Kyle Poissonnier discusses Katalyst, State of the State, and his overall outlook on everything

Zack Bowen, Kyle Poissonnier and me at The Armory

Zack Bowen, Kyle Poissonnier and me at The Armory

In addition to being known for his clothing brand Katalyst, Kyle Poissonnier organized State of the State—a sizable, multi-act concert event—at the State Theater last summer. State of the State will take place again this summer, and it is just one of the many projects Poissonnier has on his plate.

Katalyst is launching a limited edition clothing line called Coordinates and  Poissonnier recently co-founded a public speaking event called Speakeasy. He also has a web series in the works and is working on a mentoring program at Husson University. Finally, Poissonnier is one of the guys behind Abby’s Out., an advice podcast that offers a funny take on Dear Abby. He records Abby’s Out. with Jason Bosch and Jake Erskine.  

Poissonnier, a few other folks and I got together at The Armory to talk about the podcast in particular, but also about his work and projects overall. As a quick heads up, at one point my dear friend and business partner Zack adds his voice to the mix.

LANGUAGE WARNING: There is an eff-word and a reference to the c-word.

“MARC MARON CALLED JASON BOSCH A [C-WORD]“

How did the podcast come about?

It came about because Marc Maron called Bosch a [c-word] on Twitter. It was perfect. Those guys were podcasts and it wss after that that I started to get into shows like the Nerdist. Bosch was like, “We should do it, we should record one. We should do it.” The premise was to do an advice thing… I think Jake came up with it while we were out for cigars. He said, “Have you ever heard of that woman Dear Abby?” I had kind of so we looked it up on Google and found…

Your pointed lack of awareness that Dear Abby still exists as a cultural entity is amazing.

Some of the questions beg to be made fun of. The points of view are funny because Bosch is very much an introvert and Jake has a lot of pinball machines at his house and then there is me, the extroverted jock, single guy who doesn’t have any kids.

We read two current 2014 Dear Abby questions and we answer them and then we read one from the 50s or 60s. We wanted to keep ours short. It’s 35 or 40 minutes, and we try to keep it funny.

I listen to and enjoy Nerdist because I like its length and access, but I have trouble listening when there are guests who are even remotely funny because the hosts will sort of butcher the interview by trying to out-riff each other. In a recent episode, though, Christ Hardwick pointed out to B.J. Novak that they are now at a point where they are friends, but the only way they can find time to hang out with each other is when it surrounds the production of some sort of project  like that podcast.

It’s true. I don’t get to see some of my friends very much unless we are doing some sort of project. There is Spose and the Mallet Brothers and I am good friends with those guys but I probably won’t see them a bunch until we start shooting photos and commercials for the State of the State event. It’s the same with my best friend Pete [Bissell of Bissell Brothers Brewing Company] where I end up going to his brewery to meet about something and that’s when we end up hanging out. It’s a good thing, because it means everyone is busy.

“FACEBOOK COMPLICATES [DATING]“

Does your podcast take on any romantic or dating advice solicitations? I was talking with someone earlier about how I am happy that I got married and out of the dating scene two years ago so that I missed innovations like Tinder, Lulu and other dating apps. That whole scene appears to have changed in no time at all. How is dating these days?

I feel like the Internet has made everyone feel as though there is always something better. There was once a time where you would have to go out and meet someone and then get to know them, but with the Internet there is always someone else available. I am a culprit of that.

Dating in Maine is tough from what I have seen. You meet somebody and there is not a chance in Hell that they do not know someone you have already dated. And then Facebook complicates things, where when you meet someone and then become friends with them you can see who they are friends with and you judge them. Or you see that they are friends with people you have already dated and you think, “Oh, it’s over for me. They’re going to talk.”

ZACK: But Facebook complicates things generally. I recently saw people I worked for from way back when I first got into this industry and they had revealed to me that unbeknownst to me they voted me “Least Likely to Succeed.” They said it was funny because now they see me with my own business and they see me travel all over the place and photographing these big events and gigs and all of that is because of what they imagine based on what I put out on social media. All of that is true—I do all of that stuff—but that isn’t what defines my life.

ALEX: People complain about social media all of the time, saying that it isn’t real. It isn’t how people really are, but that is no different from how most people are all of the time. When you see someone on the street and ask how they are, the last thing you expect is a 15 minute real talk about the complications of their illness. I do like it when people are straight forward and honest and real, but we have collectively perfected the art of lying to each other every day. In that way social media enables people to be the way way they already are online.

It’s the best version of yourself that you are trying to put forward. When I am posting things about my life and business or whatever, I am not diving into broken contracts or client complications or whatever.

I can relate to the “least likely to succeed thing, though.” I had a below 1,000 on the SATs [note: when the SATs was tallied like that]… I didn’t look like I was on the way to any sort of success, but the opposite has been the case.

I think a lot of the tools for “success” that they sell teenagers aren’t necessarily helpful. I was talking with Arlin at Hugo’s Restaurant today and laughing about the fact that despite the fact “hospitality” was considered a dead end profession when we were all kids, those guysand a lot of other folks like themhave turned their venture into something where they are respected internationally.

I talk to kids all of the time and try to show them what I went through. I show them a picture of the first show I put on where it is really embarrassing to look at. It is basically my girlfriend at the time, my mom and me. And then I show them the show I put on at the State Theater and it is me and Spose on stage and 1,400 people in the audience. I try to show that, you know, after failing for 6 years I was able to do something I wanted to do. I try to show that putting in a bunch of effort will bring more return then trying to figure out the secrets or scams to get you ahead.

Right now, I feel like I am the richest person. There is nothing like talking to a bunch of kids and then going back to your Twitter and seeing 10 or 12 kids write sweet things about how you changed their life or their outlook. Fuck your money, you know? Get one of those sent to you. You did something decent. That is more important.

“IT IS THE TACKIEST THING IN THE WORLD TO SIT AROUND AND SPEAK NEGATIVELY OF OTHER PEOPLE.”

I run into a good deal of people who ask me how I ended up doing the things that I do, and I honestly think that I ended up where I am because there was no other option. I don’t know how to do anything else. I don’t know how to work for other people. I am here because I am.

I feel like you run into more and more people in Portland who are not doing the 9-5 thing. That is what is so fun for me to look back at. I came back to Maine in 2010 and Pete [Bissell] was talking about wanting to brew beer with his brother. I wanted to keep doing my thing and Will Mallett was there and was just about to have his first show. Now the Mallett Brothers have opened for Toby Keith in Nashville, Bissell Brothers is selling out everywhere and my shows and shirts are taking off.

If you want to make a living here, you have to make your own shit. And there are a number of issues with that being the reality, but people doing that thing get it and as a result are supportive of other folks trying to do their own thing. I find that we all know that we are in the same jungle and so we try to be supportive of each other. And it changes the way that you look at competition. We are all supposedly in this together.

I feel like it is the tackiest thing in the world to sit around and speak negatively of other people and that rubs some people the wrong way. People who say, “Well, you can’t like everybody.”

People ask me all the time if I hear of other similar companies doing similar things. If you are doing what you are doing and you are doing it well, you don’t have to worry about that. Chocolate, vanilla, Pepsi and Coke. Help other people doing similar things. I help and plug other people all of the time. It is just what you do.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.