RAP: What kinds of creative styles do you and Jeremy like to use?
Eddy: Because we have creative carte blanche, we can sail closer to the wind. Jeremy will spend ages producing the most fantastic stuff with so much audio and so many bits and pieces. When you look at a page on his ProTools and look at about five seconds worth of a page, it looks like somebody's been sick on it. There are just so many bits on it. My style is more like a clever script and really cool music editing. We licensed the Redline production library from Brown Bag for two years, and we couldn't have sounded as good without it. I might also play for laughs, or I might just be more clever with the copy than my colleagues in commercial radio who have a lot more creative restrictions. They have clients and people like that breathing down their necks whereas I don't. I just have to bear in mind taste and decency and all the other kinds of BBC guidelines, producer's guidelines that I fall under, but it's creatively not shackling like the way independent radio can be. The world is our oyster, and, really, we can do whatever we want.
RAP: Very few producers get that kind of freedom. That must be a lot of fun.
Eddy: It is. It is great and I wouldn't want it any other way. I think I'd go crazy if I worked for an independent radio station because I do sail close to the wind with a lot of these promos, and I wouldn't be allowed to do that in a commercial arena.
RAP: You mentioned using outside voices. Are they all from the U.K.?
Eddy: Yeah, they're all from the U.K. because, again, we're supposed to be different. We're the U.K.'s new music station, the U.K.'s live music station. We're the U.K.'s biggest music radio station just by such a long chalk, so we don't use American voices. Now, American voices sound better than English voices, loads better. An American can make a cup of margarine sound sexy, which English voices can't do, really. But because Atlantic and Virgin and Capitol and all of these stations use Americans--they use the guy from Z100, Keith Eubanks, or a big, boomy voice that sounds something like Mike Lee--we can't use those kinds of voices. We steer towards young British voices, perhaps with regional accents. I tend to go with the more generic accented ones, the ones you can't really pinpoint where they're from, and young. For example, I used to be the voice that came in and out of the news when it called for a voice, but I wanted the corporate voice of the station to be female, and I wanted it to be Black. I wanted an identifiably female and identifiably Black voice to be the corporate voice of BBC Radio 1 only because I can do it and the others can't. So I did. And at the bottom of every hour--our news is at the bottom of the hour--is this lovely, sexy Black woman's voice going in and out of the news.
We use outside voices, but we can't use American voices unless the script cries out for one. For example, I've got this promo that runs for our new music show, The Evening Session, with this American guy going, "The U.K. sucks. Your fries suck. Your burgers suck. Your idea of football sucks, and your weather sucks. But I'm still coming over there for the only thing that you've got that we ain't got...The Evening Session!" So we'll use American voices in a way to take the mickey out of America, but we can't use them in a normal way.
RAP: As we're doing this interview, it's nearing Christmas, a pretty busy time for radio everywhere. What do the next couple of weeks look like for you and Radio 1?
Eddy: Oh, it's going to be a nightmare because our whole schedule changes over Christmas. Our normal daytime strands go out the window, and we have a whole lot of Christmas specials. For example, a lot of the shows that we have are "Best of" kinds of things. The evening show will do things like "Best of the Guests" and the "Best of the Live Music," as will the daytime people. And then we'll have a whole bunch of famous pop stars coming in and doing shows. I could go on and on and on. There are just so many different Christmasy "Best Of" kinds of shows, and we've got to promote them all in addition to all the normal trailers and promos that we've got to make. So I'm going to be not seeing the light of day for a while.
RAP: What are your work hours normally?
Eddy: Thank heavens, it's pretty much flexi-time. They don't mind when you come in as long as you don't miss a meeting and as long as the job gets done. We're only paid for an eight-hour day, but we're never out of here before we've done about ten hours, usually. I roll in about ten, and I'm out of here at around seven or eight. You know, on a really good day I'll be out of here at half six, but most days it's seven, seven-thirty, eight, nine, ten--something like that.
