You spent many years as a DJ, Why did you give it up?
The radio industry is changing, and in my opinion not for the better. I was never drive-time, so I didn’t have too many restrictions and wasn’t held to a playlist, but even that started to change. Pretty soon, you realise you have gone from being a passionate voice on the radio, a curator of music, to being yet another ‘that was... this is...’ guy, And I didn’t want that, so I left in 2013 and founded WBSSmedia.com.
What is WBSSmedia?
WBSS is there to feature, promote, and elevate creative and ground-breaking R&B and soul artists worldwide. It features regular informal interviews with artists young and old, hopefully discovering new classics, and letting peoople discover the classics in black music. We focus on artist profiles, and have a daily birthday slot so people can discover artists they might never have heard of otherwise. It’s the complete opposite from the playlist-dominated world of radio and I love it!
Is that playlist killing music, or has music lost its way?
People dismiss the young as not being able to write good music. That’s rubbish! Someone who spent years training at somewhere like Berklee is extremely talented and often write great, innovative songs... that don’t get onto playlists. So, they write music to get played, and then get accused of not writing good songs.
Do you still consider yourself a DJ, a musician, or a musical curator?
It sounds old fashioned, but I consider myself in show business. I have a golden opportunity to speak to some of the greatest living musicians, some of whom have been around for a long time. Those guys have taught me a lot. They taught me the meaning of that term. There’s a ‘show’ and then there’s ‘business’. The ones who have made a career in music know the difference, and know when it’s time for ‘show’ and time for ‘business’. The younger ones only know about the ‘show’ and in fact the very young ones in music only know about the ‘business’ not the ‘show’ side. You need both.
What do you think the audio enthusiast can get from WBBSmedia?
I think the big thing to gain is expanding your horizons. Music discovery services like Spotify and Tidal are great, but they are still gearing you toward a playlist. We don’t do that. It’s like being around musicians; they love music in all its colours and shapes, not just the ones we learned to like in our 20s. The site doesn’t tie you down in that way. It lets you discover our music your way. There’s a good and a bad side to all this new technology, and I really want to turn WBBS into a community. It’s very much ‘experts’ at the moment, but it won’t be like that in a year’s time.
In running a musical site like yours, you must encounter obsessive music collectors?
Yes... we do get people who obsess about everything, the guys who want to know the name of the hat the guy was wearing on the morning of 23rd March 1968, that sort of obsessive. You can’t help but be impressed though – there was this one time, I had put a feature up about an early and quite obscure blues musician. A lot of the early blues musicians had all died off by about 1940. Most of them were lucky to live into their 30s. Anyway, I put the wrong picture in! It was the right surname, but the wrong christian name. Even the family didn’t know it was the wrong image! Anyway, this guy wrote in who had spotted this... he was so disgusted. I just wanted to know where he got his facts from!
Main Image by Elin Robinson. Additional image by Indre Cukuraite.