organ”, which I think we can all guess what they’re trying to look up there.
The other one was: “How do I get a bigger penis manually?” and I went back on that and was like, “how do we get one automatically?” I need to know, I’m lazy! (Laughs).
There weren’t any surprising ones, because if they were on the fringe, they wouldn’t be the most popular.
AL: Can listeners send in their questions?
RW: Oh god! That is my dream! We’ve been doing these polls on Instagram that are rounded questions, but my dream is one day that people can submit a question to Instagram or leave us a voice message and we can be more interactive and get into some more niche questions.
AL: I think there will be a really big need for it! You grew up in Dubbo on a farm, how has your upbringing shaped who you are today?
RW: Well, I grew up on a farm that was in the shape of a penis and I don’t think that my parents knew that until we Googled it — so it kind of all really makes sense, doesn’t it? Mum and dad are going to kill me for mentioning that!
It was a typical rural upbringing, like the town is small, the school is small. We all work quite a bit and were all close as a family. I think people often ask me about living in a country expecting there to be a bad answer, but it was honestly, I guess you sort of existed in a world that has no rules because in the country there’s no one there.
I think people don’t expect it of me because I’m quite camp.
AL: Being an Indigenous Australian, how important is it to have a voice particularly during this time of revolution?
RW: I think it is a bit crazy the timing that this podcast has come out but I did found this in 2018 and at the time, it was still a groundbreaking opportunity for a major company like Spotify to say that they were going to start making original content, that they were going to put Indigenous and First Nations voices on the platform.
They were like, “here’s the opportunity, come to us with the idea. Any idea you’ve got and we’ll help you”.
And it wasn’t about getting a show commissioned on Spotify, it was really to come out of that opportunity with the ability to write an idea. They taught us how to record the audio, they told us how to edit the audio. In a way, Spotify was giving us more than they were taking from us.
I think in the Australian media landscape it’s really important because it’s refreshing to see a company that big take and interest in our ideas and our story no matter what they are. I think that true diversity happens when there are indigenous voices behind the mic on every single thing.
No matter what I come to, as an Indigenous person, as an Aboriginal person, I bring my Aboriginality no matter what the topic is.
It’s refreshing, especially in the 2020s, to have this platform and showcase Indigenous voices with the content of what we might not expect.
“I think that true diversity happens when there are indigenous voices behind the mic on every single thing.”
Those stories that we expect are really important and need to be told but alongside those stories, I think we need to have spaces where indigenous people can be at the forefront of other topics.
I don’t think that anyone would have thought that someone would have turned up to Sound Up Australia with an idea about sex. I guess that just goes to show the breadth of our interest in our ideas and the things that we can do.
AL: This is a really important time for our country, as well as the larger world with the Black Lives Matter movement. What you do you want to teach allies of the Indigenous community?
RW: We’ve been saying this for a really long time and it’s nice now that there is this momentum behind it.
If I was going to say one thing, it would be “to listen”. This fight has been fought for so long, but if you could just listen and let us lead the fight.
Spotify AUNZ has launched its first Original podcast Search Engine Sex. You can catch up on episodes and subscribe HERE.