Thursday, January 16, 2014

Gilles Peterson Interview about the music I love.

I never get tired about listening to Gilles - he takes me to new fresh challenging exciting music like no-one else.

Gilles Peterson: I still get excited about my gigs, so many DJs just go through the motions

Gilles Peterson: So many DJs just go through the motions
Gilles Peterson says X Factor aside, today’s music scene is in rude health (Picture: Casey Moore)
Pioneering club and radio DJ Gilles Peterson, 49, on the state of today’s music scene, X Factor, his Worldwide Awards and musical influences.
Why did you start the Worldwide Awards? Dance music, hip hop and indie have awards that celebrate their music, whereas artists who are a bit avant-garde don’t. The Worldwide Awards have given them a platform to show what they do and for our scene to have something to shout about.
Do you enjoy curating them? I do, as we support artists from an early stage and the awards can be an important part of their journey. Jay Electronica did the awards in 2010 and he was this big rapper with a huge buzz.
Performing at the awards marked the first time he’d left New Orleans. It was his first live show, too, and he completely failed – it was a catastrophe. We’ve become good friends since then and Jay’s told me that he’s never forgotten the show and how it was great in developing him as an artist.
How would you describe your musical approach? I’ve never been able to do that. What I’d say is it hasn’t varied much since I was 15 – I grew up at a time when you made a decision about what tribe you were going to follow. I became a soulboy casual and went to the soul all-dayers and weekenders and was going to clubs and buying white labels when I was 16.
What were your influences when you were growing up? At a very young age I got to meet some very important people such as Wayne Shorter, Mark Murphy and The Last Poets. They gave me a really important lesson in the foundations of black music and, on top of that, I grew up in the era of punk and jazz-funk in London. I’ve always been obsessed by music that falls between the cracks.
Has London been a major influence? It’s the most exciting musical hub in the world. Club culture, pirate radio, acid house and music in general has had so much power in London and I represent all of that and I’m fuelled by this never-ending exciting newness that keeps coming at us.
It seems you’re happy to be discovered rather than be a pushy ‘superstar DJ’. I’ve found myself in a nice place – it’s like being in the back room of a club. But the back room is a loud minority, especially these days. Music has become quite generic, so people want to go deeper. I’m like that little backstreet restaurant that’s really good.
You’re showing no signs of slowing down. I just keep on doing what I’ve been doing since the early 1980s. In 2013, I DJ’d 100 times and I’ve done thousands of radio shows across pirate radio, BBC London, Kiss FM, Radio 1 and now 6 Music. I’m still excited to go through and choose my tunes for a gig, especially when there are so many DJs who go through the motions.
‘Music today isn’t as good as it used to be.’ Discuss. There’s so much great music out there, the talent around is ridiculous. I wonder whether it’s because of The X Factor – over the past ten years there’s been this Saturday night show and it’s subliminally affected people who don’t want to be on it but who want to perform because of it. There are so many great British singers, such as Denai Moore, Rosie Lowe and Mirror Signal, and groups like London Grammar, who have taken over the Morcheeba and Zero 7-type area.
Is it harder than ever to make it in music? Yes, because there’s less industry and fewer ways to make money from your music in the early days. But that’s a good thing because it’s taken out the manipulation and allowed people to go out there and do it themselves – the DIY thing is definitely working. I worked with majors for my Talkin’ Loud label in the 1990s and there were so many people with no idea about music who had an opinion and that was so bad for the music, because so much money was wasted. That’s gone, which has got to be a good thing.
Saturday afternoons on 6 Music seems a natural home for you. The switch from Radio 1 to 6 Music has been brilliant. It’s brought in a whole heap of new people to my way of doing things. It has a similar energy to when I was on after John Peel at Radio 1, when I really felt I was hitting new ears and wasn’t ghettoised.
You seem to have embraced podcasts. Podcasts and streaming are an amazing way of sharing mixes and radio shows, and my SoundCloud page has gone off the scale. It reminds me why people like what I do: people listen because I play all right music, so to have a place where I can respond to Mandela passing away and put up a Mandela-inspired mix and in a day it’s played 30,000 times, is brilliant. I love it.
For details on the Worldwide Awards, see