First things first…I made a playlist for everyone to listen to. You may do so on your own time, or while you read the rest of this post.
As some of you may or may not know, I love music. That doesn’t make me special. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like music. Like, “No, it’s just sounds and rhythm and WRONG.” Kind of a universal.
However, I don’t think people realise how avidly I love music. To the point where while I was working some corporate bullshit job in Canary Wharf I was also working for free for an indie radio station in East London…or trying to, at least. I went to a few festivals and brewery openings to write about them for the station in the hopes of eventually transitioning into some kind of on-air position, be it producer or DJ or anything that let me be like, “Hey here’s some cool music I like and you should listen to it.” But alas I moved to California where I thought, “Surely there will be plenty of radio stations that I’d want to work for right?” Wrong. Almost everything here is owned by CBS and a huge conglomerate of the kind of corporate world I was trying to escape.
For most of my life I have listened to BBC Radio 1…and would say I probably listen to it more than ever before now that I’m living in Los Angeles thanks to the fact that the station is universally available through the internet and their app (go here). Amongst the many grievances I have with American culture, it has to be their radio stations. Which, regardless of genre, play the same goddamn songs on repeat day in day out. Pop stations have a circulation of exactly ten songs, four of which are Post Malone. Don’t get me wrong, I like Post Malone, but branch out a bit. Society cannot rely on the sounds of one man alone.
The primary issue I have with American radio is how many goddamn adverts there are. Since it’s nationally funded, the BBC is not legally allowed to advertise anything but other BBC programmes, which I want to hear about anyway, and there’s maybe one minute of adverts dispersed throughout an hour of radio.
The other thing in America is that most artists are manufactured and sold as a product. The BBC has something called BBC Introducing where you can upload your music to their website and someone will listen to it, and if they like it, it’ll be put on the radio. One of my favourite bands, Slaves (featured on the playlist above), were discovered that way. You might know some other people who came through the BBC Introducing circuit like The 1975, Florence and the Machine and some guy called Ed Sheeran. Obviously they did more than just upload their music to a website to make their career happen, but the BBC has been largely instrumental in bringing new music to a mainstream audience without the kind of capitalist agenda of “what can this person sell” that the American music industry seems to have when it comes to new artists. Obviously musicians want to make a living, but it has to be disheartening for bands to see the person as the product as opposed to the music.
My favourite part of BBC radio is listening to the non-primetime shows for new music (like what’s on half of that playlist above) and then watching how over the course of a few months they trickle onto the playlists of the earlier shows like the 4-7 spot and then eventually the Breakfast Show. I saw this happen with Nick Mulvey back in 2014 and was lucky enough to interview him before he then went on to play on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury. He’s someone I’ve been lucky enough to go see in California and even grabbed a drink with him and his lovely girlfriend (possibly wife now) who used to set up a bar at his pop up concerts in various parks around London, which is where I first saw him perform live.
When I was “working” in radio I also was fortunate enough to become friends with someone at the BBC who was in charge of press passes and accreditations. Since I wrote for a radio station I was invited to a lot of BBC events, one of which was the BBC Radio 1 Rocks show in 2014 that had two of my favourite bands, Wolf Alice and Slaves playing. All the acts were relatively new, but now they’re both quite famous in the UK. Wolf Alice has probably gained more commercial success. They were featured on the soundtrack of Trainspotting 2 and if you’ve never listened to them you should.
Anyway my brain is full of songs and bands that I want to tell everyone about and until I can get back into radio I’m going to keep listening to the BBC all day whilst adding my the songs I like to Spotify and making playlists to share here. These ten songs are from a playlist of about 60 which are just the songs I discovered and liked in January. I have to break things down into months and sometimes into specific radio shows, like Annie Mac’s New Sounds and Jack Saunder’s Indie Show. Both of which you should check out so you know what the hell I’m talking about when I tweet about the shows.
Also if you’re a musician I highly recommend uploading your music to the BBC Introducing page because what’s the worst that could happen?
Please feel free to send me music recommendations for any and all genres. I’m literally open to listening to just about anything.