In September 2020 we had State of the Independents day on BBC Radio 6 Music. It was a day devoted to doing a health check on the UK’s independent music sector, looking at the challenges, opportunities and responses of the sector caused by the global pandemic lockdown. There’s no doubt - club culture has taken a MASSIVE hit. When lockdown happened DJs, producers and platforms all over the world were able to move sets online. Whether they were for long-established platforms like Boiler Room, record label live streams, personal DJ pages, one off events like DJ EZ’s 24 hour set or raising money for foodbank charities as was the case with Live For Love, everyone was at it! In some areas of Europe like Barcelona in Spain- clubs reopened at the end of June but shut again a few weeks later as the virus surged.
Here in the UK clubbing remained off the cards - but in a short space of time post lockdown some venues were able to diversify in a bid to stay open hosting seated, socially distanced events. Meanwhile globally - virtual clubbing boomed.
I have been exploring how the scene has been adapting and what needs to be done to safeguard club culture for the months ahead…
It's always great catching up with Welsh electronic artist Kelly Lee Owens.
Her second studio album Inner Song was released in August 2020 to largely four and five star reviews from several major publications.
Kelly wrote and recorded the album after what she considered to be the hardest three years of her life. Ahead of its release she spoke to us about that time and how it was permeated with loss and grief with the death of her grandmother Jeanette, who she was very close to.
As well as a cover of Radiohead’s Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, it features vocals from The Velvet Underground’s John Cale on the track Corner of My Sky - with the album already starting to appear on some albums of the year lists by the likes of Uncut and Rough Trade where it’s number 28 in its top 100.
I checked in with her for BBC 6 Music and she revealed she’s been busy this year with her first foray into soundtrack work...
Let’s hear from Squid.
They released two EPs and several critically acclaimed singles before signing to Warp Records for the most recent track Sludge and a debut album.
The band had big plans for touring in Europe throughout 2020 after they were a big hit at a number of festivals last summer and our very own 6 Music festival in February. Tour plans were of course thwarted by the pandemic but things have by no means ground to a halt for the band.
I spoke to Louis Borlase from Squid for BBC Radio 6 Music recently to get an update on where they are at with a much anticipated debut record….
Hot Chip recently. unveiled a new track which features none other than Jarvis Cocker.
It’s titled Straight To The Morning, produced by the band and Mark Ralph. Hot Chip and Jarvis got to know each other in recent years from Djing together at the legendary Les Bains-Douches in Paris.
It’ll get a limited edition 7” vinyl release featuring the single, a Mighty Mouse remix and Straight To The Morning playing cards.
I spoke to Joe Goddard from Hot Chip for BBC Radio 6 Music about the team up…
It has been 20 years since the second Grandaddy album The Sophtware Slump.
To mark the LP’s anniversary there is a box set coming out on November 20th with an accompanying alternative take on the album – recorded by Jason Lytle in lockdown with him playing the whole record with just his vocal and the piano.
A standalone LP and CD release of ‘The Sophtware Slump… on a wooden piano’ will follow on February 19th 2021.
At the time of its original release in 2000 the album was met with critical acclaim. It explored concerns over modern technology in society. The Independent described it as “easily the equal of OK Computer” by Radiohead, which had been a huge hit record three years previously in 1997.
I spoke to Jason Lytle of Grandaddy for BBC Radio 6 Music about the process of re-versioning the tracks in a very stripped back way…
My guest on yesterday’s show was particularly dreamy. Thanks to Juanita Stein and her brother Joel (Howling Bells/The Great Ocean Road) for making the trip from Brighton to London and playing live on my Soho Radio Music Discovery show. I can’t believe it’s been four years since the last time she played some songs in the studio on one of my programmes. It was incredible to hear some live music too and especially such personal tracks from her third solo album Snapshot, which came out on Friday. It's such a beauty. It came after a period of loss and grief after losing her dad suddenly and she talks bravely and openly about that and what it was like making the album with the brilliant producer Ben Hillier, as well as plans for a live stream performance on November 1st. Check out the show...
The total goddess and music legend that is Róisín Murphy did an incredible performance of three tracks from her brand new LP Róisín Machine for the Esquire Townhouse (at your house) online series/virtual festival. I was asked to interview her for it and here is the video, alongside a brilliant line-up of video content with so many iconic people over on the Esquire channels.
This performance presents the track from Róisín's new record in a completely different way with just acoustic guitar. I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to her flawless afterwards for the film. In a strange covidy way, things had come full circle as the last live gig I saw before the pandemic kicked off was her Roundhouse headliner at the BBC 6 Music festival where she converted the whole hall into a dance party. What a way to go out! We spoke about that last gig pre-Covid, creating in lockdown, the making of the album and her proudest moment.
Big thanks to Will Hersey for asking me to do it and the lovely team at Esquire.
Also props to the sponsors Breitling watches for helping me really up my watch game for this shoot!
Had the brilliant producer/DJ Hagan come join me on my latest Foundation FM show >>> Brendan hung out for a whole hour to play tunes off his new Waves EP which just landed alongside some from his catalogue and others from a couple of producers he admires. It sounded ace. It’s a BOP. We talked about this year, creativity, his roots in music from Ghana and how he fuses that with electronic club sounds. He’s working on lots of new bits and shared a collab with Sango.
The rest of the time I got in the mix and played brand new music from the likes of Otik, Bonobo, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Franky Wah, Haai, India Jordan, Prospa, Enduro Disco, Falle Nioke and Ghost Culture and more.
Listen to the programme below.