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The Night Jeep – a strange tale from the dusty garage!

Over Halloween, I took a few weeks off from my normal job to run an annual online Halloween radio stream, where I play lots of spooky season songs (Monster Mash, Ghostbusters theme, horror movie soundtracks, etc) and I’ve been doing this for about eight years. For each Halloween night, I try to make an original audio story or documentary.

It’s difficult to know what listeners like. Most of my listeners are in the US, and I don’t really know who they are, or what they are specifically tuning in for. For example, one year I programmed in some dubstep horror tracks – and the moment they went to air, the listeners dropped off dramatically!

The same thing with my audio stories. One year, I made a story called GPS, which is about 50-60 minutes long. I could see that some people were still listening by the end, but I think about 50 percent of listeners ‘changed the channel’. It was just too long for a Halloween night, where people want something upbeat and spooky to listen to.

So this year, I decided to make something much shorter. Also, it would be easier for me, as previous years had almost killed me with the workload I had created for myself. I started making an audio story at the beginning of the year in preparation called ‘Far Above the Frozen Lake’ which was a strange existential story about a visitation of aliens from another time and space.

But then when I was visiting my friends in between lockdowns in Sydney, we had a strange experience driving home, that was recorded on the car dashcam. And when I listened to the audio of it, I knew straightaway that I had to make this into an audio story. Not only did it sound great to me, but it would help give the story some legitimacy, and maybe I could convey some of the creepiness we had experienced! This must’ve been what all the cool horror kids call a “creepypasta”.

Anyway, I kept it short – seven minutes. And I used a great track from Formless Voyager, a synthwave composer in Sweden. I had already been playing this track, and one of his other tracks, ‘Road to the Unconscious’ as part of the Halloween radio stream, both sent to me originally by a French label called Synthwave Cafe.

A long-time friend had heard this song playing on the stream, and texted me saying, what the hell is this? And not in a negative way, either: my friend was a music lover, and I knew exactly what he meant: this was a completely wild and dynamic track! So I thought it would work great as some kind of horror theme.

Now, I’ve embellished the story a little bit with some of the details – not that I should be telling you this. And I’ve built up the sound design using a mix of sound effects recorded by me around Sydney, as well as some sourced from other creators. Anyone living in Sydney might recognize the traffic light beep. I got up at 4 am one morning to record that at the main road near me; that way I could record it without any cars going by.

I hope you like this story, and if you’d like to get a copy of it, it’s available on Bandcamp for name-your-price. Also, it sounds spookier on headphones.

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