Media Monday #2 – Jim Gellatly

Jim Gellatly/Radio DJ and new music enthusiast

You’re well experienced in radio – can you describe your role and duties as one of Scotland’s top radio men?

The actual traditional radio side of things is probably less for me at the moment, though I’m doing some stand-in shifts at Radio Clyde (Clyde 1). That’s the only time I’m near a conventional radio studio really, as I do the Amazing Radio show from home, along with other bits that I do for other stations like Original 106 in Aberdeen. I’d like to think that my experience grounds me well for a tastemaker role, and that a well placed Tweet or Facebook post these days may have as much impact as me actually playing something on the radio.

What was your first big break on the radio?

Around 1986/87, I wrote to every radio station in the land looking for work experience, and ended up at MFR in Inverness where two weeks became three years. It was a great place to learn about the nuts and bolts of radio, and a lot of people who were at the station when I was there have gone on to carve out impressive careers. I think around five or six of them are now at BBC Radio Scotland…including Jeff Zycinski, who’s the boss there.

What’s the most important thing for radio? Voice, manner, charisma?

Voice is sort of important, but not the most important thing. The ability to communicate is probably more important, but then the voice can help.

You’re well known as the man who first played Biffy Clyro on the radio. Do you look upon their massive success like a proud father?

Certainly, even if Simon did tell the NME that he thought I’d retired from broadcasting. An easy mistake to make perhaps as they recorded a tribute video for me when I won the John Peel Award for contribution to Music Radio in 2008…maybe he thought it was my retirement video?

You’re called the ‘Voice of new music in Scotland’. How strong is new music in the country at the moment?

Just to clear that ‘Voice of new music in Scotland’ thing up first…it’s a tag I had on all my production (jingles etc) at Xfm Scotland. I started using it again more pro-actively when the line started to appear under Vic’s picture in his weekly News Of The World column. I had it first, so just reclaiming it. Maybe I should sue? (joke!). I think there is some amazing new music coming out of Scotland at the moment, and it’s just a shame that mainstream radio isn’t embracing it.

What bands in particular are impressing you?

Mopp, French Wives, Rachel Sermanni, Miaoux Miaoux, Two Zebras, Stars and Sons…I could go on all night.

Vic Galloway, as you mentioned, is another man involved with new music in Scotland and the radio. Is there any rivalry between you guys?

I first met Vic before he was broadcasting actually, when I had his band Miraclehead (which also featured James Yorkston) in for a session. He’s certainly one of the good guys, and we keep meaning to get very drunk together sometime. No rivalry really…fact is he has a bigger platform than me at the moment. It was nice to be at BBC Radio Scotland with him, but little point in the two of us being at the same radio station really, as realistically a station like BBC Radio Scotland can only have one new music guy. I’m hoping that sooner rather than later I’ll be doing some sort of New Music thing on commercial radio, not to compete with Vic, but to raise the profile of the whole scene.

One look at your Facebook page and it seems like you’re constantly barraged with up and coming bands trying to grab your attention. What are the three bands should a band cite in order to pass the Gellatly test?

If you say your influences are Stereophonics, Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene I’m guessing you haven’t put much effort into moulding your sound. Nothing against these bands, but I’m not expecting to hear something challenging. Otherwise I wouldn’t say there are three bands… but if there were, they might be Anti Nowhere League, Wedding Present and Billy Bragg…I’m pretty sure I don’t want to hear a mash-up of these acts though!

And finally, you’re available to host events and gigs. What’s an event that you just couldn’t say yes to hosting?

If I really hated a band I might struggle…but I do get asked to do a lot of battle of the bands. I have done some purely for the money, and it’s not a good feeling. Some are better than others, but generally I want to know exactly what’s involved and a guarantee that there is no audience or online vote…which is a recipe for disaster.

www.jimgellatly.com

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