Media Monday #4 – Camilla Pia

CAMILLA PIA/Assistant Producer at Radio 1, Live Reviews Editor of the The Fly and freelance music writer

Your full-time job is Assistant Producer at Radio 1. What does that all entail?

Well the role is split up into a few different parts really. I am in charge of archiving all the live music recorded by Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra, I deliver live sessions from past and present to the shows to get the music out on air and if any audio is requested by record labels I source it, package it up and pop it over to them.

Is Radio 1 the promised land?

Haha! I do love it here and it’s always been a dream of mine to work at the station. I think Radio 1 a brilliant place to work because there are loads of opportunities to get involved with whatever is going on and people are always happy to hear your ideas. For example in addition to my daily role I recently covered a shift on the Huw Stephens show, have had a documentary commissioned and in a few weeks I’m going to work on a live Mumford & Sons broadcast. It’s never dull, or quiet, round here!

You’re also the Live Reviews Editor of The Fly. Is being in an editorial role where you have control over others something you revel in?

Hmm, I wouldn’t say it’s about controlling others particularly! But being given the opportunity to have a say over what goes where in a national music magazine and website and decide on who gets covered is amazing. It gives me the chance to showcase new acts which is something I’m extremely passionate about and I also really enjoy the nerdy stuff like editing reviews and seeing how writers develop their individual styles. The Fly is also a great magazine to work for because there’s no attitude or pretensions in the team and everyone is really down to earth and genuinely obsessed with music which is actually really inspiring. Being an editor has definitely changed the way I work in terms of pitching and has also made me think about how I write too – it has made me much more careful and always at the forefront of my mind now is reading from someone else’s perspective, does this actually make sense? That’s something you can easily forget about when you’re frenziedly getting your thoughts down.

Writing freelance for NME, The List and bbc.co.uk/music is also something else that you do. What are the best tips for someone looking to do freelance journalism?

Well I used to freelance full time which was quite scary at times but it’s also a really exciting way to live. You never know what the day will chuck at you and you can pick and choose what you want to do. So one week I’d be writing about a kids’ comedy production and interviewing Karen O and the next I’d be reviewing Aled Jones and then Mortiis the following night. In terms of tips, I would say work experience and interning for a while is essential. I met loads of people that way and if you do a good job they remember you which can lead to opportunities. Also don’t be afraid to persevere if you don’t hear back from an editor at first. As long as it doesn’t turn into a harassment case keep pitching ideas until you get in there. And finally it seems obvious but be polite and get things done on time and to your agreed deadline – people don’t have time to deal with journalist strops or sloppy copy.

How much time do each of these three strands of work take up?

My whole life really. I tend to have one day off a week and work evenings as well as my day job at Radio 1. Madness I know but it’s all about music which as you can probably tell by now I am obsessed with!

What’s been your education/career path to get where you are today?

Well I studied French at uni which has nothing to do with what I do now. Oops. Having said that I was at Glasgow Uni which was great for media opportunities and I soon got involved in the student magazine, newspaper and radio. In my second year I was music editor of the paper and had my own two hour new music show which thankfully no one has copies of now! While I was at uni and following a summer of magazine internships in London I started freelancing for various magazines and newspapers, so when I left I got a part time job at Fopp and the freelancing on the side snowballed from there until I could do it full-time. I then decided I wanted to work in London so applied for a job at the BBC, in Children’s television, and got it. Since then I have done various things at the BBC (act booker for Blue Peter, researcher for Top of the Pops Saturday, licensing music to record labels and chooser of soundbeds) and carried on the freelancing and finally got the job at Radio 1 in March. Phew.

You’re originally from Scotland, but live in London. Have you lost touch with the Scottish music scene or does your line of work always keep you up to date?

I have a huge fondness and a real place in my heart for the Scottish music scene and all the diversity of sounds and downright amazing talent it offers up to the world. I used to live in Glasgow and literally there was no better city for gigs, amazing record shops and proper passion for music. I am lucky because I still have loads of friends up there who keep me posted on what’s happening musically and working for the music press and reading and working for The List magazine in particular and various music blogs also keeps me up to date. I am sad that I don’t get to go up there as much as I’d like really and once I’ve had my way with London I may well return.

What Scottish bands have been impressing you in recent months?

I am obsessed with Errors, their record Come Down With Me is one of my favourites of the year. Also loving Remember Remember, Inspector Tapehead, Swimmer One and Meursault at the moment, Biffy and Frightened Rabbit have obviously done amazing things this year, and I desperately want to hear new stuff from Butcher Boy soon. Oh and talking of Scottish stuff I’ve been having a bit of a trip down memory lane with The Delgados and Yummy Fur recently too who I think are two of my favourite ever bands.

Being a Scot in the big city – are you ever worried you’ll give bias towards Scottish music?

No, but I think it is really important to give space and opportunities to bands from all over the UK and being Scottish and from the very un-rock ‘n’ roll city of Edinburgh has definitely attributed to that. The media’s bias towards London acts always annoyed me when I lived in Scotland and it’s still annoying now even though I live here and love this city.

And finally, are you happy doing what you do?

I am the type of person who constantly questions what they do and whether they should be doing it, so the fact that I’m still doing this says that I am I guess. Tired and probably overworked, but loving it all the same.

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