Earlier this week I had the privilege of catching up with BBC presenter, journalist and DJ Jericho Keys. A fellow northerner, Jericho plays a key part in showcasing the best unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar bands and artists from across York and North Yorkshire.
Thanks so much for chatting to Northern Exposure Jericho! We’re delighted to have you! Tell me more about
yourself. Clearly and understandably you love your job at the BBC! How did you get into Radio? Was it
something you’ve always wanted to do?
Thanks for having me Rachel, it’s an absolute pleasure. To be honest, I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do for a long time. Numerous ideas popped in my head and then popped back out again. It all seemed like too much hard work, so I made a very last minute decision to study journalism at University.
After three years I left with a degree, debt and a year on the dole. I didn’t really embrace the whole university experience, which is something I do sort of regret in a way. One thing I did do at university though, was read John Peel’s ‘Margrave of the Marshes’ and Andy Kershaws ‘No Off Switch’ , that was sort of the catalyst that swayed me towards music journalism and broadcasting.
I knew I was able to talk a glass eye to sleep about music, bands and songs. I’d been doing that throughout my life anyway, so it seemed like the most logical and accessible avenue I should go down, if I was lucky enough to be given the chance that is.
A lot of slammed doors, ignored emails and work experience followed…but here we are today.
Living in York, you are one of the guys responsible for discovering unsigned and undiscovered North
Yorkshire talent. What’s currently getting your foot tapping? Anyone you’d recommend us to keep our eyes
I’ve got to be honest over the last few months there’s been a wave of brilliant bands making a good racket and making their presence felt.
The good thing about York’s music scene is, it’s very eclectic and diverse. This is good for me, as that’s exactly how I’d describe my own taste in music.
There are newish bands such as Naked Six, The Black Lagoons, Young Urban Parasites and Billy Lake Up that have really been exciting me recently.
Then of course, there’s the bands and artists who’ve I’ve supporting since day dot and who are showing their worth on a bigger scale who I’ll always buzz off. The likes of Hello Operator, Skinner, King No-One, Billy Marten and The Buffalo Skinners, are household names now.
But I tell you what, the other day I was walking in town and there was this harp player busking and doing medleys of Clean Bandit, Guns’n’Roses, TLC and Zara Larsson,It was astonishing. It captured me so much I invited her in for a session that evening. So everyone should listen to Olivia Ter-Berg for something completely different.
You must get inundated with new music so what grabs your attention? What do you look for?
First off, I feel really humble and privileged that people do send me their music and feel that my opinion matters somewhat.
The thing that I think is most obvious; it’s got to be good! It’s very easy to get some cool moody promo pictures and talk a good game on social media, but if you haven’t got the songs to back it up then you’ve got nothing at all, it just seems pointless.
Apart from that, I’m looking for songs where people have got something to say, are authentic and meaning it. I always think, it doesn’t matter how you’re saying it as long as you believe it.
When you can feel the emotion as a listener, whether that’s heartbreak or hatred. It’s always good to feel like it comes from the heart and you can almost feel like the songs are about your life.
You seem very passionate about what you do. How important is it as a broadcaster to get that across to
your listeners? You appear to be very unique in your communication skills and very approachable?
Well thank you Rachel! I don’t think I’ve ever thought ‘I need to come across passionate’ or ‘I need to seem approachable’ as I’ve been lucky enough to be allowed to just be myself. I wouldn’t know really how to be anything else.
We’re all in it together, after all, appreciating good music and sharing it.
If I’m buzzing about record then I want everyone else to know that and hopefully come on board too! I’d say that’s my job and technically, yeah it is – but it’s what I’d be doing if I was milking cows for a living as well!
We’re big fans of the BBC. As a presenter on the BBC Introducing Network are you restricted in your
output? Do you think regional stations should engage more with other regional artists?
For BBC Introducing, I listen to every single song and the playlist is completely down to me. I don’t think I’d be able to present the show any other way.
How can I try convincing other people to go watch a band or listen to their music if I can’t stand it myself? It would just seem ridiculous to me.
