Recently, Lloyd Swanton (The Necks, The catholics etc.) sent out an email to tell us he’s be sitting in the ABC RN Daily Planet chair for Lucky Oceans, for the first four Wednesdays in May 2012. An Australian bass player with an international profile Lloyd has been broadcasting on community radio for 14 years, so he’s inevitably going to have an interesting take on the experience! He’s halfway through his residency and we’ve asked him some questions about the links and crossovers between broadcasting and musicianship.
Here’s what Lloyd said in his initial email – and scroll down read our questions and Lloyd’s answers below…
The Planet is a legendary radio show which has been responsible for bringing so much wonderful, underexposed music to Australia’s ears. Eclectic by definition, it navigates the manifold streams of the world’s innovative and traditional musics.
So what will I be playing?
Well, unless you live in Sydney, you might not even know that I have presented a radio show for nearly 14 years.
On my show Mixed Marriage (on 89.7FM Eastside Radio), I look into an area of jazz which interests me most as a jazz musician myself – the points at which jazz starts to fade at the edges and introduce influence from other musical traditions. It’s a very popular show and I think that’s because this is where the more interesting things are happening in jazz these days.
As everything I play on Mixed Marriage would fit into the Planet style, that’s pretty much the framework I’ll be bringing to the show – so, contaminated jazz, and working outwards from there.
I do hope you tune in on the first four Wednesdays in May 11:20 PM, and please also check out the other guest presenters in May, Systa BB on Tuesdays, and Brent Clough (presenter of that other wonderful Radio National show, The Night Air) on Thursdays.
Jazz-Planet: Is this your first time broadcasting nationally? If so, does it feel different to be talking to a national audience, rather than the smaller audience of a community radio station?
Lloyd Swanton: Yes, it does feel different broadcasting nationally. On Mixed Marriage on Eastside Radio in Sydney, I can kind of assume that the listeners will get any local references, and may even know who I am, but nationally, I need to background things a little more. That does reduce the spontaneity a little, but that’s a small price to pay because it’s just so exciting to be reaching a coast-to-coast audience.
But that’s not the only difference either. Having an engineer and a producer is a totally new experience for me. And preplanning the show, likewise, is not something I ever do on MM except in a fairly general sense. But, I stress, these differences are all very exciting, and I’m loving the challenge.
J-P: How does broadcasting fit in with your music making – do you find it expands your listening? Does your engagement with music and musical colleagues help make you a more adventurous programmer for the radio?
LS: It absolutely expands my listening. I am so lucky, as a musician, to have to extend my listening in the way that doing the research for presenting a radio show does. And I also deeply enjoy the two hours week when I’m actually doing Mixed Marriage, and the Planet at this point, when I can immerse myself in incredible music going out over the airwaves. It’s a completely different experience to performing music, or to listening to music at home, and I revel in the opportunity. Radio is the most incredible medium, which seems to have adapted itself to a changing world magnificently. A bit like my other favourite bit of old, future-proof technology, the bicycle.
Yes, I do think my background as a musician affects the way I present; not just in what I say, but in the way I construct a programme. When I feel I’ve done a really good show, it feels in one sense like I’ve actually composed a really big piece of music.</>
J-P: As a musician, do you find that presenting music (compared to making music) presents any particular challenges?
LS: Yes, on the one hand I have to think like a musician, because I believe that’s what gives me a special perspective, which the listener will pick up on, but I still also have to think like a non-musician, because it’s by no means a given that musicians have the final word on the significance of any music. I believe non-musicians bring some unique perspectives to presenting music, which musicians can only hope to emulate and learn from.