In our latest, and most in-depth industry spotlight ever we chat to the ever-enthused Xfm DJ and Losers bassist Eddy Temple-Morris about his career in broadcasting, working in the music industry, his love for cooking and more. We discuss the best ways for young broadcasters and musicians to make a start, and learn from Eddy’s own extremely positive example.
“For everyone who loves you, there’s someone who hates you.”
S] Hi Eddy, what are you doing today?
ETM] “Today I am driving up to the Norfolk coast to do a favour for a dear friend, The Head Gardener of Secret Garden Party, Freddie Fellowes. He’s hosting a stage at Glade Festival and I’m playing a UK Garage Past Present and Future set there with MC Venom, then coming back to London to play Pret A Diner at 50 St James‘ then straight to Gatwick to catch the 5.55am flight to Corfu, where I’m playing the Kavos Full Moon Party with Majestic MC. The most punishing day of the year so far. We DJs have the best job in the world, but we do have to pay for that sometimes. I can’t sleep on planes, trains or automobiles, so I end up having to stay awake for 48 hours or more sometimes.”
S] What bands are really doing something that inspires you right now, and why?
ETM] “Monsta and Engine Earz Experiment are doing dubstep live in a way that is mind-blowing, and Netsky’s live show is setting a new standard for live drum ‘n’ bass. All these guys are setting the bar so high in terms of musicianship. Monsta are the best musicians I’ve ever seen in dance music. Elsewhere, Madeon is going to be a global superstar while still a teenager. He’s distilled everything that’s great about French electronic music into one, incredible musical package that sounds like Daft Punk and Coldplay rolled into one.”
S] How did you get your “big break” in the industry – we know Zane Lowe helped you into Xfm (after you discovered him), but going back through the MTV, Channel Five and four years?
ETM] “The first proper break was answering an ad in the paper for a Presentation Producer’s job at Radio One in the mid-nineties, when things were really changing there. I was part of the team that completely face-lifted the station, and from there I was head hunted by MTV to be a producer and presenter there. I never wanted to be a presenter, I was very happy being a producer, in my little studio with Pro Tools and some outboard gear, making promos and jingles, but I was cajoled into doing a screen test, and the powers that be liked it so much they asked me to resign immediately and join a team that included Armstrong & Miller, Justin Lee Collins, Sara Cox, Edith Bowman, Richard Blackwood and the brilliant Aussie comedian, Brendon Burns; that was the proverbial offer I couldn’t refuse.”
S] For young start-up broadcasters – how would you advice that they approach getting experience?
ETM] “Be prepared to work for nothing, and to go out of your comfort zone. I moved out of London to get experience at BBC Hereford & Worcester – a news station more than anything, but I got so much experience there and they ended up hiring me after I’d worked for a fortnight for nothing. It was a majority speech station, but I learned radio from the ground up, behind the scenes. Editing, writing scripts, even learning to work the radio car for outside broadcasts. I ended up being “the quirky one” that did those light-hearted reports and inserts, the ‘and finally’ pieces at the end of news bulletins: ‘And finally here’s Eddy Temple-Morris with the UK’s fattest cat/oldest couple/friskiest ferret’, and my response: ‘Thank you Jane, yes, here I am in Smethwick Park, I had a shag here once, or was it a Cormorant…?’”
S] What about for bands and artists – what does one need to do to get on The Remix, and be heard in general nowadays?
ETM] “Getting on The Remix couldn’t be easier if you make a tune that I like enough to play. I’m easily approachable on Twitter and Facebook. In general it’s easier than ever to get heard, via all the social feeds and music specific stuff like Soundcloud and Mixcloud are great too. If you have a budget then a plugging [PR] company is a good way to get your foot in the door. They service all the DJs so at least you know you’ll get heard by the majority of them. I say majority because there are some DJs who don’t listen. They feel they are too busy, or too important, and have ‘people’ who do it for them. These DJs, in my view, have lost touch with reality, with their raison-d’etre. Getting heard generally has never been easier. In my day you had to make a demo, in a studio, then put it on both sides of a cassette and send each one to every label you could find. Now it’s a proverbial ‘piece of piss’.”
S] What about personally, how do you know when a track is right – does it fill you with excitement and euphoria? You spin Bassnectar quite a lot, and his stuff is a great example of what gets our office in the mood for anything?
ETM] “Absolutely, I still get the same tingle I got when I was a teenager listening to Japan or Tears For Fears or The Human League. Bassnectar is a good example of a producer I’ve championed for years, one of many from the US. More recently Wick-It has been turning me on a lot. I play his mixes out a lot. Knowing ‘a track is right’ is so subjective. It’ll just do do with a gut feeling more than anything else. But one man’s meat is another man’s murder.”
