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It’s Thursday and also Julie’s final show of the week on Beats 1, so we get the chance to sit in on the weekly music meeting. Having read pieces before about playlist meetings at other stations where things have got heated and ever so slightly political, I’m kind of thrown by the major chill of this team. No one is fighting over the aux, if anything they’re more reluctant to go first but proceedings kick off with tunes other Beats 1 DJ’s are currently championing. Julie and the rest of the team — which includes Sam her producer from her old Rinse show, whom she’s thankful for being able to bring along with her — move through each song, listening to it in its entirety.
Julie is not feeling much to be honest, there’s a slight consensus around the table on most of the tracks and whether or not they’re right for the show and then there’s a little convincing and contextualising along the way too. They earmark Little Simz new freestyle but are unsure about clearance issues, so Julie drops a quick text to see what else they can or should play. Then there’s a Stormzy co-sign, a singer called Raye, which Julie has to figure out how to support indirectly because it just sounds too similar to Ray Blk who she likes and it’s freaking her out.
It’s far from political, it seems like the team are all on board for the same tracks too. Hiatus Kayote and Truce get the thumbs up all round. Loyle Carner wins out with his new subdued affair because people are just a fan of him and there are a few question marks under new tracks from Ninja Tune and Laura Mvula as the vibe doesn’t really match the show. Julie wheels up Straight Bars, the P Money track she’s pushing to get on the show after his first few bars as she’s selling it into the team and also trying to get them to ignore the fact there’s no hook on it.
I’m cynical as to whether everyone is on his or her best behaviour but end up just settling for the fact they’re just a pretty slick operation. Beats 1 are probably responsible in some way, shape or form for keeping Julie and Sam in radio. As just before the top-secret initiation into the Beats 1 family, both were starting to wonder whether radio was stimulating them enough; considering what was going on in the world around them.
There’s a break before the show and an artist cancels an interview last minute, so we catch up with Julie around 6pm and head to Chicken Shop, as she hasn’t eaten at all today.
Somehow we get talking about Nigeria, where Julie visited last year for the second time in 20 years as her parents had built a house out there, plus Junior (Skepta) had a show out there too. “It was peak,” she laughs at visiting Nigeria’s biggest radio station, ironically called Beats, but bar the random electricity blackouts, it’s somewhere she could see herself 100% living. Just with a Nigerian passport because the British one implies you just have money to donate at any and every occasion. “They’ll shake a man’s hand and just be expecting to cup bare Naira’s but they only do it to men”.
In Nigeria though, grime isn’t the instant affiliation to the Adenuga name, it just so happens to be the surname of a Nigerian telecoms magnate. And his sway seems to translate across the globe, according to Julie’s sneaky queue jump at Dallas on the way to SXSW recently.
Being an official dessert fiend, we’re all forced to order Apple Pie out of FOMO, as it seems to be the real reason why Julie wanted to come to the Chicken Shop anyway. We’re trying to understand exactly how the British drama series Top Boy cost a questionable £1,000,000 an episode, as Julie has only just got around to watching it this week whilst she was doing Jamie’s (JME’s) hair. Despite not being into cliché gang drama’s, CSI, Scandal and The Good Wife are more her thing, she was impressed. It was so good in fact it’s actually making it difficult to get Kano’s gully character, Sully out of her mind in order to appreciate his new album.
I’m a little confused when Julie divulges the fact she, “avoids people because it’s easier than the interaction that is going to ensue.” I mean that’s a hard thing to do in this industry but there’s reason when the only, what could be considered as negative experiences have been down to certain interactions and situations.
Like the time she flew out to Ibiza because Rinse wanted to host the show from Ibiza Rocks Hotel. As a non-drinker, Julie wasn’t really into the idea but convinced by her friends to treat the trip as life experience, so reluctantly headed out there. It turns out random people would just casually walk into the makeshift Ibiza studio, show plans were misplaced minutes before airing live and she didn’t stay up late to watch any of the shows from her noisy room above the studio. Yet was still awoken by a hysterical drunk girl who had lost her contact lenses in the corridor. Add to that the extortionate invisible shape up at the island barbers, relentless air conditioning (that she hates), general Ibiza activities and the whole dropping her phone down the toilet and then collapsing into it in dismay; meant that within three days she was on the plane home.
To this day her boarding pass, which she printed out in A1 size, sits framed on her wall, to remind her to trust her instincts and also never return to Ibiza. Other than a previous inescapable, due to being work based relationship, and constantly correcting her friends on pretty much everything they read or see on the news, life in the industry is pretty straight forward; even if she doesn’t particularly like interacting. Joking to me, that should be the title for today’s blog, “Julie sacrifices her life every day for music”.
Julie Adenuga’s show is live on Beats 1/Apple Music, Monday to Thursday 8 PM, check out Julie’s Apple Music Connect page for more exclusive content. Also, check out the first day of our London diary with Julie here.