Published in The Music Network
Hi Jen, what’s been keeping you busy?
It’s festival season, the radio show is keeping me busy, I’ve just started a record label and I’ve moved house. It’s definitely been a busy summer so far.
You present BBC Introducing on Radio 1. The BBC is an enormous corporation with incredible influence. What’s it like working for the Beeb?
It’s incredible to be a part of it. They make fantastic programming and you get so much freedom to be creative. There are so many people who work for the BBC – it does sound daunting – but not many who work specifically for Radio 1. At the same time, you’re part of a smaller family and a bigger family.
You said you have a certain amount of creative freedom?
I get to select all the music for my show. I program two hours of brand new music each week. What more you could want, really.
Do you ever have a problem filling those two hours?
God no. We always end up dropping tracks in the studio because I talk too much. I’m often annoyed at myself for not shutting up and just playing the music. How many people tune in to your show? We’re up this quarter in audience share and listenership. We have about 60,000. It’s on quite late. Our boss always says, “you can’t trust the RAJARS (Britain’s radio ratings) at that time of night.”
You’ve also started cassette tape label, Kissability (through Transgressive Records)?
I wanted to put out a friend’s band. And I liked the idea of having this old format, keeping it alive. It’s a bit of fun and it feels a little special. There’s a bit of nostalgia as well. There’s nothing really special about pressing a download into an iTunes link. CDs don’t feel special anymore, either. I tend to buy more records than CDs. Cassette is actually having something of a renaissance at the moment. We didn’t want to do something so exclusive that it was only available in the cassette format, so we’re doing it with a QR code so you can download a lot of extra content. Even if you can’t be bothered to buy a Walkman to listen to the cassette, you can still listen to the download.
The label has an Aussie flavour to it.
The first release is the Ruined My Life EP from the brilliant Australian band DZ Deathrays. It’s limited to 250 copies [and released September 19]. They’ll do a full live set on Halloween in London. We’re going to record that and that’ll be the free content you can download. DZ are on the “Emerge NME Radar” tour this October. They’ll be playing alongside the likes of Wolfgang and S.C.U.M. It means they’ll get all over the NME. It has some real weight to it.
What drives you to always find the new stuff?
It’s a mix of things. Firstly, I have the attention span of a three-year-old. And I don’t like to think I’m missing out on something. It’s not as though there aren’t bands I haven’t loved for more than ten years. I love Sonic Youth, Deftones, Faith No More. People ask, “What’s the best thing about your job? Free CDs and concert tickets?” Actually, no. The best thing about it is when you find a new band starting out, and three years later you’re watching them play a big stage at a festival in front of thousands of people. That’s the best thing.
What other Australian bands are turning you on?
Cloud Control. Bleeding Knees Club. Dune Rats. The Holidays. Bridezilla. There’s some really awesome stuff coming out of Australia. The Jezabels was one of my best gigs of this year. We hosted their show at Buffalo Bar in Cardiff back in May. It was their only UK date which wasn’t a festival show. People travelled from all over the country to see them.
What do you rely on to inform you?
The Internet is a big player. Following various blogs you trust the taste of. Polaroids of Androids and Who The Bloody Hell Are They are two good Aussie blogs, and from the US you have Weekly Tape Deck and Forecast on Pitchfork, among others. Word of mouth is important. Most of my friends work in music, so if one of them says, “Have you seen that amazing band,” I’ll definitely check them out.
Where do you see yourself at 30?
Doing the exact same thing. Waking up at 10am on a Monday morning, feeling terrible because I didn’t go to bed until 4am and spending all weekend in a field staying up incredibly late. At 30, I’ll be basically thinking, “Why am I not an adult,” but still having the time of my life.
Jen Long is a speaker at this year’s Bigsound conference in Brisbane. It will be the 26-year-old’s second visit to Australia.