In your opinion do you think unsigned artists should receive more daytime airplay and support from the
daytime programming in your area?
I do think local BBC stations should at least play a few local artists throughout the day, that’s if they have that something special.
Then again though, instead of having their tune sandwiched between The Feeling and a Charlie Puth record – it’s more likely to be appreciated by an audience who’ve tuned into BBC Introducing for some new fresh music, rather than some middle of the road corporate commercialised drivel.
The thing I personally love about is your show and overall attitude is your honesty and down to earth
persona. As a northern lass myself I’m really big on staying true to yourself, having a laugh and not
changing who you are whilst to the best of our ability remaining professional. Apart from the odd
personal hiccup you pull this off perfectly, have you any advice for any young kids out there looking to
follow in your footsteps and go into a career in Radio and Journalism?
Full of compliments this morning, that £20 was well worth it after all! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head to be honest. I think it’s important to try to be yourself, work hard and not forget where you’ve come from, remembering who’s helped you out along the way. I really believe that you should make sure you don’t get complacent. There will always be someone behind you waiting to take the opportunity if you let things slide.
I saw a recent interview on You Tube where you talked about no one helping each other out in the music
industry in your current hometown of York. Here at Northern Exposure we totally agree and seem to see
the same pattern in most towns across the UK. In your opinion how can we make the difference? How can
we pull together to help one another and create some unity amongst people in the music industry?
I’d automatically drop the divide between broadcaster, booking agents, bands and fans etc.
The idea that one is more important than the other just boggles my mind. Everyone should be on the same page, suggesting how we could all help one another to make something bigger!
At the end of the day, it’s hard enough for everyone to get on the ladder without the people closest to you on the same level, clipping your heels as you walk.
Staying on that subject the current music industry climate is making it really hard for new bands and
artists to get their music heard would you agree? If so what’s your thoughts and advice to any bands
wanting to get their music heard on the radio?
If your songs are good enough and enough people are digging what you do then surely people further up the chain will have to take notice eventually.
Unless they are completely ignorant to what people want and have their own agenda entirely.
That’s the beauty with BBC Introducing though, each station has it’s designated local music presenter, who’s supposed to be bang into checking out new music and shouting about it from the high heavens. If they are doing their job properly then that shouldn’t be a problem.
I see you’re off to Scarborough soon on the 4th June to DJ, and have Stray Scene on the bill, I’m a big fan
how did that come about? Can you tell me more?
I’d noticed that everything seemed a bit York-centric and nearby towns were getting overlooked, so I thought we’d take it to them and give their fans something to look forward to, without having to worry about travel and accommodation.
I plan to make it more a regular occurrence throughout North Yorkshire.
All the bands on the bill The Sub-Gents, Maven Fiction and Stray Scene got really involved in plugging the gig and getting everyone down. It was a really top night. Everyone was up for it, so that was the hard work done before anyone had even played a note.
Amongst your many talents, you have many side projects you interview bands and artists, who was the
most interesting and favourite you’ve interviewed?
A good majority of the bands and artists I’ve interviewed have been a complete pleasure, I’ve felt very privileged to be able to ask the questions everyone else wants to know the answers to.
What tops it for me though I think, was when I interviewed John Cooper Clarke a couple of years ago.
I’ve always been a massive fan (I have his picture hung in my living room), his whole story and history is so interesting. I was able to ask him questions without feeling nervous due to his down to earth personality, and he could talk for England so it was very easy, a true gentlemen.
He even asked if I wanted to go back to the hotel for a few drinks…but I kindly declined as I didn’t want to push my luck and end up over staying my welcome by rolling around on the floor.
Tell us what does the future hold for Jericho Keys?
Who knows….I suppose everything is planned out isn’t it in some way or another. In terms of work, that’s the decision of people higher up but I’m looking forward to whatever opportunities come.
Where can people follow and listen to you?
I do the introducing programme every Saturday from 8pm – 10pm on BBC Radio York. I’m on mixcloud where I do podcasts and I’ve very recently just had a website created, where I upload interviews. www.jerichokeys.com and my twitter account @jerichokeys