Jen Long is the voice of the BBC in Wales every Sunday as it melts into a Monday on BBC Introducing, finding great new talent in nooks and crannies across Wales and showcasing them for us. And you’ll soon be able to hear her coming out of your TV as the new voice of BBC Three. In between she keeps herself busy with a label, a magazine, a club night and a blog
Interview by Sofie Jenkinson, photo by BBC/Danny North
It’s the best job ever – finding new bands and getting to see them do well. I do love it. It feels really normal and natural now but sometimes I still have a little moment where I’m like, ohh I actually got my dream job. Shit!
I’ve basically been involved with BBC Introducing since it started in 2007. My boss kind of sprung this job on me. He called me in for a meeting, locked the door and was like “BBC Introducing is changing and we want you to present the show.” I was like “Oh God, I’m going to be on Radio One!” That was awesome.
My first record was the really cool themes of the X-Files by Mark Snow on cassette. I really wanted to get Take That’s Take That and Party album on cassette but it was £8 in Woolworths and my mum said it was too expensive.
It’s so great seeing your friends do really well. Seeing 10,000 people dancing along to You! Me! Dancing! when Los Campesinos! played the Radio 1 NME stage at Reading a few years ago was pretty cool.
Bethan Elfyn once told me: “Don’t be free, be cheap”. That was pretty good advice. I always feel bad for taking people’s money for things I really want to do.
I started Effort with Frost (of The Automatic) because I was bored in Cardiff and I think he was as well. I just thought I really like playing guitar and getting drunk with my mates so I’m just going to be in a band. There’s no business side to it it’s just a fun hobby thing.
This summer me and my mate Matt are going to start a band with these two guys from Nottingham and we’re going to record a cassette tape and do a t-shirt and go on one tour for like five dates and then split up. We’re gonna be called the Summer Breeze, like in the O.C.
It doesn’t feel any different me going to a gig playing guitar or me going to a gig to see a band to put them in session – it’s just like life. I think there’s not much line anymore between people who like write blogs, write for magazines, go on the radio, play in bands. Everyone does so many different bits, it all fits together and makes one awesome puzzle.
I think you have to stop talking about how there’s girl in a band and recognise that there’s people in a band. It’s a double-edged sword. You can argue as much as you like but if you keep talking about it then it keeps being something that comes up. I’ve never encountered a single problem in my life being a girl, working in music – in fact I think it’s pretty awesome.
I really hate it when people are like “Oh, last year was the year of the woman! With Adele and blah blah blah.” And you’re like – so what? No one would ever be like ‘”It’s the year of the man!” Just stop saying it. Just stop it.
‘I think I’m like Tennessee Williams in wait for the click. I wait, but it doesn’t kick in’ is my favourite lyric. It’s from City Middle by The National. I have it tattooed on the inside of my arm. I just love it. I love Tennessee Williams – he was my favourite playwright at school and he just stood out to me as someone who drinks far too much.
I really like sandwiches. I need to stop talking about them so much because I like cereal too. I’m never home that much and I don’t have that much time when I am so it’s just easier to make a sandwich. You can put so many things into them! I once made this amazing one from brie, rocket and mayonnaise on beetroot bread.
I absolutely loved Kruger magazine. It was such a beautiful magazine and it smelt good and you could hold it and it had awesome bands. I was pretty heavily involved with it and I met so many people who are still my best friends now. I really, really like Loud and Quiet and Stool Pigeon but I don’t keep them whereas I still have all my old Krugers. I just wanted there to be something out there like that still.
So we did Zerocore because I just wanted to make a magazine that was really beautiful and featured bands that I like. And also so that when I meet people who are young and want some work experience I can be like “You can write for my magazine because you seem cool” and then they could have the same opportunity that I had to do really rad stuff and interview bands that you’re gonna love forever.
We make the magazine quarterly and just about get the costs covered from advertising. It’s just a hobby but it is good – even if I do say so myself. Adam Chard is such an incredible designer and so talented. He does such an incredible job with it – the magazine looks amazing and we’re super proud of it.
Reading festival always has bands that I love. I love that all the stages are so near each other so you can watch one band and then run to the next stage and watch another band. I got to DJ the Silent Disco last year and it was one of the highlights of my life. I did go and buy a poster and put it up above my bed. I was like “I don’t care. I’m on the fucking Reading poster. Life doesn’t get any better!” It was sick.
There are so many different things that can happen at a festival, you can never really be prepared. But just don’t get too drunk on the first night because you don’t want to be sitting in your tent crying on the last night.
I have four heroes. Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Steve Lamacq and Mary Anne Hobbs. And I’ve met them all but Kim Gordon because I’m just too scared to meet her, really. What am I gonna say to Kim Gordon? She’s like the coolest woman in the world.
Oh, I just can’t fault Sonic Youth. Kim and Thurston just did their own thing for so long and didn’t listen to anyone else. When they split up I was so sad I cried.
What should you be listening to? Just for starters my roster on Kissability. The Samoans are an incredible three-piece from Cardiff – they’re heavy and they’re thick. Cut Ribbons make massive indie pop anthems and are just so sweet, passionate and enthusiastic. And Among Brothers who make brilliant, intelligent orchestral pop and they’re just such a phenomenal band. Those are my tips for now – there’s definitely more, there’s always more.
Get involved as much as you can with any opportunities that arise. I’ve done loads and loads of work experience in radio but I’ve done so many other things too, which is like all contributes to the final parcel that is you. No one does that one thing anymore. Everyone needs to be across different platforms and multitalented. Just be enthusiastic.