A true pioneer of the modern day music industry, Gilles Peterson is a DJ, broadcaster, record label boss and all round nice guy.
Radd: When you were a kid, did you ever think you’d be doing what you’re doing today in the music industry?
Gilles : Not really, no. I didn’t realise I’d be doing this for a career until I was in my late 20s. I was very fortunate to not to have to go to plan B, because I didn’t have a plan B.
I mean, for me personally, my mum and dad left the country when I was 17, and I was the youngest of my family. At that stage, I’d passed my driving test and I was doing mobile discos and raves. I hadn’t done too well in my exams, I wasn’t going to go to university, so my parents just let me get on with it, and lucky for me I haven’t needed to call them up to come and save me.
Radd: After all these years of being in the industry, do you still find it enjoyable considering it’s your job?
Gilles : If you’re involved in the industry, you have to fundamentally enjoy it because if you’re not enjoying this world, you’re in trouble: it just shows on your face. For me, as an artist or a DJ or a broadcaster, I couldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t particularly confident in myself as an artist or curator, so it means I had to work at it. So if you do that, the better you become at it and the more you enjoy it.
Radd: How do the Worldwide Awards add to what you’re trying to do in the music industry?
Gilles:I think it’s important that somebody can highlight some of the artists that might otherwise fall between the cracks; for example, Fatima. It’s important for me to give those artists a platform to do that once a year and support and encourage them. You can criticise an awards show all day long and sometimes I question why I do it, but at the end of the day it’s about celebrating what I do and what people like myself do. It’s also about celebrating the wealth of great music that doesn’t have to be stuck in categories. Music can work well dynamically with other kinds of music if narrated properly: that’s what the Worldwide Awards are all about.
Radd: Lastly, what do you want your legacy to be?
Gilles: For me, it’s about putting the spotlight on artists that would otherwise not have had that, whether they’re old or young. It’s not about selling records for me: it’s about giving underground music guidance and support. The fact that I can be working with someone like Bilal or Marshall Allen or Steve Reed, James Blake or Roy Ayers or Amy Winehouse; all those people, I’ve been part of their story, I helped them one way or the other. That’s something I’m proud of.