S] What about getting on in the music industry – is it all about who you know?
ETM] “Of course ‘who you know’ always helped in the old days and continues to help now, but movers and shakers are so much easier to approach now via Twitter and Facebook, you get a direct line to some of the most influential people around the globe.”
S] You are very successful in your field and everyone makes mistakes, so what are some of the mistakes that you are comfortable talking about?
ETM] “My mistakes have all involved my being too trusting and I’ve consequently been f*cked up the arse by people pretending to be my friends, on more than one occasion. The way I see it that’s the price you pay for being nice, and these things are a test, a lure to the darkside, the easier path. Each time it happens strengthens my resolve to stay on the path I’ve chosen: The hard way, but the better way. Claire from Manumission and I were talking last week about one particularly vile little man we’ve both had dealings with and she summed it up so beautifully and inspiringly: “He will never do anything great, as Tolstoy said… ‘There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent’.”
S] What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received – personally, or professionally, maybe both?
ETM] “Whoever you f*ck over on your way up, you will run into again, on your way down. And the best advice I can give you, to keep yourself sane in the world of showbiz: For everyone who loves you, there’s someone who hates you.”
S] Outside of music – what people or places inspire you and why?
ETM] “Seas and mountains. I find any large body of water inspiring, and the higher I climb the better I feel. Travelling, people from other countries and cultures never cease to amaze and fascinate me. Food too; if I wasn’t a muso or a DJ I’d probably have been a chef. Food and wine inspire me, and the people who immerse themselves in that culture are a source of inspiration to me.”
S] You have a band, Losers – what are your plans for 2012?
ETM] “We’re at the final tweak stage of our second album, ‘We Shall Never Part’, it’s a deep record that straddles the worlds of dance and rock in the same way UNKLE do. We were all blown away when James Lavelle [UNKLE main man] got in touch and said he loves it, and that if Mo Wax was still going, he’d sign us. Completely by coincidence, his old sparring partner, DJ Shadow, also got in touch via my friend DJ Fresh, to say how much he likes the album and that he’d like to do a remix for us. If everything goes to plan, we’re releasing two singles on one of my favourite new, forward thinking labels, Never Say Die – which saw early releases by Flux Pavilion and Skrillex. Losers will be the first non-Dubstep act on the label – we’re chuffed about that. The list of remixers for the singles alone will make a lot of people do a backflip!”
S] You blog regularly on CMU – that’s pretty raw and honest writing about a range of topics – what does having that outlet mean to you?
ETM] “I love the CMU guys, we’ve supported each other right from the start. That column is like my show, and essentially, everything I do, it’s just an extension of me, which I approach with the same total honesty that I approach everything. Again, it’s the hard way, and when you’re prepared to really tell the truth, you must be prepared to make some powerful enemies. Liars hate nothing more than people who speak the truth. I’ve been threatened with libel suits, but it’s almost always just hot air. I remain unapologetic, retract nothing, and just say ‘bring it on’. They all know the truth will come out in the end which means they will lose. The legal system tends to get behind honest people and expose liars, it’s just the way of things. I have a lot of love for the British legal system through personal experience. So far I’ve been to court five times and I’ve won five times.”
S] While we’re on to Losers ‘Flush’ is a cracking track, can you talk us through the inspiration behind that, and how do you look back on it now?
ETM] “Thanks! ‘Flush’ started out as one of Tom [Bellamy, ex-Cooper Temple Clause]‘s more techn-electro influenced tunes, which I helped tweak melodically then asked my friend Riz MC to do a vocal. We caught him at a time when he was royally pi**ed off with some girl, so when we got the track back I thought it’d be good, for balance, to have the girls point of view. Both Tom and I are big Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip fans, and love that track ‘Angles’, that looks at a situation from different perspectives, so we gave the track to Manchester MC and rapper Envy, and she spat out a response to Riz. The vocals were great but I have to big-up the artist Dan Hillier and animator Tom Werber, because it was the video that really made that track. It’s proper genius. I look back on ‘Flush’ fondly but at the same time it’s like a listening to a different band. I’d give the last record 5 out of 10 but the new one is nearer the 9 out of 10 mark. Now we have Paul Mullen from Yourcodenameis:milo as part of Losers, he’s gelled perfectly with me and Tom and we’ve made a much deeper, more heartfelt record together.”
S] Is there a tune that you’re working on for Losers right now, that you feel defines where you are at as a musician, personally?
ETM] “It’s all done now, and in the process of being tweaked by our ‘Wingman’ Jem Godfrey. He is one of the most brilliant production gurus out there. He’s on a par with people like Trent Reznor, Noisia, or Rob Swire. We’ve made something really special together, and it both defines us and re-defines us. I can’t wait for it to get out there.”
