I Just Interviewed Gorillaz; But How did This Happen?

Stan is a Rep volunteer - a young aspiring music-head who just did what most music journalists can only dream of. Stan spent 80 minutes with Damon Albarn and Remi Kabaka (AKA Gorillaz). This is how it happened from Stans perspective.

Gorillaz and Reprezent just completed a three day takeover at Reprezent. We all worked on a number of shows with Gorillaz and we did a live event called 'Saturnz Barz' and then did a marathon 12 hour live broadcast from their show at the O2 and then broadcast the live show itself. I had the honour of interviewing Gorillaz and doing a show as part of the live broadcast. Its all a bit mad and I thought that people should know what goes on behind the scenes that lets these opportunities happen.

 

When it comes to goals, I try to be ambitious but realistic. So at the start of 2017 I set out with these goals. Put on a live event for my record label South Space Records, bring my ‘young artists/producers’ radio show idea to FM radio and work and collaborate with more people across all platforms. Be that radio, music production, graphic design or videography.

 

Little did I know that I would be sitting here at the end of the year having accomplished more than I could possibly dreamed of. Not just due to hard work but also to luck. I’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing people help me along the way and without that guidance or knowledge it would’ve taken me years to get to where I am now in ability and skill. I’m taking about Reprezent Radio. A station like no other.

 

When setting out to try and find a station to launch my new show idea about introducing and giving young artists a platform to promote their work and grow their audience, a very common response I received was that I was too young to work for the station and that I should wait a couple of years. But I had the idea, I was confident in it and I was hungry to take it to radio a soon as I could. As I was around Brixton a lot I found out about Reprezent. I began listening to their shows and even had the station set as my alarm to wake me up for school every day. Then at Easter, just after my 18th birthday, I saw an advert to join Reprezent. I remember I saw it a couple of hours after it was first published on twitter so I knew if I got my idea in quick I would be one of the first applications and hopefully, they would give it a read. Thankfully they did and invited me down to the studios to record a 30 minute pilot show. Finn, who was the first Rep team member I met, helped me with my levels and showed me how to use the decks. Little did I know at the end of the year he would be helping me produce my Gorillaz show in which I interview my childhood inspiration, Damon Albarn. It’s working with people like Finn which make me feel so incredibly lucky to be part of Reprezent. Of course the opportunities that have been given to me in the small space of time I’ve been at the station have been out of this world. But working and learning alongside people who really want to see you do well and want to help you create the best shows possible is something I’m forever grateful for. 

 

My record label’s first live show was round the corner. We had organised it all ourselves. I was acting as the promotor, event manager and an artist performing on the night myself. Even though I would’ve been at the station for a couple of months at that point, Adrian (station manager) would always be there to give me advice and suggestions when venues were in my inbox with contracts and invoices. I felt out of my depth, acting as a promotor for an event that our fanbase had never been to before, and to be honest, I didn’t even know what an event promotor was or what they did. So any help I got from Rep was beneficial to making sure I didn’t screw everything up or fall into any industry traps. Thankfully we ended up selling out our first ever show. 

 

 

As the year went on I learnt skills and developed as a presenter. Naina (head of production) invited me to do a takeover week at the end of September which meant I was doing a live show every week day from 4-5pm. I didn’t realise this at the time but it increased my confidence on the mic considerably and resulted in my pre rec shows at the station increasing in quality and content. I was creating contacts with new artists in the scene and was slowly building a name for myself. With the suggestion of emailing some bigger artists from Adrian, I contacted three artists who I was a big fan of and invited them on my radio show. One of these artists were Jadu Heart, an amazing electronic duo signed to Mura Masa’s record label AP Sounds. With the guidance of Naina at Reprezent I was able to converse with their manager and book them in to do an interview and an exclusive mix for my show. I couldn't quite believe that an artist that I look up to so much was on MY radio show talking about their music and enjoying their time talking with me. 

 

I was in the Reprezent studios one day planning an upcoming show and I heard Adrian talking to someone about Gorillaz. It immediately caught my attention as Gorillaz are one of my favourite bands in the world. Their music was the soundtrack to my childhood and albums such as Plastic Beach fuelled my love for electronic and hip-hop music. When I asked he went on to tell me about the Gorillaz+Reprezent collaboration that was in the works. I couldn't believe it. I was wary of asking to be involved due to my little time at the station so far. With so many talented presenters at Rep I knew I wouldn't be in the runnings for show involvement. I asked if there were any jobs going to help out on the day, social media or even admin I could be involved in as I was such a big fan. Adrian replied jokingly “You can have my job!” as he intensely replied to emails in the corner. A couple of weeks later I received an email from Naina telling me I’d been chosen as one of the presenters that will be broadcasting a Gorillaz themed show from the O2 Arena, live on 4th December before they headline their sold out show. I was in shock. I never thought I would be considered for a show but here I was, about to broadcast a show in collaboration with one of the most important musical groups in my life. I quickly planned my show ‘Growing up with Gorillaz’ featuring a playlist of my favourite Gorillaz tracks that I’d grown up listening to.

 

A couple of weeks later my email inbox was once again filled with exciting news. Adrian had emailed me about a “meaty job” he had for me and I dropped in that afternoon to hear the news. He asked me if I was ready for the biggest interview of my life. I replied “always”. He went on to tell me I was going to be the person to interview Damon and Remi for the Gorillaz takeover! He gave me advice on how to prep, encouraged me to watch past interviews and most importantly have confidence in my ability. Throughout my week preparing, Reprezent’s confidence in me kept me in a calm state. Not getting too nervous or overexcited. I knew it was important to keep my cool as Damon is such an inspiration to me. I needed to keep my professionalism, develop a great show and make sure that Reprezent didn’t regret their decision of asking me to do the interview. 

 

On the 27th Nov me, Adrian, Naina, Nick and Henrie drove down to Brighton to interview Damon, Remi and other Gorillaz collaborators. Once again, Reprezent’s confidence in me kept me chilled and I was determined to make the interview a success. We arrived and were shown to an empty room with a table and a couple of chairs. We set up the portable studio and got ready for the artists to arrive. A couple of minutes before the interview I sat outside the room going over my questions. I tried not to think about the importance of the show and how insane the opportunity was. Playing it down in my head was vital to me keeping composure during the interview. The interview went so well, much longer than expected and Damon was amazing. It was surreal talking with someone who is such an inspiration to me. A dream come true. Now it’s done I’m ridiculously hyped about it airing. After all this planning and expectation, I’m so happy with the result and so pleased with how it sounds. With all my goals achieved for this year, I’m excited to see what 2018 brings. 

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