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Disorder Meets BBC Radio 1’s Phil Taggart

Disorder Meets BBC Radio 1’s Phil Taggart

By: Nicole Baldwin

Radio 1 DJ Phil Taggart is best known for being the rough and ready half of The Phil Taggart and Alice Levine Show. Though his life has vastly changed since his modest days of farm living in Northern Ireland, It’s evident this accomplished young man never skips his servings of humble pie. In a recent interview, Disorder’s Nicole Baldwin sat down with the cheeky chap to discuss everything from screwing up an interview with Mr. Quentin Tarantino, to how life on the dole took him from a top slot in radio to an amazing TV gig. The luck of the Irish perhaps?

Radio 1 DJ Phil Taggart is best known for being the rough and ready half of The Phil Taggart and Alice Levine Show. Though his life has vastly changed since his modest days of farm living in Northern Ireland, It’s evident this accomplished young man never skips his servings of humble pie. In a recent interview, Disorder’s Nicole Baldwin sat down with the cheeky chap to discuss everything from screwing up an interview with Mr. Quentin Tarantino, to how life on the dole took him from a top slot in radio to an amazing TV gig. The luck of the Irish perhaps?

After finishing up university with a 2:2, like many graduates, Phil was unsure of what career ladder he’d like to commence climbing. Due to being on the dole for an extensive time period, Taggart was ushered on to a work placement scheme that saw him at the BBC making teas. He candidly informed, “they got me into the BBC being the dogsbody for one of the new music shows. I used to bounce around the office and have so much fun. After like three weeks of making the teas, they put me on air because the presenter had to get his tonsils taken out.”

Phil shared his hesitancy in originally taking up the offer. “I said no like three times because I was thinking God, people who speak on air must be really confident. I didn’t feel confident! But then I got on air and had so much fun and other people seemed to enjoy it as well.”

He gleefully told me, “I went from like a tea boy to being on the radio!” Moral of the story guys: never count the underdog out.

Taking up the colossal 10 pm slot with co-host Alice Levine behind the late John Peel was an Uncle Ben/ Peter Parker moment for the young novice duo. Phil divulged, “There was a lot of pressure and responsibility on both of us because neither of us had our own full show before. I did a 2-month residency in BBC introducing and a couple of stand-ins, but I was very much wet behind the ears. You’re coming at the 10 pm slot which is an absolute massive deal for new music.”

With sincere admiration, Phil went onto say, “You’ve got John Peel you know, by all intents and purposes I’ll do that slot, but it’s still kind of his. If he was a footballer, they would have retired his jersey. It’s kind of our job to keep that legacy maintained.”

Though the show has provided many blissful times and career-defining moments, Phil agonisingly disclosed his most horrific professional blunder. “Probably the moment I most regret from my year of doing interviews now would be the very first. You might of heard of the person… he’s gonna go places.”

Being a film buff, my ears perked up at this moment, as I was just about to discover cinema’s next best thing. With a big laugh Phil whispered, “Yeah. He’s a filmmaker. Umm…Quentin Tarantino.”

After his head plummeted into his hands from embarrassment, he went on to say, “I spent like 3 or 4 days doing questions; he really goes through you if you don’t know your stuff! I was watching his old films while I was reading up about him. I stayed up all night doing questions. I fell asleep on the bed surrounded with notes. I got a phone call like 5 minutes from the interview saying are you near the building? *Gasps*. Oh no!!! I completely overslept. Alice had to do it by herself. Talk about getting off to a good start.”

There’s nothing like a rookie mistake to put some fire in your belly!  And that’s simply what it did for this young visionary. Being a prevalent BBC radio host, Phil was in good standing when he took his scripting for a documentary down the corridor to BBC Three for commissioning. Only wanting to cover subject matters he has experienced or can relate to, Phil decided to create a show about youth unemployment and citizens on the dole.

He said, “I had to pitch my ideas and come up with a teaser tape. The idea that I came up with has significantly changed from what it was, but not in a bad way. You know, there’s a marriage in there and a bit of BBC cross-pollination – BBC Three is the youth vehicle for television and Radio 1 is the youth vehicle for radio.”

With jest he said, “I’ve never made a television show. I don’t know what you do. I just thought you point your camera at something for an hour and a half and that’s it. It was a shock to the system having to do things like three different times from different angles; what do you mean you don’t just do it once and then go to the pub?”

The documentary titled Christmas on benefits is set to air Thursday 19th at 21:00. Though Phil is already mapping out his subsequent shows, he affirmed this initial show was a labour of love. He stated, “This was close to my heart and I feel this documentary hasn’t been made yet. It’s not one of those – look at them, they’re on the dole, they’re scroungers documentaries.”

