October 25 will mark another unforgettable NYC night with the return of Gilles Peterson to NYC! We checked in with the legendary wearer of many hats before the much anticipated gig. More details on the event after the jump. Dig into the interview below!
Giant Step: How’s the transition been going moving from BBC Radio 1 over to Radio 6? How’s the new experience?
Gilles Peterson: Apart from missing my Saturday afternoons watching my team (the mighty ArsenalFC) play its been a perfect transition for me. Still being on the BBC network and in particular on a network that ‘gets’ what I do is special. I really appreciate the freedom I’ve always had as a broadcaster, especially when you see what little else in radio there is about. being able to play music as diverse as Philip Cohran or Roland Kirk alongside Daphne and Angel Haze is a great place to be and I appreciate every minute!
GS: Looks like you’ve got a lot going on with the festival circuit. Any highlights to share?
GP: The festival in France that I’ve been hosting for the last seven years has definitely become my favourite time of the year. It takes place over a week every July in the town of Sete near Montpellier in the south of France and has become a magnet for a great multinational crowd of music fans. The Portico Quartet and Machinedrum were particular highs at this year’s event.
GS: We see that you recently released the Black Jazz Radio in Japan. Can you tell us more about the idea behind that project and when we can expect it in the US?
GP: To be asked to make a compilation album of the legendary black jazz catalogue was something I couldn’t turn down. I have all their releases from the Doug and Jean Carne stuff to the Calvin Keys and Rudolph Johnson albums. It’s a label a little like Impulse or Strata East – conscious Jazz music. In fact, you should check the book Freedom Rhythm and Sound I released 2 years ago with Stuart Baker from Soul Jazz to see how passionate I am about this music! Black Jazz Radio should be in stores now – in fact, it’s been out in Japan since before the summer – I was quite surprised to see it already in the record shops of Tokyo when I was there recently.
GS: Your Mala in Cuba box set has been wildly successful. Congratulations! What do you think makes this project so special?
GP: It was just a perfect time to bring one of the grand daddies of bass music culture to Cuba last year. Mala is such a don and his take on the energy and vibes of Havana really came through on this project. I feel its always important to throw musicians out of their comfort zone now and again – you often get surprising results. I just wish we’d pressed more box sets up – they were gone in 3 days!
GS: Hearing that you’ve got a gang of stuff coming out on Brownswood! Any particularly notable projects?
GP: Just signed a great group from Birmingham called Troumaca – somewhere between The Specials and Jamie xx – really exciting. I heard them at a festival over the summer and knew they were right for the label – the EP will be out at the end of the year. Owiney Sigoma have just recorded their second album – more tropical vibes in a Kenyan London mash up. Gang Colours is finishing his second album, too, and we have a single coming out from a Brighton group called Anushka – kind of MJ Cole meets Julio Bashmore with some great songs. Nuff comps too including Brownswood Bubblers 9 and Brownswood Electric 2.
GS: What’s been on your personal playlist of late?
GP: So much good stuff around from this Australian group called Hiatus Kaiyote to a group I’ve been playing from London called The Hics. I also love the new Jose James album just recorded for Blue Note for those more mellow moments.
GS: The mission behind your organization, The Steve Reid Foundation, is beautiful and inspiring. Society certainly doesn’t make it easy to make a living or care for your health when you’re an artist. Can you share more with us about your goals and plans with the foundation?
GP: The idea is 3-fold: to support musicians in need (of which there are many), to encourage newcomers in music to make the right choices and to educate them about life in the music game, and to celebrate a man who was ahead of his time and inspired so many of us with his joy of sharing and positive vibes.
GS: Last year at Cielo was way too awesome. We know why we loved it, but what specifically made that night memorable for you?
GP: I always love coming to NYC – I have many friends here and people know how to get down! There’s a real appetite for what DJs like me play and there’s such a great sense of heritage that you really have to have an off day not to come out of the club smiling!
GS: Now, another cycle around the sun and we get to have you back in NYC for another unforgettable night – we can’t wait! What kind of tricks do you have up your sleeve for this time?
GP: I never quite know until I’m behind the decks! There’s so much music around that by the time I play I’ll probably have a brand new selection of tunes to the ones I played last night in Paris.
GS: You must savor these trips out here. Personally, what do you love about NYC?
GP: Blue skies in October…breakfasts…jogging in the park…buying old records…eating good at 2am…chatting to the cab drivers…watching soccer in an Irish pub at 10am with a pint of Guinness!
Gilles Peterson Live
Thursday, October 25
Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker Street
New York, NY