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Gilles Peterson - God Of Radio

Author: Rezo
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
For some, the name Gilles Peterson and BBC radio 1 are synonymous with each other. The groundbreaking DJ has been at the forefront of the music scene for almost two decades and now he’s releasing a house compilation for defected. 3D’s Rezo caught up with the radio legend.

You might be surprised to hear that it all came together late for the man associated with plenty of modern day greats such as Erykah Badu and Jamiroquai; not to mention the Acid Jazz and Talkin’ Loud labels which had their own unmitigated successes.

“It did come quite a bit later in the piece,” Peterson admits. “I came from a French background but it was all normal middle class business. I was into sport and playing football and rugby, things like that. Then suddenly my mate who was living nearby and his sister had some great records that I enjoyed. That’s what basically gave me the bite for soul music. I was always being taken to bars and clubs as an illegal 14-year-old! Then I got into weekenders and my studies started flipping. By the time I got myself turntables, there was no turning back.”

And from there his career was born.

“I setup a pirate radio station in my shed and I got a name for myself as the guy who played black music and weddings and birthdays. Later on I got some residences and starting being the DJ riding the crest on the whole pirate era. Because I was the so slim, and the youngest, they had me climbing the buildings to put the aerials up! It was dangerous, high-risk and thrilling all at the same time! I got a job on BBC Radio, which gave me a platform and I never felt like there was any pressure. It was just me being me.”

Today, the same radio show continues to underpin his passion for music, broadcasting and, most of all, entertaining. He is known to mix elements of genres you’ve never even heard of. Labels like the above-mentioned Acid Jazz and Talking Loud pioneered in their time and set the way for music that has come since.

“We developed artists like Jamiroquai and Brand New Heavies and then setup Talking Loud with Young Disciples and Galliano,” he says. “After winning a Mercury Prize in 2000, I took a bit of a break and focused on my radio show. Last year I set up Brownswood Recordings with the aim of releasing good music with soul. It’s a labor of love because right now clearly isn’t the best time to be doing that. But we’re doing it in the background and using our contacts to push some great up and coming artists that haven’t got the same opportunities we had.”

Peterson has just released the three-CD Defected in the House – a collection of house, disco and rare grooves with a decent number of edits and exclusives.

“I’ve done over 50 albums now from Brazilian to Latin stuff,” he says. “I think this market opened up quite a lot over the last five years through labels like Defected. These are the biggest labels in the world and while people may not necessarily associate something like that with me, when I was asked to do something so prestigious I want to freak out! I don’t really consider myself a house DJ and the work around heavyweights like that was awesome. I had to call on special favours from friends – people like Carl Craig came through for me and it became a lot less stressful.”

WHO: Gilles Peterson
WHAT: Defected in the House through Defected/EQ/Stomp
WHEN: Out 28 January