Jarvis Cocker: interview
6Music's Sunday afternoon star talks to us about being nominated for a Sony Radio Award in the 'Rising Star' category.
Congratulations on the nomination. Are you feeling quietly confident?
Oh no, I would never be as presumptious as to feel that. But I'm very proud that at the age of 46 I can be considered a rising star - and especially so as I've only been working at the station for a couple of months. Anyway, with all that's going on with 6Music and the BBC Asian Network being under threat of closure, then any sort of attention that's focused on us is good because the public consultation period is still going on at the moment.
How are you finding the experience of being a radio regular?
It takes up a lot more of my time than I thought it would. I always end up panicking because I don't know what I'm going to play. I don't think I could do a morning show. For one thing I have difficulty getting up in the mornings and anyway I think I'd send everybody straight back to sleep. This afternoon slot on a Sunday is the perfect time for me because it's a time of torpor - it's almost like a dead zone, and I like that fact. I'm not a religious person but I do like the idea of Sunday as a day set apart from the rest of the week. It's nice to have a period of reflection and have time to think about things.
And radio is the perfect accompaniment to a lazy Sunday afternoon…
The thing about radio is that it's got an intimate feel. What I like is that you don't have to give it your full attention - you can still do something else that the same time, whereas TV is all-enveloping: you have to sit there and pay attention to it, and give yourself over to it. You have to surrender to it, but you don't with radio. And especially a station like 6Music - it's not trying to coerce you into anything or sell you anything. For me that's what radio's for.
How does the show come together?
I'm allowed to play whatever I want, and that's a very, very rare thing. I wouldn't be allowed to do that on any other station I don't think. I start off by looking at the events that are happening in the news, events like birthdays or deaths or whatever, and some of those will trigger recollections in my mind to set me trawling through my record collection. And then I also ask listeners to recommend songs.
How much of what you play is based on listeners' suggestions?
The basis is my collection, but I think it's important to play new music as well, otherwise it would be a dead end I think. I ask listeners to recommend songs and that broadens my musical taste - I've discovered lots of good stuff that people have recommended. People will stop me on the street anyway and foist CDs on me but the good thing about 6Music listeners is, if I have gaps in my knowledge and throw a question out, they always come up with the answer. I like the fact that they're knowledgeable - that's why I wanted to do the show live so I can get instant feedback.
Your career has covered art, music, television, podcasting, and now radio - do you have plans to branch out into any other media?
At the moment I haven't got time to do other things. I'm always amazed by people who blog all the time and tweet all the time, and still get things done. I don't know how they do it.
What's the atmosphere like at 6Music at the moment? Do you think it can be saved from the axe?
I hope so. The people who listen to it are very passionate, and so are the people who work there, because without that station there's simply a lot of music that wouldn't get played on the radio. It's important that it's there. Everyone at the station has been genuinely touched by all the messages of support they've had from listeners, and people within the music industry, especially in the independent and alternative sector, really want to know what they can do to help. I just hope the amount of coverage will prompt a rethink. Hopefully the Sony Awards will help - it's important to keep the issue in the public eye.
Jarvis Cocker has been nominated for a Sony DAB Rising Star Award in the 2010 Sony Radio Academy Awards. The award recognises the radio stars of tomorrow and celebrates the UK's best new on-air talent. See www.sony.co.uk/risingstar