On the condition of strict anonymity, the show's mysterious host agreed to talk.
Criminals and victims from episodes of Casefile. Image by Ashley Goodall
Casefile appeared on the internet without fanfare in January. It was introduced as "Australia's first true crime podcast," although the show includes some cases from overseas. The show's host refers to himself as "anonymous" but tells the audience he isn't a journalist. Instead, he's just a guy with an Aussie drawl, and a thing for really gory stories.
We wanted to know more about Casefile—how it came about, how it's made, and what its anonymous narrator has learned about Australian crime. So we got in touch and, on condition of strict anonymity, the host of Casefile agreed to answer our questions.
VICE: Hey there, let's start with how the show began. What was the inspiration behind Casefile?
Anonymous: I'd just had surgery, which required a lot of lying around doing nothing. I was listening to a lot of podcasts at the time, my favourite being the Joe Rogan Experience. Joe was constantly telling his guests they should start their own podcasts. It wasn't a serious idea at first––I almost laughed at myself for even thinking it––after all, what the hell was I going to start a podcast about? Then not long after that I binged Making a Murderer and came across Serial. I was also inspired by one of my other favourite podcasts, Hardcore History. That made me start to wonder if there was space for a true crime podcast that went deep into research with excellent storytelling like Hardcore History. That's how Casefile began. The only problem I had was that I'm no Dan Carlin. I'm far from an excellent storyteller, but I figured I had nothing to lose.
When did you realise you were onto something?
I expected to do only a few episodes, which would help pass the time until I was able to get back to work, then that would be the end of it. But it started to get an audience really quickly. There was no marketing, no push. But that's the beauty of the internet, you can just dive right in and do it. As the show started to grow, I blinked, and suddenly we were suddenly starting to get 200,000 listeners an episode. I'm still completely stunned by it all.
And now you have a full team?
I realised I needed help very quickly. The first seven episodes I did the music myself, and it's safe to say, it was mostly bad. That's when advertised for somebody that could help with production and music scoring... I found my awesome producer, Mike Migas from the UK. I think he felt sorry for me after listening to the production of what I had done so far. Eventually, Mike re-scored the earlier episodes and is still the head producer today. I'm so glad I found him.
From there, we started getting all sorts off offers to sign on with advertising agencies and podcast networks, and I met Alex Aldea from LA. Alex jumped on the production team to help out Mike and then put us in touch with Andrew Joslyn, a really talented music composer, violinist, and orchestrator from Seattle. They joined the team and really added something to the Casefile sound.
Then we got Victoria Dieffenbacher, from Argentina, to help with research. She really got the essence of the show and what we were trying to do—amazing depth of research and laid out all of the information exactly how I would do it. Vicky is like my research twin, I'm very thankful I found her.
But I still don't understand why you want to remain anonymous. Can you explain it to me?
Because I want to let the facts speak for themselves, which is why I stay out of the way of the story. It works really well being anonymous. The show doesn't focus on a host figure. It isn't about anyone or anything other than the story. There have been a lot of interesting conspiracy theories floating around online speculating why I remain anonymous, but that's really the only reason. It's nothing dramatic or even that interesting. I'm just a random Aussie guy, in my spare bedroom, running a podcast.
What is it about true crime that you find so intriguing?
The thing with true crime is that the facts are the story. It doesn't get any scarier. Some of these stories you couldn't make up.
How do you choose the stories?
Some cases I selected because I had heard about them repeatedly, but I really had no idea about any of the details or what exactly happened. The Wanda Beach Murders and Snowtown are two examples. Other cases have been suggested to us and, within 10 seconds of reading about them, I knew we had to tell the story. Helen Munnings, Lisa Marie Young, and Lindsay Buziak are the ones that come to mind there.
I don't really know what it is about specific case that draws me in. I just try to keep them as varied as possible. Mike and Vicky have also come up with a lot of interesting cases as well. Mike is Polish and that's how we came across the story on our latest episode, "Case 36: Amok." I have no doubt we will be doing a case from Argentina in the near future as well.
Have there been any particular crimes that have really stayed with you?
Every case is hard. None of them are pleasant stories to tell but, having said that, Snowtown is the one that most affected me. It stuck with me for a while and cost me a fair bit of sleep. I knew it was the "bodies in the barrels" case, but that's all I knew. I just wasn't prepared for how harrowing they were, or how much depravity and evil was involved. It was sickening.
More broadly speaking, what have you learned about evil?
Evil exists in every episode we have done, committed by all types of people across all walks of life. There is some really dark stuff that goes on the world.
How do you try to include some of these dark details, while being sensitive to the victims?
Respect for the victims and their families is at the forefront of everything we do, from writing the script to selecting clips. We are ever mindful of it. We only use clips if we think they add to the storytelling process. We don't like putting clips in just for the sake of it, to fill out time or whatever.
What's been the most rewarding moment so far?
Oddly enough, I was never a massive true crime fan prior to Casefile. I read a few books here and there but that's about it. I thought I was cursed when I got my injury, but it turned into a positive pretty quickly. We—Mike, Vicky, Andrew and I—want to continue to try and create the best episodes possible and see where it takes us. The growth is actually super inspiring and makes us strive to work harder, making Casefile the best show we can.
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