He exclaimed, “They are awful. Those documentaries are counterproductive to humanity on a whole. For every one person who’s fiddling the dole, you’ve got like 10 or 11 who genuinely want to get a job.”

Phil went on to discuss how in his day-to-day life, he often works with semi established musicians that are despairingly struggling to survive. He disclosed, “There are moderately successful bands that play on my show that are homeless. That’s a massive problem. I was unemployed and after a while of having no money and seeing your friends get really good jobs in law and become doctors or whatever – getting cars and spending money on all sorts of stuff, it kinda makes you feel a little bit less worthy.”

The contributors to the documentary share this same consensus. Though it’s quite evident their problems also stem from the Job Centres “advisors”. Phil revealed, “One of the biggest things that seems to come out of the show is a condescending nature that people are treated with when they go to sign-on or talk about jobs. I think a lot of people feel that those behind the counter could show a bit more sensitivity.”

Phil earnestly imparted some advice for the young and unemployed. He expressed, “You might start out interning at a magazine and find out that you really like TV. But if you’re in that creative atmosphere, even if you’re not making any money whatsoever, as long as you surround yourself with people that you admire, people that you look up to and want to have their job; it gives you that really big fight.”

He highlighted, “I’m just using the media as an example because that’s where I came from. But if you want to be a vet, maybe go and clean out cages for a week or whatever. Whatever you’re into, just go out and start working for free; just be really keen!”

Whilst laughing, he candidly concluded, “Eventually someone will offer you a job. As long as you’re not a d*ck!”

Though TV doors are opening up for the rising star, he made it crystal clear he doesn’t want to be a corny television presenter. He divulged, “My main love is radio. I don’t want to be some sort of cheesy TV host. I want to do things on my own terms instead of being one of those presenters that reads of a cue card and just sits there and smiles and actually has nothing to say. I find that really boring.”

And I completely understand where he’s coming from. With his first musical memory at 6 being him locking himself and his 2-year-old sister in a tractor where they blared out Queen Radio Ga-Ga, to his days as a 15-year-old club promoter in Belfast bribing bouncers to let under 16’s into his sold out nights. I wholeheartedly get and believe this frivolous fella when he says he doesn’t do boring!

It was these thrilling heyday instances that lead Phil to furnish notions of resurrecting his infamous club nights. “I’m hoping to have a club night in London, probably the second half of 2014. I’m going to get some of my favourite bands to play. I just love getting bands in. I’m going to do a bit of a DJ set as well.”

I’m sure amongst many others, Phil will definitely have his Irish acquaintances A Plastic Rose, Girls Names and DJ Space Dimension Controller in rotation. He spoke about the varying musicians and said, “A Plastic Rose are unbelievable! Space Dimension Controller and Girls Names are too!”

He jovially said, “They are so photogenic as well!”

With regards to his beloved home, Phil shared, “There is such a good scene there. So many great new bands are coming out of there. It’s such a fertile place for great new music.”

In conclusion, Phil discussed budding musical starlets he felt would make a strong impact in 2014:-

Courtney Barnett:

“I really like Courtney. She is great. She’s like 25 from Melbourne and she plays guitar and sings kind of like Bob Dylan did in Highway 61. It’s half spoken word and half song. It’s just effortless chill and effortlessly cool. Her lyrics are amazing. She kind of sounds like the halfway point between Kurt Cobain, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan; but done in a female interpretation.”

DJ Lxury:

“I think he is going to do massive things next year. He just made a track at home, didn’t really think much of it and it ended up on Disclosure’s essential radio mix on Radio 1. Disclosure ended up putting it out on their label. That song is called J.A.W.S.”

Banks:

“She’s an L.A artist. She’s awesome! She’s like electric soul and R&B. If you like Frank Ocean and Drake, then you’re gonna like her too! Her subject matters in her songs are so earnest and so well thought out and methodical.”

Circa Waves:

“They are from Liverpool. They dropped their single Get Away. There’s been buzz in the industry about them for ages. They’re really good! If you smash The Ramones head into The Libertines when they were at their best and a little bit of that Johnny Rotten snarl and venom, you get Circa Waves. I think they’re going to do big things!”

Finally Royal Blood:

“They’re a 2 piece from Brighton. They’re a mix of Muse. Their music feels like getting a propeller from a boat engine and just putting it up your face!”

You can catch Phil on the Phil Taggart and Alice Levine show Monday to Thursday, 10pm-midnight on BBC Radio 1.

Phil Taggart’s documentary – Christmas on Benefits is due to air on BBC3 19th Dec at 9 PM.

Words by – Nicole Baldwin @Ms_BaldwinHills

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