A Gentle Rebel with a Quiet Cause

The Gentle Rebel is Blubrry's Podcast of the MonthAndy Mort is not your stereotypical rebel. A podcaster, ambient sound artist, songwriter and professional life coach, Mort calls himself a Slow Coach. Having gone through his own renaissance and revival, our September Podcaster of the Month offers inspiration and support for others’ gentle rebellion. He helps people “connect with our natural rhythms, release the hold of alienating external demands, and freely infuse everyday life with our unique creative spirits.”

“I love making spaces for weary travelers who are exhausted by the pace and pressure of modern existence,” Mort says. One of these spaces is The Haven, a virtual village in which people can escape to find the “needs beneath the noise.”

Mort’s podcast, The Gentle Rebel is an extension of that haven, offering listeners a weekly note of encouragement for more than a decade. Through music, art and outreach, he reaches introverts and highly sensitive people. Mort helps them break free from their constraints and the narratives they’ve internalized about themselves. 

  • You started The Gentle Rebel a decade ago, then ended that chapter and rebooted in April 2022. What differentiates these chapters and what can listeners look forward to in the months/years to come?

I’ve been doing the Gentle Rebel Podcast since 2010. It has been through several iterations or chapters. The most recent one started in April 2022 when I realized after 365 episodes there was a lot of stuff I had covered a few times in different ways over a decade of exploring. I had also reached a better understanding of many of the ideas I had been circling. I wanted to consolidate the ideas in those shows so that I had a simple focused archive to refer people to when looking for support and information about particular things. Podcasting is a wonderful way to think out loud and bounce ideas around. Eventually you reach a firmer position about certain things. That’s what happened. I wanted to mark that.

I have reached the end of that consolidation process now, so I am enjoying exploring what the podcast wants to be next. The big focus is allowing space for music and practice to become part of episodes. Rather than just talking ABOUT theories and ideas in a world of abundant access to information, I want to connect with the humanness we share and provide valuable resources that give people an energizing and connecting experience to counter the frazzle and overwhelm that so many people are reporting feeling at the moment. So there will be more of that. Reflections on what it means to be human in a world of machines and plenty of space to explore that creatively.

  • Andy, you are a Sound Artist, Songwriter, and Slow Coach. How do these areas interconnect in your podcast, The Gentle Rebel? (And how do you define a slow coach?)

The podcast is where my creative and professional passions converge. It’s why I love the medium so much. I use podcasting as a conversation with my listeners, a place to share my stories/experiences/observations (often from my life as a performer/songwriter), and a platform to create practical experiences that leave people feeling a positive shift after listening. That final part is often where my slow coaching philosophy interweaves with my creativity. 

The idea behind slow coaching is that we don’t make good long-term/big picture decisions when we’re feeling rushed or in a heightened state of stress/alertness. I want to help people see the possibilities for their lives through a state of rest and deep connection so they can make grounded decisions that reflect who they are and where they want to go next. 

The world is so noisy and there are so many competing demands and voices that tell us what we should want, do and value. I want the podcast to be somewhere people can come to as a way to reconnect with themselves and the needs, feelings and sensations beneath that noise. I bring my ambient instrumental music into certain episodes as a way to help listeners connect with different states of being. I am always aware of the rhythm and pace of an episode and how important it is to create that sense of hope and possibility as somewhere to finish each one.

  • What approaches have you found effective for introverted individuals versus people who are more outgoing?

This focus emerged organically when the first iteration of the podcast started in 2010. It actually began life as an independent music podcast where I would share songs by artists I had played with and who were under the radar of the mainstream music industry. I began to speak between the songs and on a few occasions, talked about challenges/observations from my life as a musician. People would get in touch to say “I get that too,” especially when I spoke/blogged about things I later saw as characteristic of introversion and high sensitivity. So I naturally moved down that line, talking more about those things. And as I did so, I got more listeners looking for support and a sense of community with people who see the world through a similar lens. Knowing that you’re not alone in your experiences is a big part of what we all look for, and this is especially true if the world feels oriented toward another way of operating. I guess it comes back to permission to explore your own natural pace and rhythms and to listen to what you need to manage your energy, focus deeply on what matters most to you, and not get burned out by trying to keep up with the flow of demands and pressures from a fast and noisy world. 

  • How have you found that music – such as your music – reaches and supports the individuals you’re touching through your podcast and through your one-on-one coaching?

Music is the language that transcends language – it speaks to us (and through us) in ways we might not be able to describe with words. I love it as a metaphor to help us navigate the challenges we face and our relationships with ourselves. And the experience of music (I do online gigs, host sound anchor rest sessions, and share/talk about songs from my Atlum Schema back catalog), which allows me to support people in different ways. I love sharing my music with other people; there is something beautiful about the energy that comes from a live stream, where we have the same experience as other people worldwide. It’s a gently rebellious joy in an on-demand world.

The language of creativity helps me to work with clients to explore their inner landscapes, dreams, challenges and everyday possibilities in playful ways. We can go deep without it feeling heavy. We can explore with curiosity and joy. As I said before, music is also a tool I use to help people return to a place of calm inner connection and grounded hope after we adventure into those new horizons.

  • In what ways do you think your podcast helps introverted listeners feel more connected and understood?

I guess it comes down to being a companion to people who might see and experience the world differently to the people around them. It’s the great thing about the podcast medium – it feels personal and real. Someone who you resonate with can chat about things that are important to you as you go about your day. At the broader level, podcasting has increased our collective understanding of introversion and high sensitivity. The Gentle Rebel Podcast has been a great chance to explore listener questions and observations as they come in over time. It’s just lovely to feel like I can be the voice of “someone like me” to a person who might be feeling disconnected and alone.

  • Are there any memorable stories, feedback or experiences from your listeners that showcase the positive effects of your podcast and your coaching in general on their lives?

There is a story that speaks to the power of podcasting in creating connections and gently transforming lives of those who encounter them. I was invited to speak, lead a workshop and perform at a gathering for highly sensitive people in Finland – all sparked by a listener who reached out and joined my Haven community. She put me forward as a potential guest at the gathering. Tuula has since become a close friend and creative collaborator. The event itself was memorable for many reasons. One in particular sticks out when it comes to thinking about the unforeseen positive effects of the podcast. At the end of a day of workshops, a Q&A and a live gig in the evening, someone came up to me and said, “Thank you so much. I love playing the piano but I’ve never played to anyone else. After hearing you speak and perform today, I realize I have the strength to do it. I now know that I want to do it.” That blew my mind. It was one of those “ahh yes, this is what makes it all worthwhile” moments. 

Find The Gentle Rebel Podcast here and on the Blubrry directory here

Learn more about Andy here.

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