Soulful DJ and presenter Trevor Nelson chats about his patronage of the Notting Hill Academy of Music, memories of Notting Hill Carnival, and the up-and-coming musicians to listen out for in 2016
Why did you decide to support the Notting Hill Academy of Music as its patron?
When the idea of the Academy came up and I was asked to support it, I very quickly realised that its aims were exactly the type of thing I would have wanted to do when I was trying to get into the industry, so I happily decided to throw my weight behind it. People think the music industry is glamorous, but what people don’t realise is that it’s also fraught with hurdles and there are key things you need to know in order to navigate the business. What this Academy offers is a finishing school for people who want to get into the industry and one of the main reasons I decided to get involved is because I think there is a huge gap between people getting degrees and actually being ready for the industry. That’s the gap the Academy will help its students bridge, and it’s hard for me not to support that!
Why is a resource like the Notting Hill Academy of Music important for young people right now?
A resource like this is exactly what I would have wanted to do as a kid. The music industry is full of hurdles for young people to overcome, so the Academy actually enables them to get a fully-rounded education, including the business side of the industry, so that they actually have a genuine chance for a career in this notoriously tricky world. The fact that it’s backed by major labels, including Sony and Warner, is also massively important because it’ll give people the real-life work experience and useful knowledge and skills they need, rather than what is taught in traditional, music-related university courses.
What was your definitive music moment in 2015?
The moment that really stands out for me from 2015 is Ed Sheeran’s solo show from back in July at Wembley Stadium, where he sold 240,000 tickets for the show over three nights. The fact that he went from playing in front of just 150 people to selling out a show like that in just four years is huge and a promoter’s dream. Generally speaking, I’d say an artist like Ed is a record label’s dream, he’s just so low maintenance.
Who are your top three artists to look out for in 2016 and why?
The three artists for me to watch out for would definitely be Izzi Bizu, Nao and Jack Garratt. I’ve been a big supporter of Izzi since she signed with Epic Records and she’s already been shortlisted for awards like the Brit Critics’ Choice award back in November, so I think she’ll have a lot to give in the new year. Nao has previously worked with the likes of Jarvis Cocker and Kwabs, and the fact that she’s now decided to go solo is exciting for new music in 2016. Jack Garratt’s been brilliant so far; he’s playlisted on Radio 1, toured consistently and been on the festival circuit, so it’s time a lot more people found out who he is and 2016 will be the year for that.
Your daughter Mali is in the music industry too – what advice do you give her about it? Do you have similar tastes in music?
My daughter has great taste in music and is an independent spirit who makes great alternative electronic music. I can only give her advice if she asks for it – which is quite rare!
I’m sure your record collection is massive – what are your most prized records?
Most of my beloved vinyl was used to DJ with over the years and isn’t in the best condition anymore! The records that really make me smile are the ones that I had to sacrifice a lot to get hold of – bus fares, my school dinner money and even plane fares! There’s too many to mention really, but standouts include Roy Ayers, Gilberto Gil, James Brown and some early hip hop 12s like Double Dee and Steinski.
What song/album do you always turn to when you’re feeling blue?
Well, my all-time favourite song is Stevie Wonder’s As – I listen to that a lot.
What song most reminds you of Notting Hill? Why?
It’s got to be Jocelyn Brown’s Somebody Else’s Guy. It always reminds me of Notting Hill when I was an unknown kid raving at Carnival that summer when it was the biggest tune of the summer.