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. This week, we chat with our very own Snowman Deejay! Broadcaster, DJ and assistant programmer here at MDR, we take this opportunity to pull him out from behind the scenes and find out more about his own exciting ventures into the world of radio…
How did you first get into music? Any notable influences?
Ooof, what a big question. I guess my first musical influences were my family. I’m quite lucky in that sense in that music has always been important to my family and I’ve always been encouraged to take it seriously and pursue it. My Grandad was the director of music at a local school, as well as a conductor and a composer. One of his key beliefs was that music offered something for everyone – regardless of their age or ability. He made it his job to consistently engage everyone and anyone in musical activity – so there was no way I was getting let off the hook! I played a few instruments as a kid to varying degrees of success – including locking myself in my Grandad’s toilet in a desperate attempt to escape practicing – I was eventually coaxed out with a packet of salt & vinegar crisps (believe it or not!).
Another major influence when I was younger was my time in my local Cathedral choir. At the time I didn’t really appreciate it, but it gave me a musical education well beyond my years as well as loads of great experiences that I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to partake in.
Aside from your collection of Snoods, How was ‘Snoodman Deejay’ born?
I’m still amazed that Snoods haven’t entered the mainstream yet, but that’s a conversation for another day… I get my love of snoods from my Dad. He’d always be wearing some form of neck warmer – beit a scarf, Snood, whatever, he’d always be wearing one, especially at the dinner table, which used to piss my Mum off a fair bit. I never used to get it really – until one day, many moons ago, a particularly baltic gust of wind blew down my neck. I remember it like it was yesterday – the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up as we speak. I got home and there was a sudden burst of bright light in my room, which illuminated a long discarded snood. Amazingly, the snood began to speak, offering up great pearls of wisdom that I shan’t repeat here. Needless to say, after this experience I vowed to become one with The Snood, and we’ve been inseparable since.
In terms of becoming the one they call “Snoodman Deejay”, that was born after a prolonged and painful search for a DJ alias. I went through several crap ones that were all universally cringeworthy and hit a bit of a brick wall. Things seemed like they were going nowhere until one month when I was doing my Good For The Soul show (#shamelessplug). This particular month’s show was focussed on the deep house music coming out of Vancouver (or the ‘Canadian Riveria’ if you want to be that guy). I noticed a few of the producers had “x-man Deejay” as their aliases – usually centred around consumption of the devils lettuce, (which as an upstanding citizen I cannot condone) – like Hashman Deejay, Bluntman Deejay etc. Being completely un-imaginative I thought “oh I like the sound of that (not the devils lettuce of course mother), if I was to be x-man Deejay, what would I put before that?” And the obvious answer was of course, Snood. As you can probably tell, I don’t tend to take myself too seriously, which probably helped the name stick – if I was a more serious person, the reaction towards it would probably have been more incredulous.
What ignited your passion for radio? How do you use it as a platform?
I love radio man. Always have. I grew up listening to it. My passion for radio didn’t really begin with music radio either – it was mainly sport and news – in particular, BBC Radio 5Live. It’d be on in the mornings as we had breakfast, listening to the likes of Nicky Campbell delving into the big issues of the day, as well as for sports news – sport being one of my major interests aside from music. We didn’t have cable TV as kids, so if we wanted to find out what was going on with the football, my Dad and I would listen to it – I can vividly remember listening to matches in the kitchen as my rents went about making Sunday dinner. Whether it be listening to ‘Fighting Talk’ with my Dad on the way home from school sport on Saturdays, to listening to local radio stations like Mercury 96.6 or Chiltern FM (00s pop bangers all the way man) on the way to school with my Mum. I’ve been lucky enough to have grown up listening to a wide range of different stations that really fostered a passion for broadcasting from when I was younger. Music and radio didn’t come about really until I went to uni and got involved in the uni radio station. Special shout outs have to go to Radio One 91FM Dunedin from the University of Otago – after hearing nothing for a few weeks after applying for a show there, I stormed into their office demanding to know what the situation was. Fair play to them, rather than telling me to do one, they offered me the afternoon drive time slot and eventually my own late night disco show, which really gave me the confidence to start to think about a possible career in radio. Outs to Tom and the whole Radio One crew!
