Interview by Sophie Everard, photo by Sophie Van der Welle
I’ve always loved gigs and hearing music live and was brought up listening to Paul Simon and Gomez in the car with my dad. When I was coming out of my Boyzone phase circa 1998 I used to raid my brothers CD collections discovering Nirvana, The Cranberries, Blur, Portishead and The Prodigy. It was a whole new world.
I was a bit of a musical freak, acting in every school play throughout school and encouraged to play music so I did singing, piano and saxophone. The only thing I’ve really kept up is the singing, which I do a bit of when my mates ask me to put some vocals down on some tracks they’ve been making. It’s strictly a hobby though, I’m not planning on forging a career as a singer any time soon.
It’s been nearly five years since I started out in the industry. Fresh out of University I spent a year making tea at BBC Birmingham, Virgin and Channel 103. I was given a contact at Xfm, writing news stories for the website, interviewing bands and helping out at red carpet events. Suddenly I’d landed doing something I could see myself doing for a long time. It was a few months later and I met the Music News editor at BBC 6 Music News. Four weeks later I was working full time on the 6 Music News team.
Nearly two years ago I had a light bulb moment and realised my dream was to present my own show so I sent a demo in response to an advert I saw for a new station, Amazing Radio. Then it was just a baby but now it’s a fully-fledged national digital station playing the best new music from everywhere in the world. I was given the breakfast show.
It’s definitely harder for women to get ahead. If you look at the daytime schedules at most of the big networks it is a very male dominated gig. There are opportunities for women though and I’m going to the launch of Sound Women next week, a pressure group designed to give women more of a voice in radio. That can only be a positive thing. Whatever sex you are, if you’re a presenter you do have to get good at it, find a voice and constantly re-evaluate what you are doing along the way – I’m still doing it.
For three years now I've lived in south London and spend a lot of time east as well. I love that there is so much to do in this city, Broadway Market and London Fields in the summer or looking out over London in Brockwell Park, Brixton. I love getting a mulled wine and browsing the antiques shops along Portobello Road around Christmas and checking out what’s going on around Brick Lane on a Sunday. You can’t beat a cycle ride around town on a beautiful day either. I went to London Zoo for the first time last summer. That was cool.
It’s usually the crowd that can make a gig, when you’re all on the same page, feeling the same thing. I like seeing people dance around awkwardly, losing their inhibitions. It’s great when you see a band at the peak of their powers. I’m one of those people as well, I can’t help but sing along to every word. It’s a thing of unity, which I don’t think we do enough.
The best part of my job is meeting new people all the time and of course meeting some of my heroes. I’ve been given free reign to chat about music with people like Jack White and Alison Mosshart from The Dead Weather, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth (granted that one was on the phone, luckily as if it had been in person my words would have probably come out backwards).
It was interesting going to the States for a festival. They do things so differently out there. Coachella was so clean and you had to go to an enclosed pen to drink your beer. I realized we have far more people in the UK that are mad as a box of frogs who like to party hard at festivals. I think that’s a good thing. Where would we be without some sort of ridiculous festival attire and having three day old mud on our jeans?! At Coachella in a pen drinking a beer.
I used to be fierce on the slopes as an ankle-biting four year-old, ‘bombing it’, otherwise known as skis pointing straight down the mountain until you get to the bottom, that was my speciality. I’m certainly not as ballsy now on snow but in March I’m going to give snowboarding a try.
In a few years time I would hope I’m still doing radio presenting. Hopefully I can make a full career out of it and graduate to hosting a show on some bigger stations. Having my own show on Radio 1 or BBC 6 Music would be my ultimate dream, fronting the festival coverage and continuing to help new bands get ahead by giving them as much exposure as I can. I can’t see myself doing anything else but this.