Inspiration

Huw Stephens

Huw is the sweet, sweet prince of new music on Radio 1. He’s been yelling about BBC Introducing from the very beginning, and is fairly ecstatic that they’re celebrating their 7th anniversary with an album showcasing the best artists who’ve been found through the project, including Everything Everything, Bombay Bicycle Club, Two Door Cinema Club, Marina and the Diamonds and Jake Bugg. Josh Jones had a chat with him.

Say Huw, do you have a favourite band you’ve broken on Introducing? One that you’ve got a soft spot for?
Most recently I’d probably say Slaves, a band who came through BBC Introducing in Kent, played the stage at Reading, did an Introducing session, I went to see them live loads and they’re on the A-list of Radio 1 now. They’ve have signed with Virgin/EMI, have an album coming out and I see their billboards everywhere – things like that are fantastic, they’re a great band. I think Introducing for me isn’t about bands becoming massive off the back of it, it’s about the support across the board for new music, from Slaves to SOAK to Catfish and The Bottlemen. I think that support along the way is really important. When you hear SOAK coming out of the news on Radio 1 it’s fantastic. I used to only play her at night and on the weekends a little bit. When good music gets heard, it’s brilliant. 

Do you have a favourite track off this anniversary record? Does each song spark a memory of when you heard it first?
They all do spark memories actually, it takes you back to the festival that they played at or the radio show they were played on. Florence And The Machine, for example, was amazing, she played the Introducing showcase at SXSW years ago. Nobody knew who she was, Steve Lamacq took her out there, everyone came to see MGMT and ended up seeing her for the first time. Every song on the album has got a different story and team of people behind it. 

Do you get as excited about bedroom producer bleepy music as you do with rock n roll?
Oh absolutely. I’m just a massive music fan so I’ll go through music magazines and look at the line ups for festivals and I’ll listen to other radio shows. Anything that’s exciting and gets me going I get to play. My tracklistings from my shows will always have bands in there but will also always have bedroom producers and MCs too, because that’s the kind of music that I like. 

Do you ever have one of those moods where you just want to play Dire Straits instead?
I listen to Taylor Swift’s 1989 on a regular basis… never Dire Straits, I’ll be honest – but I do listen to a lot of older music, it’s a pleasure to because I work with so much new music. I buy old compilations and listen to soul and reggae. I bought a Yacht Rock compilation recently, which is brilliant. It’s a genre! I don’t think it’s a guilty pleaser – it’s just a pleasure.

Does it make you scream when people ask you who’s going to be the next Coldplay?
Of course! It’s the obvious question – who’s going to be the one band that’s going to be massive that people should listen to? You kind of guess and you’re never right. I get it in Wales a lot – who’s going to be the next Manic Street Preachers? There’ll never be another Manic Street Preachers. All you can do is recommend great stuff to people. 

BBC Introducing Presents… Volume 1 is out on 16th March and celebrates seven years of the biggest success stories from the award winning BBC Introducing platform.

Photo: Tom Medwell
Interview: Josh Jones