Thu 5 Sep 2019

Interview with… RedHanded


Nominated for ‘Best True Crime’ and making the top 10 of the ‘Listener’s Choice’ (the only independent podcast to do so) at the British Podcast Awards in 2019, Suruthi and Hannah started RedHanded in 2017, and have, on a weekly basis, been jumping head-first into all manner of macabre madness since. Covering a different story each week, they delve into everything from big time serial killers, serial killers you may never have heard of, satanic possessions, disturbing mysteries, bizarre whodunits and more. Whether its cannibals, killers or cults, RedHanded breaks down the case to explore the cultural, societal and psychological drivers of the most extreme human behaviour.

Here, the girls talk their first meeting, coping with the world of true crime, and embarking on their first live UK tour…

You’re bringing your true crime podcast RedHanded out on a live tour this September, what can fans expect from the live show?

S: Well, the main reason we want to do the live shows is to give our listeners a more immersive experience. There’s only so much you can do with the podcast format, we want the live shows to have exciting visuals alongside the storytelling and maybe even a few other surprise things integrated into it…

H: A Multimedia Immersive Experience! I think, that’s the best way [to describe it]. The show has to be different from the podcast because otherwise what’s the point in people coming to see it.

This is going to be a show! It’s going to be visual and exciting and have all our usual jokes in there – and maybe even some micropigs… we don’t know… we’re throwing around a lot of ideas.

S: Haha, absolutely! People tend to consume podcasts individually, with headphones in on the train, whilst walking the dog, whilst washing the dishes, whatever it is, it can be quite a solo experience. With our live show, we want to move past that and have our listeners and us together. We’ll all be able to see each other, we can laugh together, we can gasp together, it’ll be a more well-rounded together feeling, as opposed to the solo podcast we do every week.

Will you be delving into the same case in each show, or will the case change in different locations?

H: We will be doing the same case, so no one is going to miss out on a case, but I can absolutely guarantee the shows will be different every night.

S: We will script the show; we write scripts for each of our podcast episodes to make sure we get our research and facts right, but every night in every city will be different. I’m sure of this because take for example in the past, we’ve had times where we’ve recorded an episode and had technical difficulties… we’ve sat down and done an entire hour and a half podcast recording, only to find out that nothing had recorded. So we’ve had to re-record the same case all over again. And the thing is that when that’s happened although it’s the same case, the chat and conversation is always so different to the original attempt. I guess it’ll be like that but in 5 different cities.

Are we allowed to know what the case for the live shows will be, or are you holding that back as a surprise?

S: We have actually mentioned it already, but we’ve decided to try and save it so it’s a surprise. But don’t you worry – it’s a big one.

Why would you say, that someone who hasn’t listened to the podcast should come along? 

S: I think, if you’re someone who’s not listened to the podcast before but likes hanging out with people who are full of unnecessary violent information about scary things, but also like to have a laugh, then you should come definitely come along to the show. We want it to feel like you’re hanging out with two of your mates in the pub, who just won’t stop talking about true crime and seem to have lots and lots of information and detail about the cases. If you’ve binge-watched ‘The Staircase’, ‘Making a Murderer’ or ‘Snapped’ but you kind of wished it was more fun, then you should come to RedHanded Live!

As you mentioned, it’s usually only the two of you when recording, however, you’re now welcoming people into the show. Are you excited to come face-to-face with your listeners?

H: We honestly can’t wait to meet some of our listeners! The whole nature of podcasting means that we can’t see who is listening – we can see how many people are listening, we can see how many listeners we had yesterday, in say, Grimsby, but we can’t see their faces. So, we’re really excited to do that. We’re also going to be doing a VIP Q&A before the show, where we can get face-to-face with our listeners and they can ask us any questions in a more intimate setting before the show.

S: As Hannah said, we can see the numbers, but in reality, it’s just Hannah and I recording together alone. We often forget that thousands of people will be listening, so it will be really nice to put some faces to the listening figures we’ve seen over the past 2 years.

