Host Spotlight: an opportunity to shine a light on our wonderful radio hosts and wider community, be it a new music release, a brand new music residency or simply to champion them as an individual. To kick off 2022, we chat with one of our newer residents, the fabulous blissy e! Host of Run The Riddim on both Melodic Distraction and Noods Radio, blissy e takes us on a bimonthly exploration of culture and heritage through music with different moods, grooves and soundscapes from musicians all around the world. We find out more about where her musical journey began…
Hey blissy e! How did you first get into music?
Hey, thanks for having me! Music has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I started taking clarinet lessons in school when I was 7 and once I mastered the basics, joined my local youth organisation where I progressed through the various bands and finally ended up in their philharmonic orchestra playing music from Shostakovich to Bach. I also sang lead vocals in their soul band, so had exposure to a nice mix of classical and more contemporary music from quite early on. This then led me on to do a degree in music and pursue it as a career once I graduated.
I think my real passion for music came from being introduced to old school soul, jazz, funk and reggae records by my mum who would play them to me in the car. Artists like Desmond Dekker, Toots and the Maytals, Teddy Pendergrass and Ella Fitzgerald really framed my childhood and would be what I consider my first proper contact with popular music – from the first off beat I was in loveee. My dad also played guitar in a calypso/reggae band and I would sit in the corner at his rehearsals and gigs, so there was a lot of music around me from a really young age.
My connection with dance music started much later. I pinpoint it as when I discovered Soundcloud at 15. I remember refreshing the stream tab all day trying to find new music and new artists to follow. That’s where I first came into contact with artists like Jamie xx, Four Tet, Floating Points, Hessle Audio and all the big guns.
Who are your main inspirations musically?
I’ve always had a strong affinity with soul, so I would have to say someone like Aretha has always stood out to me. She’s such a strong black female icon, so musically gifted and way ahead of her time. Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane made me fall in love with spiritual jazz, so I’d have to say them too. Donald Byrd and Herbie connected me with fusion, they both have such an inventive way of arranging and composing that makes my jaw drop every time. I’ve also always been obsessed with powerful female voices like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Teena Marie, Laura Nyro, Lil Kim, Missy. There are so many, I could go on for days!
How was Run The Riddim born? How do you usually prep for a radio show?
Well, a group of friends from uni started a radio station during lockdown called Isolate FM and my old housemate had a regular slot on it. When it closed up shop at the end of the first lockdown, he got himself on Balamii, which he recorded from our flat. I always sat in and listened to see how it was all done and in 2020 I featured in one of his shows. As soon as I stepped up to the mic, the rest was history! I knew radio was what I wanted to do. It’s such a great outlet for sharing my music tastes and allows me to highlight topics that I want to shed light on.
Normally my prep starts with going through my recently listened and selecting a few tunes that stand out and fit with the sound and feel of the show. A lot of the other work is digging through records, hunting on streaming services, going through artists’ socials to see what new music they’ve released etc. Actually, a lot of my discoveries are found through social media, so despite the stigma social media ain’t all bad! Sometimes I start with a theme, topic or mood that I want to highlight and base my selections off of that but I find the other way tends to flow better for me. I then get together my records, organise a vague order of service and get in the studio to record.
What’s coming up next for you?
I’d love to play out a little bit more this year and finally start a night with some mates somewhere in London (stay tuned). I’d also love to get involved in whatever other musical opportunities are thrown my way! The world is my oysterrrr.
Catch blissy e’s next Run The Riddim on Sunday 13th March, but in the meantime, listen back to January’s edition below:
|| BLISSY E ||