As a platform, I try to incorporate the same values to radio that I was exposed to in regards to music from my Grandad. Radio really does offer something for everyone – you just have to give them the opportunity or experience of it. It’s such a brilliant medium for sharing information, telling stories, building relationships and ultimately bringing people together from different communities into new ones. That sounds pretty wishy washy, but I truly believe in the sentiment behind it – I’ve seen it in action since I’ve been at Melodic and it’s something I’m really trying to embody in my approach to the programming side of things at the station. It’s something I’m super passionate about – from a personal perspective, I think everyone should be able to at least have the opportunity to try radio, regardless of their background. A radio station should reflect the communities it serves and it’s always important to keep that in mind.
How do your radio shows differ from your DJ sets? Do they influence each other?
I really tried to approach my shows in such a way whereby I could make the music that I was playing as accessible as possible for those tuning in – after all, not everyone is a music head, which I think is something that’s easily forgotten when you work in radio and are constantly surrounded by people who love music as much as you do!
With that in mind, my shows have always had a relaxed & informal approach to them – they’re intended as a starting point that people could use as a resource for their own musical discoveries. Good For The Soul started out like this – it was a place for people to tune in, kickback and find out a little bit more about the music – which is the same mantra I try and incorporate into my Wake Up shows, albeit slightly more chaotically!
I think my radio shows have more of a personal element to them than my DJ sets, especially my Wake Up! shows. I love nothing more than sitting there with my first coffee of the day, connecting with the regulars, chatting with them about how their week has been, what they’re up to at the weekend etc. I just love the conversational element of radio. I see a lot of stuff online about DJs connecting with their crowds with various “synergy” esque buzzwords thrown in. I’ve not played enough gigs to really be qualified to give an opinion on that, but for me you can’t beat the connections you form with your listeners on radio. Do my shows inspire my DJ sets? No, not really. Good For The Soul & Good For The Soulpranos centre around a particular theme – whilst I’m sure some people would get a kick out of hearing the tracks from Season Two of the Sopranos, I’m not too sure the rest of the crowd would. Largely it’s just a case of seeing where I’m playing venue-wise and then flicking through my records and deciding what I’m going to play based on the mood I’m in at the time. It’s pretty ad-hoc to be honest.
What’s been your favourite DJ set to play so far? Dream venue or artist to play alongside?
One highlight that stands out was playing We Out Here Festival in 2019 with Josh. It was my first time playing a festival and I remember I was pretty nervous. We went over to the stage about an hour before our set to scope it out and see what the vibe was. I can’t remember who was playing, but they were proper going for it – we’d decided beforehand that we wanted to keep it relatively chilled so this just added to our worries! The stage we were playing had a bar nearby, so we attempted to calm our nerves with liquid courage. Needless to say, by the time our set came around, I was slightly worse for wear. We started our set, began to enjoy ourselves – but then it started to rain and as our stage was covered, more and more people began to come over to shelter from the rain where we were playing, which just made my nerves even worse! It ended up being a really fun set – although I’m pretty sure I spent the majority of it throwing some highly questionable shapes behind the decks whilst Josh did his best to keep things running smoothly (ever the professional our Josh!). Dream venue? Gotta be Positive Vibrations Festival – I’d love to play there, it’s such a great festival with such an amazing, welcoming and friendly atmosphere, all on our very doorstep. It’s boss and I’d jump at the chance to spin a few records there.
How many Snoods do you really own?
A Snoodman never tells…
And finally, what’s coming up for you?
December will see me complete my Good For The Sopranos radio series (not going to lie, I’ll be kinda sad to see the back of it, it’s been a really fun project!). I’m also looking forward to continuing with my Steam Radio residency ‘Nice & Easy’, which delves into the softer side of the reggae spectrum. I’ve really enjoyed putting those shows together and it’s a privilege to be part of the Steam Radio community. I’m also working on launching a new show here on MDR in my old Good For The Soul slot – so watch this space!
Keep up to date with Snoodman Deejay here, and check out his latest ‘Nice & Easy’ on Steam Radio Manchester below!