There are people who’ve been on this journey with us from the beginning, since we trapped ourselves in a cupboard or from when we recorded under duvets, to now being in front of a room full of people. There were times when I wanted to call this the ‘Under-the-Duvet-tour’. People may or may not know that we used to record the podcast exclusively under duvets in little forts we’d built in our bedroom, to improve the sound quality as much as possible, using mics we bought because we didn’t know how long we were going to be doing this for. We now have little studio pod that we record in, but for a long time we were doing that, so I guess you could say we’re now inviting people under the duvet with us so to speak.

Coming back to what I was saying earlier, it’ll be great to hear people actually laugh and gasp, rather than seeing it passively through social media in tweets after an episode, telling us that they spat their coffee out, or whatever, when listening. We want to see them spit their beer out.

H: I never thought about it like that before, but it’s true. When we’re writing the show, we’re obviously putting jokes in, but we don’t know if anyone is going to find them funny. There’s no instant feedback, we just hope. Sometimes it’s the bits we hadn’t even thought about that people find hilarious.

Take us right back, how did the RedHanded podcast begin?  

S: We met about 2 and a half years ago at Hannah’s house, she was having a Thanksgiving party at her house and my childhood friend happened to be Hannah’s housemate. At the time, I had just come back from traveling and so I felt like I needed to plug back into real life. He suggested I come to the party and I did. I got a little drunk and ended up talking to Hannah, that’s when we bonded over our love of true crime, and specifically, the murder case of JonBenét Ramsey, which is the murder of a small child.

H: There were also very small children at this party.

S: Yeah, and not like we were having this conversation in a secret corner, we were having this conversation over a dining table, whilst said small children were trying to eat their Thanksgiving dinner.

As a note, we were eating Thanksgiving dinner because Hannah’s housemate was American, we’re not just stealing Americanisms and being weird.

It was kind of like a true crime soulmate meeting. Not many people were listening to podcasts at the time, so to meet someone who was not only into podcasts, but true crime podcast and the exact podcasts you were listening to, it was a real moment of excitement. As we were leaving, we were drunk and said: ‘We should start a true crime podcast’, when I got home, I thought, ‘I’ll never see that girl again’, but I did, it was like it was meant to be. After the party, we met up and had a friend date, we had a chat about true crime and created plans to set a podcast in motion. I remember leaving that meeting and telling my friends, ‘I met someone’ and they all got really excited like ‘omg finally’ and I was like ‘oh no, it’s a girl and we’re going to start a murder podcast together’.

So, you should always make sure you do what you say you’re going to do whilst your drunk and you should probably always go to parties you have no business being at.

Are there any cases that you actively avoid?

H: The only case we’ve both agreed we wont cover is Junko Furuta, the case of a Japanese teenage girl who was just really horribly kidnapped, tortured and murdered by her peers – teenage boys her own age. That’s one of the ones that we’ve drawn a line on.

S: It’s too much. We talk quite openly about true crime, but this is too much. Someone asked me the same question a few weeks ago and I said, Junko Furuta, but also said, ‘please don’t Google it, I know you think I’m saying this to be cute, but I am being genuine, please don’t go and read what happened, because you will not thank me’. Obviously, they went and read what happened. The next time we spoke they were like, ‘What the hell was that’ and I was said, ‘yeah, I told you’. It is the worst case I’ve ever heard of and we have no interest in researching or reading that information out loud.

H: We have to spend a lot of time in some quite dark places. We are usually pretty good at switching off from it, but I do have to say, that since leaving work to do the podcast full time, I’ve started dreaming about some of the cases we cover. The one that I found difficult to forget about was the David Parker Ray case we covered a few weeks ago – that one is quite explicit and has been quite difficult to get rid of. Because we’re doing this a lot and it’s one after the other, we need to make sure that we’re looking after our brains too. The Junko Furuta case is one where I genuinely wish I’d never read about it.

S: I also don’t think that I have anything to say about it. The country it happened in, who did it, the culture around that and the way that country deals with violent crime is something we can talk about in other cases.

In terms of switching off from cases, do you have any specific ways you like to do that?

H: Um, playing with dogs is good! That’s probably the best one.

S: Cartoons.

H: Yeah, cartoons is a big one, that’s the immediate go to. If you’ve got access to dogs and cartoons you’ll probably be ok.

S: I’ve got a dog, so that’s a check.

