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Interview: Zane Lowe

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He’s the excitable voice of new music on Radio 1, and one of the faces of Relentless Live. The National Student spoke to DJ Zane Lowe before his set at this month’s massive Relentless shindig...

Zane Lowe @ Relentless LiveTell us a little bit about your involvement with Relentless and Relentless Live

It’s been almost a year since we started planning, and I’ve had so much fun doing it. We thought long and heard about doing it, we looked at the work that Relentless had done with festivals, their attitude to music, and their long term support of artist – it’s very similar to what we do, supporting new artists and getting their music heard.

As a great supporter of new music, is there anyone you recommend we should check out?

Rock and roll acts are doing great things at the moment. I love Lorde, Royal Blood, Circle Waves, Lonely The Brave, Rad Key and Kytro. The world of music right now feels very broad and exciting, and complementary […]no matter what style or genre we go to its all of a really good standard, it’s very exciting.

Do you have any advice for someone hoping to get into the music industry?

Do it for the right reasons. The world of music and media is very different now and we need people with smart ideas and who love the whole process. If you want to be a DJ, you need to focus your interests - get as much experience under your belt as you can, and be able to say, “I want to do….”. Have a clear idea in your head, even as specific as what show or label you want to work for, or which band you wish you’d signed. If you know where you want to end up then you have the clearest path, there’s not much that can stop you.

What do you think about the recent controversies over ‘Blurred Lines’ and Miley Cyrus?

It’s not my place to comment, who needs another opinion? ‘Blurred Line’s is just another radio hit to me, and Miley is so out of my frame of reference, I wouldn’t support that kind of music.

Do you have a favourite band at the moment?

Wow, well I’m obsessed with Lonely The Brave at the moment, they create a great energy with their music. Also, Mumford and Sons, and Laura Marling. They are great lyricists and can really speak to their fans through their songs. I think we need more rock bands that can create that sense of total invincibility, I don’t get that feeling in a club, I get that from a rock band.

Are there any genres of music that you don’t like?

I don’t look at it that way; I look for intention and authenticity. Surprising as it may seem I love great pop music, but I want to feel like it has been made by someone who is being honest and putting themselves into the music. Even if it’s the shiniest pop song, as long as I feel like they believe in the song, and even if they didn’t write it, as long as they can connect and identify with it.

I actually love ‘What Hurts The Most’ by Rascal Flatts (here he breaks into song). It’s just such a powerful lyric. Such a classic country song – an absolutely monstrous record.  I don’t care about genre, I care about passion.

What is your guilty pleasure song?

‘Greatest Day’ by Take That is one of my favourite songs of all time and also Vanessa Carlton ‘1,000 Miles’. I definitely have my fair share of cornball records. I want to clarify that I’m not, and have never thought I have any cool bones in my body whatsoever, music is a way to escape and it moves me.

What got you into the music industry?

According to my parents when I was a kid music was all I cared about, but I think all kids love and connect to music. I discovered my brothers record collection when I was young and started from there; some rock and pop, the Cure, the Smiths. Then I started to develop my own taste and began listening to rap records – Beastie Boys, LL Cool J. That’s where it all started and what motivated me, and rap is really part of my DNA.

What made you decide to move to the UK?

I moved to the UK to chase the dream. I loved music and wanted to be closer to where it all happened; where the decisions were being made, and where the music was being made. I wanted to be able to pick up a copy of The NME, read about a gig and able be go to it – in those days, magazines were shipped over to New Zealand so any gigs mentioned in it had already happened. I wanted to see whether or not I could have an adventure. I still think New Zealand is the best country in the world and still a part of me is secretly thrilled when I play an awesome track from a New Zealand artist, for me music is music, and if it’s great it’s great.

Is there anyone in Radio 1 now that has picked up the reins from John Peel? What legacy has he left?

No one can replace him; his legacy is entirely his own, but he has inspired so many DJs, not just at Radio 1, or necessarily in the UK. He was such an originator, and we are all just trying to carry his energy forward, using the gift that John gave us.

Lowe's show on Radio 1 can be heard on Mondays to Thursdays from 7 pm to 9 pm every week. 

 

Image: James McCauley 




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