Q&A with Liam Luxon from Status: Untraced

Cultivate Adventure with Liam Luxon, host of Status: Untraced

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Katrina Day // Underwater, Warner Music Group’s Interval Presents

Liam Luxon is the host of Status: Untraced and true crime newcomer. He introduces us to Justin Alexanders’ story and embarks on a 10-episode investigation into the mysterious case of his disappearance.

In Status: Untraced, he uncovers the secrets the Parvati Valley holds, the stones left unturned, and what really happened to Justin Alexander.

Status: Untraced is our podcast of the week for April 21, 2024 and I hit up Liam so he could share what he put into creating such a wildly fascinating adventure of a podcast.


SO: Let’s get into it. This is your first foray into podcasting and into true crime podcasting at that. What about the medium compelled you to pick it up?

LL: Well, I sort of fell into this position, but now that I have been working in the space for nearly half a decade there’s a couple of things that I’ve come to love about podcasting. First and foremost, on the investigation side, I found out early on when it’s just you, your interviewee, and a microphone - the room lightens up. You end up having incredible connections with strangers that then soon become part of your life forever.

Adding a camera to the mix adds a layer of complexity and pressure for everyone involved. A genuine conversation can still be had, but it’s more freeing without a lens reminding the subject, “We’re capturing your every gesture and word.”

I also found the limitation of being an only audio format rewarding. While we were in the creative process, we had hours of discussion about creating the illusion of transporting listeners to parts of the world they may never visit or see. I think that trick doesn’t work as well in film. The visual is defined in front of you, there’s no room for further exploration. Podcasts are special in that way. It’s a bit more experimental than a book but still taps into the imagination

SO: What are some of your favorite true crime podcasts? I’m thinking of the ones that you drew inspiration from, and that make you a podcast fan.

LL: To Live and Die in LA. There’s nothing like it. I binged the entire show in a day. My producer Alex Vespestad made that podcast so we drew a lot of inspiration from the things we thought worked in To Live and Die and attempted our own take in Status.

Also, to be honest, Alex and I were inspired by a multitude of works. “Civilized to Death” by Dr. Christopher Ryan was a big one for me. I highly recommend the book for anyone who’s ever questioned why and how society’s rules are defined the way they are, and what might be good for and detrimental to the world about that. We also talked a lot about the slow burn and unexpected twists of the TV series “Severance”. In trying to express the mystical and wondrous nature of foreign places, Alex talked about “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino a lot. (I still have yet to really get around to finishing it.) We also talked about Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations” when discussing the common themes of life.

SO: How are you trying to distinguish yourself and Status: Untraced in the true crime/mystery genre?

LL: While the podcast is a missing person's case, at its heart it’s more than that to me. It touches on travel, adventure, health, wellness, and an individual's search for purpose. I don’t know if I would have taken on the case if those other factors weren’t present. By the end I believe listeners will feel this show offers so much more than just a true crime/mystery show. It’s a journey to embark on. One that might bring some reflection and clarity into your life.

SO: How much travel have you done and how did that play a part in you sharing the story of Justin Alexander’s disappearance in Status: Untraced?

LL: Can I say “a little” and leave it at that?

I had traveled on a cruise in the Caribbean as a teenager, but since then, I hadn’t left the country. I had a passport, but actually had to renew it in order to create this show.

Despite my inexperience, my bucket list for years revolved around international travel and immersing myself in new cultures. I bought a camera in 2018 with the intention of globetrotting and capturing what human life is like in various countries, so when I read about Justin Alexander’s life, I found myself in awe of his experiences. He was living the life I was dreaming of.

Justin’s story and the investigation became very personal to me.

Liam Luxon, host of Status: Untraced

SO: Whether it was the type of traveling people did before the Internet took over the world, or it’s the Instagram-driven traveling we all know today, people have always been encouraged to get off the beaten path to experience real traveling.

Were there any parts of Justin's story that were immediate red flags for you? Anything you would absolutely not do, adventure-spirit be damned?

LL: Justin took risks. But risk is calculated by perspective. What I would maybe consider dangerous - perhaps going to live with an island tribe with solely the bag slung on my back - wasn’t so extreme for Justin. He was a trained survivalist. He could handle himself responsibly in a more precarious setting.

Now, there are some things I would simply consider out of the question. Justin once cruised down a thin mountain road on a motorcycle; shirtless and arms spread wide open off the handlebars. I can barely drive a moped. So that would be a ‘be damned’ for me.

SO: What was it like to make real progress in retracing Justin Alexander’s steps?

LL: Surreal. Justin’s story and the investigation became very personal to me. We also never knew when we would hit a break in a case, if ever. Buckle up if you’re only three episodes deep because, boy oh boy, do we make some breaks.

SO: Were there moments when you felt like throwing in the towel?

LL: There were times that I felt defeated, but I’m a stubborn and curious person. Having the support system of TenderfootTV, and specifically, Alex Vespestad, grounded me. It’s tough to believe this podcast would ever have existed without them.

SO: What drove you to search for Justin despite him saying “I should return mid-September or so. If I’m not back by then, don’t look for me” in one of his last-known messages?

LL: The intrigue. Was it just a strange coincidence? Did he mean it? If he did and he disappeared of his own volition, what brought him to do that? The questions just kept coming.

SO: Without giving too much away, what has been the most surprising discovery during the making of "Status: Untraced"?

LL: Make it to episode 4 and you’ll know.

SO: How do you balance storytelling with sensitivity when discussing real-life events and disappearances?

LL: There were a couple of guiding principles we kept in check, but the main one was to consciously remind ourselves that Justin Alexander is a real person whose disappearance has caused traumatic suffering for friends and family. His case and life aren’t just a story - he was real. The pain that these people feel is real.

Whenever I was in doubt about how the podcast might be received, Justin was at the forefront of my mind. I studied what his friends and family shared with us, and I would consult with them from time to time, but I would also ask myself based on what I knew about him, “Would Justin approve?”

This investigation and podcast is for him.

SO: What impact do you hope this podcast will have on its listeners?

LL: I hope people can learn from both Justin’s mistakes and extraordinary accomplishments. He wasn’t perfect, and there are valuable lessons to be learned from that.

SO: How has the response been from the audience and the community affected by the events you discuss?

LL: Positive so far! Time will tell.

SO: Where does your next big trip take you? What do you plan on listening to on that trip?

LL: I’m currently writing these answers from a rooftop in Tulum, Mexico. I have plans to head to Istanbul this summer, and possibly Paris for the Olympics after. If any readers have recommendations on places to stay, hit me up at [email protected].

For podcasts - I intend on finishing Neil Strauss’s, “To Die For” on my return flight!

SO: What’s next for the podcast after this series? Are there other mysteries you plan to explore?

LL: I have some ideas. My door is open. But I am giving myself time to decompress and enjoy the release.

Liam can be found globetrotting with a camera and getting immersing in new cultures on Instagram at @liamluxon.

Status: Untraced Twitter: @statusuntraced
Status: Untraced Instagram: @statusuntraced
Status: Untraced TikTok: @statusuntraced

Tenderfoot TV Twitter: @tenderfoottv
Tenderfoot TV Instagram: @tenderfoot.tv
Tenderfoot TV TikTok: @tenderfoottv

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