S] How do you enjoy your live DJ sets (you just did Download waiting for the Prodigy), and their own Millton Keynes Bowl festival, in comparison to performing live with Losers?
ETM] “I love DJing and I love playing bass in Losers, the way I approach DJing is very musical, and personal, so they’re quite similar. I love to connect with a crowd as a DJ, that’s why I never use virtual DJ programs, only CDs (or occasionally vinyl). I’ve never taken my laptop into a club, I don’t believe laptops belong in hot sweaty clubs. Aside from making you look like you’re reading emails they take your eye off the crowd. That’s where a DJs eyes are supposed to be.”
S] Do you have a favourite Northern city to visit and perform in?
ETM] “It’s true that the further North you go the more fun the crowd is, being on tour with The Prodigy proved that in the most delightful way. I do have a favourite Northern city though, one I wrote about in my CMU column recently: Sheffield. There’s something about that place that produces both great humans and great musicians. Elsewhere, I’ve always had a soft spot for Manchester – they have a musical heritage like no other. I’ve had some great times in Leeds too, at Sugarbeat, the Utah Saints club, and I’m a big fan of Newcastle. Digital is a great venue. Geordies are the funniest people in the world, and I always look forward to the rare occasions I play there. I’m really looking forward to playing at Beatherder this year, Utah Saints asked me to play on their stage after Fake Blood. I hear Beatherder is a distillation of everything that’s great about the North. Somebody described it as ‘the North’s Secret Garden Party’ – you can’t get a bigger compliment than that.”
S] Can you talk us through a typical day in your life – how on earth do you fit everything in?
ETM] “My days revolve around my son, Tone, who stays with me most of the time. I am the main custodial parent. I was always the one taking him to school, picking him up, making his tea, helping with his homework, cooking dinner for him and reading an excerpt from a book at bedtime. The rest of my time is divided between producing and The Remix on Xfm – I don’t have a producer – programming the dance music at Secret Garden Party, and working pro-bono for The British Tinnitus Association and Campaign Against Living Miserably – C.A.L.M. – the male suicide charity, whom I got involved with inspired by my friend Joe from Ou Est Le Swimming Pool after singer Charlie did the unthinkable and killed himself. I also do voice-overs: I’m on my third series of Mobil One The Grid, the car show on Channel 4, and I do the odd bit of consultancy for ad agencies and brands, who want to be involved in music more. Occasionally people working on TV or radio programs will ask me what music I think they should use.
I spend a lot of time downloading tunes I’m sent and listening. It takes so much longer now. In the days of CDs and vinyl, I could get all my listening done in one day. Now it takes closer to three days. That’s why I’ve grown to hate getting sent wav files. Of course, there’s playing bass for Losers, and doing the odd remix, the odd collaboration (I have some great ones coming) then at night time over the weekends I slip into club DJ mode and there’s a lot of travel involved there. I don’t have a lot of time left to see family and friends, and it’s very hard to keep a relationship going too.
My day always ends the same way, I’ll watch one episode of one of my favourite TV shows: Mostly that would be a cooking show: ‘Great British Menu’, ‘Masterchef’, ‘Raymond Blanc’, Rick Stein, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or Gordon Ramsay. Elsewhere I’m a petrol-head so ‘Top Gear’, and I do love a belly-laugh so I might watch an episode of either ’30 Rock’, ‘Big Bang Theory’, ‘Father Ted’, ‘Fawlty Towers’ or ‘Phoneshop’.”
S] We regularly listen to The Remix – we love that whole crossover concept – was that difficult to pitch as a show originally?
ETM] “No, it was easy. I wrote out a page of A4 with the name of the show at the top, a list of bands they were playing in the daytime, opposite a list of remixes of those same acts I felt they should play when the sun went down. Because I’d given Zane his first break at MTV, he got me a meeting with the head of programming at Xfm and because I had a proven tracj record, he decided to let me pilot the show live. That week I asked Soulwax to come in and do a live DJ mix. That was the first time anyone in the UK heard them do a DJ mix. They went on from there to become 2ManyDJs, the best DJs on planet earth, ever, and quite right too. Steph and Dave are amazing.”
S] How have your aims and goals with regards to what you wanted to achieve in the broadcasting and music industry changed over the last few years?
ETM] “I just consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do, always have done, always will do. I pinch myself every day to make sure I’m not dreaming. There’s only one thing left that I want to do, that I’ve always wanted to do, and that is film music. I’d love to be music supervisor for a film. To work with a director and put as much love into the soundtrack as he or she does with the images. More than that, I’d love to compose some or all of the soundtrack myself, with Tom of course. I want to see a BAFTA for best soundtrack with mine and Tom’s names engraved on it. That’s the dream. One day…”
For more information visit the official Eddy Temple-Morris Facebook.