Letter #43

Good morning / afternoon / evening,

I hope you’ve had a belting week! This week in London it’s felt like spring has sprung. I hope I’m not jinxing it by saying that 🌂. I’ve listened to some brilliant music this week and the mixtape came together really quickly, but I must warn you, listening back to the mixtape earlier, it goes off like a bottle rocket!

Enjoy ❤️

🌪 TL;DR section 🌪
Stuff to do: listen to the superb new album from Sons of Kemet; visit 50 of the worlds greatest record shops; listen to Kendrick’s vocals from DAMN. played over The Chronic; preorder the repress of Captain Beefheart classic Trout Mask Replica; read the back story of the Mick Rock photobook on Bowie, The Rise of David Bowie: 1972-1973learn more about how sound can be used as a weapon (and hear the ‘death whistle’) in this great piece from FACT.

Bonus: listen to Marvin Gaye’s classic I Heard It Through The Grapevinein stunning a cappella (big thanks to Louise!).

📚 The notes 📚
Since starting this letter, quite a few people have asked why I chose to Spotify as the base for the playlists, rather than Apple Music or another service. I’ve used Spotify for years, and always been a huge fan of the ethos and purpose behind the platform. From the early days, it’s always been about music, rather than using music to sell something else, and for that reason, I will always stay loyal. This week was a huge week, as it went public in a typically Spotify way (not overly vain IPO, but rather straight up listing). There’s loads of coverage on the news, but this piece from MIDIA felt like the best to share. Big love to everyone I know at Spotify (some of which are here with us), huge week for you! 🎉

In more personal news, I broadcast the first ever Love Will Save the Day podcast this week! You’ll notice my very careful use of language. Broadcast. Not recorded. Not saved. Not published. I’m an idiot. Somehow, I managed to broadcast a three hour ‘show’ on my Mixlr page without actually recording or saving the broadcast.

Now, in retrospect, this is most likely a good thing. In those three hours, I learnt a lot. First of all, for my first run, I shouldn’t have promoted that I was doing it, as knowing I had an audience (even a small one) made me feel immediately more self-conscious and really nervous! It was far more technically challenging than I was expecting – learning to talk over the intro’s and outro’s of songs is harder than I’d imagined. Choosing what music to play takes a bit more thinking through than I’d done before, as I got through less music, and it was far too easy to revert to my comfort zone and turn it into a bit of a DJ set (which can be part of it, but I don’t want it to be the whole thing). I probably need to do a bit more preparation on stuff to talk about. Writing is a really natural medium for me, but talking to an empty room is definitely not.

I finished the John Peel book this week, and in the back there were a few people paying homage to his style and passion, and something that stuck out was that everyone commented on how whenever they heard Peel’s shows, it always felt like he was talking to only them. This is my dream.

I’ve had 40+ letters to work on this, and editing a letter is a lot more forgiving than broadcasting a live podcast / radio show. Practice, practice, practice it is!

After finished the Peel book, I pretty much dived straight into Mark Radcliffe’s Thank You for the Days: A Boy’s Own Adventures in Radio and BeyondI’m about a third the way through, and I’ve skipped a few bits as it can get a bit lads lads lads in places (football etc), but I’ve always really like Radcliffe’s style, and his passion for music is wonderful. Early in the book, he talks about being quite shy and needing space to himself, but also having this never-ending passion to share good music with people. Definite Peel parallels, and he summed up the tension nicely here;

“The truth is that you can’t really go on air and front a radio programme unless you’ve got a relatively high opinion of yourself, a basic belief that what you are going to say is worth hearing. This is an entirely different personality trait than being a well-adjusted social animal, however. I know national radio presenters who are almost painfully shy, and I personally find walking into a room of about twenty people to be far more nerve-racking than doing a live show to several million.”

I find the contrast pretty fascinating, and can definitely relate. Faith and trust in your own ability to find good music, but a tendency to be a bit shy sometimes. I read a good article this week on being ‘the quiet type‘. For those that have two sides to them (extroverted and introverted), it’s definitely worth a read, and I found it really relatable. The Radcliffe quote, coupled with knowing more about John Peel, and the article above has helped me to rationalise the tension of being a bit shy sometimes, but having a desire to share stuff that I love, with people that I think will also love it.

If you’d like to follow the live broadcasts for Love Will Save the Day, click here. I’ll link to them here when they’ve been published, but signing up will alert you (I think) when they’re being broadcast live.

In the Radcliffe book, there was also a brilliant quote that I wanted to share that I thought explained the difference between the ‘Great Rock and Roll Swindle’ of the Sex Pistols, and Syco’s X-Factor (which are often compared and suggested as being similar, just of different generations);

“Where McLaren wins out of course is that his aim was to impose change, whereas Cowell’s master plan is to prevent it. McLaren was a true revolutionary in that he didn’t care whether he benefited from the new order, he just wanted to clear the space so that things could grow. It was a kind of benevolent nihilism. In my opinion, Cowell wants us to buy the processed schlock he peddles to make himself ever richer.”

This felt like a really interesting way of breaking down the differences between someone who was after change, and someone who was after money. More to follow on this in the future…

Also this week, there was a brilliant interview with Dave Okumu (from The Invisible) on Vinyl Factory, talking about his love of Gil-Scott Heron (and his upcoming tribute show). There was a lovely quote that caught my eye;  “I’m one of the proponents of the idea that rhythm is the foundation of everything, we all have an innate sense of rhythm that is integral to how we walk and how we breathe and how we speak.” Which reminded me of Letter #21 from last November, which was dedicated to my everlasting obsession with rhythm. I’m so annoyed there isn’t a drum emoji on the Mac keyboard 😫.

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ♥️.

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

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