RAP: This must be a remarkably fun job for you.
Eddy: Yeah, it is. I'll never take it for granted, and I'll always think I'm really lucky to be able to do this. So many people sort of ring up and say, "Oh, can I come for work experience? It must be great to do that job. How do you get into this kind of thing? How do I get into it?" I'm aware of the fact that it is a dream job for a lot of people, and I'll never take it for granted.
RAP: Do you use interns in production?
Eddy: Yeah, we do occasionally take on work experience--as we call it--people, but it is kind of difficult, and they are very few and far between in our department because we're so busy. When you've got an intern following you around, it just makes our day that much longer. So we tend to steer clear of them, but we try to get them to work for another department that is less busy.
RAP: Commercial radio is still relatively new to the U.K.. Are there still lots of new commercial stations popping up?
Eddy: Oh, absolutely. Every year we've got a whole bunch more opening. It's not like America yet, but it's getting there. It's the most rapidly expanding kind of media at the moment. In terms of advertising, people are really getting into radio, and the whole radio arena is fragmenting. There aren't more listeners, but there are more and more and more stations, and the whole thing is kind of fragmenting the way that America has.
RAP: What's your "production philosophy?"
Eddy: Well, it's pictures on the radio. I like a promo that acts like a film, like a one and a half hour film but sort of squeezed into forty seconds. We have a forty-second rule for all our promos, so that's one creative corridor that we have to go down. I think it's good to be ruthless and to cut scripts down to what really matters and transmit the information in a clear way and in a creative way. I guess my ethos is "go crazy." That's what I said to Who Did That Music when we did the first bunch of demos. The closest one to what I wanted was from this guy, Michael Sheehey, who'd unfortunately suffered from a detached retina at the time and was on very, very powerful painkillers that were making him hallucinate. I said to him, "Look, just increase your dosage and you'll be on the right wave length." I said it joking, and I'm sure he didn't; but what he came back to me with was just the maddest cuts I've ever heard, and they formed the sort of backbone of the music jingle ID package that Who Did That Music did with me. I guess my ethos, if it were down to two words, would be "go crazy."
RAP: Where do you think your greatest talents lie?
Eddy: Well, I'm a music man. I've made records. So from that point of view I can give a promo a direction musically and make it make sense musically. And I can write. I can write scripts that make people laugh, as well, and I can sort of focus on the lighter side of life.
RAP: How about a production tip for those who are going to hear your demo on The Cassette and want to know how you do it?
Eddy: Take a step back and look at your script, your product, your show, even your life from a skewed perspective, and always push the envelope. See how far you can go with everything--production, script, language, whatever. That's what I mean by "go crazy."
RAP: What's down the road for you?
Eddy: Well, there are a few people who are sniffing at my ass, as it were. To present on TV is one and to present on radio is another. If I could do anything, I would really like to go work for a station like KROQ in L.A. because L.A. is like a home away from home for me, and I love what KROQ does. I listen to them on air checks, and up until about a month ago I used to get Z100 religiously and a station called Z95 in Vancouver. But they've taken a turn for the worse now, so I'm getting KFOX in Vancouver and KROC in New York. KROQ in L.A. is good old modern rock, and that's kind of where a lot of my musical taste lies. So if KROQ rang me up and said they wanted me to come work for them, I think I would probably drop everything and go.
RAP: You might be waiting for a while. I believe John Frost is still the man behind the scenes there, and at last check, everybody was happy.
Eddy: Well, whoever is behind it, it sounds like they're having a lot of fun, and that's the vibe that we transmit. You know, we're very much inspired by people like that, by stations like that, and it's great. I'm sure they listen to us and they think, "Hmmmm, they definitely ripped us off there"--maybe not "ripped us off" but that we definitely got inspiration from them. Then every now and again I listen to them and I think they got inspiration from us, too. Every now and again, I hear one of my promos, something that's really similar to one of my promos, on KROQ. So yeah, we're a lot closer than a lot of people think.