Keeping It Peel Day – An Interview with the Man Behind The CelebrationsThe 25th October marks the anniversary of the untimely death of the world’s greatest (and indisputably so) radio DJ John Peel. Every year on this day the man behind the blog #keepingItPeel (and the Twitter account @keepingitpeel) becomes the organisational hub that links a whole host of events celebrating the man together. He also encourages everyone with a blog / twitter account / Facebook page to join in.

As it’s now just two weeks till this years #keepingitpeel day we thought it probably as good a time as any to have a chat with him about this years Peel Day & #keepingitpeel in general.

 

Louder Than War: So I guess we should start at the beginning with a bit of pre #KeepingItPeel stuff. When did you first begin listening to Peel’s show & how did you become hooked on it?

#Keeping It Peel: Like everybody else it was years and years ago. Listening to the radio late at night under the covers. I had an ear peace and used to fall asleep with his show on. I went through loads of batteries! Peelie admittedly played alot of crap but occasionally you’d hear a song that stood out. I’d be nodding off and suddenly be wide awake when this happened.

Louder Than War: What did you learn from Peel in regards to how you listen to music now? I know personally pretty much my whole approach to how I listen to music is based on what I learnt from him.

#KeepingItPeel: The same as you I think. Always have an open mind, have a listen to everything. I’m happy that Dandelion Radio is out there and that BBC 6Music is (somewhat) keeping it Peel.

Louder Than War: Right, onto #Keepingitpeel. When did you start it & why?

#KeepingItPeel: In 2007 I commemorated the annual John Peel Day on my other gig over at www.footballandmusic.co.uk. Then a year later BBC Radio 1 (who started it all a year after his passing) did nothing. There were still a number of independent John Peel Day events going on, but from the Beeb… silence.

2009 rolled around and once again the BBC seemed to have forgotten this event. And sadly by the looks of things, so did many others. But I still remembered.

Then around August of 2010 I had the idea of the hashtag of #keepingitpeel and also the blog #keepingitpeel to help raise awareness of the day. I chose October 25th because that’s the day we lost him and I wanted this to be separate from John Peel Day – that was for the bands who played. October 25th is for us who listened…

Louder Than War: What was the original vision for it?

#KeepingItPeel: Simply to keep his memory alive and to play the songs/bands we discovered thanks to him.

Louder Than War: How has it developed following that original vision?

#KeepingItPeel: Last year was huge. The event was mentioned in all sorts of newspapers and I think, ironically, on the BBC.

Louder Than War: Stupid question really, but why do you think it’s important to keep the memory of Peel alive?

#KeepingItPeel: He was a pioneer and has become a reminder that we should listen like he did.

Louder Than War: How do people get involved?

#KeepingItPeel: Simply by posting on your blog (if you have one) your favourite Peel Session tracks. If you are on Twitter the hashtag’s #keepingitpeel and a mention or link to your favourite Peel Session.. if you are on Facebook, post a link to a video, audio… etc.

Louder Than War: Who is taking part (apart from everyone, obviously)?

#KeepingItPeel: Have a look at the list of participants from last year.

It was none stop all day. Especially with Twitter where the hashtag was top trending in the UK.

Hopefully we’ll get the same this year, but with the Daily Mail and their witch hunt I think it might be quieter.

Louder Than War: You did brilliant work on twitter last year retweeting as many mentions of Peel as you could, will you be setting yourself up for another marathon this year?

#KeepingItPeel: As mentioned above it might not be as busy. We’ll see how it goes.

Louder Than War: Were you pretty overwhelmed with the number of people who tweeted about Peel last year? Why do you think he had such a profound effect on so many people’s lives?

#KeepingItPeel: Nearly! He had such a big effect because of the music. He played and we discovered so much music & so many bands because of him.

Louder Than War: Do you get people from all over the world approaching you to host events or is it exclusively UK?

#KeepingItPeel:Don’t get asked to host anything, but I do get tweets and emails from all over the place from people organising something. Last year there were events in Holland, Spain and the USA.

Peelie still has a great memory for people in South America too.

Louder Than War: Am I right in thinking you live in Australia? If so do you find people there who know about him?

#KeepingItPeel: I’m in the USA (British Expat) and people know about him thanks to the Peel Sessions that were released on CD. He was also broadcast on the World Service and some of his shows were on college radio.

#KeepingItPeel: Anything else you’d like to add?

People should listen to Dandelion Radio & to some of the shows on BBC 6Music (I hear this Ravenscroft chap is very good)

Have a read of the music blogs which are KeepingItPeel but are also still looking and listening for new artists. With the web there are now millions of ways to find new music. These are the places to start.

A reminder, this years #keepingitpeel day will be on 25th October. You can find out information & keep up to date with Peel related events on the #keepingitpeel blog here. Following @keepingitpeel is also a good idea & there’s also a Facebook page too here.

All words Guy Manchester. More words by Guy can be read here. He tweets as @guid0man & uses Tumblr.

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Guy is a former full time member of the Louder Than War editorial team, who's since moved on to pastures new. Music's been a large part of his life since he first stumbled across Peel on his tranny as a fifteen year old. His whole approach to music was learnt from Peel in fact, which includes having as inclusive a taste in music as possible. Guy devotes most of his time looking for new music & although he's been known to say "the only good music is new music" he pretty much accepts this is bollocks. Favourite band The Minutemen.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Guy for the interview with keepingitpeel. Learnt a few things in this and it never occurred to me to ask him himself! Always nice to see some questions answered from another perspective. I’m thinking now about what I can do for this years John Peel day….

  2. This is a great article. Really puts the legacy of Peel where it should be. Used to tape all the shows: who else would be that good these days! Forget all the paedo stuff and focus on the music!

  3. I really like JP, but aren’t we suppressing debate about his interaction with young girls? Wouldn’t want to think that things are getting swept under the carpet.

  4. I’m not that comfortable about all this John Peel stuff that avoids the buying current issue of the allegations against them. It’s not that they are even allegations but we admitted by Peel himself.
    There seemed to public glee about some celebs accused of similar but blind spot here.
    Now I’m not against Peel, he played some great records but this sainthood that has been bestowed upon him is awkward.
    He is also responsible for turning the ambition of punk into the sort of bands who clutter up these John peel events up and down the country and for the pretty sorry state of 6music. That sort of snobbery about music and fake self depreciating, boring musicians that have become the face of alternative culture.
    The whole story of Peel is one re-write of culture that is as fake as his Liverpool accent (check his early shows out for a totally different voice!).
    I’m old enough to remember the Peel show from before punk when it was wall to wall Wishbone Ash and Barclay James Harvest, this even continued into punk! for sure he played lots of great bands but he also missed out on many of the key bands in the last few decades- which is not a direct criticism of the fine work he did but I would just like people to have a sense of perspective on all this.
    Sometimes as stale and conservative as the Fall, who have never changed their sound and get praised endlessly for it, Peel shows were often quite dull and the last bastion of prog culture. As much as I loved listening to them I also find the national sainthood a bit awkward.

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