After I’ve been researching something quite heavy, I love some Bob’s Burgers, I love some Simpsons, or you know, just go really tacky and watch something like 90-day fiancé. Our listeners love the fact that I constantly reference that… it’s a great show and it’ll make you forget all about your worries.

H: We’re also never alone in this, we have each other. I think it would be very different If we were doing this alone. We’re both in this together, we understand and we’re lucky that we have each other.

S: We also don’t want to put new listeners off the show. We don’t want people to think, ‘gosh this is awful, all these girls do is research about torture and murder’. I mean, yes, a part of it is that, but our podcast isn’t just the facts. Our podcast is a conversational and chatty side of true crime. We’re never glorifying killers. We’re never glorifying crime. This is about an intellectual curiosity into why people do the things they do and covering that in a way that doesn’t ruin your brain or damage your soul. You can have a curiosity about the extremes of human behaviour and still laugh at micropigs for no reason, so we like to think that we walk that line well and we hope that people will give us a chance and think the same thing.

On a slightly more positive note, you’ve just marked the milestone of your 100th episode. Of all your episodes, do you have a favourite?

H: I have a lot of favourite episodes for a lot of different reasons, however, my favourite podcasts to listen back to are our Halloween specials. On Halloween each year, we do a special 2-part episode where, in a slight deviation from our original format, we individually go off and research to find the worst thing we possibly can and tell it to each other for the first time. When you listen back to the episodes, you can tell that we are actually scared.

S: The Halloween episodes are up there for me, I love that I get Hannah’s genuine reaction and it’s that reaction we’re looking forward to seeing at the live show. The episode I’m most proud of is the Incel episode we did. Not a lot of people have covered the topic and I think we took quite a unique approach and view covering it, as we are both women. I would also say, I’m proud of our Ian Watkins episode, it’s a more modern case and very controversial. I think we did a good job with it as we don’t glorify it and we don’t dwell around in the horrible things he did, but we tell the story well, including the things that need to be included.

If you could meet any one of the subjects that you’ve covered on the RedHanded podcast, who would it be and what would you ask them?

S: I think I’d meet Darlie Routier.

H: Ooo, that’s a good one.

S: For those who don’t know, Darlie is a woman who is currently on death row in Texas and is on her 3rd and final appeal. If she is successful, she will be freed, if she is unsuccessful, she will be sent to the death chamber. She was accused of killing her two little boys – she said that someone broke in and stabbed them and she also sustained some injuries. Basically, the evidence points all over the place. Half of it points to she did it, the other half points to she didn’t do it. When I started researching the case, I thought she didn’t do it, then I thought she did and then I thought she didn’t again and then I thought she did… and I ended it thinking I have absolutely no idea if she did it or not. I would love to meet her, look her in the face and ask her if she did it and then maybe I’d have more of an idea to if she did or not. That’s a case that has stuck with me. Either she’s a woman that did a diabolical thing and is exactly where she needs to be, or she’s a completely innocent grieving mother and she’s been in jail for over 30 years.

H: The one I have the most questions for is Amy Bradley. She’s an American girl who was on holiday on a cruise ship and she just disappeared. I would just like to know where she is and what actually happened to her.

S: I would also love for us to meet some Incels. Researching, we can end up in some pretty dark places and when researching for the Incel episode, one of those dark places was the ‘’ forum. It was a pretty interesting place, full of angry, angry men who hate women. As well, when you’re on the forum, they can see you’re looking at the site as a guest and type at you saying, ‘we can see you’re here’… it was a pretty scary experience. I did stick a train ticket to my webcam, and it hasn’t come off since because I was so terrified that they could actually see me. I would love for us as two women and have a real-life conversation with an actual Incel… maybe not so much for him though.

You’ve reached 100 episodes and you’re now going on a live tour, what would you like to see in RedHanded’s future?

S: Oh, everything.

H: Apart from world domination obviously. At the moment, we’re very much taking it a day at a time and figuring this out as we go along. Definitely more episodes, we’ve got more time, so more research, and we’re chatting about possibly doing a separate long form podcast.

S: That’s exactly it. From the start, even though we didn’t know exactly what the show was going to be, the one thing we’ve stuck to is that the content is everything. The quality of the research, getting the facts right and giving our listeners what they deserve in terms of quality content is at the crux of everything. We’re so excited to do more of it.

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