BBC Radio 6 Music's Deb Grant has told Music Week that the quality of new artists is "through the roof".
Grant's station triumphed at the Music Week Awards earlier this year and Samantha Moy is continuing to ring the changes, with supporting emerging talent front and centre in her plans.
New Music Fix Live, a four-day celebration of emerging artists and Glasgow’s music scene, will be broadcast from Monday, November 13 to Thursday, November 16 in extended editions from 7-10pm.
From Monday to Wednesday, Grant and Ravenscroft will broadcast from BBC Pacific Quay studios and their shows will feature sessions from post-punk band CG8, rapper and producer Miso Extra and genre-defying collective Corto.alto, as well as guest mixes from Scottish producers and DJs, Pub, Hudson Mohawke and Rebecca Vasmant. On the Thursday, the show will air from SWG3 in Glasgow, where Sofia Kourtesis will perform live and Sega Bodega will DJ in front of an audience of 6 Music listeners.
With Deb Grant's New Music Fix Daily show alongside co-presenter Tom Ravenscroft bedding into 6 Music's revamped schedule, the DJ sits down with Music Week to hold court on her favourite subject...
How is the new show going so far?
“It feels really cool to have the responsibility of being a conduit for new music on BBC Radio 6 Music. It’s such a new thing for the station and we’ve been given free reign, we’re able to bring in stuff from every genre. Myself and Tom are just getting used to that. We instantly got along and we have a similar sense of humour, our music taste isn’t necessarily always the same. He tends to favour dance music, which isn’t necessarily my area of expertise, so I’ve been learning a lot of new things from him, and I’m bringing in more guitar-based stuff. To be a conduit for new music coming on to the station feels amazing.”
Is there enough new music coming out for you to play?
“Oh my God yes, there’s too much! We get sent new music from artists directly, from pluggers and so does our production team, and it’s completely ramped up recently. There’s only a certain amount of time that we have [to play it] each week, and by the time that week ends, the tracks aren’t necessarily new anymore and you want to make sure the show is fresh and cutting edge, so it’s hard to leave things out. There’s so much amazing new music.”
My goal is for our show to be something that’s accessible to everyone making music. Why shouldn’t it be?
What do you hope your show does for the industry?
“I’ve always found the system quite weird, because you have so many talented musicians making beautiful music, then you have this period where pluggers are promoting it. Obviously, to make a great show we need great music and we listen to absolutely everything, whether someone approaches us with a demo, or whether it comes from a plugger or a label or wherever, it’s egalitarian in that way. Myself and Tom go to a lot of gigs too, so much stuff that I’ve found or been introduced to has come from seeing support slots at gigs or wandering into shows myself and finding stuff. I hope our show makes the process more egalitarian, making sure that people know that they can send us music themselves. Someone sent Tom this amazing cover version of Heart Shaped Box and we featured it on the show for several nights in a row just because we loved it so much, and that was something that came in directly. My goal is for us to be something that’s accessible to everyone making music. Why shouldn’t it be?”
Given your passion for emerging talent, what does it mean to you to be able to play new music in such a high profile slot?
“When they proposed the show, I was amazed at the amount of freedom. It’s nice to be trusted in that way. I’ve deputised in so many different slots and in some of those the music hasn’t been entirely my own choice. I’ve sat in for Gideon [Coe] where it was three hours of whatever I want, then I’ve done playlisted shows as well. So to have something with such free reign at this time is really unusual, it’s great. I guess they trust us!”
Have you tuned in to the reaction to the show much so far?
“I disengaged from social media when the show started because I didn’t want anything - bad or good - to distract me. It’s much easier to do it when you have a co-host because it just feels like a conversation and you’re not really thinking about what the response might be. It takes a while to find your feet, but there are already people messaging in to say it’s their favourite show on 6. I think they’ve probably needed a show like this on the station for a while.”
The industry has debated the issue of a lack of domestic breakthroughs a lot of late. Is new music in a healthy state?
“With mainstream stuff, it scares me that labels seem to have got the formula down to a fine art. I don’t like how constructed it sometimes is. It’s not a meritocracy a lot of the time, it’s about a combination of factors that labels think will make a good prospect. That’s in terms of the mainstream, in terms of new music that we’re interested in, I’d say it’s in a very healthy state. There are so many artists who in my mind deserve to be incredibly successful. And it’s so hard to be in a band these days. It feels so thankless, you have to do so much work to get your head above the parapet. We’re so saturated, there is almost a jadedness, because people have so much access to new music they take it for granted. I really admire anyone trying to create music that’s different because it’s fucking hard, expensive and all the rest of it, but the quality is through the roof.”